1,000 Point Dinner

I wrote about Nan & Byron’s once before, after having dined there during Queen’s Feast and having a pretty tasty PB&J for dessert. We both loved the environment, the service and the food.

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Last night, we decided to go back and see what dinner tastes like on a regular night. Oh, and we racked up 1,000 Open Table points for our 5:45 (early bird) special. IMG_6275I ordered the Dancing Cranberries (prosecco) and my husband ordered a Re-Fashioned. Both were so delicious we drank those glasses dry.

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We hopped right into dinner but not before munching on popcorn that was brought out. Why is it so hard to resist popcorn??

IMG_6267There were several dishes that got my taste buds buzzing, but I settled on the scallops with brussels sprouts. I was SUPER close to choosing the pork chop with fried jalapenos and pineapple…. next time, definitely next time. IMG_6271My husband chose the tuna with tofu and edamame. While I didn’t try the tuna, I did take a bite of his tofu which was delicious.

IMG_6270I was surprisingly full after dinner and passed on dessert (a rare occasion in my life). We both really enjoyed our dinners but agreed the scallop dish was the better of the two. Overall, we greatly enjoyed our second experience at Nan & Byron’s and will definitely be back! You should check it out for a fun date night!

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Shop til you drop!

Shoppers all over Charlotte are rejoicing in the fact that they no longer have to go to Concord Mills to get deals, now that the Charlotte Premium Outlets are open just outside of Steele Creek. IMG_6258While the outlets aren’t quite as large as Concord Mills, they offer an openess and feel that cannot be matched by indoor mall shopping. While there are open areas, most are covered so even on rainy days you can shop til you drop.

IMG_5980If you’re looking for high-end, Kate Spade, Coach and Saks Off 5th are top of the list. Your regular outlet stores like J Crew, Banana Republic, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, Nike, Adidas, Under Armor and Gap are all present, too. I even stumbled across an Old Navy outlet (surprising, since Old Navy’s prices resemble outlet prices anyway).

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The food court is not robust, but there are typically food trucks out front where snacks can be grabbed. Get your coffee before you go though, the line for Starbucks is ALWAYS long. And by long, I mean not-worth-waiting-in long.

IMG_6262Since the outlets are still pretty new, you can find even better deals than normal. The parking lot is relatively small, so you might have to circle around a few times to find a space. If you’re heading out for the holidays, be prepared for an extra crowded shopping experience. No doubt people will be piling in to get their gifts.

IMG_6263If you get a wild hair to go shopping, head on 485 straight to the Charlotte Premium Outlets and see what kind of deals you can walk away with. I’ll say that I’ve been pleased with my purchases to this point!

PS – If you stay until sunset, you’re bound to see a gorgeous sight!

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Charlotte’s Best Sushi 2014

Recently, we hopped over to Park Road to have sushi at Ru Sans. Ru Sans was recently named Charlotte’s best sushi by Creative Loafing. It was buzzing with couples and even families when we arrived and the bar was almost packed.

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While I’m not usually big on strip mall restaurants, Ru Sans is delicious and the experience is fabulous (I love anywhere with good + quick service!).

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We started with spicy edamame, figuring the twist on the traditional appetizer would be exciting. It was good but nothing mind-blowing. Regular edamame would have been fine.

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We decided to split three rolls (our usual amount) and selected a mix of salmon, shrimp and spicy tuna roles, including the Tuna Bomb. IMG_5938

We were both astonished at how quickly the sushi came out to the table. The rolls were slightly larger than most rolls I’ve encountered. That being said, they were packed full of avocado and cucumber and shrimp/fish. The flavor was delicious.

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I did love that they had several local beers on tap and a variety of wine and sake options – all for relatively cheap. Our entire meal was around $40.

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I’m not sure I would classify it as the best sushi I’ve had, but it’s good. Especially if you’re looking for a quick meal and a no-fuss place. If you’re going for a fancier date night, I would consider Nikko over Ru Sans. Either way, it’s definitely worth checking out.

It’s getting hot in here!

For the past few years, I have been trying to do yoga on a somewhat regular basis to help in my recovery from running. It seems that yoga studios are on every street corner these days, so it’s hard to know what sets them apart from one another. I first tried the convenient location less than a mile from my house. They only offered “warm” yoga, but I loved the helpful instructors. Then I tried a studio that I’d heard great things about. The temp was around 90 degrees and the classes were great, but it seemed I was the only non-yogi in the classes. So most recently, I signed up for 31 days for $31 with Yoga One.

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I love this intro deal, which gives you the chance to explore the studio on an unlimited basis for 31 days. Also, they offer Karma classes throughout the week that are only $5 to attend, and the money is given to a selected charity for the month.

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They have two locations, one in Plaza Midwood and one in University. Each location has a plethora of classes, so you can always find one that works with your schedule. The studio is heated to 100 degrees for classes – so take water!

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I have taken several of Liz’s classes and really enjoyed the flow, the feeling and the focus of the practice. I did take one class with a different instructor, that moved at the pace of a cheetah and did not leave me feeling connected to anything.  You definitely have to explore the instructors and find one whose style matches your focus.

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The classes vary in length from 60 minutes to 90 minutes (with 75 in between). The instructors guide practice but do not practice at the front of the room as some studios do.   IThroughout practice, you can see the words “Awaken” “Inspire” “Empower” “Sweat” on the wall. Such simple but purposeful words.

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It’s funny how you buy an “unlimited” package and think you’ll go every day. I’ve probably attended 7 classes since signing up, but it’s been a great introduction to Yoga One. I’m excited to have found this studio and been able to practice with such a large group of people, of all shapes and sizes and all levels of yoga experience. Definitely recommend checking out either location if you’re in the market for a yoga studio.

I’ve got Soul but I’m not a soldier

Looking for a little soul in Charlotte? You can find it right in the heart of Plaza Midwood, at Soul Gastrolounge. The restaurant is upstairs and has an indoor/outdoor seating option. They don’t take reservations so going on the weekends may land you with a lengthy wait time (it’s INCREDIBLY popular) or you may be able to find a seat at the bar a little quicker.

IMG_5567We grabbed the last two seats at the bar and were immediately impressed with the beer and cocktail selections. All of the food is tapas style and they recommend 2-3 choices per person.

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The options are so creative and inventive, it was hard to narrow it down to just a few. I’m thinking we’ll go back with a party of 8 next time and order one of everything.

IMG_5563Since it’s tapas style, everything comes out at different times (meaning you should share or one person will be eating while the other drools and waits). We ordered the greenbeans, pork belly and watermelon tacos, a salmon and avocado sushi roll and proscuitto bruschetta. IMG_5556IMG_5558IMG_5561IMG_5560

Everything was delicious but the pork belly tacos took the cake. They were perfectly sized, 3-bite tacos and while they look plain with just the pork and watermelon, the flavor was out of this world. The sushi was a bit large for our liking. It was hard to eat the pieces without them falling apart or spilling out of my mouth. But the flavor was good.

IMG_5553Since we weren’t starving, we stopped with just four items. I might suggest ordering one or two more on a night that you’re feeling a little hungrier – it also depends on the food choices you make, some are obviously more filling than others.

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We were more than pleased with our first experience at Soul Gastrolounge and cannot wait to return. I highly recommend adding this to your Charlotte restaurant bucket list, especially if you have out-of-towners coming in and you want to wow them and their tastebuds.

When you can’t get to Vietnam…

Lang Van is your next best bet when you can’t get to Vietnam and you’re craving Vietnamese food. Located in Eastland and not looking fancy from the outside, you (and your tastebuds!) will be pleasantly surprised upon entering the building.

IMG_3941It was packed on the night we went (and I’ve heard this is common), so we had about a 5-10 minute wait (not bad!). We were seated in a comfy booth, immediately greeted and provided with water. One thing you can be sure of at Lang Van is that you will never go without water.

IMG_3944We ordered a summer roll appetizer which came quickly and was delicious. You could tell it was freshly made because the shrimp inside it were warm.

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I ordered beef Pho and my husband ventured out to get a hot pot.

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IMG_3949IMG_3946We both asked for medium spices and the dishes were definitely spicy. I was grateful for the always-full water glass. We didn’t save room for dessert, but we were presented with treats anyway when the check came.

IMG_3950While my favorite Vietnamese restaurant has been Viet-Thai Noodle House in Pineville for the past several years, Lang Van definitely gives it a run for it’s money and is also closer to my home. Very pleased with the food and service, we’ll definitely return!

The best bottle

IMG_5352As a lover of craft beer, places like Good Bottle on South Blvd. excite me. Not only can you purchase individual bottles at Good Bottle, you can get beers right there and drink them in the store at one of their two bars.

IMG_5341On this particular trip, we were on the hunt for pumpkin beer, because who doesn’t love pumpkin beer in the Fall? The selection is almost overwhelming, although it is organized well by type of beer (wheats, pilsners, stouts, etc.).

IMG_5340I love that Good Bottle proudly supports local brews, as well as craft beer across the state. Although, I must say, we have some of the best breweries right here in Charlotte (NoDa, Birdsong, OMB, Unknown…).

IMG_5349And how cool are these cans?

IMG_5345With so many options, you’re likely to leave with more than just a six pack, but at least you can mix it up. Most of the beers are reasonably priced between $1.50-3.00; however, some of the larger bottles and/or specialty bottles can be quite expensive, more in the $6.00-13.00 range.

IMG_5347There isn’t food available in the store, so if you’re planning on drinking, you might want to stop by Mac’s across the street before you arrive, or grab a sub from Penn Station (in the same set of buildings).

IMG_5346If you’re looking for variety, this is your best bet. It kicks Harris Teeter’s butt, and Trader Joe’s, too. None of the bars offer this many options either. So, next time you’re having people over, or want some new brews for football watching on the weekend, check out Good Bottle, you won’t be disappointed.