Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Josh and I decided to have dinner at Monarch, on a whim, at about 9:00 on a Monday night. If for that reason only, I will certainly give them a free pass and another visit to determine how I truly feel about them. There were a handful of people sitting at the bar as well as a handful of diners, but you can imagine how slow they were.
Monarch has two menus - a dining room menu and a bar and bistro menu. We opted to sit in the front area of the restaurant where we could order from both. Our waiter was pleasant enough, but maybe tried a little too hard with wine recommendations (that didn't work out so well).
Josh and I love calamari and will often order it as our appetizer when offered. Monarch was no different. And, I have to say Monarch's calamari was exceptional (and we've eaten a lot of it). Light and crisp, with just enough breading for crunch while still allowing the calamari flavor to come through.
I ordered a glass of Markham Pinot Grigio and Josh ordered a Grey Goose martini with bleu cheese stuffed olives (this is my husband's "signature drink if you will - he loves them). We both decided to have their Caesar salad which was also delicious. Just enough dressing (not too heavy) with a gloriously light and thin "crouton" that added a lovely crunch to the salad. Unfortunately, this is where the raves end.
I decided on the pistachio encrusted lamb chops and Josh ordered the strip loin. First off...Josh's steak. It was pretty bad. Chewy and not very tender at all - a huge "miss" here. The artful twice-baked potato that came with it was just okay as well. Nice presentation, but the flavor just fell short.
My lamb chops were decent. Cooked perfectly with okay flavor and they were nice and tender. I couldn't really taste the pistachio at all, but they were good all the same. It was served with a cream sauce and a bing cherry sauce. Both were good. Unfortunately, the brie whipped potatoes were pretty bad. Kind of rubbery, not much flavor. Even worse that Josh's twice baked potato.
Then comes our red wine with dinner. This is where the waiter definitely didn't come through. He seemed anxious to suggest some wines for us, so okay, great. I am more than happy to let a knowledgeable server suggest a wine that we might like. We have had some delicous bottles in just this way. He asks if we want a Cabarnet. Yes, we love Cabs, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a Cab. We tell him that we prefer something not to tannic, not overly fruity, and medium bodied.
He returns with a sample of a Zinfandel. Josh tries it, and exclaims that it is way too peppery. The waiter says that he has the perfect Cab Franc. This time, he returns with two glasses instead of just a tasting. Hmmm...okay, I hope we like it. Guess what? We don't. Much, much too fruit forward.
We proceed to eat our dinner and try to enjoy the Cab Franc, but it just isn't to our liking at all. He was obviously TRYING to get something we would like, so we felt terrible saying something. We pushed both glasses to the edge of the table (obvious that they were barely touched) hoping that being a conscientous server, he will notice that we aren't drinking/enjoying the wine, and quickly rectify the situation. Guess what? Didn't happen.
So we finish our mediocre entrees, enjoy our water, and ask for the bill. He still gets an over 20% tip (what can I say, I used to be a server and am often too generous) and we barely touched our glasses of wine that we paid a pretty penny for. Like I said, all in all, quite a disappointment.
At some point though, I will definitely give Monarch another go. I obviously can't truly judge the quality of a restaurant after only one visit and on a slow Monday night, no less. Anyone have any fabulous experiences at Monarch that they would like to share? Maybe persuade me to return sooner rather than later???
Monday, April 28, 2008
What can I say, I am finally recovered. It lasted from Thursday through Monday for goodness sake!
As usual, Josh and I had a pretty busy few days, but we also had some nice cozy moments at home.
Thursday night - Josh and I were invited by one of his salons to attend the Alive Magazine 5th anniversary party at Home Nightclub. The first couple of hours consisted of cocktails and appetizers while mingling in the smaller lounge area. Then, the opened up the big dance floor later in the evening. It was Josh's first time there and my second.
Upon ordering our drinks (two vodka and diet sodas, double tall) and paying the insane $34 for both the drinks, Josh commented, "Wow, they really do think they're Vegas don't they?" Regardless, it was quite a good time, and thankfully, we didn't get home too late.
Friday - After a long day at work, and partially due to the previous night's festivities, I was anxious for an evening in. The hubby and I had dinner at Bread Company and picked up a few movies. That night, we watched Charlie Wilson's War, which was on all accounts absolutely fabulous!!! If you haven't had the privilege, I highly suggest picking up a copy.
Saturday - My husband had a bunch of running around to do for work, but I was able to relax with my coffee before heading to the gym for my most favorite step class. After a good sweat, I returned home to spend some time with Beamer. In case you don't remember the little guy, check out a previous post here. While my in-laws and Josh's sisters are in Australia, we are dog-sitting for 17 days (they come home on Saturday). We lounged on the couch, played in the backyard and had an all-around relaxing Saturday.
I got to spend a little more time with my husband before heading out to a bachelorette party downtown. We hit Harry's and Pepper Lounge (the bride-to-be felt like dancing) and it was a great girls' night out.
Sunday - Josh had a work event downtown, so I was free to lounge on the couch for the first part of the day, recovering from the night before. This time, I chose another one of our movie rental selections, Awake. I loved this one too. Pretty damn suspenseful. However, if you are at all squeamish about surgery or are going to be put under anytime in the near future, DO NOT watch this!!!
Then we had a casual dinner at Culpepper's (yummy wings and pizza).
Monday - Josh's event was still going on downtown and afterwards he decided to swing by a friend's bar in South City. Upon talking to him at 6:00, I realized that he was going to need a ride home :). So I headed out to retrieve my husband, we had a couple of drinks with friends and decided to grab dinner. We headed over to Monarch in Maplewood, which quite honestly, was somewhat of a disappointment :(. Not bad, but not great either. But, more on that in a follow-up post.
Tonight - Getting my ASS to the gym to work off all of the food and beverage from my long weekend.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
And, the second one is the same cut but a little bit more fun with a pop of color.
While I am well aware that some women would NEVER purchase two of the same dress in different prints and/or colors, I do not have the luxury of being one of those women. As hard as it is for me to find a dress, I snag them up when I can (I'm the same with swimsuits). Not to mention, that I have four weddings coming up! Momma needs some new dresses.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
All of the girls :).
From there we headed over to a local piano bar called Soprano's. It was a similar concept to Big Bang or Jive and Wail. A lounge area with a guy singing requests at the piano.
We headed home a little bit before midnight as we were all feeling pretty good and were exhausted from the long day.
For third and final night on the town in St. Maarten, we had scheduled an evening pub craw aboard the Celine. It was amazing! And, I think one of the highlights of our trip.
The Celine takes you to three restaurants via the boat. Peg Leg Pub for steak and swordfish, Shrimpy's for grouper, and finall Skipjack's for crab cakes and chicken wings. Everything was phenomenal!!! Beyond wow!
And, actually it turns out that Peg Leg Pub was closed the week we were there (moving locations) so the crew of the Celine actually got the filet and swordfish from Peg Leg and cooked it themselves aboard the boat. Josh and I cannot wait to try their steak marinade of worsteshire and old bay seasoning for ourselves. We were like vultures. It was phenomenal.
Then at Shrimpy's we had the best fried grouper I have ever had. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Finally, we hit Skipjacks for the crab cakes and chicken wings. The restaurant ambiance is gorgeous (right on the water) and I wish we would have had time to go back for a full dinner.
Unfortunately, I guess I was feeling lazy (or inebriated) that night because I didn't take any pictures. But, I can assure you that it was a blast. Captain Neil and his whole crew were so welcoming and full of awesome stories. He and another woman on the crew are both from South Africa. We had so much fun talking with them.
When we return to St. Maarten I think that we will look into booking the Celine for a full day cruise, as we couldn't get enough of the boat and the characters on it.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Keith and Tracy smile for the camera.
My husband having a good time while playing "pool boy".
"Show me some muscle, Joshy" :).
On our second full day in St. Maarten, we had a sailing trip scheduled. All 8 of us chartered the Random Wind sailboat to ourselves for a day. It was a blast, and I think the crew really got a kick out of our rowdy, full-of-personality group. Despite the fact that we probably finished off a weeks supply of beer on board in 8 hours. What can I say...The boys kicking it in the shade.
Josh taking a ride on the front bow of the sailboat. This picture honestly does not do it justice. I had my camera on full zoom here. Josh was about 20 feet in front of me and another 10 feet off the water while we were slicing through the waves. I joined him up there a little later (no pictures though). It was truly thrilling. Very Titanic "King of the World".
Upon taking off, Josh got a chance to "drive" the sailboat. He said it's much harder than it looks???
Josh feeling quite victorious after his swim. Too bad his wife almost had a heart attack.
We ended up spending about 8 hours (9 to 5) aboard Random Wind that day. They provided us with beverages (as you can see), snacks, and an awesome lunch (as in hot chicken curry - no boxed cold sandwiches for this group). It was a truly memorable experience, and if we end up back in St. Maarten we will surely pay Random Wind another visit.
I challenge anyone to find a better beach house, on the ocean, in the Caribbean better than this one. I felt like I was living "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" only without the price tag.
When all was said and done (airfare, the house, all of our spending money) we didn't spend all that much more than we would have spent to do an all-inclusive somewhere in Mexico or Jamaica. And, let me tell you...this was a thousand times better.
A few reasons why Josh and I will DEFINITELY be returning to St. Maarten:
- Beer/Alcohol Selection - I LOVE going to a tropical paradise and still being able to get my favorite beverages from back home. St. Maarten was like being in the states in that regard. Miller Lite? Got it. Bud Light? Have that too. It was nice being able to drink the local selections as well as old favorites. And, can we talk about the prices??? When we first arrived we paid $9.00 for a bottle of Absolut vodka. No, that wasn't a typo. Can you believe it?
- The Beautiful Blue Water - Wow, just wow.
- The House - Enough said. You've seen the pictures.
- The Food - We actually made dinner about three times at the house, but went out to eat three other times. St. Maarten is considered the gourmet dining capitol of the Caribbean. We barely got to touch on that this trip and cannot wait to return.
- The Weather - It was ideal. High of about 83, low of about 73 and not too bad on the humidity.
Not only were we in paradise, but Josh and I were able to share it with some of our very best friends. We couldn't have asked for a better group. Next time, we'll have to go for more than 7 days.
More pictures and details of our Caribbean vacation to come.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Am I a lucky girl or what?!? Not only are we traveling to the paradise that is St. Maarten for 7 days, but we get to experience it with a fabulous group of friends.
A picture of all of us out to dinner last summer.
And, trust me, we know how to have a good time. There is always lots of laughter.
So, needless to say, you won't be seeing any new posts for awhile. I'll be too busy soaking up sun, drinking frozen adult beverages, and in general having a kick-ass time. But, I will be sure to come back with a butt load of pictures and lots of fun stories to share.
See ya on the flip side!! :)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The last two pictures are of the undeniable star of the night, up and coming model, Karlie Kloss. And get this...she's FIFTEEN!!!! And a freshman at Webster Groves High School. You can read the Post Dispatch's article about her, here.
Her February 2008 cover of Teen Vogue...
Not to glorify ridiculously thin models anymore than they already are, but it was really cool to see someone so phenomenal up close and personal. I can definitely begin to understand what all the fuss is about. You go girl!