A Typical Restaurant Week Experience

 It’s Restaurant Week season here, once again, and all those old familiar feelings are beginning to arise.For those unfamiliar, Restaurant Week is a concept created to encourage people to try different restaurants. At its’ inception, each restaurant paid the Restaurant Week company a certain amount of money to participate, created a $27.95 sample menu, all in the hopes that new people would come in, and even better, come back for full prices. 

The concept is beautiful; help introduce people to new places they otherwise might not have tried. Unfortunately, the concept and execution are in stark contrast. Deal hunters prey on Restaurant Week. Our usual clientele hides in fear as these new predators enter the market. And, boy do they throw you for doozies. While I could go on and on about this, instead, I’d like to introduce you to what it’s truly like. May I introduce… ::drumroll::

A Typical Conversation with a Restaurant Week Customer:

“Oh, the restaurant is VERY dark. I’m going to have a hard time seeing the menu. Oh my, is that a staircase? We are NOT going upstairs. Excuse me? Did you hear me? I MUST be seated downstairs.”

“Oh, the menu is very small. Is this all the options I have? Oh my, an up-charge for the steak? I once got a steak for $21 at Outback with a salad! I can’t believe their steak is $35. That’s just unreasonable.”

“Okay, are sodas included? What about coffee? Oh, it’s not? Okay then… I guess I’ll just take some lemon for my water. And, can we have more bread?”

“This bread is delicious. It looks like we’re going to need more butter. Can we get more butter? This just isn’t enough for two people.”

“alright, we’re ready to order now. I’ll have the tomatoes and mozzarell (*yes, i know that’s spelled incorrectly. However, every want to be italian on Long Island calls it “mozzarell”) and, I guess for my entree, oh, I don’t know… I’m in between the chicken and the risotto. Ya know what, I’ll go for the risotto.Yeah, that’s what I’ll get.” 

“Well, this first course was very good. Ya know what though, the portion was a little small. Oh, a “sample menu”, huh? So, you’re saying your regular menu portion is larger? Well, I mean, I guess if that’s how you want to be.”

Can I get a diet coke? No ice, and a lime?”

“Oh, wow. Look at these steak knives. They have some weight to them. Excuse me, hon, can we get more bread when you get a chance? Oh, AND butter! Just bring two butters!” 

“Well, this risotto is just very creamy. Almost too creamy. This shrimp is delicious. This is just out of the world. I’m very glad you paid the extra $5 for the steak. That steak is the best steak I’ve ever had.”

“Are refills free? Oh, good- at least something is. Can I get a refill?” 

“Alright, what’s for dessert? Mhm, chocolate cake. Or cheesecake! This is just a very difficult decision. You know what, I’ll go with the cheesecake. Oh, wait, no. I’ll go for the chocolate cake!”

“This cake was very decadent. Can we get the check now?” 

“That was very good. You’re just going to have to roll me out of here. I am SO. Stuffed.”

 

Just imagine that conversation, over and over and over and over again. While I’m glad the restaurant is busy, man oh man, do I miss my normal clientele. 

Wish me luck this weekend. 

 

 

A Weekend in Montreal

A Few weeks ago, Mark and I looked at each other and realized we didn’t have anything planned for our anniversary. Initially, I was going to throw a giant house warming party because it felt like throwing a second wedding. After thinking about it for a while, planning it, telling everyone, I decided to cancel it.  If we’re being honest, it’s because the thought of things getting spilled on my perfect new sofa gave me anxiety. Something happens to you as you get older. I think it’s called being an adult. We decided we were going to go to Montreal. It’s a short drive from Long Island, it’s foreign, it’s creative, and, there’s just so much to do there. Even better, it’s not prone to hurricanes. 

We woke up early Saturday and began our drive up there. My favorite part of the drive was through the Adirondacks. Not to sound basic, however, the foliage was unbelievable. I gazed at the trees in awe; it’s incredible what nature can do when we allow it to. How natural vines grow  around the rocks, or the vividness of their leaves. I could have pulled over and just stared at the magnificent sight all day. Montreal (1 of 14)

We arrived in Montreal around 6:30, and, decided to grab a drink, some food and just relax while we plan our next day. The last time we were in Montreal we weren’t able to do “a lot” because we were primarily there to go to a concert. This time, I wanted to enjoy all the spots while also taking in more of the culture. 

A little fun fact; I have this habit of only bringing my 35mm lens when traveling. While I know I won’t be capturing some of the details I would with a telephoto lens, I find that you’re able to enjoy the smaller details of the city because you’re forced to see them. Plus, the perspective is most accurate to human vision, so it’s fun to capture “what I’m seeing”. I’m sure travel bloggers, and other photographers will disagree. To each their own, right?

Anyway, on Sunday we did everything! Here’s a run down of our day & how we planned it out to hit everything:

  1. We started our day at Fairmont Bagels. It’s this hole in the wall bagel shop where you can see the bakers hand roll each bagel. The bagels were dense, soft, and they just give a cream cheese packet that you can dip into. Would I say it was the “best” bagel I ever had. No, but, that’s because I’m from Long Island. However, I would say it’s the SECOND best bagel I ever had, and that’s high praise. 

fairmont

2. After Fairmont Bagels, we headed over to The Basilica. Church was in session in the early part of the morning, but, we knew starting over there was a great center point for the rest of our day. This is my second time at this basilica but it was only my first time going inside. Having been to the Sistine Chapel, I thought I had seen the most beautiful church in the world, but, I was wrong. I will never forget walking in and just whispering “wow” to myself. It is unlike anything I had ever seen. The detail on each wall, the hand painted patterns, the French gothic theme, the detail just for the sake of detail is overwhelming. I lit a candle inside, said a prayer for my family, and will forever cherish being able to see something so beautiful. Here’s the outside. Admittedly, my inside shots don’t do it justice.

Montreal (7 of 14)

3.Afterwards, we walked down to Old Port of Montreal. It was a cute little area and walking with the breeze was refreshing. I also loved seeing art just for the sake of art. If there’s one thing I want to take from this trip it’s that beauty for the sake of beauty, expression for the sake of expression, doing for the sake of doing, is a healthy lifestyle that allows you to live your most fulfilled life. Montreal gave me a breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed. From old port we walked up to St. Paul Street.  St. Paul Street is a touristy as it can get, but, no one can deny its’ beauty. I love the cobblestone street and found humor in that their manhole covers were “Made in America.” A bonus perk; it’s where we met Jeff Coffin 3 years ago. 

4. We finished our day at the Botanical Gardens on the other side of town. It probably wasn’t the best time of year to see a lot of these flowers. However, one of our favorite parts was seeing the poisonous plant section. Apparently, there’s a US hay that causes hay fever. Of course, I touched it so wish me luck.

 Anyway, here are a few more pictures from our adventurous day. It truly made for the perfect weekend away. 

 

Montreal (8 of 14) Montreal (5 of 14) Montreal (3 of 14) Montreal (9 of 14) Montreal (11 of 14)

Montreal (13 of 14) Montreal (14 of 14)

 

Montreal (2 of 14)

(we saw this double rainbow while drive 100km an hour (aka, 63 mph). There wasn’t a spot to pull over so I did the best I can. I know it’s not “perfect”, but, to me, pulling over the border to this beautiful greeting was a sign of good fortune ahead. So, I’ll always cherish it.)

Our Wedding Fun Facts

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This weekend, we are traveling to Montreal to celebrate our one year anniversary. Having been there before, we knew it would a be a place that we could go and just enjoy. More importantly, natural disasters shouldn’t be following us there. 

You may be wondering what the importance of that statement is, huh? And, no- I’m not making any sort of reference to anything happening in the world right now. I realized today that I never blogged about our honeymoon. And, then I realized that there were SO many moments of our wedding that I want to remember.  So, in order to re-emerge into the writing scene of this blog, I thought  “what better way to break the ice than talk about my wedding? Self indulgent, yes. But, people love weddings!” So, here we are.

  1. There were TWO Hurricanes the week of our Wedding- both were names in my family

Hurricane Matthew was the first one leading up to our wedding day. It was hilarious because my brother and his fianc√© are both “Matthew”, AND, rumor had it they were looking at that weekend to get married. The day of our wedding it rained like no other. The whole day, my friends and brothers were watching the radar to see if we would be able to have the ceremony outside. In the end, I made the decision to have it inside since it was cold. One of my favorite moments was when Mark and I snuck outside to do portraits and the sun came through. 

So, it rained. I can’t control the weather, and neither can you, future brides. Just go with it. 

2. The Second Hurricane followed us to Bermuda

While booking our honeymoon, we were told “Go to Bermuda- it’s great this time of year.” History has it, that Bermuda hadn’t been hit with a Hurricane in 10 years, so we thought “that sounds great.” I also love Bermuda, I knew it was fun, and I was excited to do all the fun Caribbean things with Mark. (It was his first time out of the country!) 

As we boarded our flight, there was a tropical storm, Nicole, in that area. “Nothing to worry about.” we were told. By the time we got to our hotel, Nicole was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane headed straight to Bermuda. We tried to enjoy our time anyway, so we went to the beach. Well, you couldn’t go swimming because the tides were so strong. Which meant no snorkeling, no jet skiing, no casual dip- no fun Caribbean activities. By the time we went to sleep that night, Hurricane Nicole was a Category 3 and it was projected to make landfall within a day and a half. Needless to say, we got the f on out of there. We got on the last flight out of Bermuda, in the last two seats. We flew to Philly, got a connection to New York, and basically never spoke about our 43 hours in Bermuda, ever.  

And, the family member, you ask? A cousin who didn’t attend our wedding. 

3. I didn’t like my hair by the end of the night.

If there was ONE thing I could re-do about our wedding, it would have been my hair. It fell from the heaviness of my veil and by the end, it just didn’t look great. It’s my hope and dream to re-wear my wedding dress one day and have my favorite photographer do portraits of us on the mountains in Colorado. 

4. The After Party was Lit.

I forgot to do one thing for our wedding- book us a car service to get to the hotel that we were staying at for a few hours before going to the airport (early flight, ya know.) So, we ended up taking the bus we arranged for our guests staying at the hotel. From there, we ended up hanging out with a few family members and friends in a hotel room. We stole 3 boxes of our own favors, which were La Marca bottles, popped them, and got ridiculous. Halfway through, we decided we were hungry. We walked to Wendy’s, in my wedding dress, walked through the drive-thru, they gave us food because, well, I was in my wedding dress, and as we were leaving, the guy who drove us to the hotel saw us, picked us up, and drove us back. 

It’s Top 5 memories for me. 

5. I Wouldn’t Do It Again

I do not regret our wedding day, at all. I poured my heart into every detail of that process- as Mark will tell you, I’m not great at telling someone how much I love them, but, I try to show them through actions. Our wedding was a joy to plan (even with the drama that always comes with a wedding).  Lying awake and planning the “Verity” in marquee lights for the bar, or, putting my books in the library as a cute detail, or designing the table “Names” (no numbers- good tip for any future brides- numbers create hierarchy, names are just names), was my escape.  

The day itself was an absolute dream. Sure, it rained and my brother was at the wrong table. Sure, two people showed up who didn’t RSVP. But, none of it mattered. I knew why I was there and it was because I truly believe in marriage and I believe that marrying Mark was one of the best decisions of my life. Through hell and high water, I believe we have something that can get through it. And, that’s why I wouldn’t do it again; I won’t need to.