Category Archives: restaurants and bars

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I had lots of bites at Gran Morsi

It is very, very, very easy to fall into constantly eating in the same neighborhood(s) and spots. For example, I live in Brooklyn, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to get to LES and NoLita. Further, maybe two people that I associate with on daily basis live above Canal Street. Two people. Everyone is in Brooklyn or downtown. Guess where I eat?  I keep it within walking distance of my place or downtown within walking distance of my everyday peoples’ homes and with so many options there alone, why would I really leave convenience?

Because Sam Chin told me to, that’s why. Sam is a very young, hard-working publicist/event producer/babe. We initially met when she invited me to #HashbrownsAndHashtags and it’s been all heart-emoji exchanges ever since. Having worked together on some things since then, I quickly accepted her invite to check out Gran Morsi, still conveniently located to my life on the Tribeca/Financial District border at 22 Warren Street. They would be introducing their new summer menu. DSC00553DSC00555

We started off with a round of drinks. A definite stand out was the Limoncello Margarita (not pictured) and the Cedar Smoked Old-Fashioned that involved a torch.DSC00557DSC00558 I sat between a friend that’s Gluten-free, a vegetarian that  doesn’t drink, across from another vegetarian and Sam, who I split an order of meatballs with, naturally. Both the calamari and the zucchini chips were fried to perfection and although I attempt avoid fried anything they were not only more than worth it but very carefully done, as I spoke to one of the servers about. We also tried both the Buffala Burrata (served with an incredible pesto) and Sheepsmilk Ricotta topped with hazelnuts and honey, both with garlic crostini on the side.

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Obviously the pizza was a must and I had a slice of the Artichoke one, no bleu cheese or hot sauce so you know it’s real. Everything was light and delicious enough to convince myself (after a few glasses of Rosè, of course) to go all in with the Black Linguini served with shrimp, njuda, arugula, san marzano tomatoes and calabrian chiles.

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It was between the overwhelming amount of cheese and ordering my entree that Emeka the GM came out and broke down Gran Morsi for us. Translating to english as ‘a lot of bites’, Gran Morsi encourages diners to do it their way having a solid selection of appetizers, pasta dishes, entrees, pizzas and sides. Emeka also explained that coming from a fine dining background made him desire to being to share with more people and not such elitist clientele. Thus, fully embracing an italian attitude he explained Gran Morsi was made to be everyones “third place.” By “third place” he means, their go-to, the number one option but being called third only after home and work. Essentially it’s in the running to be my second place because home and work collide as one. I should ask if they have wifi. Regardless, most importantly he said, “If we don’t love it, it’s not on the menu,” and I VERY much identify with that. If I don’t love it, I damn sure don’t need it in my life.DSC00571 DSC00575

Finally, surprisingly, we managed to try a selection of the desserts and my favorite by far was the lemon cheesecake – goat cheese, macerated berries and strawberry coulis. When you come out of your virtual food coma, after you peep the pics, peruse their IG and follow their Twitter, head into Gran Morsi one-time, convenient or not, it’s worth a stop.

xo Rae

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view from the Fontainebleau

Going, Going, Back, Back to Basel

After departing over a year ago, I’m finally going back to visit Miami. My favorite week was always during Art Basel and the growing amount of satellite fairs in early December. Obviously, this is when I’ve planned my first visit. As a former resident and seasoned Baseler, I’ve combed through plenty of lists, guides and invites. Granted there are A LOT of events I’d like to make it to and just might, as there are definitely some that I’ll be attending that aren’t on this list, however, this is a short list of events/places/exhibits I am attending or highly recommend making it to.

Now is the best opportunity for visitors to get to Wynwood. There is so much more to Miami than South Beach. In addition to being home to a majority of Miami’s galleries, the Wynwood walls are amazing and there are plenty of events going on during Basel.

An installation that I need to make it a point to see is Andre 3000’s “i feel ya: SCAD + Andre 3000 Benjamin”. At Mana Wynwood from December 3-14, the mixed media exhibit will feature the 47 custom jumpsuits Andre 3k wore on Outkast’s reunion tour this past year.

Between the champagne, Soho House/Harper’s Bazaar shopping and beauty pop-ups and the round the clock openings, receptions and exhibits a little something to do right by your body and break up the monotony will be required. Friday morning from 10am to noon may be ambitious but there’s free yoga at the Loews Hotel. I presume my partner in crime will not make this but I will need to get my zen in. Namaste bae baes.

Not one but two Friday night parties will undoubtedly have the best music of the week, IMO. FKA Twigz, James Blake, SBTRKT, A$AP Ferg and Kelala are having performances or shows but for parties, I recommend trying to get into these two. At Soho Studios, in Miami proper, Ketel One’s Friday night edition of the De Nolet event has Cashmere Cat (who headlined an epic Saturday this past summer at MoMA PS1) and NY DJ, GetLive. I’ve seen both and this event will be great. Also, Friday evening, but on the beach, during Le Baron’s 10 Year Anniversary and week long, pop-up take over, “Airball at the Delano“, Snarkiture vs. Alchemist features performances by Theophilus London and Travis Scott.

Contrary to my New Yorker’s belief, while Miamians may be very body conscious, they do eat. You’ll want to have a reservation and you’ll want it somewhere besides staple Prime 112 or Prime Italian. You must try Yardbird. Their speciality drink menu single handedly elevated my appreciation and ability to drink bourbon, like an adult, sort of. And, chicken and waffles, so there’s that.

Seemingly, my faves are music centric. Surprised or nah? You can follow along on Snapchat at knewyork. Although I’m Snapchatless, I’ll be sidekicking here all weekend.

Of course you can find me my own Twitter and IG, both @raewitte but I’ll also be contributing to Luxury Attache’s Twitter and IG @luxuryattache.

If you’re going or have any Miami questions a former resident can help you with, feel free to reach out to me at contactraewitte (at) gmail dot com.

Happy Baseling!

xo Rae

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Chalk Point Kitchen

You’re really making me look good Chalk Point. The week you opened, I brought my close friend, who also just relocated from south Florida, and his sister for his birthday. We couldn’t get a reservation but I thought The Handy Bar would be a spot he’d like. Sure enough, he was thoroughly impressed with everything, from the look and feel, right down to your metal straws. Further, the maitre’d asked if we were still interested in dinner. I’m really looking good now, because you had a table for us. THEN, this came on and subsequently the siblings’ father has been playing Mr. Caldwell their whole lives. With you, it’s like I already won.

Dinner was fantastic, so fantastic that when my cousin came down to the city from upstate for work on her birthday, you were my number one draft pick. She said her priority was “a good feel” and when I sent her the menu she immediately obliged.

Ok, I need to stop listening to Bobby Caldwell before I write an entire love letter to Chalk Point. Let me break down this birthday dinner my cousin, her boss and I had. First, I ordered the cosmo and judged myself, the 90s and Sex & the City ended, awhile ago. In my defense, this was not your average cosmo it was THE Honey Almond Cosmo, made with HONEY vodka. My move for the summer will now be honey vodka and everything. There is also a selection of beers, wines and really well executed drink menus, at each the dining room upstairs and The Handy Bar below.

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We ordered three small shares or appetizers, the artic char tar tar, the avocado and crab salad (a special I believe?) and the mussels in kimchi. If I can make a recommendation to Chalk Point, warn people about the mussels and bring them out as the last appetizer. Everything was delicious and memorable however, these mussels were so next level as I sit in my bed and think about them, I can only compare them to the proverbial ‘one that got away’, simply because I don’t have a bowl next to me right now and I am definitely feeling some type of way in their absence. They were so incredible, it was the first and last dish on the table and we (being Italian) had to request extra bread for the sauce. I believe my cousin said she wanted to have it at home to “put on everything, even pb&j sandwiches.” Essentially, I could go on and on and on about the food, but the beauty of farm to table is the menu is constantly changing. For example, my dinner, clams in a deconstructed chili was not on the menu and as Dani (our very friendly, babe of a waitress) explained, the chef felt like trying this instead on the clams entree on the menu. Do not pass up the opportunity to try dessert either. My favorite thus far is includes popcorn over ice cream. If your date is cool, they will take you, if they aren’t, I’ll go with you. You just have to get there, immediately.

xo Rae

photo credit: Villiage Voice and Women’s Wear Daily

 

true love and guilty pleasures for a good cause

Shamelessly, (not guiltless, though) I love pizza.  Yea I know, you do too, that’s fine. This is no ordinary love. I love it so much that because in my three years in Miami I never found a satisfactory slice, I boycotted it from a June visit to the northeast until I moved in September.  I’m picky for pizza. I will not waste my time, money or calories on mediocrity.

Today Slice Out of Hunger is holding New York’s biggest pizza party.  With 42 pizzerias offering pizza by the slice there is bound to be some phenom choices.  Further, I’m familiar with a couple places so this is a no-brainer.  The best part about today’s event is all slices are ONLY $1 and all proceeds go to Food Bank NYC, the city’s major hunger relief association.  I don’t think I’ve gotten a dollar slice (although they are available down the street) since I was a sophomore in high school at Parkway Pizza.  There is also a raffle and you can come with some higher donations and get yourself a Pizza Pass to skip the line.

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My love is truly unmatched. 

So you spend a couple bucks, enjoy a couple slices and contribute to a good cause.  Let me know if you want to join, I’m heading over to hop in line later.

xo Rae

 

 

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Best of Bedstuy

Well, as those of you that have ever worked side by side with me know, I’m not picky about food but I am very particular.  In other words, I’ll try anything that’s good quality.  Don’t bring me to an Olive Garden or a Subway gushing “you’ve got to try this!”  No thanks, I’m just not interested.  I try to stay away from chains and support local and my neighborhood is making that super easy.

First let’s start with the deli below my place.  I can get a coffee and a toasted bagel with butter for $1.50.  I really don’t think I need to elaborate further.  It’s something like $4 for a sub and I wake up to the scent of breakfast sandwiches (BACON) every morning.

Down the street at a cupcake place called Baby Cakes, there are Red Velvet cookies for 85 cents.  It is literally the perfect snack, under a dollar and rich enough that I don’t need more than one.

There is also a lovely little French spot, Le Paris Dakar.  They have a variety of crepes, coffees and pastries and not one thing on the menu is over $8.  I can confidently say they are runner up for my favorite atmosphere and the best plain croissant (you can literally taste the butter, cheaper and WORLDS beyond Starbucks) I’ve had in a long time… maybe ever.

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I positively believe that Ma’s will ruin my life over then winter.  I have only been once and although delicious I am trying not to frequent them simply because their side of baked mac and cheese for $3.50 will always be the best and worst decision at the same damn time.

My absolute favorite spot is Ms. Dahlia’s even though they close early.  First, everyone that works in there is friendly.  Second, that afternoon sun through their front windows is pure perfection.  Third, THE PLAYLIST.  I have lost myself in there with my laptop for HOURS.  I mean from old Alicia Keys and Destiny’s Child to really driving it home for me with Donnell Jones,  Avant and Lauryn Hill – all from the late 90s and early 2000s too!  Best part though, breakfast til 3 and you can get delicious lunches like a chicken pot pie or a curry chicken sandwich with chips for under $6.  Also, almond croissants… I am officially a croissant connoisseur and other phenom desserts I imagine to be equally as reasonably priced but I can never remember because of the state of bliss I am in when I finally head home.

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So far, these are my hood favorites.  Bedstuy, do or die.  You can check out my fancy new, additional IG account with all things Bedstuy, Bedstuy365.

xo Rae

wood tavern

I can’t go for that, no… no can do

Actually, yes the hell I can.  Looking back on last Friday, I found that quote was the evening ending tweet after the Hall and Oates song finished, around midnight, as I walked out of one of my new favorite spots, Wood Tavern in Wynwood.

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Happy hour lasts until 8pm which automatically makes me more apt to return… frequently.  Due to my commute, I rarely make it anywhere to meet friends after work.  Conveniently, for my first time I made it there by about 6pm.  Upon walking in, the bartender informed us, EVERYTHING was half off.  So on this Friday evening with the temperature dropping into the very comfortable high 60s, I opted for the new Jack Daniel’s, Tennessee Honey and ginger ale.

In the lot behind the main bar strangers, friends and pets are all relaxing at picnic tables tattooed with writing and graffiti.  There’s another bar and the most perfect food stand featuring sliders, tacos and quesadillas.  By 7:45pm, as the sun was setting, my friend Val and I had ordered our quesadilla with mushrooms as someone announced they had “just ordered 14 sliders” and not to go anywhere.  I mean at $2 a piece, who am I am to turn down a little bite sized burger to go with my half a quesdilla?

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Although the fantastic happy hour prices ended by 8pm, I did not close my tab until about 9pm.  Each of my drinks were originally $8, which is nice by Miami standards but the reality of the situation is they only cost my $4 each making my tab $16 (plus tax).  I knew all of this in advance and it was still shocking to see such a low tab.  I saved 50% or $16 before tip.

Magically, somehow, I did not walk out of Wood Tavern, like I said earlier, until nearly midnight.  Most happy hours seem more like an opportunity to wind down, decompress, catch up, grab a bite and call it a night but at Wood Tavern last week, I had fun, a lot of fun.   Or,  I may or may not have just spent the entire time instagramming everything in sight.  Regardless, I definitely can go for more future Fridays at Wood.  And if anyone gets really ambitious they have their own version of Taco Tuesdays with free tacos.

F R E E T A C O S – next week, who’s down?

xo Rae

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charity, hockey, Sunday, open bar AND a discount? You’re coming.

Here’s a heads up in advance because I know I regularly write more of a review of the event I attend.  Well, it just so happens this is an event I’ll be hosting and it hits so many levels of awesomeness I can think of very few reasons why you wouldn’t attend (aside from geographical location of course).

So, on Sunday, April 7 with the help of the Florida Panthers, you are officially invited to enjoy the Panthers vs. Senators game.  The Panthers have been generous enough to allow me to invite all of you to enjoy the game on the club level.  This means there will be complimentary parking, food, beer and wine.

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It will only cost you a $50 donation with all proceeds going to my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Woman of the Year campaign.

At this $5o donation, you are saving anywhere from $50 to $100 as club level seating generally runs from $100 to $150.

With the aforementioned levels of awesome ranging from being charitable, to hockey, to Sunday Funday, to discount club level seats, I really hope you can make it!

To attend, click here, hit that DONATE NOW button and in the comments, please indicate you will be attending the game.  Next, forward this along to all of the friends you want to party/be charitable/watch hockey with and ask them to do the same.

If you can’t make it, you can still donate and any amount will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you all in advance and hopefully I will see you there!

xo Rae

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February Inventory

I just don’t do well with short things.  Short weekends, short men, short months – I’m just not interested.  You’re just not for me.

February, essentially you just let March sneak up on me.  And your inconsistency?  It kills me.  Is it not enough you get to be short but then you also feel the need to mix it up every four years and take an extra day.  I don’t know who you think you are.

With that being said, here is February’s recap, five days into March.

Purchase Original Actual
AQUA tribal print tunic $78 $17
Rachel Roy, The Manhattan Dress $120 $44
Steve Madden sandals $69 $55
American Apparel black crop $24 $24
American Apparel bikini $58 $0
Ecote kimono robe $69 $19
Abas oversized clutch* $130 $50
Kelsi Dagger pink suede flats  $100 $29.99
My Theorie Valentine’s event $48 $3
Firth long sleeve yellow dress $168 $39.99
Gilt City Raid the Warehouse ticket $15 $15
OnJuice one day cleanse  $75 $0
Brynn UGG boots $279 $159.99
Guess fur vest $138 $37
Sushi at Machiya Midtown $53 $34

The total of all the items on the blog in the month of February would’ve been $1424.  Only $528 was spent, saving a total of about 63%.

Take that short month.

xo Rae

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Michaya midtown miami

everyday I’m trufflin’

I wonder what how many calories are in the small amount of truffle that takes a meal to that next level.  If it isn’t a lot, I truly am concerned why I don’t eat it with everything.  Now I’ve had truffle butter (I’d eat it with a spoon), truffle fries (guiltily on Friday), within pasta and steak dishes but today, on this lazy, humid Sunday evening, I experienced a game-changer

However, as you know, this isn’t a food blog.  With that being said, I will be trying to figure out how to include all truffle everything into my daily diet.  My girlfriend Adrienne (who’s had her purchases featured on The Discount Diary repeatedly) and I were looking for a dinner that was as easy on the waistline as it was on our wallets.  With yesterday’s heat and a little too much time spent in the sun throughout the weekend, we were definitely looking for something light.  While walking around Midtown Miami, I was looking to try something new and she was just secretly hunting for sushi after audibly craving it all weekend.  We walked by the new Japanese spot, Machiya.  They were essentially having an all day, sushi happy hour, half off ALL ROLLS.  The menu also boasted Ramen shipped from Japan and some delicious sounding small and large share plates that we didn’t try this time.

Michaya midtown miami

In discussions of the upcoming week and weekend, never a dull moment with my fellow Springfield Alum and knowing how much she’d been wanting sushi, I gave her the green light to wear the pants on this date and order everything besides my drink.  Easy enough, right?  My drink, at $11, was the most expensive item on our bill.  We started with the Lollipop Roll which was avocado and tuna wrapped in cucumber (pictured).  Next came a signature Dragon Roll, normally $12.  Our third choice was the most incredible sushi roll I’ve ever had in my life, hands down, no questions asked.  The Albacore Roll, at $14, is shrimp tempura on the inside, overlaid with seared albacore, drizzled in TRUFFLE balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with cilantro.  I don’t think words will properly do this roll justice.  It was so good that we laughed, cried, tweeted and got some Twitter friends involved regarding a mutual love of #alltruffleeverything.   Finally, we went all out, threw the idea of light and healthy out the window and got a the deep fried Crunchy Japanese roll made of salmon, cream cheese and scallions, which was $7.

Our bill, with the four rolls and one drink came to $34.  By the rolls being half off, the $42 worth of sushi was only $21. My $11 cucumber-awesome drink and tax accounted for the rest of the total.  Our very satisfying Sunday dinner would’ve been $53 but we saved 36% by getting the discounted rolls.

The service and staff were on point especially by Miami standards.  We were also informed that they hold a happy hour on Saturdays as well.  I think I see a little more sushi in my near future than normal.

xo Rae

 

Don’t forget to donate and support me in my campaign for Woman of the Year!

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blue bar III dress at bounce

a dress for Miami to New York, Sunday Funday

Thursday evening, prior to my flight Friday morning, after some attempts to pack for the arctic I realized I had fully abused my winter wardrobe over the holidays. I also totally underestimated what type of weather the third week of January could offer New York (thank God I got those Stuart Weitzman boots). I came to terms that I was in for a weekend of temperatures barely making it over freezing and headed directly to the mall to comb those end of the season sales.

My main objective was to pick up something to potentially wear out at night or out to brunch but could also be worn back home in Miami. Given, I did end up with some great items completely inappropriate for my trip but I also got exactly what I was looking for.

Although, I decided against wearing it to Saturday’s brunch, I did decide to wear my new bar III, navy shirt dress to Bounce for a little Sunday Funday.

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The dress was originally $79.99.  I paid $35 and picked up the belt for $6 from $12.95 as I forgot to pack one.  The total would’ve been $92.94 and I paid $41, about a 66% discount .   I wore it with plain black opaque tights, my House of Harlow earrings, and my diba boots.  In Miami, I imagine I’ll wear it similarly sans tights or maybe even with some high socks on a cool evening.  If it came in more colors I’d buy several… perhaps it does?
xo Rae