Category Archives: Bar

“Are you still blogging?”

These last couple of days I’ve been asked by a several friends whether I was still blogging. Guess I have faithful readers out there! I sat there trying to figure out a reason to give them why this blog has been abandoned for a couple of months. I thought well… maybe I have become too busy with work, but that is not a good excuse. Busy yes, but you can always make time for something you feel passionate about. Maybe I just haven’t been eating out enough? That is completely absurd, because I’ve had some pretty tasty dishes these past couple of months. I guess the only reason left is I just became lazy. Lazy with old age I suppose.  So here I am blogging, hoping that this will continue into the summer.

Summer has finally arrived in Chicago. It felt like winter lingered on forever. I am glad the Winter season has passed, because there is nothing better than summertime in Chicago. It’s finally beach time, patio time, outdoor chilling time. Which in my opinion are all the best types of time.

Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar – Bridgeport, Chicago

My friends and I finally wandered over to the Bridgeport neighborhood bar called Maria’s Packaged Good and Community Bar. This bar has become my new favorite bar with delicious one of a kind cocktails, large selection of beers, a patio, friendly patrons, a speak easy dark vibe. What is not to love? Totally my kind of bar.

The inside is dark and moody with ventriloquist dolls sitting on the top shelves. Old fashioned beer cans align the wall as decor. A  little creepy once you notice them, but I think it fits in appropriately with the general vibe of this place.

I ordered the Hornswagglers High Tea which was made with Earl Grey infused Van Gogh Vodka, Filbert’s Cream Soda, and a lemon wedge. I was quite surprised after the first sip, because this cocktail tasted amazingly very much like Earl Grey Tea. I’ve tried Early Grey infused cocktails and foods before, and I have always been a little disappointed in the lack of flavors. This cocktails was the exception. Maybe I’ll just have to replace my regular morning cup of Earl Grey with this cocktail. Kidding.

I noticed on the beer menu there was a craft beer that I have tried when I was at the Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids, MI just a couple weeks ago. I had to try it again. The Founders Old Curmudgeon, an aged ale, was as smooth and dreamy as I remembered it to be.  I am a fan of bitter tasting foods, and this beer had a bitter, almost dark chocolate taste to it with a sweet bite at the end.

Overall my friends and I had a great time at Maria’s. The crowd was super friendly and easy going. I was up at the bar counter trying to order my Founders Old Curmudgeon when the guy next to me asked what I was drinking. I told him the #10, and he ended up putting it on his tab since the bar was quite crowded. I told him he didn’t have to do that, and he responded with a very nonchalant “Well I don’t have to do a lot of things”. This place is definitely filled with hipsters, but not your pretentious Northside hipsters. Easy going, friendly Southside hipsters.   I will definitely be back here!

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Ambiance

My friends always associate the word ambiance with me, and that is the very essence of me. Foodifyme wordpress readers might notice that I frequently use the word ambiance in my food blogs to describe an atmosphere that elevates the dining experience.

from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

am-bi-ence noun \ˈam-bē-ən(t)s, ˈäm-bē-än(t)s\: a feeling or mood associated with a particular place, person, or thing: ATMOSPHERE

It is spelled two ways, ambience and ambiance, with the original spelling derived from the French word ambiance.

I fully believe that when eating out it should not only be about the food, but the experience in itself, although this is a highly contested issue among my friends. The experience of being seated surrounded by a new place that takes you to another era, another world, another universe. That experience you cannot get from dining in your our dining room or at friend’s place no matter how good the food may be. It’s just not the same. The food and mood of the restaurant go hand in hand to make a one of a kind experience for any foody!

If a restaurant has just okay food, sometimes the ambiance makes up for just mediocre food. The best restaurant on the other hand offers both quality food and an inviting, unique atmosphere that creates a certain mood to the entire experience.  A lot my favorite places that I frequent have this mysterious, secretive quality to them equipped with moody, dim lighting and aged, vintage decor. This ambiance provides a breathtaking experience that becomes unforgettable.

Here are the recent places I’ve been to.  Note some of these pictures are taken from the lounge’s website.

The Violet Hour – Wicker Park, Chicago

A speakeasy tucked away in a the most hipster neighborhood in Chicago, Wicker Park.

This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.” – Bernard DeVoto “The Hour”

This quote perfectly summarizes the essence of The Violet Hour. A dimly lit lounge with modern decor that exudes a certain magical, coolness about it. The entrance is not as secretive as the other speakeasies I have been to. Instead of taking your number and calling you when your table is ready, they make everyone wait outside until there is an open table for your party. Thus there is a very noticeably long line outside of what would normally be an unsuspicious door. Kind of gives away the best part of going to a speakeasy, finding it.

The Violet Hour has a set of house rules associated with the speakeasy. The most amusing one is their last rule:

“And finally, please do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday dinner.”

Please keep the unclassiness outside of the The Violet Hour!

The long ceiling to floor curtains create an illusion of magic, kind of reminds of the land of Narnia. When you enter into the Violet Hour, you pass through two sets of these ceiling to floor velvet curtains. What’s behind the curtain? Well let’s see.

Unlike the other speak easies, the Violet Hour has a more modern theme than the usual rustic, old fashioned, vintage theme. The high back chairs complement the long velvet curtains along with the very dim, moody lighting.

I ordered two drinks here. The drinks are a bit pricey coming in at $14 a drink, but at a place like this you are not only paying for high quality drinks, but the chance to lounge at the Violet Hour. Pictured is The Lay of the Land, a gin based drink. I also got the Gates of Paradise, a vodka based apple cider drink.

Lay of the Land – Letherbee, Lemon, Strawberry Preserve, Green Chartreuse

Gates of Paradise – Zubrowka, Apple Cider, Ginger Syrup, Lemon, Blackberry

The Gates of Paradise was definitely my favorite. The combination of all of those ingredients made for one delicious drink.  Overall it is a bit loud for a speak easy since they play music in the background. Other than the noise level and the lack of mysteriousness surrounding the entrance, the Violet Hour is definitely worth a visit. Their menu changes every season, so I will have to go back soon to try the Gates of Paradise again!

The Bedford – Wicker Park, Chicago

Seems like all the hip places are in Wicker Park! The Bedford is a restaurant/lounge located underground in what use to be a bank.

Pictured above is a peak at some of the dining area seating. Also pictured on the left is one of the two entrances into the bank vault!

Here I am with my friend in front of the bank vault doors. We didn’t get seating inside the bank vault, but I would love to lounge in the bank vault next time.

This is what the inside of the bank vault looks like. Notice all of the authentic bank drawers lining the walls. How many people could say they sipped a cocktail inside a bank vault?

I wasn’t too hungry, so I just had a drink at The Bedford. They had their own version of  the Dark and Stormy called Darker and Stormier, the drink on the left. This drink was more on the heavier side.  No wonder it was darker and stormier than a regular dark and stormy! Look at all that rum. 

Darker & Stormier – Dark Rum, Allspice, ROOT Liqueur, Jamaican Bitters, Lime, Ginger Beer

There’s something so very special about lounging inside an authentic bank. The next time I come I will make sure to get seated inside the bank vault!

Gilt Bar – River North, Chicago

Finally venturing outside of Wicker Park to River North. Gilt Bar is a small dish (think of tapas) styled restaurant with a full bar serving classy cocktails and range of liqueurs.

The lighting inside this restaurant is whimsically beautiful. Lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, lit with a warm glow from the visible filaments inside the lightbulbs. A gorgeous cascading, web-like ceiling lamp in the center of the room. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of all of lighting.

Here is a picture that captures the warm, alluring charm about Gilt Bar. I took this without flash on my phone. I think it came out pretty well!

A lot of people have been raving about their Truffle Pasta, so I just had to try it for myself. It was definitely a unique dish. It is a little bit too heavy if you were to have it by itself. The creamy sauce it came with was so strong that I started feeling a little sick towards the end. I loved the pasta. You can definitely taste that it was hand made that day. Overall I think this plate is better when shared with someone else.

I got a side of the Blackened Cauliflower to balance out the heaviness in the Truffle Pasta. I have never had cauliflower like this before. It seems like they roasted the cauliflower giving it a slightly crunchy exterior with a hint of smokiness. It was served in a weak vinaigrette sauce and vinagrette onions. Gilt Bar did a very good job in dressing up the cauliflower.

My friend and I both ordered the Pimm’s Cup, a classic summer drink made with the UK liquor Pimm. It had just the right amount of sweetness and kick from the ginger beer.

Pimm’s Cup –  pimm’s, lemon, ginger beer

The thing that made all three of these experiences exquisite and memorable is the unique atmosphere that they provided. Each of them slightly different. A modern styled speakeasy, a restaurant inside a bank vault, and a restaurant, bar with the best ambiance lighting. Ambiance really does make a difference. The next time you dine out make an effort to notice what type of atmosphere the place has. For me there is nothing better than sipping a delicious, classy cocktail in a warmly lit lounge with a couple of good friends. Makes for a fantastic night!

NYC, big city of dreams

There’s something surreal about NYC that leaves you captivated, wanting more. During my most recent trip there, I finally realized how dirty, how crowded, how dark NYC really is. Yet even though I realized it I certainly didn’t mind. There seemed to be a whimsical quality of NYC that constantly draws me in, and leaves me wondering what new things NYC has for me. I was walking down the streets of NYC with my very good friend from NY, and she exclaimed to me “I think you are more in love with NYC than I am”. I think that is true. To a budding new romance with what seems to be the big city of dreams. Here is a tidbit of what I’ve been up to in NYC.

Ai Fiori – Midtown, Manhattan, New York

I came here for Restaurant Week Lunch. Sometimes Restaurant Week is a hit or miss, but this place was definitely worth it. The atmosphere of this place, and the dishes were really great. This is what I got.

Zuppa di Zucchine – chilled zucchini soup, basil, lemon

For my appetizer dish I got the chilled zucchini soup. I appreciated the portions of this restaurant. My friend and I were worried that we would be too full for exploring afterwards, but the portions were just right. I loved all the different flavors of the soup – the slight sourness from the lemon, the sweetness from the zucchini and basil, and the chilled quality of the soup.

Razza – pan roasted skate wing, baby romaine, white bean purée, preserved lemon jus

The highlight of my lunch was definitely the pan roasted skate wing. I was a little scared that the skate wing would taste really fishy, but it tasted great. It was extremely tender and flavorful. The lemon sauce that it came with really helped to add flavors.

Tartaletta – chocolate creameaux, salted caramel, hazelnut, fior di latte gelato

This was my least favorite part of the meal. Perhaps it is my fault. I didn’t realize that this dessert had so much caramel in it. It was like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, but completely filled on the inside with caramel. It would have been great if only I didn’t hate caramel so much. Caramel is too rich, too sweet for me. I picked at my dessert trying to eat the chocolate. The gelato was excellent. Really helped to tone down the bit of caramel that I did manage to eat.

8th Street Wine Cellar – Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York

wine and tuna sliders

What an amazing happy hour. Entire bottles of wine for $18. My friend and I decided to split a bottle of Riesling. Sipping wine and eating the tuna sliders from 4PM-7PM. We were the first ones there, before anyone started rolling in after work. I loved the intimate atmosphere of this place. Casual, comfy, and cozy. Nothing like catching up with a friend at 8th Street Wine Cellar. Especially over a good bottle of wine which we almost managed to finish, but did not want to feel to inebriated on a Tuesday night when the sun was still out. In the big city of dreams anything goes. Sharing a bottle of wine on a Tuesday night at 4PM, why not?

Hudson River Pier – Manhattan, New York

sunrise

What a wonderful view from the pier! This place is the perfect spot to hang out and wander around. It definitely felt like an escape from the commotion of downtown Manhattan. Watching families enjoy a family outing, couples being in love, friends laughing and catching up, and people walking peacefully around on their own.

lady walking a kitten

Not expecting to see this happen at all. A lady was walking her very reluctant kitten at the pier. As a cat owner I know that my cat does not like to be walked. She would sprawl out on all four legs clutching to the ground as we try to tug and pull her along. Poor kitten… She must not be very happy.

NYC has been good. The freshness of the sounds, sights, people tickle my senses. Till we meet again my love.

Urban Cities Galore

Finally finished taking my nursing licensing exam. I can stop studying and begin my summer once again! Back to foodaging, blogging, and eating. Here is a little bit of some Chicago and NYC food outings I’ve been up to. Happy Summer everyone!

House of Sushi and Noodles – Lakeview, Chicago

Salmon Avocado Roll

We went here for my very good friend’s birthday dinner. Happy birthday Conny! The special thing about House of Sushi and Noodles is that they offer the option of getting sushi buffet. All you can eat sushi buffet for $18! Sounds like a pretty good deal, but to eat your money’s worth you should eat at least 4 rolls. It’s a great way to try out the many different types of rolls, but walking away with a massive food coma, food hangover, or food baby is no fun. I opted out of the buffet option and ordered off the menu. The salmon avocado roll tasted pretty normal. Like your average salmon, avocado roll which happens to be my favorite! My friends who did the buffet ate ate about 30 pieces of sushi each. That’s about 5-6 rolls! Oh dear…

Chicken Yakisoba

The Chicken Yakisoba was alright. The chicken was a little bit on the dry side, but I really enjoyed the noodles. The slight crunch, slipperiness, and saltiness of the noodles cannot be beat.

Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar – Near North Side, Chicago

Blood Orange Liquor Cocktail

My friends and I are big fans of happy hour! We came here to celebrate the end to my study madness for the nurse licensing exam. I got the blood orange liquor cocktail which was delicious. I loved the ruby red color of the drink. The slight tartness and sweetness of the drink was perfect for an extremely hot Chicago day.

I Love Paraguay – Sunnyside, Queens, New York 

From left to right- Chipa Guazu, Tortilla, Baked Chicken Empanada

I never had Paraguayan food before, and this place was really good. I got the opportunity to try many new things that really surprised my taste buds in a good way. The Chipa Guazu tasted like a moist, sweet version of corn bread. There was even actual corn inside. The Tortilla was not your usual tortilla. It was almost egg like similar to the texture of egg foo young but less moist. The Baked Chicken Empanada was great. I loved the crunchy exterior of the empanada.

Hide-Chan Ramen – Midtown East, Manhattan, New York

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen

I was really excited to try this place since the food blog seriouseats said this was the best ramen in NYC. Unfortunately I was let down by all of the rave and excitement. The ramen here just did not taste like the best bowl of ramen. You can pick the level of richness of the broth either rich or normal. The rich broth had richer flavors and an overall increased oil and fat content compared with the normal broth. I thought the rich broth was filled with so much flavor, but at the same time the richness and oiliness was overwhelming towards the end. The main problem about this bowl of ramen for me was the noodles. You can select the firmness of the noodles ranging from soft to very firm. I got mine firm, and the firmness was great. That was not the problem. For me the problem was the size of the noodle itself. The noodle was a lot skinnier in comparison to other ramen noodles I have had. Perhaps it is just a personal preference, but I never thought the size of the noodle would be a problem for me. With skinnier noodles it did not catch as much of the broth flavor as a wider noodle. Overall the rest of the ramen was great, but without perfect noodles no ramen could be considered number one.

Bungalow Bar – Seaside, Queens, New York

stolen from google search

After a chilly day at Rockaway Beach, we were exhausted and in desperate need of food. We were in the mood for some American, and this place looked perfect. Rockaway in Queens is a completely different environment compared with the rest of New York. Being an actual island, Rockaway had a strong island atmosphere. The locals seemed to be a lot nicer and cheerier. The cars were friendlier to pedestrians. The roads are paved, but repatched so many times that it was no longer even. It seemed like I was on a tropical island far, far away from the States. Bungalow Bar was no exception. Located overlooking the water, the bar had a really great view of the water. We even got to see someone fail over and over again at water skiing. She just couldn’t stay up in the water.

Bungalow Burger

The burger was alright. Nothing exceptional. The star of the meal were the waffle fries. Seasoned well and with great crunch.

eating time

Something amusing happened today that I thought was funny. During my interview for a nursing position in Brooklyn, New York the nurse manager asked me what I do for fun. I told her that I like to eat, and that I had a food blog. She giggled at me and just smiled. I hope that’s a good sign about the interview. Guess she doesn’t get a lot of interviewees who manage food blogs. =)

Birthday-ing Around

Happy belated birthday to me! I celebrated my birthday in Chicago with my friends, and I decided to try out the Berghoff Restaurant. It’s a German restaurant that is fairly well known in Chicago. I never tried German food before and neither did my friends, so we decided to give this place a try.

Berghoff Restaurant – The Loop

Jager Schnitzel

I shared the Jager Schnitzel entree with my friend, because I wasn’t feeling too hungry and didn’t want to be food coma-ed out. The Jager Schnitzel is a pork cutlet with a bacon and jagermeister infused sauce. It came with root vegetables and spaetzles. It was alright. Perhaps I am not really a big fan of German food. The pork cutlet was tender and well cooked. Nothing to complain about, but nothing really to rave about. The pierogies were really amazing though, but that’s not truly German. That is Polish. A little bit of a let down since this was one of the go-to places in Chicago.

Magnolia Bakery – The Loop

My friend gave me these Magnolia cupcakes for my birthday. I have heard great things about Magnolia Bakery which started in NYC. I saw one of their stores on State street, a shopping street in Chicago, and I really wanted to try it since I never had the chance to in NYC. These cupcakes are really good. The bottom is not too rich and more cake-like than your usual cupcake. The frosting was light, but still quite sweet. A little bit on the heavy side in terms of sweetness, but the texture of it was just right. I tried the purple one. I think the frosting was just colored purple and was a regular vanilla flavored  frosting with a chocolate bottom. I offered the cupcakes to my friends, and they caked me with one of them. I have such great friends huh?

Division Ale House – Wicker Park

Hot wing challenge

I didn’t actually do the challenge, but my friend did. 10 hot wings in under 10 minutes, and you get the wings for free and a free t-shirt saying you successful accomplished the hot wing challenge. From the picture you can’t even tell they are wings, because there is so much sauce! They even gave him plastic gloves to wear! I sampled the sauce just to see how spicy it was, and it is truly quite spicy. A burning sensation on my tongue that wouldn’t go away for a couple of minutes. Thankfully you didn’t have to eat all of the sauce just the wings. The strategy then became wipe off as much of the sauce as possible! My friend successfully did the challenge in not 10 minutes, but 6 minutes. What an accomplishment! You go!! Once he finished, the waiters came out with a glass of milk and his free t-shirt.

Homemade Sushi

My sister and I decided to make sushi one night. Using crab meat, cucumber, tamago (egg), avocado, and salmon we made the various roles. My favorite was the salmon avocado. The smoothness of the avocado paired with the salmon is just the best. This has to be my favorite classic sushi roll!

LOKal Restaurant and Lounge

I had a Groupon to this place, $28 for a dinner for two with 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert. I decided to take my sister and her friend here yesterday. Best Groupon I have ever bought! This place is amazing. The pork belly appetizer dish is really something to rave about.

LOKal 

1904 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
Neighborhood: Wicker Park

Check out the Menu here!

Pork Belly with Braised Lentils and Pickled Celery

The Pork Belly appetizer dish was by the far the best thing I ate during the meal. The pork belly was slightly crispy and paired with an apple cider flavored glaze. The meat was so tender along with the fatty goodness of the pork fat. It went really well with the carby lentils that still had strong flavor. The pickled celery was a refreshing part of this dish.

Steak salad

They called this dish a steak salad, but I think steak with a side of salad would be a more accurate description. I was expecting a bed of greens with a few strips of steak scattered on top. Much to my surprise it was an entire steak! The steak was delicious. I asked for medium rare, and it came our perfectly medium rare! The salad was great too. The greens were fresh, and the tangy pomegranate vinaigrette was quite exciting. I loved every bite of this.

Angus N.Y. Strip Steak

My sister got the Angus N.Y. Strip Steak. Yet again I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer size of this piece of steak. She asked for it medium rare as well, and it came out just the way she wanted it. The steak was  accompanied with a red wine reduction sauce and herb butter. Her steak was tender and succulent. My sister’s friend got the ribs. All of the meat dishes that we got were excellent!

Vanilla Ice Cream and Nutella Mousse with Strawberry Sauce

This was the dessert of the day. My favorite was the Nutella Mousse. It tasted just like nutella, but obviously mousse version. A heavenly mix of hazelnut flavors and chocolate. The vanilla ice cream was made fresh and was rich in flavor. I loved the strawberry sauce. It really added an additional layer of flavor to the ice cream.

The food was really great! LOKal also has a full service bar and turns into a lounge like atmosphere at night. The decor created a very relaxing, moody atmosphere that really added to the dining experience.

What a little gem in Wicker Park. This might just be one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago! There are daily specials everyday, and Tuesday is half price off appetizers. Might have to go back soon just for the Pork Belly appetizer dish!

Stars – 5/5

Back to Blogging

Hello world! Sorry that I have been MIA for about two months. It’s been quite a long time since my last post on April 10th. Now that Summer has officially begun I will document all of my summer shenanigans and happenings as a recent college graduate! Blog from the viewpoint of a real person in the real world.

Time to play catch up with all of my food adventures. Here are just a few of the food adventures I have been up to these past couple of months.

NYC Chinatown Food Carts – NYC 

the expression of the guy on the right is great

When I visited NYC Chinatown with my sister and my dad, we stopped at this food cart to get fried fish balls. It comes on a skewer. A perfect snack for strolling the streets of Chinatown.

The Sparrows Tavern – NYC 

This place was featured on Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Conveniently we were in the area, and looking for something to eat besides nasty beer garden food. We decided to give this place a try, since the host of the show raved about the veggie burger. Too bad the veggie burger did not live up to the expectations. It was a good veggie burger, but I wouldn’t say it is the best. The fries were really good. The show said that they fry their fries with rosemary in the fryer. It definitely gave the fries a unique taste.  The place did have a really nice ambiance. Moody lighting, candles flickering, hipster crowd.

Highline – NYC 

biting into the ice cream sandwich

Highline is a rennovated, abandoned, elevated train tracks in NYC. It now functions as an elevated park trail for leisurely walks amongst flowers and greenery. My cousin and I shared a green tea ice cream with ginger cookie ice cream sandwich. Nothing like munching on an ice cream sandwich while taking in the NYC environment from above the bustling streets.

Matchbox – DC 

Stopped at Matchbox for lunch. Matchbox is known for their pizzas and sliders. I love tiny foods, so I had to give the sliders a try. The sliders were delicious! The beef juicy and well seasoned. The sliders came with onion straws which were extremely tasty. Couldn’t stop eating them, even though they gave me onion breath. eww..

Paulo’s Ristorante- DC

Every year Georgetown University has a big outdoor celebration called Georgetown Day that celebrates the Georgetown community. It was originally created in the memory of a Georgetown student who died from alcohol poisoning. Ironically Georgetown students over the years have turned it into a day dedicated to day drinking. Oh college! On Georgetown Day my friends and I went to Paulo’s, an Italian restaurant, for happy hour. $3 mixed cocktails including Butter Nipples and Apple Kamikaze. Cannot beat the price for the tasty drinks! They also have a list of happy hour appetizers priced from $3-$6. I got the eggplant parmesan. It was surprisingly very large. A little bit too much cheese for my taste, but still good.

Shake Shack – DC 

Why would anyone go to Five Guy’s when Shake Shack is available? I have fallen in love with the Shake Shack burgers. They use potato bread buns which hold the burger juices and keep the burger together a lot better than your regular burger bun. The beef patty is well seasoned. With minimal toppings including lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle you are not overwhelmed with a collision of toppings and burger tastes. The toppings are always so fresh. If there was a Shake Shack in Chicago, I would make weekly trips for my burger cravings.

The Gibson

Long hiatus away from blogging, and it feels good to write these food blogs again. The college life of a senior consisting of school work, nursing clinical, and job applications have slowly taken over my life. But a little over a month till graduation!

One of my favorite hobbies is visiting speak easy styled bars which is quite a nice hobby to have! David and I visited The Gibson located on U street in Washington, DC. This is the third speak easy styled bar we have been to which I guess makes us speak easy bar experts!

The Gibson

2009 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20003
Neighborhood: U Street Corridor

marks the door to The Gibson

The entrance The Gibson is completely hidden. We walked right pass the door only to doubleback when we realized we passed the address. We walk up to this door marked as 2009 which is the correct address to The Gibson. Good thing I checked out The Gibson on Yelp before we went. I only knew that the door was the entrance to The Gibson, because of the doorbell pictured above which I saw on Yelp.

I opened the door, and we were magically transported into an entirely different world compared to the U Street Corridor. U Street Corridor is known for its rich  history as the cultural center for the African American community. While U street was bustling with young people ready for a night out, inside the doors of The Gibson was a dimly lit environment of slow paced classy chilling.

inside of The Gibson

The Gibson had the mandatory qualities of a speak easy styled bar: dim lights, candles, delicious drinks, and a prohibition era feel. I thought that the decor of the room was a bit lacking. Additional whimsical decor would have given The Gibson a more speak easy styled feel.

Tequila cocktail

I got a tequila based drink. It was delicious, and such a pretty color too.

I don’t remember what David got, but it was delicious. Note the tilt of the drink in the glass possibly caused by a tilt of the table or the entire floor. Is this an intentional speak easy styled lopsidedness? Kidding…

Overall The Gibson was really great. I loved the relaxing atmosphere of the place, but compared to Angel’s Share and Raines Law Room this place was not as great.

Stars: 4.5/5

Raines Law Room

Speak easy styled bars round two. I wrote a blog post a while ago about my experience at Angel’s Share. Since then I have been a big fan of speak easy styled bars. There’s just something so attractive about a place that is exclusive, mysterious, a secret from the rest of the world. This time I went to check out Raines Law Room.

Raines Law Room 

48 W 17th St
New York, NY 10011
Neighborhood: Flatiron

the entrance

Unfortunately I did not take any pictures. All of the pictures featured here are taken from Yelp.com. The entrance to Raines Law Room looks like an entrance to a cozy house or apartment. If I didn’t know to look for Raines Law Room here I would have passed the entrance thinking it was a residential building.

You ring the buzzer, and someone answers the door. If there is a wait you give them your name and number, and they will call you back when they have a table open. I went with David, and he got there before I did. He gave them his name and number, and we went to a nearby diner to grab something to eat while we wait for our table. They said the wait would be about 1.5 hours, and sure enough 1.5 hours later we get a call from a private number. Unfortunately David accidentally declined the call. We decided that they would still let us in if we go there and explain what happened. We get to Raines Law Room, and luckily they let us in but we had to wait for a table. Not a problem, because we’ll just entertain ourselves at the bar.

the kitchen/bar area

The kitchen area in the back of Raines Law Room functioned as the bar area. It was just gorgeous. Equipped with a sink, a dish water, the whole shebang. The entire room had an authentic 1920s feel. My favorite part of the kitchen area was the ceiling lamp. It beautifully lit the room with a warm glow.

It was great watching the mixologists make the drinks. They really know their stuff! These were the drinks that we got.

Bramble

Bramble – mix of alcohol and berries with fresh berries on top

Jasmine

Jasmine – Beefeater Gin, Campari, Cointreau & Lemon Juice. Shaken and Served Down.

Self Starter – Plymouth Gin, Cocchi Americano, Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot, Pernod Absinthe Rinse. Stirred & Served Up.

pull to order another drink

We finally got seated after waiting for about an hour. I just finished my first drink, and I was saving my second drink till I got to our table. When you are seated you can pull the chain on the wall and the waitress will come over and ask if you want to order another drink. How cool is that?

the lounge

A speak easy is not a speak easy without that mysterious, moody atmosphere and Raines Law Room has it down just perfectly. From the couches and seat, to the decor and the lighting it all melted together for a 1920s feel. Everything about this place just came together so well. Sipping on delicious drinks in a gorgeous room is one of my favorite past times. I should make going to speak easy bars one of my hobbies, because the entire experience is just so fun.

It all starts with the hype about the exclusiveness of places like these all while knowing that tons of other New Yorkers probably know about this place. But let’s just pretend it’s just you and me who know about Raines Law Room. Half of the fun is trying to find where it is located since the entrance is not marked. Once you actually get inside it is just breath taking seeing the decor of the room. Then flipping through the cocktail menu to pick your tasty poison for the night.

Stars5/5

Toki Underground

R A M E N. Toki Underground is a Taiwanese/Japanese ramen and dumpling restaurant with a defined sense of character. Bold colors, Japanese action figures made for a really fun atmosphere.

Toki Underground 

1234 H St N E
2nd Fl
Washington, DC 20002
Neighborhood: H Street Corridor/Atlas District/Near Northeast

I read on Yelp that most people who try to go to Toki Underground have to wait 2-3+ hours to get a seat. Seating is extremely limited at Toki Underground, so bringing large groups here would probably not be such a good idea. There are no table seating just stool and counter seating making for a very authentic ramen experience.

Fortunately we came here pretty late in the night. The food area opens until 12AM on Fridays which was very convenient for us.  No line, no wait time for us. We walked right up and was immediately seated at the bar. We browsed through the menu, and we all decided to get the Toki Hakata Classic Ramen.

Toki Hakata Classic Ramen

The Toki Hakata Classic Ramen with pork loin, egg, and pickled ginger was really great! I think the thing that really makes a bowl of ramen exceptionally good is the broth, and this broth was fantastic. Flavorful without being too overpowering. I really enjoyed the poached egg that came with the ramen. The softness and delicate character of the egg really brought a special touch to the bowl of ramen. I was tempted to just drink up all of the broth cause it was just that tasty!

the interior - Japanese action figures

No only was the ramen delicious the decor was great. The mini Japanese action figures that lined the room were fun to look at. I loved the bold, bright, abstract art on the walls. Made for a very chill, cool atmosphere.

the hidden entrance

There is just something so attractive about mysterious,  hidden entrances. There are no signs indicating the Toki Underground is above the bar on the first floor. Only a blue icon with an Asian character in the center to indicate the restaurant’s location. Hidden away on H street, but still word gets out and hungry ramen lovers wait hours for a bowl of amazing ramen. So if you do decide to check out Toki Underground make sure to note this door, because the wonders of ramen awaits right upstairs.

This place is amazing! Though I don’t know if I can justify waiting hours for a seat at Toki Underground when they are packed. Perhaps check out the bars on H street and come back for the reservation? That shall be my plan next time!

Stars5/5