Artmore Courtyard

A Midtown Atlanta Staycation

Hopping a plane to an exotic destination sure is nice, but can get expensive, not to mention the hassle of travel. Atlanta has so much to offer, yet many of us never take advantage of many of the cultural and entertainment events or delicious dining offerings in our neighborhoods throughout the city. I recently planned an Atlanta staycation in Midtown and had a blast. Here’s my guide.

I have nothing against big, five-star hotels, but it is nice to stay at a smaller, more intimate place from time to time. For this staycation, I chose the boutique Artmore Hotel in Midtown. This artsy hotel has a lovely courtyard with a fireplace, perfect for the cool fall evenings just around the corner. And the rooms are comfortable, chic and cozy.

Artmore Hotel midtown atlanta

The Artmore Hotel Guest Room

The Artmore Hotel is across the street from the Arts Center Marta station, which means you can take the train in without having to pay hotel parking fees. And there is so much within walking distance of the hotel, who needs a car anyway?

STK Midtown Atlanta date

STK’s swanky bar

After getting checked in late Friday afternoon, get a cocktail and lounge in the courtyard before heading out to dinner. For a romantic kick-off to your weekend, head over to STK, about a half mile walk to the restaurant.

STK Atlanta bar

STK, is part restaurant / part club. Passing by the beautiful bar, you’ll head up the stairs to the comfy rounded booths where your exceptional evening begins. Cocktails are a must here like the Cucumber Stiletto. Some fantastic starters are the Beef or Tuna Tartare. For entrees, scallops don’t disappoint, but at least one must get a steak. I recommend the Sirloin, dripping with butter and served with eight, yes eight dipping sauces (see picture below).

STK Atlanta new menu

STK Beef Tartare

STK date night in Atlanta

Sirloin steak at STK Midtown Atlanta

Coffee is served in the lobby of the Artmore until 10 am. Make sure to get some as there are no complimentary coffee options in your room. Now it’s time to get your art on! The High Museum is less than a mile away. There is always a terrific exhibit going on, so go check it out.

tabla midtown indian restaurant review
You ate a light breakfast, right? Because you are about to get pretty stuffed at lunch. Head on over to the newly opened Tabla, an Indian restaurant in the heart of Midtown. Order one of their unique sodas like the Kokum Spritzer. Start with the okra fries and veggie samosas. If you are unsure what to order, get the Thali – comes with your choice of curry but also the veggie side, naan, rice and dessert. You also can’t go wrong with the Tandoori Shrimp or Lamb Shank with their aromatic spices and one of a kind flavors.

From here, why not head to Piedmont Park or the Botanical Gardens? Or both? I’d recommend a cab for this. After an afternoon full of activities head on over to TAP for a some tasty brews and a late dinner. The patio makes for great people watching.

Four Seasons Park 75 Brunch

Brunch at Park 75

Before heading home, hit up one of the nearby spots for brunch if you are here on Sunday. An indulgent brunch would be Park 75 at the Four Seasons, but a fun, more budget friendly brunch is Front Page News. When the weather is nice, sit on their lovely patio.

Atlanta is a city full of pockets of neighborhoods uniquely their own. It is incredibly fun to be a tourist in your own city. What neighborhood will you plan your staycation?

Disclosure: My stay and meals were complimentary but the opinions expressed are my own.

Euphoria Greenville Food Festival 2014 #yeahThatGreenville

Euphoria Food Wine and Music Festival is back for another year. It happens September 18 -21, In case you didn’t know, I freaking LOVE Euphoria Greenville. Greenville is a small city, with a huge foodie scene. Each year in the fall, Euphoria Festival takes over the downtown for an obscene amount of food, frolicking and festivities.

I took way too many pictures last year to share in a single post, so just watch the video:

If you are a foodie, enjoy all different kinds of music, and like learning and tasting new wines, then the VIP pass is for you. With it you get:

  • Complimentary transportation to euphoria events upon request
  • VIP Party
  • Your choice of a VIP Experience (Eat, Sip or Listen)
  • Your choice of one Wine Seminar
  • Saturday night wine dinner
  • Your choice of Songwriter’s Recipe or Swine and Dine
  • Admission to the Sunday Supper

If the VIP pass is too pricey, or you simply want to pick and choose your event, you can buy tickets a la carte and put together your own package for the weekend. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on exploring the Falls Park and the Reedy River in the heart of downtown Greenville, okay? It is quite spectacular. Here’s my top 5 list of Euphoria Food, Wine and Music experiences:

1.) Sunday Supper – it is a family style event in a beautiful setting and food is prepared by famous chefs.
2.) Wine dinners – I love these because a chef takes over a restaurant and prepares food to pair with wine over multiple courses. They added a food truck park last year which I attended but didn’t think it was all that great.
3.) Wine lecture – these take place Saturday afternoon. Wayne Belding, Master Sommelier is quite talented at sharing information in an approachable, non-snooty way.
4.) VIP after parties – Lat night Friday and Saturday nights. Lots of fun.
5. ) Jazz brunch – delectable options, bloody mary’s and music!

white oak kitchen and cocktails atlanta

White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails Downtown Atlanta Review

Located in the heart of downtown is White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails an upscale Southern restaurant. I’d only visited once before for lunch on a weekday earlier this spring so I was excited to come back for a full meal.

For cocktails, they seem pretty heavily steered toward Bourbon. While it isn’t my booze of choice, I decided to partake in a bourbon cocktail. The Red Earth was much sweeter than I had expected. Muddled with strawberries, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I decided to swap to wine after our appetizers were nearly finished. Our server recommended I taste two Pinot Noir’s and select one to go with the my dinner. By the time I got the taste and made my selection, our entrees had been on the table for a while. I found myself eating painfully slow to make sure there was some food left  to actually pair with the wine.

white oak kitchen atlanta bar

white oak kitchen downtown atlanta

Our appetizers may not have been anything those watching calories should consume, but darn if they weren’t fantastic. First let’s talk about these eggs (pictured at the top of the page). There’s a good amount of mustard seed that gives it an certain umph and the chicken skin is just a nice bonus.

Who doesn’t love pimento cheese? How do you make it better? Fry it, of course and serve it with some strawberry jam. While I did love this, I thought the price of $10 for only 3 pieces was a bit steep.

beignets and pimento cheese fritters atlanta eats

But we weren’t done yet. The beignets, more savory than sweet were quite yummy, especially with the rock shrimp inside and a dollop of creamy white barbecue sauce. I had high hopes for the Bresola salad but this wasn’t my favorite. The sweetness of the butternut squash didn’t play well with the salty cured meat. Hey, three out of four winners ain’t bad.

There were four of us and we chose all different entrees to get a good feel for the offering: Lamb, Shrimp, Flounder and Short Ribs. Too often I’m disappointed by short ribs; either a unfair meat to bone ratio or just a general pot roasty flavor. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case at White Oak Kitchen. The tender beef came apart almost effortlessly with my fork and the flavor of the mild bbq sauce was just right. The lamb was another stunner. It is a huge portion served with tomato pie and chive yogurt. I kinda wish I’d ordered it myself. The small taste I sampled was a total tease.

white oak kitchen and cocktails

Flounder with sea island peas and butternut squash

But my Flounder was nothing to discount. I don’t know why they threw so much green on top of it as it didn’t really add to the presentation but the texture and taste was rather delightful. The slightly salty breadcrumbs on top made it pair well with the sweet Butternut Squash.

shrimp at White Oak Kitchen Cocktails Downtown Atlanta

Shrimp with crispy okra

Entrees at White Oak Kitchen hover around the $30 price point. The food was incredible, but the service could use a bit of work. Overall, I felt like our server knew the menu well and could point out good selections, yet she wasn’t really in tune with the pace of our meal. Keep in mind, White Oak Kitchen caters to those downtown for conventions and conferences, so while it was packed on a weekday evening, weekends are generally slower and I suspect you can get more attentive service as well.

Tip: The overworked valet may not be there when you pull up as he’s probably running to get someone’s car. They have a lot directly across the street which you can park in for five bucks for up to 12 hours. Cash and credit cards are accepted.

270 Peachtree St
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 524-7200

White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon

Zinburger Opens in Lenox Mall, Buckhead, Atlanta

Zinburger Atlanta Lenox

Zinburger opened recently in Lenox Mall, next to the newly opened True Food Kitchen. While the concepts are vastly different, the interior and look and feel of the two restaurants is quite similar. The wood tables and bar and even cocktail glasses are nearly identical.

While I missed the big hulabaloo shindig when Zinbuger launched, I was excited to be invited for a more low key event, sampling some burgers, salads and fries. First, we were given a tour of the kitchen and can attest that the pickles are indeed, house made. We learned from Chef David that all burgers are either CAB (certified angus beef) or American Kobe (wagyu).

zinburger tuna salad zinburger goat cheese salad
A trio of salads were all quite tasty. While I’m always a fan of Ahi Tuna (above left), and this was delicious, I found the Napa Salad with goat cheese, Marcona almonds and dried cranberries (above right) salad more unique and appealing. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the more traditional Chinese Chicken salad. The Reisling we sipped on while enjoying our salads was a nice compliment.

The hardest decision you may have at Zinburger isn’t choosing which salad or even which burger you will have. Oh no. It is which pile of fried goodness you will indulge in. By this, of course, I mean – Zucchini fries, Double Truffle fries or Onion rings. I could have made a meal out of the zucchini fries, but the truffle fries (they import truffles on a weekly basis for this item) are super addictive as well. Why are they called “double” truffle fries? Truffles are used in both the oil that tops the fries and in the aioli. Sadly, I only snapped a picture of the onion rings before they were taken away. But if they taste half as good as they look, I know I’d be hooked.

zinburger fried zucchini

Given the fancy schmancy Buckhead address, I was surprised that most burgers are only around $10. Of the three we tried, Zin Burger, El Diablo, Kobe, and Turkey burger, hands down the Kobe burger rocks.
zinburger lenox atlanta restaurant review

What’s a visit to a burger joint without a milkshake, right? Choose from flavors like Bananas Foster, Creme Brulee, Strawberry Cheesecake and more. Me? I was enjoying a Salted Caramel shake. Of course you can get a pie for dessert (below are the chocolate cake and Bananas Foster) but my recommendation is to share a shake to end your meal.

zinburger milkshakes

Zinburger is open in Lenox mall until 11 pm weekdays and until midnight on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays they offer $3 mimosas and $4 bellinis.

Zinburger Atlanta website
3393 Peachtree Road NE, Room 3065A
Atlanta, GA 30326

Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Kickin’ Back in Kiawah Island Resort

Kiawah Resort and Spa SC
Atlantans love to visit Charleston, SC but many don’t realize the beautiful resort, Kiawah, is just an additional 30 minute drive. It’s no secret for golf lovers, but there is lots to do besides that. There’s fishing, dining, alligator tours for kids and outstanding dining. Or if you simply want to lounge by the pool, you can certainly relax and do that as well.

I visited during Easter weekend. While this was an adults only trip, it didn’t go unnoticed that the resort is family friendly as well. The main dining room, was full of families enjoying lots of tempting options, but our brunch was in the Atlantic room, with more upscale offerings and less children.Besides a sinfully delicious boozy start to your brunch a la custom  Bloody Mary’s, the array of options is phenomenal. Think truffled mac n cheese, lump crab, fresh oysters.

Kiawah Golf resort

Kiawah Resort Guest Room

Well-appointed doesn’t even begin to describe the guest rooms. The large four post beds don’t look crowded one bit in the oversized rooms. Plantation shutters open up from the bath to the bedroom. Luxury linens and bath goods don’t hurt either.

Walking by the main (family) pool, I was concerned the boisterous children would dampen my pool reading, but not to worry. Only steps away, is the adults only infinity pool (below right). Even though it is rather close to the family pool, there is enough separation to block out any noise.
brunch at Kiawah ISland Infinity Pool Kiawah Island resort

The Kiawah Spa, awarded a Forbes Five Star Award, is perfect for a girls day. Get a massage, facial or simply get dolled up for dinner with a mani pedi. Me? I’m looking forward to my next trip to the Kiawah Spa for a Ocean Fossil Fusion – an exfoliation followed by mud treatment, then massage. Just want to enjoy the tranquil spa? Guests of the hotel can pay a small fee of $15 per day to enjoy the spa for the day which includes sauna, steam room, vitality mineral whirlpool, locker room amenities and relaxation lounges. They had me at “sauna.”

Before you think all I did was eat and lounge by the pool or visit the spa, let me put any assumptions to rest. We did plenty of other activities: and alligator tour, biking and a sunset cruise to name a few. The alligator tour, is only an hour long, and a great way to familiarize yourself with the property, although families may enjoy it more than adults. The sunset cruise was the perfect activity before the Mingo Point Oyster roast.

Mingo Point Oyster Roast Kiawah Mingo Point Oyster Roast

Kiawah Island Oyster Roast
Everyone should plan to visit the Mingo Point Oyster Roast which takes place Mondays during summer. Get ready to get down and dirty as you shuck your own oysters. If oysters aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there is plenty of barbecue and other goodies at the buffet to fill your belly. The Low country experience even includes live music and is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences of the trip!

For a romantic evening, visit the award- winning Ocean room. This AAA designated restaurant features craft Cocktails (Try The Beet Goes On. Don’t let the beet juice scare you!), steaks and terrific views. Try their one of a kind filet: a cross between a filet and ribeye. It’s the best of both worlds – the full flavor of a ribeye in the petite size of filet.

Kiawah resort steakhouse craft cocktails at Kiawah Island resort

Sustainable, local foods aren’t just buzz words around Kiawah resort. A visit to Cherry Point, where most if their seafood is sourced, shows how committed they are to this. Ambrose Farm, a supplier of produce to Kiawah, is another spot where anyone can visit for a glimpse of farm fresh goods. On our visit, we witnessed the many families trek over to pick their own strawberries.

As summer winds down and fall is upon us, now is the perfect to head out to Kiawah Resort with the family, your better half, or pals. Stay busy with the many activities the resort offers or kick back and relax with fine dining, creative cocktails and relaxing spa and pool time. How will you enjoy the seclusion and luxury of Kiawah?