Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

The Young Monet at the Kimbell

wife-on-beach02202017TRAVEL HERE: DID YOU MISS IT?
Seems like I’m doing a lot of apologizing of late and here I go again!  There’s been a wonderful exhibition on the young Monet at the Kimbell in Fort Worth and even though I’ve been several times, I didn’t tell you about it.  By way of atonement I’ll warn you that another Impressionist and European Masters show is on its way in May.  In the meantime, I’ll fill you in on what you missed, if you did, in fact, miss it.

Early Monet

Monet is a known entity for most of us.  He’s that Impressionist guy who did all the water lily paintings.  Over the years, the Kimbell has offered several very good Monet exhibitions, so those of us in the DFW Metroplex have had a better than average chance to get to know him.  One of the reasons is a large beach scene in shades of gray and brown – more Van Gogh than Monet when you first look at it.  This shoreline landscape was the first piece Monet showed in a Beaux Art Salon and the Kimbell owns it.  That’s how it gets all the good exhibitions.  Want to borrow my Monet?  Include me in the exhibition schedule! 

Thanks to them (and lots of study on my own) I knew Impressionism was something Monet grew into.  He started out as a fine landscape painter in the traditional sense, but grew into less exacting ways of capturing a scene.  Most of us know another reason for his style is related to his vision.  As he grew older his eyesight got worse and he painted what he saw.  That’s the reason some paintings of Venice ,from late in his life, look almost as if he abandoned representational painting altogether.

I had all this floating around in my mind, but this latest exhibit fleshed out what I had learned.  The exhibition took him from a very traditional landscape painted in his teens, through his first Salon painting and on to the height of Impressionism.

You may be wondering why I don’t just quit jabbering a go ahead and show you some art.  Fine!

 

The most delicious painting I can’t show you, because they didn’t have a postcard.  It was a scrumptious snow scene, which at first glance seemed to be all white, but then the more you looked at it, the more color you could see.  Then there were all the bittersweet paintings showing the rift, his art and significant other caused, between him and his family of origin.  Oh, and the luscious picture of the melon with the blue and white china…. Well you get the idea!

Joe T.'s Fiesta Garden

Joe T.’s Fiesta Garden

Double Dipping

One of the reasons I feel so bad about leaving you out of the loop is that it’s not like I went during one of the last weeks and just missed by a few days.  I first went a few weeks after it opened with my bestie.  I made a day of it for her birthday.  That’s when I picked up all these postcards with the best of intentions and snapped this gorgeous shot at the entrance to Joe T’s wonderful Fiesta Garden.  Of course, we went to Joe T’s.

My second visit was with the Buffalo Gals.  In case you didn’t know, that’s the Bible Study group we have here in my neighborhood.  We’re on our fifth Beth Moore Bible Study together and we always take a play date to celebrate our friendship somewhere along the way.  Here’s a few shots of that expedition!  Come back next week, because I have to catch you up on what’s been happening at the DMA, too.

2 Comments

Filed under ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Steel City Stories

birmingham02202017TRAVEL THERE: BIRMINGHAM FOR BUSINESS

My business is ministry and that ministry targets Central Asia and the Middle East, so I can’t always be an open book about where I go and why.  However, I can tell you I made a visit to Birmingham, Alabama for business at an unspecified time for an unspecified reason.  While I can’t give you those details, I can tell you some of the stories related to the trip.

The Crack of Dawn

In the DFW Terminal

In the DFW Terminal

My traveling companion for this particular trip was my work buddy and good friend, Hannah Beth.  I’m old enough to be her mother and she’s gracious enough to treat me as if I’m her age, and I love it.  Our flight to Birmingham was ridiculously early and we had to bring along some signage, so both of us were concerned about getting there, getting checked in and getting on the flight.  In our eagerness we got to the airport hours before we needed to.  We were there so early I had plenty of time to walk around and take pictures of the mosaics on the floor.

over-easyAn Over Easy Arrival

We arrived in Birmingham in time for breakfast.  While I’m used to being the tour guide pretty much anywhere I go, I was happy to turn the reins over to Hannah Beth on this trip.  Her sister goes to school there, so she has the inside track.  She proved that when she took us to Over Easy.  She had a breakfast-something and I had lunch-something.  Both were delicious.

The decor and atmosphere was very California:  modernesque  furniture and semi-hippie waitstaff.  Because it was a late morning on a weekday, most of the clientele were students who didn’t have early classes and a few moms who’d dropped the older kids off at school.

We arrived at the restaurant via her sister’s campus.  We Uber-ed there from the airport.  I’m not a natural Uber-er, but Hannah Beth treats it like it’s her second car.  We may work together like two peas in a pod, but we do come from opposite sides of the generation gap.  At the campus, we picked up her sister’s car – another evidence of working in ministry.  No rental cars or swanky hotels.

Speaking of the lack of swanky hotels, we stayed in a La Quinta.  Don’t get me wrong.  There was nothing wrong with the place.  It was clean and convenient.  The breakfast was good.  It was a fine place to stay, but let’s face it two stars is not exactly plush.

So that’s the basics – an early morning flight, a little transportational shuffle, a hearty breakfast and an economy hotel.  The rest of the meals were either breakfast at the hotel or something served to us at the thing I can’t tell you about.  However, this was me and I had Hannah Beth with me.  Adventures are in store.  By the way, Birmingham is called the Steel City, because it used to be the home of most of the world’s steel mills.  More about that next week, so please come back to visit.

1 Comment

Filed under Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL, United States

Palmer’s is Perfect – Almost!

20160917_130446TRAVEL THERE: PARTYING ON PALMER’S PATIO

Armed with a recommendation and an address, Deb and I headed towards San Marcos.  We wanted to grab a bite before we headed to the outlet mall.  We found a lot more than a bite at Palmer’s!

An Awkward Beginning

From the street Palmer’s doesn’t look like much.  In fact, coming from Gruene, the first thing you see is a wall with a large mural.  Nothing about the mural let us know we’d made a good decision, but when we found the parking lot we realized we’d found the nirvana which had evaded me during an earlier yoga session.

A large shaded patio with a splashing fountain promised we were about to have a good time, but we had to work for it.  As we passed the patio entering the restaurant there were scads of empty tables, but when we asked to sit out there, the hostess hesitated.  She had to go check something and she asked us to sit down.  When she came back she said we’d need to wait a little and that sounded OK, until a little turned into a lot.

There was a time in my life when I would have meekly sat there until called, but that time has passed.  The hostess busied herself sorting through menus and made a career of ignoring us.  Since the patio was virtually empty, we wondered what was up.  Finally, I asked exactly what we were waiting on since there were so many tables available.  She stammered around about the wait staff having just taken orders and not being quite ready to serve us.  I didn’t stammer when I said we’d rather do our waiting outside.

She reluctantly seated us on the patio and soon we’d made our drink orders.  It was never quite clear why the hostess expected us to wait docilely in the slightly dank and very dark vestibule, but with the breeze blowing, a jazz trio playing and the water playing in the fountain, we didn’t care for very long.

Sour cream? REALLY?

Sour cream? REALLY?

A Little Bit of Heaven

So, the service was lacking before we ever got a chance to sit down, but I didn’t really care.  The food took forever to get there and when I got it, I didn’t like it very much.  (Nothing on the menu suggested the fritatta came heavily drizzled with sour cream.  There are only three things in the whole world that I won’t eat and sour cream is one of them.)  But that’s alright.  I was happy and didn’t want to get unhappy!

Sitting on the patio at Palmer’s is the closest thing I’ve found to sitting on the patio at Joe T’s; and sitting on the patio at Joe T’s is the closest thing I’ve found to heaven – only the food at Joe T’s is good, really good.

The food might have been mediocre, but they had something called a Poinsettia to drink.  For the uninitiated, a Poinsettia is the same thing as a Mimosa, except that you use cranberry juice instead of orange juice.  Orange juice is not one of the three things I refuse to partake of, but I do avoid it if I can.  Now that I know about Poinsettias, I will never have to regret that I don’t particularly like Mimosas, ever again in my life.

Here’s what’s funny.  A Poinsettia was $5, but according to the waitress, “for $8 you can get twice as much.”  I planned to be there for a while so I went for the large.  Forget twice as much!  I could have gotten everyone on the patio severely drunk with the huge bottle of Poinsettias I was served.  Deb had started with a make-your-own Bloody Mary Bar, with which she had been underwhelmed, but if we would have known, we would have just ordered the large Poinsettia and two glasses.  We both drank as much as we dared over several hours and still couldn’t make a dent.  See why the fritatta didn’t matter!!

I could go on, but the bottom line is this, the shady patio, the jazz band and the Poinsettias were so good, nothing else mattered – not the lousy service, not the mediocre food, nothing.  I will return to Palmer’s but it was time to head to the outlet mall.  Look out credit cards!!

Leave a comment

Filed under DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL, United States

The Quaint Town of Cesky Krumlov

4ck-townTRAVEL THERE: A TOWN IN A TIME WARP

Cesky Krumlov was lucky.  While it suffered a season of Communism, the Communists never had enough money to modernize the place.  So when they were kicked out in 1989, all Cesky Krumlov needed was a little TLC.  Tourists discovered it in the early 1990’s and the rest is history.

Entering the Time Warp

As I mentioned before, our wonderful guide was a native Krumlovite.  He grew up there and had an abiding love for his lovely little town.  We had disembarked our bus up in the castle gardens and seen a couple of lovely vistas from the castle grounds, but this charming blue, onion-domed church was our first taste of Krumlov proper.

 

City, town or village?

City, town or village?

The pace of our tour slowed down as the guide shared the highlights of his town, including his favorite places to eat and stories about his friends.  I’ve toured with guides that turned this dialog into an “ain’t-I-great” soliloquy, but the charming citizen of Krumlov did not fall into that trap.  His stories were all about the wonders in his favorite town.

By the way, while it is tempting to call it a village, rather than a town, it got a city charter somewhere along the way.  They would probably be insulted because that I was calling it a town instead of a city, but I want you to get the feel of the place, even if my terminology is not technically correct.

On Our Own

We wandered along quaint little streets until we reached the town square, where our guide released us to our own reconnaissance.  Our little group of cruise buddies hotfooted it back to our guide’s favorite restaurant and enjoyed a delightful lunch with generous quaffs of Czech beer.

Then we headed out for shopping.  EEEK!  The prices were astronomical. I strolled into a handbag store and hurried out with my tail between my legs.  While I’m not great at currency conversion, I do know enough to figure out when I’ve wandered into a triple digit zone.  The cheapest handbag I could find was very comfortably in that triple digit zone and while my friends are certainly worth that much, I can’t afford it.

There were dozens of establishments featuring souvenirs – you know the kind, t-shirts and tea towels emblazoned with screen-printed images – but that wasn’t what I was looking for.  Finally, I found a store with darling little gingerbread Christmas ornaments.  I almost bought them out and was thrilled with my find, but unfortunately I lost them somewhere along the way.  I was broken-hearted because they were hand-made and seriously darling.

Had I anticipated the expenditure, I would have bought up some amber jewelry.  Every other store on the winding streets is an amber jeweler and I loved most of their wares.  My bestie loves amber and I desperately wanted to find something for her, but in a town where a small cloth clutch costs about $200, you can imagine what the amber cost.  Still, the prices were not unreasonable, so if you go, budget for the amber and shop until you drop!

Safely back in the pack

Safely back in the pack

Suddenly It Was Time to Go

For the final half hour or so, we abandoned our cruise buddies, because I was still desperately on the hunt for gifts.  All of sudden we looked at our watch and realized we had to leave – right then.  That’s when we figured out we were lost and Cesky Krumlov no longer felt like a quaint village, but more like the city they prided themselves on being.  Our panic only lasted a short while, but that was long enough.  They’d warned us they would leave us if we weren’t on time.

We strolled back through the town, up a path around the castle and there our buses were waiting for us.  The drive back to the boat seemed longer than the trip to the Czech town, because we were hoping enough time would be left to check out Linz before dinner.

We did make it back early enough and I’ll share that with you next week, but for now, enjoy all these pictures from Cesky Krumlov.

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Myrtle Beach SC in the Good Old Days

BPS01252016_0018TRAVEL BUG TALES: A GROOVY TIME AT THE BEACH

Sorry to leave you hanging.  It was almost two months ago that I shared my sad tale of woe about my embarrassing day in Williamsburg, VA.  The worst thing about it was the knowledge that my busted lip and scabbed-up arm and leg were going to really sting when I got into the Atlantic Ocean.

Back to the Beach

After Williamsburg, we were headed to Myrtle Beach.  I’ve already talked about how much my family loved visiting the Lide’s beach house.  This trip was much the same, but this time Ann didn’t come.  Her brother Bobby was there and I admit I crushed on him in an embarrassing way, but hey, I was 14.

The highlights of Myrtle Beach include:

  • the carnival with a ride called The Scrambler
  • seining the ocean
  • dinner at The Captain’s Table
  • putt putt
  • driving to Calabash NC for flounder

Nothing Stays the Same

Myrtle Beach was the icing on the cake of a great vacation.  It was the last time we stayed in the beach house.  The Lide family sold it and bought a condo.  I never stayed in the condo, but my mom and dad returned year after year to play in the sand with their good friends.

These visits back to Myrtle Beach were something my parents cherished.  The guys would play golf and the ladies would shop.  Then they’d make the required visits to Calabash and The Captain’s Table, but they’d also try out everything else on the strip.  I was a little jealous that my younger sister got to go along on many of these return visits.  I was away at school or out being a career girl, so I was not supposed to mind – but I did.

In later years I would take mom back to Myrtle Beach for one more visit.  We rented a condo in a high-rise building and it was very nice, but it wasn’t the old beach house.  The carnival with The Scrambler was gone, but the main drag had become one long garish carnival with three million putt-putt courses.  The Captain’s Table was still there and the line was still long, but either the food wasn’t quite what it should have been or my tastes had changed.

The most disappointing thing about that final return to Myrtle Beach was Calabash.  In my memory, Calabash was a tiny town with a main drag peppered with the best seafood restaurants in the world.  I can still taste the fried flounder, hush-puppies and cole slaw.  We, of course, had our favorites, but you would have been hard-pressed to get a bad meal anywhere along the street.

On our final return, there was only one seafood restaurant.  Every other restaurant was a member of the usual chains you see everywhere.  The one seafood restaurant that remained was devoid of ambiance.  It was a huge barn of a place with formica-topped tables, while my memory clung to white tablecloths, impeccable service and flickering candles.

But that trip was long after my return in 1969.  I’ll tell you about it someday.  In 1970 we went to Corpus Christi for our family vacation, but I have only fleeting memories of it that wouldn’t make for much of a blog post.  We also visited cousins in Oklahoma City.  I remember a remarkable roadside tribute to Native Americans on that trek, but we didn’t have any pictures.  Though I’ve researched it in hopes of making a return, it has apparently disappeared, which is really sad.

In 1971, we moved into a new house – the one I always think of as home, so vacations took a back seat.  In 1972, we took a trip to South Texas with some friends from church.  Come back next week and I’ll show you around.

2 Comments

Filed under Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Cafe Tirolerhof – a Rick Steves Fail

Still Raining in Vienna

Still Raining in Vienna

TRAVEL THERE: WHERE NOT TO HAVE LUNCH IN VIENNA

While many of the wonderful things I discovered on my Danube River Cruise I can attribute directly to Rick Steves,  he failed me miserably at lunch in Vienna.  Please don’t go to Cafe Tirolerhof.

Rain, Rain Go Away

When I first shared my dream day in Vienna with my husband, he balked at lunch and dinner in the city.  He couldn’t understand why we’d look for places to eat, when we had a perfectly good boat serving both meals without incurring any extra cost.  I explained how we’d be a bit of a stroll and a subway ride away from the boat in the Hofburg environs, creating both time and monetary constraints on our day.  He seemed to acquiesce to my research, but I don’t think he actually gave up on getting back to the boat for lunch.

When we exited the Treasury he was on museum overload and he really wanted that lunch.  We had a few tense minutes, but the sun was a little bit on my side and it appeared we were in for some better weather, so Bill agreed to take in some of the sites which were, by my estimation, within walking distance – but first he wanted to sit down and have a meal.

Cafe Tirolerhof

I read him Rick Steves’ description of Cafe Tirolerhof, “a classic Viennese cafe full of things that time has passed by: chandeliers, marble tables, upholstered booths, waiters in tuxes and newspapers.”  Sounds irresistible, right? And the cafe was only a block away.

Well, it’s not really that Rick Steves lied.  Everything he listed was there, but instead of being as charming as it sounded, it was creepy and somewhat disturbing.  My first complaint is that along with all the other things time has passed by, the Tirolerhof has a whole lot of dirt their staff has been passing by for a long time.  I’ve heard waiters in Viennese coffeehouses can be rude to American tourists.  Well, the Cafe Tirolerhof waiters are rude to everyone – a real equal opportunity situation.

What’s more the menu is downright weird. I pride myself on being able to pick something delicious off menus in unfamiliar places – even when the menus aren’t in English.  Well, the Tirolerhof menu is translated into English, but you want to believe something is lost in translation.  Let me tell you, it’s not.  The food is as weird as it says it is.  What’s more the cafe does not take credit cards and because the broken credit card machine at the Imperial Apartments had forced us to use most of our euros, I had to wander down the street and figure out the Viennese ATM.

The Gray Continues, But at Least the Rain Quit – For a While

Love is the only thing that saved me at this juncture.  The sun which had been on my side right before lunch had once again retreated, but it wasn’t raining right that minute.  Having already paid for lunch, Bill figured he might as well let me trot around the palace environs, especially since I promised we’d just be sightseeing, not paying fees and trudging through museums.

So we set off on the walking tour I had charted out in my head.  What else should you see when you visit the Hofburg?  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about our trek.

 

2 Comments

Filed under DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Saint Rocco’s New York Italian at Trinity Groves

20160724_184936

Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge sits between Downtown Dallas and Trinity Groves

TRAVEL HERE: MY NEW GO-TO ITALIAN PLACE

On a Sunday afternoon, after a museum visit, Bill and I spent about forty-five minutes driving around downtown Dallas.  We thought maybe in one of those places we used to hang out we’d find something new and exciting, but mostly we found construction sites for more multi-use developments.  It was far too hot to enjoy anything al fresco, but we were out of options for new and exciting, so we made our way to Trinity Groves.

Giving It Another Try

Bill and I have tried to have fun at Trinity Groves several times and have always been under-impressed, even though we see huge potential for the area it’s just not hopping 24/7 like we think it should be.  Perhaps on Friday or Saturday evening it fulfills it potential, but that’s when we’re usually in Heath enjoying a glass of wine on our patio.  There’s something about a great view out your back door that discourages fighting for parking spaces and tables on weekend evenings.  Still, we like being plugged into our city, so we venture out on Sundays and various weekdays.

On this particular Sunday afternoon it appeared we’d bombed out again.  Granted 5:30 is a little early for dinner and very late for lunch, but the whole Trinity Groves complex was empty of anything except a few employees standing inside restaurants polishing glasses and wrapping silverware.  Drinking and dining just weren’t happening.

20160724_180039

Delicious dining at Saint Rocco’s New York Italian

Saint Rocco’s

However, we were hungry and tired of being hungry.  Since a place called Saint Rocco’s had just opened for the day we strolled inside.  The hostess was very glad to see us and placed us in a seat where we could see the whole restaurant.  It was something to see.

The decor is black and white with touches of red.  Black and white tile floor, black table and chairs with white tablecloths.  A large bar separates the restaurant from the food prep area.  Shelves of large cans of tomatoes and other staples add a hint of color.  We liked it!

And Then There Was Food

The menu has all the usual Italian food choices, but don’t get discouraged.  As soon as they delivered the warm delicious bread to our table, we knew we’d wandered into the right place.  Even the olive oil they gave us to dip the bread in was special.  Then we washed the bread down with a little Moretti’s and life was good.

While we waited for our meal the manager came around to chat us up.  She was a darling thing with a charming accent and we immediately liked her.  Bill asked her what the difference was in Italian and New York Italian.  It was something I’d never thought about before.  Had you?

Our gracious host explained that when Italians came to the States, they couldn’t get the ingredients they used to make their family dishes at home, so they had to find replacements.  Italian family recipes made with American ingredients are collectively New York Italian and they are beloved far beyond the Big Apple.

Bill and I both chose classics.  He had the Eggplant Parmesan and I had the Alfredo.  He was glad he had plenty for two meals, but I wolfed mine down in one fell swoop.  I loved it and here’s what I loved, the sauce, which was delicious, was used with restraint.  Most Alfredo dishes are drowned in too much sauce.  In this dish I could taste everything and had a delightful sauce to compliment it all.  The pasta was perfect, the vegetables were perfect and the sauce was perfect – and they were all presented in perfect proportions.

Confession, the dessert experience was disappointing.  Apparently, there is a shortage of dessert menus, because when we asked for one the waitress slipped it out of an apron pocket.  We landed on a choice, but it was one they no longer offered.  Before we had time to reconsider the other choices, the waitress had slipped the menu back into her pocket.  We took it as a sign we were not meant to have dessert and asked for the check at the first opportunity.

We’ll Be Back

Dessert mishap aside, we’ll be returning.  The atmosphere is nice, the prices are reasonable and the food is out of this world.  The service was good enough and we loved the manager.  Maybe next time we visit we may finally have an al fresco experience in Trinity Groves to rave about.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL