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Do You Soup & Salad?

9 Feb

More and more people are turning to soups and salads as healthier options for dining out.

According to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting company, consumer purchases of soup and salad are on the rise since 2009, by 61% and 81% respectively! That’s quite a drastic increase and it got me thinking about my most recent food purchases while dining out and soup and salad have indeed been creeping into my habits.

Soup has picked up this time of year because of the cold weather. Nothing warms you up like a nice hot bowl of soup and the range of different types of soups has also increased to make soup that much more of an appealing option. Plus soup has a reputation for being good for people who are trying to eat healthier. Now just like with salads this is not always the case, for example if you go for the creamy lobster bisque with bacon you could be ingesting as many calories as if you hate burger or at least more calories than you are hoping to eat. But if it’s good a creamy lobster bisque might be well worth those calories!

Restaurants have also started offering a wider, more interesting variety of salads as well. If you’ve been to the Cheesecake Factory you know what I mean. And those salads mean business too, it comes at you like a tiny mountain and it is a hungry and tenacious diner that can make it to the end. In the more convenient faster food arena the soup and salad offerings at Cosi and Panera Bread are tempting as well. And if you can’t decide which one you want you can always go with a half and half, cup of soup and a half a salad. I love having my cake and eating it too, don’t you?

And if that wasn’t enough new restaurant chains devoted entirely to salads and soup have started to spring up as well. Chop’t is one of my new faves and I keep hearing wonderful things about Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes. Are you feeling this new trend? Take a moment and take our quick poll!

Do You Karaoke?

16 Jan
beyonce jay-z

Blue Ivy Carter is youngest person ever to be on the Billboard Top 100 Singles chart.

Last week the Internet was dominated by the birth of Beyoncé and Jay-Z‘s bouncing baby girl, Blue Ivy Carter. Already people are speculating about the talents that might be genetically bestowed on the lucky little girl and she’s the youngest person ever to appear on the Billboard Top 100 charts thanks to her dad. Baby Blue Ivy’s cries are featured on Jay’s newest single, Glory, recorded just 48 hours after she was born.

For those of us who are not the offspring of musical royalty, there will always be karaoke! Karaoke is a kind of interactive entertainment where participants sing along with popular music using a microphone and public address system. The music is minus the lead vocal so you can sing along to your favorite songs with back-up from the original track. The lyrics are displayed on a video screen, along with a moving symbol, changing color, or music video images to help you out in case you get nervous and forget the words. 

You don’t need to have fantastic singing ability in order to enjoy karaoke. True, if you can carry a tune it’s a plus, but the beauty of karaoke is that it’s supposed to be a judgement-free zone, and it’s more about belting your heart out to pop music than actual vocal skills.

Not all of us possess the nerve to be so exposed before strangers, so a lot of karaoke spots are also lounges that provide liquid courage. I had my first karaoke experience this past weekend at Apple Restaurant & Bombar in NYC and I must say I had a blast! Great food, great drinks, great friends and a whole lot of fun! Karaoke is definitely now on my list of fun things to do with friends so if there is a restaurant or lounge near you that offers a stage, screen and a microphone I strongly suggest you take advantage!  I let out my inner “Sasha Fierce” and attempted some of Beyoncé’s greatest hits, but I’m sure you can also request her hubby and daughter’s single, “Glory” if rapping is more your speed.

 

Do You Theatre Menu?

15 Dec

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Tis the season for theatre going! Every holiday season theatre ticket sales spike because people love to see plays and other shows during the holidays. There are many different “Theatre Districts” all over the country and the world, not just Broadway in New York City. And the restaurants nearby (within walking distance) are not there by accident. They know that people like to go out to eat before or after a show and usually to some place nice. These restaurants are said to be located on “Restaurant Row” which is of course how we got the name for our website!

Theatre tickets are expensive enough, save money on dinner by asking to see the "Theatre menu", a specially priced menu for those grabbing a bite before or after a show.

Lots of the restaurants on Restaurant Row offer special pre-fixe menus for show ticket holders called “theatre menus” which are valid either before the curtain goes up or after it comes down. As going to take in a Broadway-style show is a special occasion, these menus usually feature an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert for a special fixed price. The thing is not all restaurants advertise that they offer such a menu. It is not uncommon for the wait staff to leave it out of their spiel as they go over specials, etc. So before you make your reservation, check the restaurant’s website or give them a call to see if they have a theatre menu and tell your server that you want to see that menu when you sit down. Oh and if you tell them what time your show starts they will make sure to get your food out to you asap!

Also these special menus are offered year round, not just during the holidays. So if you get tickets in your stocking for sometime next year don’t forget to ask your server about the theatre menu!

Do You Medieval Times?

16 Nov

If that chicken breast isn't big enough for you then I don't know what it!

Looking for an exciting dining experience? Hahza! –  Medieval Times is just the place! Take a seat in their dinner theater replicated after an 11th century castle, feast on a meal fit for a king, and show your support for your favorite knight during the tournaments that are presented for your entertainment as you dine. Ditch the fork and knife and get ready to be transported back in time!

Medieval Times and Entertainment has eight locations in the United States and one in Canada each with the same mission – to immerse every one of its guests in a culture that is long forgotten. This includes indulging in a four course meal of oven roasted chicken, garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, herb-roasted potato, spare ribs, and the pastry of the castle. While you are eating the scene is set and you are brought back to medieval Spain with the King of Castile as your host.

The tournament, performed by approximately 75 actors & 20 horses features medieval style games like sword-fighting and jousting. The performances are dangerously entertaining, each competition fierce, so be prepared to be amazed as the knights wield their weapons right in front of your eyes. After all, it’s the king’s favor they’re fighting for and the title of champion.

Here's the castle closest to us! The Lyndhurst Castle is located in New Jersey and is 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan.

Medieval Times and Entertainment is the ultimate theme restaurant experience has been thrilling dinner theatre goers for over 15 years. It was famously featured in a scene in the 1996 film, Cable Guy, starring the one and only, Jim Carrey. And it’s slowly but surely making a name for itself again, come see what all the fuss is about!

Do You Fondue?

17 Oct

Ladies take advantage of The Melting Pot's ongoing Ladies' Night Out promotion, special menus and prices vary by location.

The Melting Pot is currently running a promotion at all of its locations called  “Big Night Out America.” Through this Friday Oct. 21st a special four-course menu is available featuring regionally inspired menu items from around the country. The four courses include cheese fondue, salad, an entrée, and chocolate fondue. If you can’t make it this week, no worries The Melting Pot runs this destination-themed “Big Night Out” menu every six months and is truly a complete fondue experience. So what is fondue exactly?

cheese fondue

The earliest known recipe for fondue comes from a Swiss book from 1699.

Fondue come from the French verb “fondre” which means “to melt” and is a traditionally Swiss dish that includes melted cheese served in a communal pot that is kept warm over flames or a burner and eaten by dipping pieces of bread, fruit and veggies into it. Chocolate is another popular fondue and common dippings are marshmallows, fruit, and cakes. Meat can also be cooked in a fondue pot filled with seasoned hot oil. Fondue is a fun group dining activity, especially if you love cheese and chocolate. But certain niceties must be observed such as be responsible for your own stick and no double dipping!

Do You Tapas?

16 Sep

Tapas restaurants, or small plates are a great way to spend the night out with friends. Do you tapas?

Tapas: a variety of snacks or small plates, they could be cold (like a cheese or olive plate) or warm (like calamari) and they are meant to be enjoyed socially and easily shared. Derived from the Spanish verb, tapar which means “to cover”, the original tapas were served in Spain; a slice of bread as an accompaniment to wine and cover the glass between sips. Before long meat and cheese were being served as well and that expanded into a small plates options that varied depending the region. In Spain lunch is typically the big meal of the day and dinner is customarily eaten between 9 and 11pm so tapas or smaller sized portions are a popular option for this meal.

Tapas style restaurants have spread to the United Sates serving Spanish cuisine as well as American and Asian themed small plates. Usually offering a generous wine and/or cocktail menu and a hip atmosphere, tapas restaurants and bars have become trendy hot spots.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite Tapas spots around the country:

New York – Pipa 38 E 19th St. 212-677-2233

Los Angeles – Tasca Wine Bar 8108 W 3rd St. 323-951-9890

San Francisco – Cha Cha Cha 1801 Haight St 415-386-5758 

Chicago – Twist 3412 N Sheffield Ave. 773-388-2727

D.C. – Cork 1720 14th St NW 202-265-2675

So whether you’re looking for a late night snack, a cool place to have a sophisticated gathering for friends, or have a small bite while enjoying drinks, tapas might be just what you’re looking for. Fair warning though, small plates don’t necessarily mean small prices, so whenever possible take advantage of the happy hour.

Do You Beer Garden?

15 Aug
Bohemian Hall in Astoria, Queens

A bird's eye view of Bohemian Hall in Astoria Queens, NYC's largest beer garden.

Even with the heat wave, one of the best ways to enjoy summer is to dine al fresco. That being said, it’s hot out there and what better way to keep cool than with a nice cold one? Beer Gardens are a trendy way to combine the two, not to mention they are a big hit with people in their 20’s and 30’s.

Derived from the German “Biergarten,” beer garden’s are an open-air area where beer, other drinks and local/bar food is served. They are commonly attached to a drinking establishment such as a pub and are just rows upon rows of picnic tables or other lawn type furnature in order to be optimal for socializing. The largest beer garden is the Hirschgarten in Munich, Germany which can accommodate up to 8,000 people.

Completed in 1919, the oldest beer garden in New York City and possibly the US is Bohemian Hall located on 24th Ave in Astoria, Queens. The Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall officially sits 800, though often entertains more during festivals, concerts, and other events. Beer gardens are also popular in England and Japan, where many are located on the roofs of department stores and hotels. So if you’re single and ready to mingle, you might just want to hit up a beer garden this summer. The beer is plenty and the food is cheap!

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