Brokenspoke, NC

Charlotte is a Southern jewel whose one-of-a-kind attractions and unique beauty shine brightly. Home to a friendly, diverse and creative class of people, and constantly developing areas, tastes, sites and sounds, make this thriving city a place to visit. On this trip I visited the “Southend’ area. The Charlotte Rail Trail is popular with runners and cyclists and a walk along it will bring you to an array of entertainment options – a vibrant nightlife, craft breweries and laid-back pubs, plus buzzy restaurants serving elevated American and global cuisines.

Brokenspoke is a warm hearted distillery and brewery, serving up great light bites and beverages to spark the soul in you. Handcrafted spirits and premium beers pair well with their Charcuterie Board – (the wonderful in house) Chef Shiki’s Choice of Hand Sliced Artisanal Meats and Cheeses, Served with our House-pickled Cauliflower, Mild Cherry Peppers, House-made Rúa Whiskey Mustard, One of our House-made Salamander Vodka Jams, House-made Organic Granola, Figs, Dried Cranberries, and Toasted French Baguette Points.

Another favorite? Their Crab Cakes – Three Scratch-made Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes Cooked to a Perfect Golden Brown in Fresh Organic Lemon Juice and our Old Bay Infused Oil Served with our Wonderful House-made Cajun Remoulade. Try any cocktail with their RUA Whiskey or BAN Vodka to finish off you’re evening- and you’re set!

ArtBar, Boston

Set on Cambridge’s Charles River, ArtBar is a hidden hotspot for an al-fresco brunch, bar-bite and cocktail, or even a romantic dinner. Attached to the Royal Sonesta, Boston, you might be suprised to find this little gem. ArtBar’s creative, seasonal, American cuisine includes ingredients that are native to the region and New England area. Dishes such as their (jumbo lump) Crab Cakes with spicy remoulade or their Lobster Roll with lemon aioli – set the tone for the best of Boston. 

Dishes are beautifully composed using both seasonal and regional ingredients, perfectly accommodating everything from a quick bite to a happy hour repast, a romantic dinner or a communal feast with friends. Surf and turf are both on the menu, but not to miss are the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with sunchoke puree, shaved radish, snap peas, pancetta crumbs and micro herbs. And did I mention they also have a vegan menu? Yup, serving everything from vegan tacos to burgers and desert (their Coconut Milk Ice Cream – with vegan peanut butter cups – is to die for!)

Prefer to visit for brunch? No problem; brunch is served Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, where you can find everything from Eggs Benedict to Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast. 

ArtBar is proud to be named one of BostInno’s 50 Best Patios in Boston and was included in NECN’s Boston’s Best Patios segment. ArtBar was also named one of the best for outdoor dining in Cambridge by Zagat. It’s certainly worth a try if you are in the area!

Montauk; Dining Out

On the farthest tip of Long Island you will find Montauk- a hippy-chic beach town with great eats, buzzing bars and a prime oceanside location. Every summer, I make a point to visit and try something new.

To grab a quick drink or a light dinner – South Edison: Pick up some salt water taffy on the way in and park yourself at the bar of this fun  and quirky beachside restaurant. Their selection of beverages has something for everyone, but particular favorites include the Coconut Thing, made with mezcal, plantation pineapple rum, fresh lemon and lime, cream of coconut, cinnamon dust. Their customizable Pickle Martinis also throw a twist on the classic cocktail, with choices from fresno chili to beet and more.

Stay for dinner and sample some great dishes like their Summer Salad (of mesclun greens, watermelon radish, sungold tomato, feta, macadamia nut and prickly pear vinaigrette) or fish dishes like their Black and Blue Scallops (with green pepper pine nut romesco, graffiti eggplant, garlic scape, asparagus, fresno chili and garlic-chive oil.) Food is made to share but with great care, and a tonne of eclectic oceanfront flavor!

To dine out – Arbor – If you’re looking for a chic yet romantic spot, this is a pretty spot on choice. This summer in particular, Arbor has a great al fresco pop up bar (in partnership with The Garret from New York) serving drinks like the rosemary cocktail (Mezcal, Aperol, rosemary infused Velvet Falernum and lemon juice,) the tarragon (rum, pineapple, tarragon and Greek yogurt) and the habanero (gin, elderflower, cucumber, habanero and lime.) Pair any of those with their tuna taco appetizer or head to the glittering inside bar for a selection of raw local seafood to start (from fresh oysters to topneck clams.)

Whether you choose to eat inside, or dine outside in their majestic outdoor garden, this menu boasts a little bit of everything. Personal favorites include their Organic Quinoa & Kale Salad with chickpea vinaigrette and the Pan Seared Scallop with cauliflower purée, asparagus spears. Paired with a crisp glass (or bottle) of Rose and some good company, Arbor very much embodies the term ‘a midsummer night’s dream.’

To get in the mix – The Grey Lady – The simple, yet charming waterfront feel of The Gray Lady, may seem calm, but don’t be suprised – this spot fills up fast at night. The bar and restaurant here provide that laid back cool, that continues to draw young New York escapees to Montauk. Come for a Gray Lady brewsky or a Spicy Watermelon Margarita (with jalapeno infused tequila, watermelon juice, agave, fresh lime juice) or stay longer and reserve a spot to dine.

Raw seafood is a must to start, as are their Mussels Escabeche with pimenton de vera oil and tuscan grilled bread. Then tuck into dishes like their Saffron Lobster and Shrimp Tortellini, with lemongrass veloute, chervil or Crispy Whole Branzino, with cherry tomato confit, grilled lemon. If you still have the energy after dinner, take it back to the bar where you’ll find a lively young scene that builds with the hours. Yet, as an all-in-one experience goes, The Gray Lady is up there, with an atmosphere that transforms from cocktail bar, to dinner spot to late night busy bar.


Byblos, South Beach

Byblos, in Miami’s South Beach is a true infusion of Eastern Mediterranean flavor and modern chic design. Meze and exotic dishes are served in this colorful, ambient room & patio with a unique flare.

Begin your evening with extravagant cocktails like their Gulab with Absolut Elyx Vodka, Pomegranate Syrup, Fresh Lemon & Rose Essence. Floral, tart & beautiful. Served Julep style over crushed ice with rose water mist & fresh flowers. Pair with twists on traditional Mediterranean dishes like Shakshouka with spicy tomato and duck egg or Maltese Spiced Olives. The Tuna Ceviche with jalapeño dressing, radish, squid ink chips, green schug and avocado also makes for a refreshing and tantalizing starter to the meal. Vegetable wise, the Roasted Red Beets with pistachio, caraway, labneh and barbari bread are also not to pass up.

As you move to mains, consider indulging your tastebuds with a few dishes, starting with a spins on salads like the Fattouche, served with cacik dressing, house shanklish, heirloom tomato, cucumber and sumac before moving on to more meze style dining. An assortment of flatbreads, with everything from black truffle to cured beef can be paired with any number of the smaller plates, such as Black Cod with vine leaf, chermoula and saffron vinaigrette or Turkish Manti Dumplings with smokey eggplant,  yogurt sauce and molasses, or Rock Shrimp with sujuk, green peas, crispy chicken skin and scallion.

Animal, vegetable, fish or rice, the menu is flavorful, colorful and robust at Byblos, and the sultry, far-away-feeling atmosphere here, makes the perfect place for such a banquet to play out.