Saturday Night Serenade–Still Thinking About St. Patrick’s Day

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.

And I had to work.  All.  Damn.  Day.

You know, there was a time when my Spring Break coincided with St. Paddy’s Day.  Once we even took a little mini-vacation for a couple of days.  Ended in up Ybor City, the historic Cuban district of Tampa.  Which doesn’t sound like the right place for a celebration of all things Irish, but we discovered that the James Joyce Irish Pub was within staggering distance of the San Vicente, the boutique hotel where we were staying, and we spent a good six hours downing green melon ball shots and listening to great music.

No such luck this year.  When I arrived home from work, Mr. R asked if I wanted to go out.  Umm…  Have we met?  The next question was where to go?  O’Shea’s Irish Pub on Clematis in West Palm Beach seemed the obvious choice.  After all, they’d been hosting a block party since 10am Friday morning.

However…In an effort to avoid what a friend of ours calls ‘St. Posers’, celebrants who only go out drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to cash in a gift card and head to Chili’s in Wellington.  I know–not really an appropriate choice for the wearing of the green.  But, as it turns out, margaritas are green.  So there.

And I know, it’s an effing chain.  But I had a Mexican combo and Mr. R had ribs, both delicious.  Our server, Sean, was terrific, we’ll totally ask for him again.  And did I mention margaritas?  Nothing at all wrong with that.

Tonight’s serenade is a beautiful instrumental from the talented, and Irish, Corrs.  I’m just mesmerized by this song.  I mentioned that one day, Mr. R promises to take me to Ireland.  I want to sit in a pub and sip normal-colored Guinness while I listen to something this magical.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–There’s Someone For Everyone

Image result for brass ring pubLast night, Mr. R. and I had dinner at a legendary little local place called the Brass Ring Pub Sports Bar & Grill in Royal Palm Beach, not to be confused with the Brass Ring Pub in North Palm Beach.  Whew, glad we got that sorted out!  Actually, they’re a two-location chain, and we’ve also been to the North Palm Beach location.  But I digress.

The fact is, we had dinner at Brass Ring last Friday night, too, right before we went to the Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, and Heart show I mentioned last week.  But, as good as the food was, we were in such a hurry to get to the concert that we simply inhaled our dinner and left.  So this time, we took our time and enjoyed the moment.

Brass Ring is one of those awesome working class bars where construction guys and office folks mingle at the end of a long day.  The bar area is separate from the main dining area, but you can order food either place.  Mr. R. and I rather prefer the bar area because of its ‘adults only’ vibe.  After a long days’ work, the last thing I want is to be subjected to someone else’s progeny expressing themselves exuberantly in public.

While their menu is large, Brass Ring is known for their burgers, which we ordered for the second week in a row.  Burgers come with chips, but for an up-charge, you can get fries instead.  Having the chance to really appreciate it this time, I can say the burgers are delicious.  We also ordered their fresh, made-to-order onion rings as an appetizer and they were the best I’ve tasted in a long time.

From the ‘weird but true’ file, yesterday at work, I opened a new bottle of hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works.  The scent is something beachy, but it smells just like a rum bucket, so guess what I was craving all day?  In the bar area of Brass Ring, my craving was fulfilled.

Sitting in the bar booth across from my love, I sipped on my rum bucket and, above the din of the crowd, I heard a song I haven’t heard in years.  (You were waiting for me to get to the music, weren’t you?)  Jim Croce is best known for classics like Time in a Bottle and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, but his playlist runs much deeper than that.  Tragically killed in a plane crash in 1973 at the age of 30, he left a legacy of terrific songs, some heartfelt and romantic, others playful and cheeky.

It’s the playful and cheeky I’m featuring tonight.  Last night at Brass Ring, they played his irreverent Working at the Car Wash Blues.  It’s the autobiography of a man who can’t quite understand why he can’t seem to land the position he feels he deserves.

And THAT song reminded of this song, Roller Derby Queen, one of my favorites.  It’s a reminder that, when it comes to love, there’s someone for everyone.

Talk about a blast from the past!  I hope you’re enjoying this first weekend of October doing what you love, with those you love.  Warm fall greetings from the R. house.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–All In The Name Of Progress

Last evening, Mr. and I spent a lovely date night at one of our favorite places, Guanabanas in Jupiter.  I’ve mentioned Guanabanas before.  It’s a little outdoor restaurant/bar along US1, between the road and the Loxahatchee River, all lush tropical plants, sail shades, and tiki huts.  It was an absolutely beautiful evening; the sky was a crisp, clear blue, there was a light breeze, and the temperature was in the high seventies.

We had what we decided was the best table in the place, a high-top in the bar area across from the tiny stage and backing up to the waterfall.  Settling in after a long work week, we nibbled on their smoked fish dip and shrimp fritters as he sipped his Arnold Palmer and I opted for their Cat 5 hurricane, which, like its namesake, will knock you on your ass.

It was such a pleasant way to end the week, but I couldn’t help but feel worried.  Making our way to the place was quite a hassle.  There is extensive roadwork being done in the area and we found ourselves dodging orange barrels and road workers as they were ending their day.  It seems that someone finally realized there is a shit-load of money to be made by developing the waterfront area there in Jupiter.  And to that end, they began making road improvement (read widening) efforts even before their plans to purchase a huge chunk of property and build a massive commercial abomination were ever approved.

The developers don’t seem worried.  It’s the old Golden Rule:  He who has the gold makes the rules.  And while the fate of Guanabanas is uncertain at this point, there’s another Jupiter waterfront treasure which seems destined to become what was.

The Square Grouper* is a tiny outdoor tiki bar hidden away down a back street, a stone’s throw from Guanabanas and right on the Jupiter Inlet.  It’s a place where locals hang out, maybe because it’s not easy to find.  I love this bar.  It’s completely outside, right on the water.  The floor is sand, palm fronds from a small forest of trees shelter patrons from the sun, and there is a tiki stage that almost always features live music.  You can sit listening to music, sipping on something rummy, and watch pelicans and stingsrays and paddleboarders…  It’s paradise.  For now, anyway.

I’ve seen the proposed plans for the urban monstrosity developers want to build there.  It will be all concreted over and there will be shops, restaurants, and high-rise, high-rent condos.  If there is something left of Square Grouper, I can guarantee locals won’t darken the door again.  We made a point of taking my son there when he was home a few weeks ago, mostly because, as I told him, there’s no guarantee it will still be there next time he’s home.

Which brings me to tonight’s song.  I’m pretty sure I’ve posted Five O’Clock Somewhere before; it’s a great song.  But if you’ll notice the part where Alan Jackson is at a bar, it’s Square Grouper.  The video is old; they’re spruced up the place a bit since then.  But having once been a resident of Jupiter Island, Alan Jackson was known to just show up at the place and play a set every once in a while.  It’s that kind of place.  That’s what we’re losing.  Which is sad.

But for now, pour me something tall and strong.  It’s five o’clock somewhere.  Happy Saturday night!

*Square grouper–a bale of marijuana found floating in the water or washed up on the beach, having been tossed overboard to avoid legal entanglements.

Funky Date Day In Lake Worth

We are NOT in Daytona for the 500 this weekend.  Sadly, by the time we checked, the cheapest tickets started at $200 apiece.  So we didn’t spend over $4oo on tickets to our 6th Great American Race.  But we’re watching it on television.

On Saturday, Mr. R. and I headed a few miles down I-95 to Lake Worth for my first ever visit to the annual Street Painting Festival.  I’ve heard about it for years and Mr. R. has covered it for the local news but I had never been to this event.

On the way, we made a quick stop at the ATM.  And by quick stop, I mean that in the span of less than 100 feet and in busy traffic, Mr. R. went from 60 mph to a hard right turn in the F-150 Crew Cab.  While performing the classic reach-over grope, he quipped, “Most people wouldn’t have tried that.”  I agreed with him.  When I caught my breath.

Finally arriving safely a few blocks from the festival, we happily paid $5 to a nice gentleman in the parking lot of the Presbyterian church so we could leave the car in relative safety.  Directly across the street was an irresistible antiques shop in an old historic store front and we meandered through before walking to the street festival.

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We found the free event packed in its four blocks wide, six blocks long venue.  I was fascinated to watch the artists hard at work on their creations, some of which will turn out to be 3-D when they’re completed.  Add to the art the live music on several stages, a whole row of fair food, and a margarita stand, we had everything we needed for a perfect Saturday afternoon outside.

We left the festival with the general idea of finding someplace to sit and order dinner.  Mr. R. asked if I’d ever seen the Lake Worth spillway.  When I said that no, in the more than twenty years I’ve lived in South Florida, I had not, in fact, seen that particular attraction, we made a slight detour.

The purpose of the spillway is to regulate water levels in the various canals that perform flood control duties all across the area.  It’s also apparently a popular place to go fishing.  It was a cool thing to see and I was glad we made the quick stop.

From there we headed north planning to find the new grilled cheese place in Northwood.  Before we found it, though, we decided to stop at Relish, a burger place we’ve passed many times but never experienced.

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Okay, here’s the thing about Relish.  Ordering is complicated, something a burger joint should not be.  You have to place your order at the counter (strike one) where you have to first decide what type of burger you want.  They have more choices than I ever dreamed of.  The featured meat for Saturday was alpaca.  We both passed in favor of beef.

Next you have to pick two relishes (strike two) which I found stressful.  I didn’t know what I wanted.  I just wanted a burger.  We had to choose from things like tzatziki, bison chili, citrus remoulade, garlic aioli, etc.  I threw my hands in the air and made Mr. R. pick for me.  Next we sat and waited for them to bring our order.

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The dining room was warm and still and by the time our food was ready I was feeling overheated.  We ended up eating out on the sidewalk which turned out to be pretty pleasant.  Finally, against doctor’s orders, Mr. R. ordered a Moon Pie milkshake.  Not being a milkshake fan, I only had a sip and I must say it was delicious.

I don’t really see going back to Relish.  Next time, we’ll find that grilled cheese place.

 

Date Night–Cocktails, Apps, & Dinner, Oh My!

Mr. R. and I had a fabulous date night last weekend.  We started with cocktails and apps at The Alchemist on Clematis.  As it was a cool evening, we opted to sit at a high-top inside.  Having previously only eaten outside on the sidewalk, I was pleasantly impressed with the interior.  It was wooden tables and chairs, tin ceilings, industrial pendant lighting, carefully cluttered bric-a-brack, and a relaxed atmosphere.  It reminded me for all the world of my favorite bar on the planet, the James Joyce Irish Pub in Ybor City, the historic Cuban district of Tampa.  Which may explain why I loved it so much.  I had a glass of Kim Crawford while Mr. R. enjoyed a Stella or two with our lobster fritters and empanadas.

But when we searched the menu for something dinner-type, neither of us found anything that really struck our fancy that night.  Mr. R. looked at me and suggested that for dinner we could go to the Sunset Bar & Grill and I was thrilled to agree.

So we made our way to Northwood Village and the Sunset Bar & Grill.  I’ve written about this terrific little Indie restaurant before and it’s one of my favorite places to go. The interior is funky, eclectic, and artsy, and the staff is friendly and welcoming.  We were shown to our favorite booth right next to the bar and wasted no time ordering a glass of Clifford Bay.  Glancing around, we noticed that about half the tables had ‘Reserved’ signs on them and we found out that many people had booked reservations for later on that evening.

For dinner Mr. R. had the pork chop in marsala sauce and I had the shrimp Francaise.  Both were hot and delicious.  I’ve never seen a ‘chop’ the size of the one he had.  Having had apps downtown, neither of us were able to finish the generous portions we were served, but before we left we were treated to the most amazing dessert.

Mind you, I’m generally of the opinion that “if it ain’t chocolate, it ain’t dessert.”  I have changed my mind.  We were served a raspberry pear cobbler that absolutely blew my mind.  The first bite just melted in my mouth and I was hard-pressed not to stab Mr. R. with my fork in my eagerness to get another bite.

Next time you’re looking to go someplace different for a great meal, I’d recommend the Sunset Bar & Grill.  You might make reservations to make sure you’ll get a table.

And Valentine’s Day is coming up, just saying…

Date Night Extraordinaire–Part 2

This was so great it deserves a post by itself.  After the movie, Mr. R. and I made our way south from Jupiter to the West Palm Beach neighborhood of Northwood Village where we decided to go to a restaurant where I’ve never been and he hadn’t been there in a  long time.

Photo from Pinterest.

Our apres movie dinner was at the Sunset Bar & Grill at 2500 Broadway.  I knew as soon as we walked in that I was going to love the place.  It’s an ancient 1920s art deco building that has been lovingly maintained and restored into a funky, quirky joint that’s exactly the reason I avoid big-box chain restaurants.

We were greeted by super friendly staff who immediately made us feel welcome, telling us to pick a table.  Although a few tables were occupied and there were a handful of guests at the bars (inside and out on the patio), the place wasn’t crowded and we easily found a booth to our liking.

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Photo by Mr. R.

The decor is funky, artsy, shabby chic and according to their website the painted canvases I saw all around the place are by local artist Deborah Kerly from her “Broadway Series” and are permanently on display.  Also catching my eye was a vast and eclectic collection of beautiful red glass vases arranged throughout the dining room.  I loved the various funky light fixtures as well.

The menu offered so many things that sounded amazing that it was hard to decide, but eventually I opted for the Sunset Crab Cakes while Mr. R. chose a Ribeye cooked medium rare.  The problem there was that he couldn’t decide whether he wanted it grilled or blackened so he actually asked the server to choose for him.

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Photo by Mrs. R.

When our dinner came out, his steak was blackened and he was very happy with it.  My crab cakes were without exaggeration the best crab cakes I have ever had, ever.  Our entrees were accompanied by homemade mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, fresh green beans, a tiny dollop of sweet potatoes, and a drop of some kind of stuffing.  Everything was delicious.  Having had our share of snacks at the movie, we each ended up taking home about half of our meals, which were heartily enjoyed the following day.  Before we left the Sunset, we were treated to a slice of their homemade coconut creme pie which was out of this world, and I don’t even like coconut.

Oh, and the music.  Throughout our time at the Sunset, we were serenaded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, and Nina Simone.  I overheard one of the servers telling someone that it was the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora.  You couldn’t have chosen a more perfect soundtrack for an evening at the Sunset Bar & Grill.  It was my first time there.  It won’t be my last.

Easter Lunch

It was Easter Eve, actually.  Mr. R. and I took his daughter and my son out for lunch yesterday.  She was just back from a couple of months in New Mexico where she attempted to ‘find herself.’  My son was exactly one month away from his wedding and his move 1,600 miles away.

I tried to push the thought that we won’t have many more of these opportunities right out of my head as we enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon in downtown West Palm Beach.  We had lunch at Grease Burger Bar on Clematis Street.

wpid-20150404_123924-1.jpgWe snagged a table on the sidewalk, the better to enjoy the fresh air, blue sky, and plentiful sunshine as people passed back and forth on their way to and from the West Palm Beach Green Market.  Mr. R. and I have been to the Green Market before, but not since it moved to the east end of Clematis.  We made a note that we need to go down there again one Saturday specifically to enjoy the market.

While the menu at Grease is diverse, everyone chose their favorite burger (Mr. R. also added a hot dog) and we had a large order of onion rings and a larger order of fries for the table.  The food was hot, delicious, and plentiful.  Some of us took home leftovers.

Over lunch, we heard stories of life in New Mexico, why it sucks, and potential new jobs back here in South Florida.  We also got caught up on wedding plans and on arrangements for newlyweds starting a life in Omaha.

Mr. R. and I have cobbled together a life that rather resembles a patchwork quilt.  Not everything matches, but somehow it all seems to go together.  And we know that we’re blessed.  Happy Easter, everyone.