Wednesday, March 30, 2011

St. Patty's Day at Fitzpatrick's

After experiencing Fitzpatrick's once before and being pleased with the food and atmosphere, we decided it would be the perfect place to celebrate St. Patty's Day this year. We assumed it would be crowded and rushed over there as soon as we could, arriving about 6:40. There wasn't an empty table in sight (no surprise) - but on top of that it was a general host/hostess to take your name or anything. (And as the evening wore on it became more and more apparent that they were severely understaffed, which seems to me a bit like bad planning for a major Irish holiday at an Irish pub.)

We stood around for about 5 minutes, until I got tired of hoping someone would help us and approached three girls who were sitting at a large table. They had three empty chairs and I basically just asserted myself and asked if we could sit with them. Of course they said yes - after warning us that they had been there nearly 20 minutes and a waitress still hadn't come around. At this point I did us all a favor and approached a group of waitresses who were milling around at the back of the restaurant to ask if someone could help us. Within ten minutes we had drinks and were able to order food as well. Unfortunately they were serving a limited menu and had already run out of their Irish stew and Guinness cake! Again, poor planning.

To be completely honest, I'm fond of Fitzpatrick's. I like the dim lighting and the paneling and the [nearly] authentic feel of the place. As long as you stick with the Irish-inspired dishes on their menu (awesome fish and chips!), along with a couple other random options that I can vouch for as being delicious (their meat loaf sandwich is to die for, but their nachos are disgusting, avoid them at all costs), you'll be pleased with the food. The beer selection isn't the best in Greenville but better than most places in Fitzpatrick's general area (Laurens, Pleasantburg, and Haywood roads, for example). And the prices are great as well. I can imagine that had they been properly staffed and paying attention to new arrivals, St. Patrick's Day would have been a lot more fun there. In fact, the Irish band they had was great, but as they offer a live traditional Irish band on a regular basis it's not like one would have to go on St. Patrick's Day to get this experience.

Our conclusion? Service here is good if it's not insanely busy. (Good, but as a note - nothing spectacular, especially if you have a larger group, as we did the other time we went) Food is outstanding if as I said you stick to the Irish dishes or the dishes Fitzpatrick's is known for (again, the meat loaf sandwich! order it! and the "Bookmaker" is great as well). If you want a place with decent prices and drink options without going downtown, I also suggest checking out this bar. Don't be fooled by the blase exterior, either - because the inside is quaint and far more attractive than the gray square building it's housed in ;o)

Fitzpatrick's Pub & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 25, 2011

Vegas Like a Rockstar: Day 2

I wish I could say that we were up bright and early on day 2 of our Vegas Rockstar trip...

...but we weren't. In fact, I laid in bed for most of the morning. We were waiting for two more friends - my girl Natalie from Australia, and her cousin...Vanessa. I think. Oops.

(Told you I partied too much that weekend)

Eventually we got the call - the Aussies were delayed at LAX and we had full permission to do the champagne brunch at Cravings (in the Mirage) on our own!

I'd only eaten dinner at Cravings before, and wasn't too fond of it. But everything's better with champagne, right?

Well, sort of. The food was average (not even as good as that at Planet Hollywood's Spice Market; nothing like Mandalay Bay's brunch) and the champagne didn't flow quite fast enough. But it also wasn't terrible and you can bet your bottom dollar I drank my $30-ish (buffet cost plus tip) worth of champagne!

At this point the boys decided to take a nap, but I was a good 4 or 5 (or 6...or 7...) glasses of champagne back and decreed (very loudly) "NO NAPS IN VEGAS!"

So Jenna and I checked out the Mirage Christmas decorations...
...bought ourselves some more champagne...

...and went shopping!
Don't fault her too much. It was her first adult trip to Vegas, after all. And we were drunk shopping. So sue us.
Several more glasses of wine (had to get off the bubbly, oof) later, Natalie and Vanessa arrived and we all got ready for another big night out! Jonathan of course had to do the paparazzi thing with Jenna and I (again)...

And then we were on our way to Peepshow! On the way there we were stopped by some promoters and offered free VIP admission to The Bank at Bellagio. Sure, whatever! They took my name and we entered the show pretty darn pleased with ourselves...only to get another surprise! Natalie had secretly upgraded our tickets - at her own expense - and we were literally in the first row of seats, right behind the VIP tables! Not only were the seats great, but the show was AMAZING. I was seriously surprised at how much I liked it. I only wish Holly Madison had more stage time/lines! Still, it was fun and definitely an awesome first burlesque show to see in Vegas :)

Post-Peepshow we grabbed a couple drinks at one of the bars in the Planet Hollywood casino, in order to ramp up for what we thought would be a night of dancing at The Bank.
Hadn't seen this girl in three and a half years...where better to do so than VEGAS?!

Buuut...apparently we wasted too much time. It was close to midnight when we arrived at The Bellagio and they weren't letting anyone - even off the list - into the club anymore. Boo to that. I've heard mixed reviews about The Bank but I'm always up for a free night at a Vegas club. Still, that didn't mean our party was over! We gathered up some random peeps (not kidding) and headed back to the Mirage, figuring we could at least hit up Jet for a little bit.

Only it was closed!

Bad Tara, I guess. Jet was open on Sunday night when I was in Vegas this summer, so I just kind of assumed that it would be open on a Sunday night in December. Oops.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that we weren't done yet! Instead, we ordered up a bottle of wine and enjoyed the Mirage lobby bar - one of my favorite places in Vegas - for a couple of hours before calling it an early (eh-hem, 2 AM and I'd been drinking since about 1 PM) night.

Well, Vanessa and Natalie and I called it an early night, anyway. I have no idea what happened to Jonathan, Roshan, or even Jenna the rest of that night...other than that they didn't all come to bed until...4? 5? So they were the rockstars that evening, I suppose ;)
I'm just throwing this picture in for good measure ;) My BFF looks like a rockstar, right?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hotel Review: Wedgewood Resort Fairbanks

Let me preface this review by saying that we were not happy from the moment we arrived at this lodge. We had been deemed "spillover" on a Princess Cruise Tour and were not pleased with the fact that even though we booked our trip a year in advance, we did not get to stay at the Princess Fairbanks Lodge. Then to top it all off, Princess and/or the Wedgewood misplaced our luggage!

Although this hotel was clean, the location was questionable (there is nothing around this hotel other than a questionable Italian restaurant a few blocks away), and because we were there through Princess, the staff was not exactly helpful, including not allowing, in any way shape or form, late checkouts for those of us who had late afternoon flights the day we were scheduled to depart. They were calling our rooms at 11:10 AM on the day of checkout and we were forced to go sit in the lobby, at which point some sort of manager came around and "nicely" convinced us that it would be better for us to go for a walk around the property than to sit in the lobby and wait for our airport shuttle.

Beyond that, the rooms were very dated and the food at the hotel restaurant was overpriced and barely qualified as "average". All in all, I just did not feel that the quality of this lodge made it "worth" being a spillover lodge for Princess--at least not with the price one pays for their tours--and I certainly do not recommend anyone staying here if they can avoid doing so.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Return to Nosedive

Waaayyy back in January, I wrote about our great New Year's Eve experience at Greenville's new restaurant, Nose Dive. This celebration included a small taste of Nose Dive's menu, but when we were considering dinner out this past weekend I couldn't pass up the good things I'd heard about their full offerings. So Saturday evening we headed out to a real meal at Nose Dive, which touts itself as Greenville's first "true gastropub".

One thing I love about Nose Dive is how simple the menu is. And I don't mean simple in terms of offerings, because those are varied! I mean that it is broken up into a few different categories, and everything within those categories is priced exactly the same. Starters are $6, for instance; sandwiches and burgers are $8; true entrees are $14; etc. My parents were with us as well and my mom, much as I love her, is a notoriously picky eater. I mean, she'll try just about anything, but she's an amazing cook herself and she absolutely can and will pick apart a meal that is even, in her mind, slightly sub-par. So imagine my relief when we were all extremely pleased with our meals!

For starters, my dad and Steve split the Scotch egg and my mom and I shared the Trio of Fries. She preferred the porcini-dusted fries; I, the sweet potato. We both agreed that the aioli dip was absolutely amazing! My dad simply wouldn't shut up about the Scotch egg, either - he'd wanted something different, that's what he got, and he loved it.

My sandwich - the Nose Dive chicken sandwich - was also delicious. Pulled chicken, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella...I had nothing bad to say! I also loved how they give you a choice of fries (regular or sweet potato), cole slaw, or a salad (Caesar or House) with the sandwiches. Thank you for not making me pay a $1 or more upcharge for a healthy scoop of Caesar salad rather than a pile of french fries! Right?

The parents both had the steak and were similarly impressed. For $14 they got a nice serving of quality meat with potatoes on the side, and trust me when I say that if my mom isn't impressed with a steak she will send it such thing happened at Nose Dive!

Steve took a chance on the shrimp and clams basket and thought it was quite funny that he was "eating gastropods at a gastropub" (ha, ha, ha). He enjoyed his choice as well, and even though we were all extremely full, none of us could pass up dessert!

Mom and dad had the apple crisp and were pleased - not to mention the fact that the portion was huge! Steve and I shared the bacon brownie, but to be completely honest I wish I'd tried the Krispy Kreme creme brulee instead. The brownie wasn't bad by any means; I supposed I just expected more of an assualt (a-ssalt?) on my taste buds. I think they should have gone sweeter with the brownie itself and not candied the bacon, personally.

As a side note, a trusted friend of mine also strongly suggests the Pasta Bolognese...I just wasn't in the mood for pasta on this fine evening ;)

These are just the current taps at Nose Dive! (Sample beer list)
The consensus? Not only are the prices right, but the food is great. At Nose Dive, you truly get more than what you pay for, and you can bet we'll be back!

(And in fact, we stayed afterward for a couple brews. The beer list here may not be as extensive as it is at other Greenville bars, but this is also no ordinary "Dive". And I was very happy to see that they carried my favorite, RJ Rockers Son of a Peach!)

Nose Dive on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Charleston Martini Tour

I have to say, I slacked off in writing my review of The Original Pub Tour of Charleston...because I wrote it over seven months after I actually took the tour. Therefore, I promised myself that when I finally got to try the Lesesne Tour Company's Martini Tour, I would write a more timely review. As we just took this tour on Saturday March 5th, I think I'm doing a bit better ;o)

The Lesesne Tour Company now has a convenient store front in the Rainbow Market Shops right across from the Charleston Market on Market Street, and all of their tours start here. (And by the way, how many times can I fit the word "Market" in one sentence, huh?) We showed up for our tour a bit early--about 4:45--and departed right at 5 PM. Though one other couple had been scheduled for this tour, they had apparently canceled last minute and it was just us and guides Becca and Daniel. The one great thing about these martini tours, though, is that they limit the number of participants to 6-8 anyway, which means you will always get a slightly more intimate experience.

Becca quickly assessed our willingness to, shall we say, try some very different things--and off we went. Our first stop was the trendy (and pricey) Grill 225 at the Market Pavilion Hotel, where we had some delicious Fried Green Tomatoes and tried our very first "Nitrotinis". Not only was the martini selection great, but they were all cooled to -320 degrees Fahrenheit and arrived--literally--smoking.
The infamous "Nitrotini"
Our verdict? They were worth every penny.

Becca and Daniel even took us up to the pool at the hotel for some great views of Charleston. At least I know where we're staying if we ever hit it rich and visit this great city with a pocket full of cash!
View from the pool deck at the Market Pavilion Hotel
Our second stop was Charleston's "Social". This is mainly known as a wine bar, but I had one heck of a gin martini there and the food--especially the Margherita pizza and the Yukon Chips--was delicious. I honestly think that's the best Margherita pizza I've had this side of Italy. (Yes, I have been to Italy.)

And as a reminder, hors d'oeuvres are included in your tour price, which runs $42 per person for the Martini Tour ;o) We not only enjoyed great drinks (including specific recommendations from our guides) and food, though--we were also regaled with more stories of Charleston's history and character, including the history of the bars we visited. Although many of them had slightly shorter histories than Charleston itself, Becca and Daniel's knowledge of local business and culture, old and new, shone yet again on this great tour.

Our third stop was probably our favorite--a 1920s themed bar and restaurant called The Gin Joint. Although there were of course other liquors available here, note that you will not find vodka--this place is true to its theme!
Seriously. Look at that light bulb!
Crazy old school square ice cubes!
I was also extremely pleased to find that I could get an actual New Orleans style gin fizz here! I had one on my trip to NOLA in 2010 and fell in love...but you can't buy orange flower water just anywhere, you know!

Oh, and they also make a real mint julep, crushed ice, fresh mint and all. And in a silver cup no less!
My gin fizz and Daniel's true mint julep in the background
And did you think those Nitrotinis would be the craziest thing we did all night?

I hope not, because if you did, you're wrong. While at The Gin Joint, Daniel inquired whether we would like to try something really, really different.

Buffalo fried duck hearts.

Of course we could have said no and enjoyed a simpler appetizer, but I'll try anything once. See?
Am I doing this? Really? Like, for real really?
That would be a yes. Down the hatch!
Honestly? They weren't too bad. The texture was a bit rubbery, sort of like snails, but mostly they just tasted like fried stuff and buffalo sauce ::shrug::

Though I don't think I'll be doing that again.

We wrapped up at The Gin Joint not long after that (and we even ate most of the duck hearts!) and strolled the streets a bit, learning some new info--for instance, that the house once thought to be the oldest in Charleston has been dethroned! Becca and Daniel even walked us by the Hibernian Society building on Meeting Street and regaled us with tales of the beautiful wedding they had there, before heading on to our final stop--Club Habana. We settled into some comfy chairs in a back room, Steve lit up a cigar and we wrapped up the night with a couple more drinks and some great conversation.

As I had assumed that we would be visiting some newer establishments on this tour, ones with perhaps not as much history or as many stories as the ones we saw on our pub tour in late 2009, Steve and I mainly took this tour so that we wouldn't fall prey to wandering the city hoping to stumble into a great place. And also because we enjoyed our first tour with the Lesesne Tour Company so much that we were excited to try this new and different offering ;o) Needless to say, we were not disappointed. This second experience has simply solidified my resolve to try these tours out again and again on our return trips.

Now I guess I just need to force one of my girlfriends to get engaged and have her bachelorette party in Charleston, because you bet I want to go on a Bachelorette Pub Crawl!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who's Your Paddy Pub Crawl: Not a big fan.

I love pub crawls.

Little Skirt, Big Skirt ;o)
And I love St. Patrick's Day.

And of course, I love Greenville.

One would think that the general conclusion on a St. Patrick's themed pub crawl to 5 Greenville bars would be summed up in the word AWESOME!

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Remember how much fun we had during the 12 10 Bars of Christmas pub crawl back in December? Even though we didn't make it to 12 bars? Well, we figured 5 bars was definitely do-able for this "Who's Your Paddy" pub crawl, and as an added bonus it was a bus pub crawl! So we figured we'd end up at a couple bars outside of downtown. Maybe even some places we've never been to. I anxiously awaited the email that would notify me of the names of the five bars we were going to...but it never came. I'm not sure if they really were trying to keep this thing a secret, or if they were having trouble locking down bars that would agree to deal with a bunch of rowdy pub crawlers, or what.

On the party bus!
Still, I can deal with an air of mystery! Right? Right.

We at least knew that the crawl started at Sharkey's at 6:30 PM. Not a favorite place of ours due to a bad experience last spring, but this being a pub crawl, there can be some exceptions to our going out rules ;o)

Of course, we were already feeling a bit "eh" about the whole thing when we walked in and realized that there had never been a memo to dress crazy! Certainly, there were plenty of people who didn't even wear green, let alone a crazy costume...but we enjoy a good excuse to have some fun with our outfits and I wish there had been some sort of notification that anything would go for this pub crawl! Right on the heels of this issue came the fact that despite being "scheduled" to leave Sharkey's around 7:30, it was close to 8 PM before they blew the horn for us to board the bus. I suppose this wouldn't have been a big deal if we loved us some Sharkey's, see where I'm going with this?

One long game of cornhole.
Next up was Connolly's, a bar that we do enjoy, but I suppose because our time at Sharkey's was prolonged that meant our time at Connolly's was cut short? Needless to say, we were not expecting to hear that horn blow about ten minutes to nine and had to rush to close a tab. Boo.

At this point we finally left downtown Greenville and I was hoping it would be for at least two stops. First we went to the Irish Pub, another place that's a-okay with us, and spent quite some time enjoying a couple games of cornhole and some free hot dogs. At this point there was no horn blown--not one that I heard anyway--and we had to "hear it through the grapevine" that it was time to go, which meant that we barely made the first round of buses (and yeah, I was tired of cornhole and wanted to see what our next stop would be!).

I was somewhat ho-hum to find that stop #4 was in fact back downtown -- On the Roxx, no less. But as this is yet another place that we enjoy, we took it in stride and hunkered down with some crazy Brits for the next hour. It wasn't until we got on the bus to head on to our last stop that things went seriously wrong - because we poured out of the bus (get it? heh) to find ourselves right in the doorway of Dixie's Tavern. Which, in case you haven't heard, we have good reason to downright loathe. Therefore we stuck it out for one drink, but as soon as the bar started really filling up we knew that it was time to bow out, and so we did.

Don't mess with my gin and tonics, for real. These nice ladies agreed.
All that said, our conclusion on this particular pub crawl? One big giant "EH". First, I'd originally heard that they would be capping this pub crawl at 80 people...only to arrive and find out that over 200 people had purchased tickets! Had this been a charity pub crawl, I could have let it slide, but none of the bars we went to were really built to handle a sudden influx of 200+ pub crawlers and it just made for one heck of a mess when it came to ordering drinks, paying tabs, going to the bathroom, etc. And again, I wish there had been more consensus on the "hey, it's not St Patrick's Day yet, but let's get crazy & creative with our outfits for this pub crawl!"

As for the buses? Completely unnecessary. It's March. The weather is decent. We only ended up visiting one bar outside of downtown anyway. The whole "get on the bus!" thing just became more of a hindrance than anything. When are they going to blow the horn? Are they even going to blow the horn? How long will I have to close my tab? Oh shit, I don't even know where we're going next because no one ever told me so if I miss the buses I guess I'm just out of luck!

See where I'm going with this?

Maybe next time we'll just schedule and orchestrate our own pub crawl ;o)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vegas Like a Rockstar: Day 1

I've "done Vegas" many different ways--my first trip with a bunch of Vegas vets; my second trip, all girls and for my baby sister's 21st; my third trip, just me and my boyfriend; my fourth trip, for a conference for work. Originally I was just excited to be going to Vegas during the holiday season--getting to see the casinos and hotels all decked out for Christmas, and of course having weather that was a bit warmer than home for the moment.

Of course, that's not exactly how this trip turned out. I did get to see some Christmas decorations, and the temperature was a good 15-20 degrees higher in Vegas than in South Carolina while I was there...but to be completely honest, I didn't really get to do everything I wanted to do. Of course, in this case that was a-okay because instead, I was a Vegas Rockstar from Saturday, 12/18/2010 until Tuesday, 12/21/2010.

So let's jump into day one of my fifth Vegas trip! First, I find it necessary to introduce the cast; at least as it stood for the first day. It was myself, my best friend Jenna (who had never been to Vegas as an adult), my best friend Jonathan, and his good friend Roshan (neither of whom had ever been to Vegas).
Meeting Jenna at the Charlotte airport--and first drinks of the trip! (We start early. Like Rockstars. Hence.)
Jonathan & Roshan post-liquor store
Unfortunately, mine and Jenna's flight from Charlotte to Vegas was delayed by a little over an hour. Poor Jonathan and Roshan waited at the airport for us! (Wait, why am I calling them "poor"? They sat at an airport bar and got half drunk...haha) This screwed with our first day plans a bit because we really didn't have time to do a liquor store run, eat dinner, go to Fremont Street and get ready for our big night out at the Palms. So we nixed Fremont Street and instead stocked up on bourbon, beer, and box o' (wine, that is), then had dinner at BB King's at the Mirage. The food was actually pretty darn good, and the price was right as well!

Of course, before I go any farther I have to mention our room. Because I booked just a regular room at the Mirage. What can I say, I'm cheap? Nah, it's just that you simply don't spend enough time in the room in Vegas to need some fancy place to stay. Of course, when we checked in I made sure to mention that I was there celebrating my birthday (true story) and that I was a frequent guest (this was my third stay at the Mirage and if I can help it I'll never stay anywhere else in Vegas). Bing bang boom, free upgrade to a Strip View room! (Pardon the rhyme)
Seriously, look at that view! We done good.
And then it was time to get ready for our night out.
Of course there was pregaming, of course there were plenty of in-room photos, and then we hopped in a cab for our night at Ghostbar/Rain/Playboy Club/Moon.

Only, as I've already written, the cab didn't take us to the Palms? Go figure.

But it's all good. I know people who know people and we were VIP that night. No cover charges, no lines, just an amazing evening at what I deem are some of the best clubs in Vegas--though Rain left something to be desired (for me anyway, because I'm just not that into the whole techno scene). Jonathan won big playing blackjack at the Playboy Club and we didn't go back to the room until we really had no other choice.
The "Core Four" at Ghostbar
Oh, and some random guy thought I was a $1,000 an hour hooker and I wasn't sure whether or not I should be offended. I mean, what girl wants to be accused of being a hooker? But then, $1,000 an hour is pretty high class hooker. So.
Just to be clear, I'm NOT screaming in excitement over being called a hooker. Even if I do look like I'm worth $1,000 an hour.
Stay tuned for the rest of our trip: champagne, burlesque shows, limos and more!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When Things Don't Go as Planned: The Good Side

King Street, Charleston
We literally just got back from a weekend in Charleston and I decided that I needed to pound out a quick entry. This was my third trip to Charleston and Steve's second and we had big plans, especially as we were there for the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. The two parts of our plans that suffered the most were the shopping I'd hoped to do on King Street and dinner reservations at La Fourchette for Saturday night.

Basically, I spent my shopping allotment in one fell swoop when I decided to finally get fitted for a pair of Vibram Five Fingers running shoes. At this point Steve agreed that we could rest our feet a bit back at the hotel, and there went the rest of our afternoon free time that was originally meant for exploring more of Charleston.

Hibernion Society Building
Of course, had we not stopped back at the room and taken a quick power nap we probably wouldn't have lasted until closing time when we went out that night--hence the fact that it wasn't such a bad thing that our afternoon plans changed a bit. And had we been a little more tired or continued to drink between our Tasting Tent excursion and our Martini Tour with the Lesesne Tour Company, we may have made it to our dinner at La Fourchette but we wouldn't have had quite as awesome of a night bar hopping on East Bay and Meeting Streets.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit disappointed that I still haven't had the chance to try La Fourchette's famous pommes frites or French pressed coffee, but it just goes to show you that even the best laid plans sometimes should be set aside in favor of winging it. Had we not done so last night we would have missed out on some great conversation and experiences.

Stay tuned for a complete recap of our Charleston trip with Food & Wine festival details and some more information on the great Martini Tour we took!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hotel Review: Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge

When we took our Princess Cruise Tour, we spent just one night at this lodge--and I only wish we had booked a package that included more nights than that! There was a lot more to do here than there was at the McKinley Princess Lodge--better shopping and more restaurant choices, as well as a plethora of outdoor activities. The lodge itself was a lot nicer as well; it didn't seem to be showing age the way the McKinley Princess did.

The one issue I had at the Denali Princess lodge was that the staff was disorganized and not overly helpful. When we arrived the keycards they gave us did not work (apparently a common problem) and we had to wait twenty minutes for someone to come fix that; then when I called the outfitters desk to book the dinner theater, I was told I had to walk all the way down to the main lodge and do that in person. A bit frustrating to say the least, especially after a long bus ride and the key card issue. To be completely honest, had I not just had a far below average stay at the McKinley Princess I would probably give the Denali Princess a worse review, but in general the room was clean and comfortable, the scenery was beautiful and it was extremely convenient to Denali park.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cosmos for Critters: Great Event, Great Cause!

The "Clawsmopolitan"
This past Saturday a handful of Upstate South Carolina's animal rescue groups hosted the first annual "Cosmos for Critters" event at Zen on South Main Street.

One of the best things about the event was the range in ticket prices. A regular admission ticket ran only $28 per person--though until January 1, 2011 and for a few days around Valentine's Day they even dropped this rate to $20 per person! This included one special cosmopolitan as well as heavy hors d'oeuvres. For $35 per person you also got a souvenir glass; $50 per person got you a t-shirt and access to a special VIP area with private seating, a private bar and private restrooms.

Food/decorations layout
The theme for the night was a Mardi Gras style Masquerade ball, and we saw everything from full costumes, to people just wearing their best and sporting masks, to those who didn't really dress for the theme at all. I decided to go middle-of-the-road and wore a 50s-style getup complete with mask...though I was jealous of the one girl who wore a full pirate costume! Why didn't I think of that?
Though people did claim I looked like Gwen Stefani. All. Night. Long.
Showing off my mask!
The drinks were a bit pricey ($6-9 for a mixed drink, depending on whether you wanted house or top shelf liquor) and the food went fast, but the DJ was great and the silent auction offerings were more than worth a look. I heard tell throughout the night that this will be an annual event...well, one can only hope, and as soon as I get the official word I'll let everyone know. Because really, there's nothing better than helping those who can't help themselves.

Back home later that night and making sure my favorite dog knows how much I love her.