Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Hour at Santuari Bar

THANKSGIVING IS THIS WEEK AND I'M SO EXCITED I'M LOSING MY MIND!!!

You know what else I'm losing my mind over? The ri.di.cu.lous Happy Hour at Triniti's Sanctuari Bar.

But before we go any further, I suppose it's worth noting that my blog has a new address and new look! It's now living at www.adventuresinanewishcity.com! I'm super pumped about this.

Now onto Sanctuari!

First let me apologize in advance for the terrible quality of photos I've got going on here in this post. The ambiance of the place is super intimate and dimly lit, which is not conducive to my amateur photography skills. Just know that everything you're about to see was 1,000 times more beautiful that it appears!

(like that mirror).

If you haven't noticed, my good friend Megan is generally my go-to Houston Happy Hour partner in crime. So she and I decided to hit up the new and much-buzzed about Santuari Bar at Triniti last Thursday. I had been to Triniti once about a year ago, but deleted all of my photos in a fit of technological bird-brainedness, so I found myself visiting there recently with a clean slate, a new bar, and a fresh fall menu!

First off, Happy Hour isn't truly a happy hour without a few libations. And Megan was completely transfixed by the $12 mystery carafe on Sanctuari's Happy Hour menu. "What's in it?" she asked the bartender. "It's a secret," he said, with a gleam in his eye. And I'm all, "Okay, I'd like to order a gin marti-" and Megan's all, "WE'RE GETTING THE MYSTERY CARAFE."

So mystery carafe it was! We talked to the bartender about each of our preferences - She likes sweet, I like dry, is that impossible?, no, etc., and he came back with an amazing little concoction of hop gin, strawberry liquor, lemon, sugar, and prosecco, which he just made up on the spot. Light and sweet, yet dry, it was the perfect compromise and the perfect way to start out that happy hour.

Megan: Mmm, this is GOOD! Would you like to try the "mystery drink"??

(The bartender politely declined.)

(And no, we don't typically offer strangers a sip of our drinks. Apparently that's frowned upon).

Why, yes I took a picture of the super cool bathroom to show you! In the words of Canadian poet genius Bryan Adams, Everything I do, I do it for you...

Triniti is a pretty fancy Houston restaurant - one that would be a "special occasion" restaurant for me were I to dine off of their dinner menu. Luckily, like so many other fancy Houston restaurants, Triniti offers one helluva a food menu at Sanctuari during Happy Hour. AND there is a "small plates" section on Triniti's regular dinner menu that offers decently priced sharable food items.

We were faced with a wide spectrum of potential dishes to taste. Since we (undoubtedly) looked like two deer caught in a headlight, the super friendly manager came over and had an in-depth conversation with us about the food. After much deliberation, we took his advice and ordered three apps to share.

The first item we ordered was a mushroom flatbread that included potatoes, corn, and greens. And some sort of delicious caramely sauce (balsamic? chutney? love?). This dish was outstanding and so beautifully textured with different levels of flavor. It was tangy, sweet, and utterly decadent. I definitely 100% recommend ordering this as a starter if you go.

Oh, I just love french fries.

ESPECIALLY the herb frites at Sanctuari. Perfectly crispy and salted, they definitely stand out among the vast array of delicious fries in Houston. And the aioli served with them was tart, tangy, slightly spicy, and downright heavenly!

The last appetizer we shared was the tomato soup, served with a pimento cheese kolache (um, hello lover) and eggplant jam. I can think of nothing more brilliant and creative than a fancy grilled cheese sandwich with fancy tomato soup. The perfect little puff of an oozing kolache was the ideal compliment to the creamy, rich, soul-warming soup. The tomato soup was not too acidic, and overall it was quite the delightful nosh.

Still riding her mystery carafe high, Megan decided dessert was a good choice (I mean, is dessert ever a bad choice?).

We ordered their special fall dessert, which was a tart with a pumpkin pie-like filling, topped with a different assortment of goodies, such as pomegranate seeds (no I don't actually know the name of the dessert, or what else was on it, because I didn't write the name down, and it's not listed online, and I've failed you as a food blogger, and FORGIVE ME PLEASE.) But this was good. The dessert wasn't overly sweet, which I liked, and it was a subtly unique departure from your regular pumpkin pie (which for the record, I LOVE). I wasn't completely floored by it like I was with everything else, but it was smooth, comforting, and it definitely tasted like fall!

The Happy Hour at Sanctuari Bar really hits it out of the park. With everything we ordered, our bill came out to about $40, but with the delicate detail that went into each unique, innovative dish, the price should have been double or even triple the actual amount. If you're looking to try some of Houston's finest, most exquisite food on a budget, Sanctuari is definitely the way to go!

Wishing everyone a warm, love-filled, delicious, and happy Thanksgiving!

Sanctuari on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vacation Days: The Texas Hill Country

It's no secret that I love to travel and am by nature a forver-agitated nomad. But with the amount of cross country and international traveling I've been doing this past year, it's easy to forget that there are equally even more awesome places to visit right here in our very own Texan backyard! This past weekend I took a road trip to the beautiful Texas Hill Country with my boyfriend Jon to attend the engagement party of his friends Mark and Kelly. It was an absolutely lovely perfect weekend, so onto the pictures!

^ Because a Hot Bagel and a pumpkin DD coffee is what the start of vacation looks like for me. #duh

And as we all know, a Texas road trip isn't complete without a stop to see everyone's favorite beaver!

(aka: losing your significant other in the toy aisle)


Historic New Braunfels is already the cutest thing you ever did see. Paired with adorable Christmas decorations, I died a thousand happiness deaths.

And can we talk about how freezing it was this weekend? (My NYC friends so want to punch me in the face right now). But for real! On Friday as we were waiting for check-in time to get into our river cabin, Jon and I stopped off at Huisache Grill in New Braunfels to fuel up and warm our tootsies by the fire. The food was amazing, the building was so fah-reaking adorable, and omg FRIED BRIE. This place was awesome.

Check out the amazing view from the cabin we rented with Jon's friends Blake and Katie. We contemplated jumping into the river but decided hypothermia isn't all it's cracked up to be. The place we stayed at is called the Comal River Cottages, and again - Just awesome.

A trip to New Braunfels wouldn't be complete without a visit to Gruene! On Saturday we had lunch at The Gristmill, danced a bit at Gruene Hall, and did a little antique Christmas shopping. Even though it was cold and rainy, we were not deterred! The whole town is unbelievably charming and picturesque.

That night we attended Mark and Kelly's engagement party in Cibolo, which was a "stock the bar" party. It was so much fun, and I'm now convinced that stock the bar parties are the most genius things to happen ever. EVER.

That was our gift to them, but I can't take any credit for it since I'm a crafting disaster, and Jon is a twine and glitter ninja (He's also super happy that I just referred to him as a "wine and glitter ninja" on the internet. You're welcome).

I loved the whole weekend, but if I had to choose a favorite day from the trip it would have to be Wineday.

I mean Sunday.

We went to two different hill country wineries and had such a blast. First we stopped off at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards. We got to taste twelve (TWELVE!) different wines at this fun, laid-back winery, and once again I died and went to Christmas (what does that even mean).

 After Dry Comal Creek, we headed over to La Cruz de Comal Wines for another tasting. The vineyards and the tasting room are absolutely stunning. And the six wines we tasted were out of this world.

^Above two wine drunk photos taken by Katie.
If you're looking for a fun, interesting, romantic, relaxing weekend away, look no further than your own Texan backyard. I hadn't been in a very long time, and it was such a great trip. I can't wait to go back!

And if you think I'm not going to pitch a tent in the middle of a vineyard, you have got another thing coming to you.

*All photos, unless otherwise noted, were taken with my iPhone 5.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Istanbul Grill

I've been feeling sort of restless lately.

And it's not a bad thing. In fact, I usually become super productive at these points in my life! My restlessness may be because I have no flights booked for the foreseeable future (for now). It may be that Christmas is only a sneeze away, and I want it to be here yesterday (story of my life). It may be because things are winding down at work as the year comes to a close.

Orrrr it may have something to do with the gallon of coffee I drank this morning. Yeah, now that I think about it...that's definitely what it is.

Oh, and while I'm being restless and  all over the place, I have to derail for a minute to discuss three things. First, I told you I would report back to you on the Montrose Halloween Pub Crawl. Being the elderly twentysomethings we are, my sister, bf, friends, and I drank wine and played Heads Up at my apartment, went to the crawl, stayed until midnight, then called it a night. But it was fun! And more packed than I could ever have imagined. If you go next year, definitely pre-game beforehand because it takes about 30 minutes just to get a drink anywhere.


The second thing I want to mention is that you really should check out As Fate Would Have It and show my friend Melinda some blog love. Her stories are amazing! She wrote an exceptionally touching post about the 21 things she loves about her beautiful baby boy Elliot, in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month last month (sorry I'm a little behind here), and you'll definitely need a tissue or six for it. I got to meet Elliot last weekend, and I died of a love overdose.

And lastly, on this Veterans Day I want to say a big thank you to all of the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much in service of our country. We are so fortunate, and I am so grateful for these selfless, incredible people.

Okay, so back to my restlessness: These days, to calm my restlessness it would seem, I've started running again. To recap, I ran the Houston marathon back in January, decided my joints could take no more and completely stopped running 100%, and now have signed up to run the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving with my mom and boyfriend, because traditions. So to continue where I left off in "Kim and Jon's Silly Running Adventures" ....

After a recent three-mile run around the Rice University loop, Jon and I decided to drink some brews, have dinner, and watch sports at Little Woodrow's in Rice Village. I absolutely love the food at the Little Woodrow's on Shepherd, so I was pumped.

(This is where my story takes a dark turn).

THEY DON'T SERVE FOOD AT THE LITTLE WOODROW'S IN RICE VILLAGE.

Fortunately for us, Istanbul Grill stood next door like a beacon of light, with its beautiful Turkish aromas wafting over to us. Even more fortunate, the folks at Little Woodrow's were a-ok with us bringing our own food to the bar, so we were still able to game-watch! I placed our to-go order at Istanbul Grill inside with the manager, who is quite possibly one of the nicest, most friendly people on the planet.

We started off with the patlıcan salad, which is a roasted puree of eggplant, with hints of lemon and garlic, served with a side of what I believe was pide bread. This was outstanding. The tangy eggplant puree was light and flavorful, and the pide was fluffy and fresh. We had no idea what we had initially ordered, but we were not disappointed.

I was waffling between ordering the sebze (vegetable) kebab and the mantar (stuffed mushroom) as my entree. I discussed this dilemma with my manager friend, and he very confidently said I absolutely had to get the stuffed mushrooms. Done!

Sometimes it's nice when people make major life decisions for you, such as what you're going to have for dinner that night. ESPECIALLY when the end result is amazing. Served with rice and house salad, the mushrooms are stuffed with mozzarella and parsley, and are boiled in a tomato sauce. The side salad was underwhelming, but then again salads generally make me feel empty inside (worst vegetarian EVER). The rice was decent - Nothing exceptional, but it definitely served as the perfect backdrop to the shining star of the plate: the mantar. The melted mozzarella was bursting with flavor as it oozed out of the mushrooms, and the tart, borderline hearty tomato sauce was the perfect companion. I really loved this dish.

So it actually was a happy accident that we ended up at a bar that didn't serve food. We were able to walk next door and try something a little different, and a lot awesome!

This time next week I'll probably have a flight to Turkey booked.


Istanbul Grill and Deli on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 31, 2014

Local Pour

I almost titled this post "Kim and Jon's Silly Running Adventures: Local Pour" but then I remembered I like having friends.

Happy Halloween! What are your plans for this crazy holiday? Handing out candy? Staying in and watching a scary movie? Going out? Sleeping? I'll be at the Montrose Bar Crawl tonight, so I'll be sure to report back on how it was!

So I did a nutty thing the other day.

I signed up for the Thanksgiving Day TXU Turkey Trot, which I'll be running alongside Jon (more like, way behind Jon since he's basically sonic the hedgehog, omg THROWBACK) and my Mom. And I'm all, "Pah, I ran a marathon in January and hiked the Inca Trail in September, what's a little 10K??"

I'm not always the brightest.

I quickly learned that I am not in fact Superman or lady, so Jon and I have a standing running date once a week, followed by dinner and drinks somewhere because I need motivation salvation.

The first of this series was a run through River Oaks for some light, mansion-hunting (ha.), followed by a brewskie or three and food at Local Pour.

Local Pour is a fan favorite of my family's, and I've been there several times, but just hadn't blogged about it ever. I know! I keep doing that! I'm sorry!!!

First of all, can someone please remodel the inside of my apartment to look like this place? Scratch that, can I just move in to Local Pour? It's industrial, yet cozy; open, yet intimate. The exposed brick, funky dangling lights, and mint subway tiles send me into a tailspin every time

(omg, remember TailSpin?! Throwback, #2).

I think Jon was also in a tailspin or on a runner's high because he was all, "You're not going to take a picture of me and put it on your blog are you???"

(Be careful what you say to a girl who's armed with a blog.)

So the food!

We started off with the spicy spinach and artichoke dip.

This was seriously good. It was super creamy and rich, and Jon actually claims it's the best spinach and artichoke dip he's ever had. I don't know if it's the best I've ever had, but it definitely gets an A+ across the board from me. The dip is topped with panko bread crumbs, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it adds a nice crunchy texture. And the lavash chips served with it were spot on - Not distracting, but  very complementary to the dip.

For my meal, I ordered two sides: the apple cider glazed brussel sprouts and the mac and cheese.

First off, our super friendly server took extra steps to make sure both the sides came to me vegetarian. (I wonder what's included in them that might be meat... Bacon? Ham? A 16 oz ribeye?)

The brussels were good, but not exceptional. I think they were a little too sweet from the apple cider. (Probably where the inclusion of a ribeye would have helped). I think the addition of some cheese, and maybe caramelized onions would have balanced the sweetness of the cider out better. They weren't bad, they were just sort of one-note, and I didn't get very excited about them.

But do you know what I did get excited about?

UGH. I want to dive headfirst into that beautiful little cauldron of mac and cheese.

You know what was so wonderfully divine about this mac and cheese? It's simplicity. Don't get me wrong, I love a good gourmet or funky macaroni and cheese dish (I'm looking at you Lowbrow with your crumbled cheetos on top), but this dish was macaroni and cheese in it's simplest, most beautiful form. The hearty little dish came out piping hot and oozing in a perfect blend of cheeses. It had the perfect amount of oil (which admittedly may have just come from the cheese itself) to thin the mixture out a little bit, and the flavor was absolutely sensational. Seriously, LP needs to offer it in entree form because it's really that good, and I fear it gets overlooked as a side. I was completely overwhelmed by this dish.

I love Local Pour. Every time I've gone I've had a great time. I try to stick to the more off-peak hours because I hear it can get a little crazy packed. This night in particular was a Wednesday, and while a good number of people showed up, it was not over-packed or uncomfortable at all. Also, no one looked at us like the hooligans we were in our running gear. AND on that particular night there was live music from a great band who serenaded us with some awesome Oasis and Foo Fighters throwbacks  (full circle, people!). I've been many times, and I'll keep going back!

So keep your eyes out for for the next installment: "Kim and Jon's Silly Running Adventures: Istanbul Grill"!

Love me please.


Local Pour on Urbanspoon