DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Farina’s Epic Fail


Perhaps you recall our visit to Grapefest.  We had a less than spectacular dining experience that day, but I didn’t tell you where it occurred, because they offered us a gift certificate to give them another chance.  Well, it was Farnia’s and unfortunately, we gave it another chance.

Same Song, Second Verse

See, if it had been up to me, after the Grapefest debacle, I would have just mentioned the restaurant wasn’t up to par in my blog and would have blamed it on the craziness of the festival. Bill was having none of it.

During that first visit, they delivered our entrees at the same time as our soup and salads, but we couldn’t eat any of them because we had no silverware. The food wasn’t all that good, but any restaurant can have a bad day, especially when the barbarians are breaking down the gate. However, when Bill asked for the manager, the servers ignored him.  That’s never a good sign.

Sunday night was deja vu all over again, but sans the barbarians. Oh, to be fair, there was one improvement. We did get silverware before any food was served, but that was about it. We were perfectly willing to be charmed into loving them on their dime, but they managed to turn us into detractors instead.

Send in the Maintenance Crew

We sat down and the first thing we figured out was that the front dining room is not the place to be when it’s chilly outside. The sporadic breeze from the frequently opened door was unpleasant. Bill noticed there was a mechanism on the door to hasten its closing, but it was broken. And it wasn’t the only thing.

I can’t speak for the men’s room, but the ladies’ room was very tight. I’m aware that to meet ADA requirements, especially in older spaces, something has to give. That something is usually the regular toilet. In most situations, I’m fine with that, but Farina’s gave me a new definition for tight. There was a hook on the back of the stall door and it was at eye level. If I’d momentarily lost my balance – an easy thing to do in such tight quarters – I would have also lost my eye. Farina’s please, for your own sake remove that hook!

But I mentioned that something was broken. That something was the hand dryer. I’m not a big fan of blowers anyway. I think it’s false economy on the part of the establishments who use it. None of the dryers get your hands dry, they’re noisy and the floor is always covered in drips. (Add that to the dangers of the eye-threatening hook!) One lawsuit for damages from a fall and all that false economy flies out the window.

Also, in case the restroom owners of the world were unaware of it, patrons use paper towels for a whole lot more than drying our hands – things for which the blower is not equipped. This blower gave new meaning to the word useless. I let my hands drip back to the table and used the napkin, which thankfully they’d delivered. When Bill and I compared notes about the restrooms we decided they had similarities.

Back to Our Meal

Beyond the maintenance issues, it seemed our meal might turn out okay.  Our waitress took our drink order, delivered our beverages and took our food order. I chose a glass of white wine from the specials on the board and it was very good with a generous pour. They didn’t have his favorite beer, but it was cold and they provided a glass, so he was fine. Dinner came with a choice of soup or salad. I chose the salad and he wanted the soup.

Imagine our astonishment when lightning struck twice. The server showed up with our entree, before we got the soup and salad. This time the entree showed up unaccompanied by anything. Again Bill asked to see a manager. Again he was ignored.

We were both hungry so we tucked into our food sans our first course. The food wasn’t any better than it had been the first time, even if it was comped. I had Chicken Marsala. The chicken was a tasteless over-processed piece of cardboard covered in BBQ sauce. The menu mentioned their sauce was thicker than the usual Marsala sauce, but it should have said, “We use bottled BBQ sauce and call it Chicken Marsala.” Bill’s Whitefish was also void of flavor and his asparagus was stringy.

Our waitress returned to ask after our meal. Bill let her know how disappointed we were that the same thing had happened twice, at least sort of.  The first time we at least got the first course, even if it was delivered out of sequence. The waitress apologized, promised the first course would be delivered and offered a free dessert.

Perhaps we should have stormed out in a fit of pique, but we agreed to be mollified. I have to admit my salad was quite good, the best part of the meal, but Bill’s soup was cold. A slice of pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream was delivered for our dessert. A bit sweet for my taste, but that is a matter of taste. Some folks might love it.

We counted on our fingers and realized our gift certificate would cover our dinner and drinks, so we tossed it to the waitress and absconded. She didn’t get a tip, but her service didn’t really qualify for one. We’ve had worse service, but we were finally ready for that fit of pique. We managed to have it without disturbing the other diners, but we were done.

As you guys know, it’s rare for me to find a place I can’t find something to like about.  Well, I finally found one.  Bill bemoaned the fact that their location will probably keep them in business for much longer than they deserve to be, but at least I can save you from going there.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Grapevine’s Christmas Fairyland

Grapevine TX, Capital of Christmas
Grapevine TX, Capital of Christmas


Sunday evening my husband and I spent a wonderful evening in Grapevine, which claims to be the Christmas Capital of Texas.  The only dim spot of the night was dinner, but I’ll save that for later.  Let me tell you why you should hurry to Grapevine for a visit with Saint Nick.

Marvelous, Wonderful, Fantastic

I cannot say enough good things about the Grapevine Christmas experience.  The charming downtown area is decked out to the max.  We strolled along hand-in-hand, doing some window shopping and popping into galleries to see more than we could see from the sidewalk.  I’ve included pictures below.  At one gallery we visited with local artists whose paintings hung on the wall.  At another we watched glass blowers create unique decorations for your holiday tree.  The weather was perfect and we had a blast.

We promised ourselves not to be strangers to Grapevine.  We may not be completely fond of Grapefest, but when those crowds go home, there’s a very charming town to enjoy.  There were plenty of people there for the holiday season, but not the thundering (drunk) horde that dampened our enthusiasm for the wine festival.

Fashion Alert

The fashion policewoman inside me saw a new trend she did not like.  Many of the small children wore flannel nightwear in shades of red & green.  Oh come on mommies of the world.  Pajamas, no matter how cute they are, belong at home and were made for sleeping.  No wonder the younger generation can’t figure out how to dress. If moms can’t even teach them when not to wear their pajamas out into the world.  As bad as the small fry in pajamas were, that wasn’t the worst of it.  Several groups of adults were also strolling about in their jammies.

The alarming thing to me is that I know worse is yet to come.  Whatever one person does, there will be someone else to go one step further and then someone else takes it to the raunchy side.  How long until somebody traipses out in a see-through teddy with faux fur around the nasty bits.

A Charming Night Out for Anyone

I’m not sure whether I would agree with the “Christmas Capital” appellation Grapevine chose for itself, because I am kind of fond of San Antonio for the title.  Hard to beat the Riverwalk all dressed up for the holidays.

Still, Grapevine puts on a great show, even though there is only one street decked out for the season.  They do have the Gaylord Texan Resort which is quite a coup – but it’s still no Riverwalk.

Nonetheless, you should (in the words of Neil Diamond) “pack up the babies and grab the old ladies” because at Christmas time, Grapevine is a treat for the young and the old.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you where not to eat.


Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Grapefest in Grapevine TX

Grapefest 2015, Grapevine TX
Three crazy girls at Grapefest


OK, I admit it.  I’m older than I used to be.  I don’t find noisy, crowded places as charming as I once did.  However, the crowds were the least of my problems when I went to Grapefest.

Plans Change

When my friend Iliana suggested going to Grapefest, there was nothing on my calendar, so it seemed like a great idea.  Bill and I even discussed the possibility of booking a hotel over on that side of town to make a real occasion of it.  Good thing we didn’t.

The week just before Grapefest I got news a dear friend’s health was fading fast.  Within days she was gone.  The memorial service was scheduled in the middle of the day we planned to attend to Grapefest.  Compounding the conflict, one of our tenants had some repair issues needing Bill’s attention.  Then another “must do” activity came up for Sunday.

It was tempting to blow off the festival altogether.  Grapevine is way over on the other side of Dallas from our home in Heath.  If this had been an event Bill and I had planned for ourselves, we would have come back home that evening and drank wine on our own patio rather than make a trek across Dallas.  However, Iliana, Loree and their fellows were looking forward to us being with them, so we worked it out.

Crazy Day

I started my day very early in my office, of course.  The vegetable bin was empty, so I had to go to the Farmer’s Market.  Then I had some chores around the house that needed immediate attention.  At the appointed hour I got ready for the memorial service and put together another outfit to change into for Grapefest.  I allowed twice as much time as I thought I’d need to get to the service, because I was sure there would be people there that I wanted to see.

Bill had taken my car to the meeting with the tenant and left his Mercedes for me to drive.  Great, right?  Not exactly.  The Mercedes is entirely too sporty for this old lady.  The steering is tight and so is the suspension.  Besides that I’m not familiar with the all the gadgets and the dashboard might as well be a Ouija Board, because I can’t operate either one.  The list goes on, but just understand I prefer my own car.

As I pulled out of the garage (missing the back-up camera on my car) I noticed the sky looked pretty ominous.  I decided to take the more direct route to the highway, rather than the route winding through the neighborhood, for the sake of time.  Well the more direct route was a parking lot.  I watched the minutes tick by, grumbling because his clock is in a completely different place than my clock.

The bridge across Lake Ray Hubbard was crowded and when I got to the Bush Tollway the sky started to sprinkle.  Bill’s car also complained to me that the tires’ air pressure needed correcting.  As I tried to decide whether this was a critical issue or not, the rain began to pour.

When I got to Central I was glad I’d left early, because it appeared I’d still make it to the church with some time to spare.  At least it seemed that way until I realized traffic wasn’t flowing at the usual speed.  In fact, it wasn’t flowing at all.  Between the traffic and the unfamiliar car, my stress level was through the sunroof.  And the rain wasn’t letting up.  That’s when I remembered my emergency umbrella was in the trunk of the car in my usual purse, rather than the clutch I had inside the car with me.

I finally came to my exit, but the major thoroughfare was yet another parking lot.  I finally slid into my seat at the service as the family marched into the memorial service.  Just then my purse vibrated with a text.  Bill wanted to know where we should meet after the funeral for the trip to Grapevine.  I needed some high blood pressure medicine.

My friend was a wonderful woman, beloved by many.  I was so glad I had come to honor her, but the day hadn’t gone as I planned.  I was sitting there among strangers instead of the friends I knew must be somewhere in the sanctuary.  I sat through the proceedings, absorbing the things which were being said, but I was so stressed out I couldn’t connect with them.  The moment the service was over, a text let me know Bill was waiting for me out front.  No comforting hugs would be shared with my fellow mourners.

I climbed in the car and pointed out where I’d parked his car.  He parked behind the Mercedes and I scurried around unloading everything I needed into my Nissan.  When I got in, Bill suggested that we move the Mercedes closer to LBJ.  I went back to the Mercedes and followed Bill to someplace near LBJ, but the day had been too much.  I was crying like a baby.

Bill was completely oblivious to my drama and had his own issues.  He’d started the day working in our yard and had moved on to doing repairs at the rental house.  He’d dealt with his own stresses in connecting with me.  He was hoping that I’d do the driving, but quickly figured out that he would have to transport the emotional mess I’d turned into since I walked out of the church.  I’d seemed fine, then.

The Break That Wasn’t

I tried to explain to Bill why I was so distraught, but it turned into one of those “Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus” moments when Bill tried to explain to me why everything was now going to be OK, based on the absence of rain.  So I focused on getting to the girls who would completely get what I was feeling, but Bill needed some Starbucks.  He has a penchant for asking me to find a Starbucks on my phone immediately after we’ve gone past the last one in close proximity.  He doesn’t do it on purpose.  So I found a Starbucks and directed him back to it – just at the moment the rest of Irving arrived.  We couldn’t park anywhere nearby and the drive-thru line was remarkably long.  But we did park.  Maybe coffee would change things.  Not that I drink coffee, but if poppa is happy, then it’s more likely that I will have the opportunity to be happy.

I closeted myself in the bathroom to change my clothes.  Just about the time I was down to my knickers someone banged on the door of the one-toilet restroom.  I was familiar with their desperation, so I turned up the speed, grabbed all my stuff and went back into the restaurant to sort through things, hoping I hadn’t left anything valuable or embarrassing behind.

While Bill tried to enjoy his coffee in the madhouse, I tried to enrich my life with a semblance of order, hanging my suit and moving my critical items from the fashionable clutch I’d carried to the funeral to a small cross-body bag better suited to a festival.  I also texted my girls that I was on the way and in need of much sympathy.

Bill and I planned to take advantage of the free parking and free shuttle, but one of my friends assured me there was parking across from the main gate.  She failed to mention the $10 price tag.  I drove to the festival, then turned around to go back to the free parking.  A $10 parking fee was not the best way to begin Bill’s visit to the festival, especially with all the emotional baggage we’d be carrying in with us.  There was plenty of available spaces in the free parking lot, but the line for the shuttle was reminiscent of the line we’d seen at the Starbuck’s drive thru.

I was texting the girls of my imminent arrival, but I didn’t get their location until we were steps away from the gate.  The bright sun made reading the text something of a challenge.  I compared the text to the Grapefest map we’d been given and guessed where my friends would be.  I guessed wrong.

Finally Grapefest  

The sun was beating down as only the Texas sun can do.  The festival was wall-to-wall people and the music from a band was deafening.  After making all the wrong turns, we backtracked and found our friends happily enjoying wine inside a winery tasting room.  I was starving, but the food choice was a to-go pack with cheese and crackers.  I needed a glass of wine, but all they were serving were over-priced mini-pours in plastic cups.  At least I had my girls.

As the sun headed towards the horizon, we wandered outside to take in the festival.  We visited a few booths and found a place to stand, by one of the loud bands.  We hung out there for awhile and then decided to try to get a real meal.  Bill was starving, but that didn’t shorten the wait one iota.  We were all about to escape the festival when they let us know our table was ready.  We should have left.

Bill spent entirely too many years in food service to tolerate the incredibly poor service we received.  Yes, there was a festival going on outside the restaurant, but it does seem like they could deliver the silverware before they brought the food to our table.  They also delivered the entree at the same time they delivered the soups and salads.  Bill asked to speak to a manager, but was ignored.  I’d tell you where we were, but eventually Bill did find someone to complain to and they gave us a gift certificate to come back and give them another chance.  It wouldn’t be nice to diss them after promising to give them another chance.  More to come.

I Had Expected a Different Experience

So, I used to live on the Central Coast of California.  One lovely day Bill and I went to a Wine Festival in Astascadero.  The event was held in a lovely tree-shaded lake-side park.  We parked for free nearby and if I remember correctly there was no entry fee.  We strolled around the festival and the lake.  Bill thought the price of tastings was prohibitive and there was the driving back to Pismo Beach to consider, so we just enjoyed the sights.  It was a thoroughly delightful day.  I imagined the same sort of thing for Grapefest, but planned on tasting in spite of the price.

Instead, the festival is on the city’s Main Street and the center of the street is filled with vendors.  Like I said: hot, loud, crowded.  However, folks were having a grand old time of it and I am sure next year will only be louder and more crowded.  The weather I can’t speak to.

I’m thinking if we ever went back to Grapefest, we’d opt for going any day except Saturday, but that’s us.  Should you go to Grapefest?  I think you should.  Just choose your experience more carefully than we did.  If the loud, crowded hullabaloo entices you, have at it.  Otherwise, opt for a quieter experience.