Whereas many long time loyalists are concerned that Mother Marriott sometimes overlooks us when distracted by their bright new shiny target audience (of which we proudly include several members), we, time and time again demonstrate that when it comes to travel activities, restaurants, pretty airplanes (for you geeks out there ) and DEALS, Insiders are certainly in the know.
Here's a recent article about the great prices and ever improving foods at the new trend of dining at the bar, a subject we have discussed and shared several times over the past year or two http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304432604579475421000301880
Long before it was trendy, we have written several times about the good deals at top notch restaurants (like Landry's, Lettuce Entertain You, Flemings, Vidalia, Oceanaire, etc etc). I just had a terrific happy hour pre-meal savings last night at Jose Andres' Oyamel (most all of his restaurants have similar offerings) where by saving on my wine, beer, and appetizers, my Goldstar.com half price show at Woolly Mammoth was essentially free. Speaking of free, Fillaseat.com ($90 membership bought for $45 thru localAmazon.com/) has been better than I thought, already sending me to three shows (two, which I was just about to buy), more than exceeding the membership fee - check it out in your city.
Keep on, keepin' on Insiders
Great post erc, even the geek comment,
Bar dining has been a staple of my wife and I for years and mostly for appetizers rather than a full meal. I'd much rather strike up a conversation with a Bartender or Bartendress, it almost always gets you a better mixture in a drink or a better wine suggested for a lower price.
At our local Carrabba's Italian Grill we'll sit at the food prep bar and find ourselves with special appetizers one of the prep guys is making that isn't on a menu.
At The Purple Pig Chicago on our last visit to Chicago we sat at the bar next to where the servers would pick up the orders, amazing what you get a Chef will give a small sampling of to try. Plus it is just fun to be in the midst of it all, if I wanted a nice quiet dinner with my wife we'd stay at home.
At American Restaurant & Sushi : Happy Hour : The Woodlands, TX | Kona Grill the Happy Hour is excellent. On our first visit we sat at the outside bar and got nice glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Gris for about 30% less and when my wife asked what an appetizer was that the couple across the bar was having we ended up with an Avocado Egg Roll that was outstanding. I don't mind that the portions are smaller as the Grilled Apple and Brie Flatbread more than filled us up.
Those Happy Hour prices for appetizers and bar bites cannot be beat so get out and visit your local spots so we can hear of your experiences.
Drinks are happily houred from 4:30 until 6 PM seven nights a week. The bar menu has all the food groups we eat. Including an American Kobe cheeseburger, Sicilian certified pizzas, Chicken and the like. For the less adventurous there is Calamari and other Italian specialties at reduced prices.
Drinks are mighty medicinal and if you order a cocktail and a burger it's a Special Happy Hour pricing, both for $11;50, no toy included.
The owner, Rich Pepe, is involved in several enterprises, including having gone to school with and still working with a member of the Sopranos cast, Joey Pantolino, aka Guido the Killer Pimp in Risky Business, to Francis Fratelli in The Goonies, to Cypher in The Matrix, to his Emmy Award winning role of Ralphie (Ralph Cifaretto) on the Sopranos. Ralphie was one of Tony's many associates who "disrespected" Tony, and paid the price.
For a long time there was an autographed photo of the major players at the Satriale Pork Store, but it is now gone. (the photo and the store, which was demolished and is now a parking lot in Kearney NJ.)
Anyway, there's a rooftop bar as well, but it is not as cozy as downstairs, where we can be found every Friday, healing ourselves, bathing in the glow of good food. reasonable prices, and of course medicinal liquids.
I usually travel alone and securing one seat at the bar is usually pretty easy (and I don't have to put my name on the wait list ). I'm sure the wait staff appreciates that I'm not occupying a space that could seat a larger group and I get served more quickly. Everybody wins.
On my recent visit to Rooster's Wood-Fired Grille in Charlotte (thank you shoeman1000 and jerrycoin), I sat at the "chef's table" (really a bar overlooking the kitchen) and watched all the great food being prepared.
I don't know that I've ever gotten "special appetizers" (except maybe at a sushi bar I used to frequent), but I like sitting at the bar. The service is usually more immediate (I don't have to wait for a server to come by to get me another drink) and I suspect I spend less time in the restaurant which frees up a seat for the next customer.
For me, dining at the bar just works.
Glad you had a great time at Roosters!
Would have enjoyed joining you! That would be a wonderful place to get together with shoeman1000, and other MRI!
I not only love the article; I love your entire post. I, too, can often get distracted by those in the new shiny target audience, but I always come back and trust my loyal, expert Insiders! Lets be honest, you all teach us many of the trends first. I think merb and The specified item was not found. would agree with me .
Last night we ventured over to our newest restaurant here in The Woodlands, Bonefish Grill and enjoyed the nice evening weather sitting at the outside bar. We shared appetizers of Wagyu Beef and Ginger Dumplings that were perfectly good with a nice spicy flavor, then went for the Singapore Calamari with the spicy sweet Asian sauce (to die for) and finished with the Bonefish House salad which was a perfect size. Our wine was Coppola Russian River Directors Cut of which we had three glasses and with tax/tip we got out of there for $48 during Happy Hour.
Bar dining at the right time is a great bargain and a lot of fun particularly when you run into old friends from back in the days when our sons grew up together.
I'll "slip another thought on the barbie". Often at Costco there are excellent gift card deals for the likes of Bloomin' Brands (Fleming's, Roy's, Carrabas, Outback, Bonefish) or McCormick and Schmick's. $100 cards for $80 (which of course is better than the normal $10 bonus on $50, plus you don't have different time periods of usage or expiration on the savings part), both groups often keep Happy Hour menus until 7 pm. Happy Hour deals combined with 25% savings means more beer and/or dessert . Go man, go.
Add Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to the list of places with terrific happy hour deals! My particular spot in Fairfax, Va. had tables (fours and deuces), so you could truly relax and it ran from 4:30 - 7:00, so you could even eat at normal hours.
Here's the items we had tonight - each only $7 a piece, combined with a tasty $3 Yuengling Lager and a $7 Pomegranate Martini, $2 tax, 20% $8 tip and we were out of there with a great (and filling) meal for less than what I've paid for a steak there - yeah baby.
click on photo to enlarge and really see the goods !
The key, eat the Crab BLT like an open faced sandwich, and the steak w/bearnaise by itself - delish.
I'll be back to try the Smoked Salmon, Prime Burger, and Ahi Tuna soon .
Thanks for sharing, as I just had a memorable meal at Ruth's Chris in Clayton, MO! Have never had a better Chopin and tonic! The dinner was special, and I wished I could have taken advantage of "Happy Hour" prices!
erc, will look forward to enjoying your meal! It sounds like a wonderful experience!
Gotta love those HH prices for both food and drink, who needs a full meal with 4-10 courses other than you know who, kharada46!!
Hey hey IAHFLYR, that's a rarity for me
HH prices are always welcome! I love HH at Doraku Sushi in Honolulu and Monkeypod Kitchen in Ko Olina. I would love the HH at Hiroshi's Eurasian Tapas in Honolulu from 5:30-6:30, but it's limited to the 14 bar seats on a first come, first serve basis with half off the entire food menu! Just can't get away from work early enough
But they still have a Sunday/Monday night $35 4-course menu that's hard to complain about too. I guess Hiroshi's sister restaurant is more my kind of HH. 50% off after 10pm - 1am except for specials and certain items like the foie gras nigiri.
Our last HH was Monday evening at Kona Grill. Nice evening to sit on the patio and enjoy some incredible sushi and a few rolls, only drawback is their HH wine selection is not really a selection of one. So we upped the ante and got the Willamette Valley Pinot Gris which was as always excellent and priced right at $10 a glass, but well worth the price/taste difference.
Then it's always a fun bicycle ride home.
Yes you did tell me that, just not Champions area! You would not like 1960 any more plus with two new runways since you left when the airport lands east they all fly right over Champions at 3,000', but at least they are quiet airplanes now nothing like DC9 or B727 days!
And yes I know the area well as I also fly out of David Wayne Hooks just north of Louetta. Heck in those days when you lived here 1960 was where we had to go to find a restaurant.
The Rusty Scupper in Baltimore http://www.rusty-scupper.com/ is a fine restaurant with excellent service and food, often at some dear prices. It has a lovely view of the Inner Harbor as well, to go along with that excellent food and service. Meeting with some younger entrepreneurs, I took a page from the hotel industry's Knowledge of the Millennial handbook, realizing that millennials (which represented half of my dinner party and were my guests) are seeking 'experiences' and not stuffiness, (nor desks according to Mr. M), and enjoy lobby type areas where they can be surrounded by others . This information worked well with my natural 'old school' propensity of always seeking a deal, and lead to our group meeting in the bar to take full advantage of their Happy Hour (4 pm -7 pm) menu (take a moment to glance at the extensive menu offerings with savings for the exact same food). It was a tremendous success, both financially and socially as the food was superb with comfortable seating, the service was excellent, and the conversation was lively. Who says you can't teach old customers new tricks, thank you hotel industry for showing me the light (and saving me some serious coin).
Well, as they said in The Big Lebowski (among this year's Film Registry's selections)
we've heard stories this week where fellow Insiders have gotten the short end of the stick regarding MegaBonus (I myself have several times had the misfortune of having stays just outside the bonus dates). So to put us back into the win column in our ongoing struggle against The Man, I share the following small victory.
This is the time of year when many restaurants offer their gift cards at 10, 20, and 25% bonuses (Landry's, Bloomin' Brands, McCormick and Schmicks etc, you know the drill). Well, I always vacillate over the purchase of a Lettuce Entertain You 25% bonus e-certificate ( Lettuce Gift Cards | Lettuce Entertain You). The gift card costs you $7 for shipping, which kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise. The card must be purchased by 12/30, but the bonus can only be used between Jan and April, and once tucked away, it's sometimes easy to forget and there's nothing like the feeling of discovering an expired bonus (often the week of the expiration ).
But here's where the deal gods were smiling on me. I have a gaggle of out of town relatives coming for the holidays and they love Asian food. My first thought was PF Changs (with my $100 card bought for $80 at Costco ) but then I thought of Big Bowl at our nearby Town Center (with lovely decorated trees, skating rink, the entire holiday works). My cousin, a fellow big time fan of the craft beer scene, loves him some happy hour tastes. So, next week I use up the entire $100 at the excellent Big Bowl happy hour (they have tables and bar tops, so a great meal/deal as well).
I have a trip scheduled to LEY's hometown of Chicago in January (great rates and...inside the MegaBonus dates!) and will easily use my $25 bonus at Bub City with the daughter (or whatever LEY option she chooses - "you can eat anywhere you want in the city...as long as it's an LEY restaurant ). Yeah baby, love it when a plan comes together and we snatch victory from the jaws of defeat vs. The Man!
ks77 - This trip, short of a blizzard shutting down the town, it's Gibsons and Wow Bao
Keep on keepin' on Insiders; for in '15, we'll not only survive, we'll thrive .
Hi and happy holidays to the awesome Insiders crew! You're all making me very hungry and missing my days in Chicago. I bought many "Lettuce" gift cards when I lived there, and may need to look at those for last-minute gifts as we're planning a trip for Feb. My friends think we're crazy to plan a non-work trip to Chicago in the middle of winter, but I love that city, the flights will be cheaper, and we can hit up great dining and a Bulls game when most people don't want to go there. Thanks for all the reminders.
Regarding preference for eating at the bar, a handful of restaurants here in CT now offer reservations for bar seats if you plan to order food. That is our favorite way to eat for many of the reasons everyone here has mentioned. Has anyone seen this trend where they live/travel?
This is all terrific Chicagoland stuff gang, thanks. Like Jmart says, I'm there in January, the rates are terrific, although I'm there by myself (the Mrs. stays away from January until April, daughter or no daughter). I'll take the daughter to Gibson's and Wow Bao and hit the happy hour bar foods at Morton's (the original, since I'm on Walton), McCormick and Schmick's and Roy's (and maybe even squeeze in a Fleming's) - yeah baby!
My wife and I have been HH fans for several years now. It started when we decided to stop each ordering a full restaurant meal and just splitting one between us. The next step was apps. The other thing we enjoy is the opportunity to meet other people, which is usually easier around a bar than at a dinner table. Roy's has some great HH apps and the Phoenix Roy's is at the JW Desert Ridge, so I put everything on the room and get points to boot! I really enjoyed it when I could use Marriott Cheques and pay for everything with points. (At last have the memory that experience.)
Since we've proven at Insiders, how we're 'cutting edge' when it comes to trends, here's a look at Nation's Restaurant News forecast for hot food trends next year; (easy slide show - little reading required )
Scrambled eggs for dinner, meat spreads (a notch above Underwood, I'd imagine) and soft serve ice cream are some of the 'hot' foods for next year. Also #13 made me smile, Flasks are back. I'll dust off my ol' college flask and get in the game, like the saying, "everything old is new again", I'm trendy about twice every 25 years .
Nice list, but we've been eating Tacos and Spicy Food for years so it's about time they caught up to us in Texas!
Really love the Flavors Without Fat, that helps me continue to use my Flask on the golf course.
I must say the Shrinking Lunch has to go, what will all the government workers do now that the 90 minute dining experience will be shrinking? Sure glad I have no job now and lunch can turn into Happy Hour then dinner on the grill.
That was an interesting look-see... thanks for posting.
Nice that they gave a shout out to two of my newest in-state preferred dining establishments, Barbacco's (for when you just have to say 'No' to the wait next door at Tadich Grill, and why not? Barbacco's is great.) and State Bird Provisions, both in the City by the Bay.
Café Brulot. Really? (Cuz I'm not buyin' it.) Some of these are nothing more than gimmicks. Others are just plain ridiculous when it comes to trendy. Scrambled eggs and toast for dinner? Patty melt? You said it best, ercster, "everything old is new again."
A McDonalds soft serve vanilla frozen yogurt cone (the light, mostly air cone) is one of the most economical, low-cal, no negative impact delights ever (though I haven't had one in ages. ) Throw it on the menu of a popular dining establishment, and voilà! Instant "trendy!"
Drinks, appetizers and some bocce ball? Oh ya, now we're talkin'!
Well as I enter the "Old man got run over by a reindeer" stage of life and end up (sadly, mostly by attrition, rather than wisdom) as a patriarch of the clan, I introduced the family to the Golden Rule of holiday dining; He who has the gold, rules .
This is where our Insiders inside dope on bar food deals came in handy. The gang, wanting a non-turkey Christmas Eve meal, chose Asian as the cuisine. I could have gone with a PF Chang option ($100 cards for $80 at Costco and happy hour apps and drinks - at the tables) but we opted instead with Big Bowl, which fit well within the game plan. A Lettuce Entertain You e-certificate, $125 for $100, and Big Bowl's happy hour deals, at table tops and booths where we had our apps and first round, saved me some serious coin (of course, that's a bit like the Dunkirk evacuation, where my 'victory' was in cutting my losses, but I did save to buy another day ).
My Millennial Brain Trust, they check Insiders now and then to: A) pick up travel tips and B) 'keep me honest'
They enjoy taunting my technological ignorance (it's ok, we're spending their inheritance ).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. We Insiders, are indeed, the fortunate ones.