restaurant review:: euphemia haye (longboat key, fl)

While we were visitng my parents back home in FL last weekend, they took us to a really amazing dinner at a little place on Longboat Key called Euphemia Haye. It’s been around for 30ish years, so I don’t know how we’ve never been here with them before. The building itself looks like a historic home, and the inside is decorated with all sorts of old Broadway posters and tons of hanging plants covered in little white lights. The restaurant is broken up into smaller dining rooms, which makes it feel really quaint, and the views from the windows are of really pretty gardens surrounding the building.

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One of our favorite things was the banana bread they brought out BEFORE the regular bread… yes, two kinds of bread! A winner in my book from the start. We all agreed it had to be the best banana bread we’ve had. The nice waiter even gave us several pieces to take home. 🙂

We started off with the Fried Green Tomato Fusion (panko and cornmeal-crusted green tomatoes, pan-fried and served with a spicy, roasted red bell pepper sweet chili sauce and topped with pecan pesto and feta cheese) and the Sweet & Spicy Shrimp (Jumbo Gulf shrimp, seasoned with Cajun dust, char-grilled, and served with a honey mustard sauce). I don’t eat shrimp, but the tomatoes were quite yummy. We also got the Nouveau Waldorf Salad, which I could have eaten over and over again. It included tons of pear slices, mixed greens, candied pecans and gorgonzola crumbles, and was drizzled with a red wine vinaigrette.

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The highlight of the meal, though, is what we came for — the Key West Snapper. My dad had this recently and has been raving about it ever since, so 3 of the 4 of us got it for dinner. The dish was made up of fresh Gulf Snapper encrusted with seasoned pistachios, baked, and served with key lime-jalapeño beurre blanc and red pepper curls. To die for. While I like white fish, I don’t usually choose it over other menu items when dining out… but I’d eat this a million times over. The pistachio crust and the key lime sauce were just the most perfect combination.

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Next up…. a trip to the dessert room! The space is called the Haye Loft, and it caters to walk-in diners as well as those wanting after dinner drinks/desserts (you can order a small selection of desserts in the regular dining room, too). Dessert is one of my most favorite things ever, so I was pretty excited to get to choose from all of these options below. Although seeing about 12-15 of them lined up next to each other makes for a very hard decision.
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We of course each ordered one…  Triple Berry Glaze Pie, Florida Key Lime Pie, Pecan Pie, and Apple Walnut Crumble Pie. Somehow, not a single chocolate dessert in the mix.
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Clearly, they were all terrible.
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If you’re in the Sarasota area anytime soon, you should definitely check out Euphemia Haye. It’s certainly going to be on my list to visit next time we’re home!

restaurant review:: West Egg {dinner}

You guys. Most everyone in Atlanta knows that West Egg Cafe is one of the best brunches in the city. But did you know that their dinner is also really, really good? Last week, I snapped up a Scoutmob Handpicked deal for a $35 West Egg dinner for 2, which included a carafe of wine, a sampler app platter, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts (view deal here, good through Aug 2014). We didn’t have any plans on the Thursday before July 4th since we were staying in town, so we headed to the Westside for a little dinner date.

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This is the chef’s sampler platter:: homemade pimiento cheese, hummus, veggies, toast points, crackers, and ham. YUM. We cleaned the plate in about 5 minutes.
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I had my eye on the Pig & Grits, but I ultimately went with the Meatloaf & Mac, because how could I not have pimiento cheese in 2 of the 3 courses I ate? Everything on my plate was delicious — yes, even the green beans. The mac was so creamy and cheesy, and the meatloaf was incredibly moist and flavorful. I also enjoyed the zig-zag design they made with the sauce. Craig chose the “PB&J Burger” — pimiento cheese, bacon, and tomato jam — and every last bit was devoured. He said the burger itself was good (nothing out of this world), but the combo of the three toppings was spot-on.
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Not one, but TWO desserts included? Yes!
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Craig took that opportunity to get something he knew he wouldn’t have to share with me — Banana Pudding. It was such a great presentation, and the meringue was really sweet and crisp. I didn’t taste the pudding, but Craig almost licked the mason jar clean. I think it was a winner.
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I picked the Oatmeal Cream Pie  made with oatmeal cookies and marshmallow creme…. it was divine. It was also huge, so I took half home with me to enjoy later. I liked that the cookies had large oats and were sweet, but not overly so. The marshmallow filling was just right.

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If you’re in the Atlanta area, grab one of the Scoutmob Handpicked deals and go to West Egg for dinner this summer!
(This post was not sponsored in any way by West Egg or Scoutmob. I just really like to eat out and take advantage of great deals.)

restaurant reviews:: Arizona travel

While on our road trip through Arizona last week, we ate at several places that I wanted to share with y’all. If you live in AZ or ever find yourself traveling there, check out some of these restaurants throughout the state.

Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market — Sedona areaunnamed

On our way out of Sedona, we stopped at this cafe and market, and I’m so happy we did. It would have been easy to miss it, but I think it’s such a little gem. According to their website, it is an Arizona landmark, celebrating 70 years on this historic property. They had several sandwich/soup/salad options (with several vegetarian meals), and they even have craft beer on tap. My favorite part was the garden patio area tucked away behind the building, shaded by big trees.

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I got the Gobbler (smoked turkey breast, avocado, provolone, local organic sprouts, tomato, and pesto mayo on sourdough bread).
Craig chose the Spring Pulled Pork (slow-roasted, pulled pork with house made barbecue sauce and seasonal slaw of bok chou, daikon, carrots, & cabbage. Served warm on ciabatta bread). While mine was delicious and sort of refreshing after our hiking adventure, I had major “order envy” over Craig’s dish. That BBQ was so yummy, and the slaw was the perfect combo of crunchy and sweet.

The market was also stocked full of craft beer, wine, coffee, snacks, desserts, and gifts — perfect for filling up the car with goodies before we began our trek to the Grand Canyon. I just wish we could have stopped back by again!

El Tovar Dining Room
— Grand Canyon
photo credit

Since we were staying at the historic El Tovar Hotel for a night, we decided we should have a nice dinner at their onsite restaurant. The Dining Room has the same rustic charm as the rest of the hotel property, and if you’re seated near the windows (we were not), I’d bet you would have the most gorgeous view of the Canyon.

We  started with the House Salad and the French Onion Soup… the salad was good, but the soup was lick-the-bowl-clean good. Craig and I joked that maybe they’d have Elk on the menu since they’re all over the park area, but of course, they did not. Instead, he opted for the Buffalo Filet (Fig Compote, Pepperjack Au Gratin Potatoes, and Seasonal Vegetables). I wanted to steal his potatoes, and I think he really liked that fig compote. I am not big on quail/duck/lamb chops, so I went with a rather safe choice — the Chicken Piccata (Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon Caper Sauce and Seasonal Vegetables). It was good, but nothing too exciting to write home about.

www.tabelog.usphoto credit

Their dessert options are displayed right as you enter the room, which of course worked on me. I was stuffed by the time dessert rolled around, but I couldn’t say no to the Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was a good decision. I would have been perfectly happy just ordering the appetizer and dessert for my meal…. which seems to be the case a lot.


The Mission — Scottsdale
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Our first night in Scottsdale, we at at The Mission, which is located in Old Town and serves Latin cuisine. It was just a random find on (ranked #8 out of 992 restaurants in Scottsdale). I’m glad we made a reservation, though, because it’s clearly popular  among tourists and locals (including bachelorette parties). It’s a rather loud, dark restaurant, but the vibe is swanky and cool. They have patio seating, but I loved the inside decor — lots of mirrors and dark chandeliers. We grabbed a couple yummy cocktails from the very busy bar while we waited for our table (Red Sangria and a Blood Orange Rita).

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We started with the Tableside Guacamole. Calling it “tableside” was sort of amusing, as the tables are quite close to one another, not leaving much room for them to pull a cart up to the table to make this dish. It was a HUGE bowl of guac, but we managed to almost finish it. Probably not the brightest idea, considering that we are always stuffed after eating too much chips and dip before dinner at Mexican restaurants. For dinner, we ordered a plate of the Pork Shoulder Tacos (smoked & slow braised‏ for 12 hours, pineapple habanero glaze, cotija cheese, handmade tortillas), which serve two. They were so rich, but so very good. We also ordered sides of the Black Bean Puree and Chipotle Honey Cream Grits — both were good additions to the meal.

www.eisforeat.comphoto credit


Chelsea’s Kitchen — Scottsdale

Chelsea’s was recommended to us by a couple different people, and I got the impression that it is more of a local scene, which was welcomed after being in such touristy areas on our trip. There was a long wait, so I think it’s a pretty popular place. We’d already had appetizers at the hotel for happy hour, so we skipped that section of the menu.

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I was having a hard time deciding between the Green Chile Burger (roasted green chiles and Tillamook cheddar with french fries) and the Wood-fired Rotisserie Jidori Chicken (cannellini beans, veggies). The waiter actually recommended trying the chicken, because he said it was that good. I really wanted the Baked Mac n Cheese as a side, but I was told it’s almost the size of an entree. The chicken was moist and flavorful and I really liked the cannellini beans, but I ended up eyeing the burger that a neighboring table had gotten… 
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Craig wanted something a little lighter than he’d had the night before, so he chose the Grilled Swordfish Tacos, which were guaranteed to be the best in town. Quiet a claim! 😉  He ate most everything on his place, but I think we both decided that dessert was our favorite thing we ordered…..
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Because it was this! Mile-high meringue on the Key Lime Pie (with Strawberry Gelato).  Delicious to the last bite, and we wish we’d gotten a bigger piece. 
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Another thing of note — they have a platter of cookies to take on the way out! They know the way to my heart.


El Chorro — Paradise Valley (Scottsdale area)
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We celebrated our (early) anniversary on our last night in Arizona with a most delicious dinner under the desert stars. This restaurant was recommended to us by a friend, and I’m so glad we tried it out. All entrees include a basket of their famous Sticky Buns, and honestly, that’s what sold me on the place. They were… well…. let’s just say that we devoured them in about 30 seconds and would have eaten 100 more if we were physically able to.

www.slowtrav.comphoto credit

For our meals, I chose the Braised Beef Short Ribs (whole grain mustard mashed potatoes, garden carrots, and haricot vert) and Craig tried to order the 1/2 Rack of Lamb (brussels sprouts, white bean puree, blackberry jalepeno demi), but the waiter told him it would just be a snack, so he begrudgingly ordered the whole thing. I think he probably regretted that decision after the Sticky Buns…

As you may have noticed, we thoroughly enjoyed eating our way through Arizona. We can’t wait to go back one day!

restaurant review:: slice & pint (emory village)

Slice & Pint is a new-ish pizza place in what used to be Everybody’s Pizza over in Emory Village. Some friends recommended checking it out, so we headed across town a couple weekends ago for… you guessed it, pizza and beer. They have a nice selection of beer and it sounds like they’ll be brewing their own in a couple months. The pizza options were also great — so many interesting options, and you can build your own as well.

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I am usually a pepperoni/sausage/peppers kind of girl, but I decided I should branch out and try the Chicken Pesto pie (housemade basil pesto, marinated chicken, roma tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella & feta)… it did not disappoint.
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Craig got the Carlos (chipotle adobo sauce, portuguese chorizo, grass fed ground beef, mozzarella, cheddar, roasted corn, green onions, cilantro). It wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be, but in my mind that is a good thing. The flavors were great, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of corn on pizza.

20131122-274409-slice-and-pint-carlos(image from Serious Eats)

After dinner, we checked out  Ink & Elm, which seems to be a new hot spot in town. The restaurant has 2 sides — one that is more casual, and one that is more  “Mad Men”-esque. We chose to have a drink on the more upscale side, which features large wingback chairs in the bar area. It has a really neat vibe throughout, and I’m excited to go back for dinner sometime.
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While we don’t live anywhere near the Emory Village area, it’s really nice to have different options around the city. I hope Slice & Pint and Ink & Elm are here to stay. I know we’ll certainly be back.

restaurant reviews:: atlanta lunch spots

I’ve been on a new restaurant kick lately, so I thought I’d share a little about a couple great lunch spots  I’ve visited recently around Atlanta.

Cafe Lapin::


I met a girlfriend for lunch at Cafe Lapin last week, and I’m a new fan. It’s a little French country-style cafe in a rather unassuming location in the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center. The feel is sort of like being in someone’s home, with lamps and books and cute decorations everywhere.


They have an impressive assortment of chicken salads, tuna and egg salads, other sandwiches, quiche, and more. We were laughing because the menu is very “Buckhead Betty” friendly. I chose the walnut chicken salad on a croissant (my fave way to eat chicken salad) with a side caesar salad. It was so yummy and fresh-tasting. The grilled pimiento cheese and bacon sammy sounded amazing, too… I’ll probably have to go back soon to try that one. They serve breakfast and dinner, too, so there are lots of opportunities to check it out.


Bell Street Burritos::

I’ve been wanting to visit Bell Street Burritos for some time now, thanks to my coworker who has a serious obsession with their food. We ate at the Inman Park/Old 4th Ward location a couple weeks ago, which is connected to Jake’s Ice Cream…. can’t beat burritos and ice cream. But I would take a quesadilla over a burrito any day, so that’s what I chose. The cheese dip was delicious, and all of our meals were devoured.

They serve dinner as well. That’s actually when we went, and it was SO filling, so I’d imagine I’d have leftovers if I ate there for lunch. I’m so excited that they’re opening a location on Peachtree (across the street from the old Cafe Intermezzo) so that I can go on my lunch break!

restaurant review:: the restaurant @ las ventanas resort (mexico)

Yes, it’s called The Restaurant.

On our last night in Cabo (which was my 30th birthday), we dined at The Restaurant at the Las Ventanas resort. Since our resort was just down the street, they were kind enough to drive us there in a golf cart. It was sort of magical — the street was lined with giant swaying palm trees, there was a nice breeze, and the sun was setting. Talk about a perfect intro to one of the most amazing meals any of us has ever had.

We all agreed that it was among our very favorite dining experiences ever. The resort itself, Las Ventanas, is just breathtaking — so peaceful and serene. The architecture and atmosphere really sets the tone as soon as you enter the gates. We were greeted and guided to the restaurant by a very nice man who offered to stop and take several photos for us without any hesitation. As you all know by now, I’m slightly obsessed with documenting everything we do, so I in particular really appreciated this.




When we came down the stairs to the restaurant, we were blown away by how beautiful it was. The sun was just setting, and the infinity pool looked like it flowed right into the ocean. The open-air restaurant was being lit up by lanterns, and a small band of two guitar players was setting up. The staff was incredibly courteous and welcoming. We got a table with a perfect view of the water. And since we were there for mine and my dad’s birthdays, they even printed a “happy birthday” message to us on the menus!




We started off with small beef tacos (a bit spicy and so delicious), tortilla soup (amazing presentation), and the tuna tar tar of some sort. We loved everything we had. They also brought out baskets with a variety of fresh breads/crackers and some interesting dips — our favorite was one made from pumpkin seeds. The wine was great, but very pricey. The average bottle was $200! Yikes. Luckily, we were able to find something more reasonably priced.



The highlight of dinner was my sister-in-law’s dish, which was a special — the homemade fettuccine alfredo with lobster tail — to die for. My chicken mole dish was really good, and I think everyone else loved theirs, too. For dessert, we got the churros (excellent), tres leches cake (pretty good), and a chocolate tray with various mousses, crisps, and cakes. They also brought out some trays of bite-sized treats with our bill. Needless to say, we were stuffed like Thanksgiving turkeys when we left.





I didn’t think the food was too highly priced given where we were, but the wines were a different story. I’d highly recommend this restaurant to anyone for a romantic dinner or for a celebratory dinner with family and friends. I can’t wait to return!!


restaurant review:: salad bar @ the loews hotel

Ladies who lunch!

I started the week off with a lovely lunch in Midtown Atlanta. I met a few girlfriends who also work in the Midtown/Downtown area at the Loews Hotel on Monday to try out the salad bar  that the restaurant Eleven offers during lunch hours. We sat outside, and the weather was absolutely perfect — definitely didn’t feel like July in Georgia.


For just $10, you can create your own salad from a variety of  lettuces, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, meat, and dressings. The meal also includes an assortment of fresh breads (including corn bread and individual ramekins of soft butter) and a dessert of the day. It’s not huge, but it’s certainly the nicest salad bar I’ve ever been to.

We started off with gigantic mixing bowls to go through the line with, which was sort of funny. I think we all made the mistake of filling our bowls too full, because we all had leftovers. The salad was delicious, the cornbread was sweet and buttery, and the dessert (flourless chocolate cake with some sort of cream center) was sinfully rich. They also brought out a bowl of what looked to be salty homemade potato chips, which I couldn’t stop eating. And one of my favorite parts was the iced tea presentation! It was served with a mini glass pitcher for refills as well as a flight of 4 different simple syrup sweeteners. So pretty!




They have a regular lunch menu that includes options like the McDaddy Burger (double decker georgia beef patty, local cheddar, bacon, mushrooms, sunny side up egg) that also sound tasty, but I will definitely be back for the salad bar. I loved having an excuse to do something a little different for lunch during the work week with some lovely ladies!

restaurant review:: Kevin Rathbun Steak

Kevin Rathbun Steak. I sometimes forget about this fab restaurant because it’s in a sort of off-the-beaten path location in the Inman Park area, which is across town from us. We have been visiting KRS every so often for years now, and I’ve always been impressed with our experience. Recently, we dined there while my parents were in town, and all 6 of us agreed that it was one of the best meals we’ve had in quite a while. I also love the ambiance in the restaurant… dark, lots of wood, and really neat stained glass accents at the bar.


I don’t have photos of the starters and main dishes, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. From start to finish, everything was delicious.  We love some appetizers, so we tried the Eggplant Fries, Grilled Thick Cut Bacon, and Lobster Fritters. The Eggplant Fries were definitely the surprise hit of the table — plump, crispy, flavorful, and covered with powdered sugar for good measure. The Bacon was  quite different — the sauce included molasses and sriracha, which made for an interesting flavor combo. And who doesn’t love fried lobster?

For the main course, most of us had various steaks. My steak came out a little less cooked than I’d have liked, but restaurants almost never cook it to my liking (except Hal’s — they’e got it down). The Caesar salad was big enough to share (2 of us did).  We also shared several sides among the table, including Creamed Spinach, Jalapeno Creamed Corn, Cheddar Grits, and Parmesan Fries. They were all fantastic.

On to dessert — not sure how we had one bit of room left! We shared the Espresso Bon-Bons, Berry Tart, and I think a Bread Pudding, although I have to confess that I can’t quite remember what it was, even with the photo below. But either way, all three were so good that we contemplated ordering a second round. Talk about gluttons for punishment, right?


Had to sneak in a photo of a couple of my beautiful dining partners::
I can’t wait to go back to Kevin Rathbun — just hope it’s on someone else’s dime, because I’d likely break the bank ordering one of everything on the menu.