Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thirsty Thursday: Happy Hour at Murphy's Grand Irish Pub in Alexandria

A few coworkers and I have signed up to play bocce ball in Alexandria for the summer. Naturally, playing an organized sport means happy hour before and after the games. We decided to wander down to Murphy's Grand Irish Pub for our first official team happy hour! 

We got there right at 5:30 on a Thursday and they were pretty full in the bar area, but we managed to snag a spot for 5. By the time we left the whole downstairs was packed. They don't have a written down happy hour, but the bartender recited off the specials for us. 

1/2 off draft beer
1/2 off house drinks
1/2 off appetizers (except for the seafood ones)
Discounts on shots of Jameson

We tried their nachos, chicken tenders, potato skins (not shown) and wings (not shown). It was all your typical bar food, but the nachos and chicken tenders were the clear winners. The potato skins were not done well/heated enough and the wings were lacking the proper crispyness. 
Service was attentive even though the bar was packed, the food was good and specials were on point. 

Would I come back? Yes - a good, casual environment for happy hour! I remember really enjoying their Irish specialties way back when, so I definitely need to come back for dinner one time! 

Fun fact, I reviewed Murphy's on 3rd blog post in 2011....which is a fun and slightly painful read here...apparently iPhones were just starting to get popular too - it's hard to imagine life without one. 

Other Old Town Happy Hours
Chart House
Austin Grill

713 King Street
Alexandria, VA
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thirsty Thursdays: Austin Grill in Old Town Alexandria

I have a feeling a lot of these happy hour reviews will be about Old Town Alexandria - but once I move closer to Arlington, I hope to have some diversity on here. 

I went to happy hour with a coworker and both being guac lovers, we settled upon Austin Grill. We tried both of the mojitos (strawberry and lime) and both of the margs (strawberry and lime) and all 4 drinks were solid. The mojitos were minty enough, and the strawberry flavor was not sickly sweet and fake tasting - the same goes for the margs, minus the mint comment. 
All patrons receive chips and salsa when they sit down. As far as the food goes, we ordered the queso $4 from the happy hour menu and guacamole from the normal menu. The chips were tasty, although a little too greasy for my personal preference and their salsa was flavorful without being too spicy. The queso was the perfect consistency - not to think or thin and had a slight, spicy kick to it. The guacamole was decent, I prefer (and most probably do) the fresh, table side guacamole which is what they call their's but is lacking the fresh flavors that comes with the title. 
Service was fine, and the small bites we got were good. We were here on a Monday, so happy hour everywhere wasn't really hopping but there was a decent amount of people. This would be a good place to get some margs/mojitos/cheap beer and some small noms to catch up with people without feeling like you are being too noisy/disruptive.

Would I come back? Yes, for happy hour - but that's about it. 

801 King Street
Alexandria, VA
King Street Metro
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Other Old Town Happy Hours
Chart House

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Thirsty Thusday: Happy Hour at the Chart House in Alexandria

Ok, ok - I know today is Friday. But life just got crazy/has been crazy with my boss being gone and everything being left up to me. It's been a struggle to focus on anything other then work. 

Luckily my future roomies were hanging out in Old Town Alexandria the other night so we all met up for happy hour and I was able to unwind some. We were wandering around for awhile because they wanted to go to a brighter place...apparently there are a lot of darker bars in Old Town. 
We settled upon the Chart House, right on the waterfront and managed to snag a few seats at the bar. It was crowded but not packed. They have happy hour from 4-6:30pm in the bar and lounge and definitely fulfilled the bright need.
The girls all ordered varying white wines which were better then your average house wines. Because I had tried a few brands of the wines they were offering already I decided to go with their fruity cocktails. My first choice was a drink I usually order every time I see it on the menu, the Mango Mojito. It was light and fresh, although a little sweet and needing more mint. Second was the Monarch Margarita - I think it had grenadine or something in it. It was sweeter then I prefer my drinks to be, but still had the taste of a margarita. 
We tried an assortment of food from the happy hour menu (fries, chicken pita, fried artichokes, hummus trio, ahi nachos) but sadly it was mediocre at best. Nothing was bad - except for the fries (not fried enough, and if you say they are truffle fries, I better get some darn truffle flavor), but severely lacking in flavor.  
As far an ambiance goes, this isnt a happy hour place to go out and meet new people. It's more of a place to catch up with friends/coworkers/date night. Service was fine at the bar - although they have a policy I hate, which is making you give your card to open a tab when you first order something. I get that you have to do that at certain places, but for a "fancier" restaurant, I thought it was pretty classless. End rant. It's also important to note that this place feels like a tourist attraction - which can be a good or bad thing. 

Would I come back? Perhaps for the drinks which were quite tasty, but I will be passing on the food. The view from the bar/lounge is awesome, overlooking the waterfront - so that might bring me back. 

1 Cameron Street
Alexandria, VA 
metro: king street (1-1.5 mile walk)
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pesto Zoodles with Corn, Goat Cheese and Bacon

Hi Friends! It's been awhile since I've shown my cooking chops around here. For the past few weeks I have been really into what I like to call zoodling (more properly known as spiralizing). 

This dish is a personal favorite (let's be real, I will probably say that about the next few zoodle dishes I share) because most of the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time - making this the perfect dish to throw together for guests, especially in the hot summer. I also really love corn, zucchini and bacon...and goat cheese. 

Because of all the different flavor profiles, this dish seems more indulgent then it actually is. Think tangy goat cheese and crispy, salty bacon and a sweet crunch of corn tied together with a smooth, bright, zesty pestoThe goat cheese and bacon are welcome, fun bites that you look forward to while eating this dish and only small amounts of both are needed to give this dish that savory splash of flavor. 
Ingredients - serves 2
3 cups zoodles (1 big zucchini)*
1/4-1/2 cup pesto*
1 cup corn (I like to grill mine!)*
4 slices cooked bacon
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

1. Toss together the zoodles, pesto and corn. 
2. Divide onto 2 dishes. 
3. Evenly distribute the goat cheese onto both dishes. 
4. Crumble 2 slices of bacon onto each of the plates.

-The zucchini is raw, no cooking necessary! 
-I use store bought pesto, I usually always have a container on hand in my fridge. I like the kind you can buy in the refrigerated section - usually next to the tortellini. 
-For the Corn, I usually use leftover corn on the cob that I have grilled (medium heat, for about 10 minutes, rotating every few minutes). You can use canned or frozen as long as you heat it up. 
Do you have a favorite zoodle recipe? 
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Weekend Recap #2

Happy Monday! I am back to work after 5 lovely days off. I've tried to write some posts ahead of time, but this week is going to be a nightmare catching up on the work I missed, and the stuff I am covering for my boss who is out of town for another week. Womp Womp. 

Anyways my vacay was lovely, I love the Finger Lakes region, particularly Cayuga Lake. Here is a recap of my vacation/weekend! 

1. Writing my recap (and other lovely blog posts) on the road - good times, thanks to my dear friend Carrie for driving most of the way home. 
2. I was in New York for about 5 days and Carrie and I managed to visit 8 wineries and 1 distillery. I bought approximately 2 cases - wowsers. There will be a full write up wineries (see #1). 
3. While in NY, I ate at 2 of my favorites places - Americana Vineyard's restaurant, Crystal Lake Cafe (kimchi fries) below (I've written about Crystal Lake Cafe here, here and here!). My second fav is New York Pizzeria in Trumansburg - their New York style pizza is on point…I actually had a slice two days in a row :)
4. I can't visit the lake without visiting Cayuga Lake Creamery (really outdated post about their greatness here). I have a thing for ice cream places that make their own ice cream in house. Hands down my favorite is their cookie dough. I can't believe I only went once in 5 days :(  
5. I did a few water-sports while I was at the lake - knee boarding and tubing. Always a good time and a good workout. 
6. And of course, I celebrated our great nation with some loved ones. Freedom rocks!

I hope everyone had a great 4th! Have a lovely week!! 

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