Friday, September 15, 2023

Glasshouse Kitchen

Glasshouse Kitchen is a trendy new addition to the RTP area. Driving up, it's instantly recognizable - it's hard to miss the big glass structure - and inside, it feels like a greenhouse with stunning ferns and greenery adorning the walls. The bar practically stretches the entire length of the restaurant, which was consistently busy throughout our meal. It's easy to see why - the food and service was an absolute treat. The folks at Glasshouse know how to take care of their customers.

The restaurant changes their menu frequently and is rooted in seasonal offerings. It would be a mistake to not order the Bread Service - while I love a place that offers complimentary bread, when you pay for it, you know it's going to be special. Four warm, fluffy rolls made with Whole Grain Einkorn Flour are sprinkled liberally with sea salt, and are the perfect vessel for a sweet and spicy Sorghum Chili Butter. The room temperature butter allows the warm rolls to soak up these incredibly palate-stimulating flavors.

Burrata is always a favorite, and the rendition we had included Golden and Red Beets, Greens and a very unique Polenta Foccacia. Glasshouse's bread game is on point. I had never tried einkorn flour before, and certainly had never tried a foccacia made with polenta. The bread was crunchy on the outside and surpringly soft on the inside. Delightful. 

An enormous pile of Local Greens is tossed with Shallots and Ricotta Salata, and drizzled with a Lemon Vinaigrette. Very fresh, and a nice balance if you order one of their pizzas (you should). We opted for the Lamb Sausage Pizza, complete with Harissa and Mint. The crust had a nice chew - again with the great bread! - and the sauce was tangy and acidic. It's hard for me to resist lamb anything, and this was some of the better lamb sausage I've had.

The "Fried Fish for Two" would be more appropriately named "Fried Fish for Four", both for the sake of alliteration and for the amount of food. We enjoyed Black Bass with a crispy, salty, light crust, sitting in a pool of Chili-Lime Coconut Broth that packed quite a punch. I absolutely loved this broth, which was thicker, like a sauce, with a crazy depth of flavor. It's served with Jasmine Rice and Greens, and some Turnips and Radishes for crunch. This was a beautiful presentation and I hate that I didn't capture a photo of it (or of any of the dishes!)

I was quite impressed with Glasshouse Kitchen. I like giving restaurants a minute to find their footing and work out the kinks, and after about a year of being open, they most certainly have figured it out. It's here to stay.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Barbie / Cocaine Bear

It's been a MINUTE since I've been able to take in a movie in one sitting, let alone two in one week! "Barbie" and "Cocaine Bear" are two highly entertaining, laugh-out-loud, should-not-miss summer films.

Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon
Director: Greta Gerwig
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Rating: PG-13

This movie will give you all the feelings - you'll laugh, get angry, feel nostalgic - your emotions really run the gamut. Margot Robbie is absolutely perfectly cast as "Stereotypical Barbie", and deserves an Oscar nomination for her beautiful work. Her ability to cry on a whim and bring true emotion to this life-like doll is remarkable. I admit, I was skeptical about Ryan Gosling portraying Ken, but he had me laughing out loud. I loved the throwbacks to characters like Skipper, Midge and Alan, played by Michael Cera - the supporting cast is spot-on.

Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach's brilliant script portrays Barbieland as a female-forward, happy, productive place, until Barbie has an existential crisis, and eventually learns that she's inhabiting the feelings of the little girl playing with her in the real world. Barbie decides to venture to the real world,  Los Angeles, more specifically, with Ken by her side (reluctantly). It's here she discovers things are quite the opposite of Barbieland. When she and Ken learn about the "patriarchy", things get a little funny (if not frustrating). 

If you're on the fence about seeing this film, give it a chance. I do think you'll appreciate it more if you grew up playing with Barbies, but the greater message about equality and optimism will stick with anyone.

Cocaine Bear
Starring: Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Ray Liotta, Margo Martindale
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Rating: R

For every bit ridiculous this "based on true events" film is, it's equally every bit entertaining. It features an unbelievable cast including those listed above and also Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Isiah Whitlock, Jr., and will have you thinking twice before you go hiking again. 

Apparently in the 1980's, a drug deal gone wrong led to several pounds of cocaine being dropped in the woods of Tennessee, and eventually in the paws of a black bear. Naturally, the bear went a little nuts. The film follows several different story lines and characters, and as long as you lean in to the absurd premise, you'll have a good ride.

This is one of the more grotesque movies I've seen in a while. It's definitely movie junk food - made purely for your entertainment - but wildly entertaining.

Friday, May 19, 2023


Starring: Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Viola Davis, Ben Affleck
Director: Ben Affleck
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Rating: R

I hadn't been anticipating a movie like this in quite a while. Being a Tar Heel and a fan of MJ, I'm always interested in watching anything related to the GOAT. I'm also a big fan of Ben Affleck as a director (Argo, The Town, Gone Baby Gone are all excellent films) so this was a movie I was not going to miss. I also wasn't going to go to the movie theatre to watch it (ha) so I squealed with delight when I saw that it was available to stream on Amazon Prime. I quite enjoyed the film, but it does beg the question, why exactly did this movie need to get made, and why now? I feel a bit hypocritical asking that, but it does kind of feel like a group of friends doing a passion project, which is fine. We all know the outcome of the story - did we really need 1 hour and 51 minutes to tell it?

Aside from those questions, I really did find the film entertaining. Matt Damon shines, per usual, as Sonny Vaccaro, a basketball talent scout for Nike who believes an NBA rookie named Michael Jordan will save their shoe division. Enter excellent supporting castmates in Jason Bateman as chair of Marketing, Ben Affleck as Nike CEO Phil Knight, Chris Messina as MJ's agent and Viola Davis as the matriarch of the Jordan family. All eventually work together towards luring MJ away from competitors Converse and Adidas, but it's not an easy road.

The story takes place in the 80s, and they really drive home that fact - lots of iconic 80s tunes, clothes, office furniture - they do a good job setting the scene. Sometimes I felt the shots were too sepia-toned, but this was clearly a choice. It was also a choice for us to never see MJ's face, which I thought was interesting. Affleck has chosen to highlight the supporting characters in the Air Jordan story, instead of MJ himself. 

If anything, watch this film for some spectacular performances (Bateman and Davis really shine) and if you're a basketball fan. It's an entertaining 2 hours for sure, but at the end, you may ask yourself the same questions as me. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023

M Test Kitchen

If you live in the Triangle, you've no doubt heard of the M Restaurants - you've got M Sushi (the best sushi I've ever had), M Pocha (Korean street food), M Kokko (Korean fried chicken + ramen), M Tempura (next on my list), and the latest hot spot: M Test Kitchen. Basically, they cook whatever they feel like and if it's well-received, perhaps you'll see it on one of their other restaurant menus. I jumped at the opportunity to dine here when it opened at Fenton in Cary last month. I felt like we were in on a secret - while we had an early reservation time (not surprising), the place was surprisingly empty. By 7pm, every table (and bar seat) was occupied. The atmosphere is minimalist, the service is spot-on, and everything we tasted was delicious - and we tasted almost everything on the menu. I can appreciate a small, focused menu that executes beautifully and M Test Kitchen does just that. Just be sure you don't get too attached to anything - they revamp the menu often, and we were already on version 1.8!

Channeling my inner Gail Simmons

The food menu is on one page, and the drink options take up three pages. They take their bevvies seriously. I ordered The Triad, combining Japanese Whiskey, Amaretto and Cointreau and it was  slightly sweet and delightfully boozy. My husband opted for the Black Sage, with Irish Whiskey, Sake, St. Germaine, Sage and Blackberries. It was a flavor combination he had never tasted and said it was "highly drinkable".

The menu is divided into three sections: Cold, Warm and Sweets. We started off with Roasted Shishitos with Edamame and Plum. Being that it was the first thing we tasted, it set the bar incredibly high. The humble shishito peppers are perfectly blistered, not too oily, and rest on a stunning edamame hummus. I would have licked this plate clean. Dollops of plum puree bring a subtle sweetness, but the star of this show is that hummus!

Crispy Rice with Salmon Tartare was another favorite bite of the night. Beautiful squares of golden brown fried rice is topped with mounds of salmon, with Carolina mustard seeds for some acid and a pop of texture. This felt like a really funky and adventurous bite of nigiri. Absolutely fantastic.

Amberjack Tataki with Yuzu and Lotus was a beautiful presentation, featuring slices of that meaty fish topped with crispy lotus root slivers and pops of yuzu. The slight saltiness of the lotus was a great match for the seasoning on the fish, but the yuzu was TOO citrus-forward for me. It almost overpowered the delicate bite.

My entire dining party was very excited to order the Kani Crab XO Fried Rice, but much to our surprise, we couldn't locate any crab in the dish! Instead, beautifully cooked Shrimp sat atop the mound of flavorful rice, with julienned cooked Egg and Scallions too. The kitchen must have been out of the crab that night, or it was VERY carefully disguised.

It's a bit disappointing when the Cucumber and Herb Salad that is served alongside the Char Sui Ribs is the star of the dish (at least, the star for me). The ribs were just a bit dry, and had a touch too much sweetness from the hoisin glaze. The men at the table devoured them though, which was fine, because I was all too eager to have extra servings of the refreshing shaved cucumber salad. 

Another standout dish was the Crispy Tilefish with Green Curry. Thick, meaty white fish is surrounded by a creamy, only slightly peppy Green Curry sauce, with a mound of sticky White Rice underneath. The crispiness comes from the fish skin AND the scales, which are fried, resulting in a delicate salty crunch. This is extremely rich and comforting and I was disappointed to have to share.

Just when you think you've had all the Carrot Cake you could ever want, M Test Kitchen goes and does it right. They deconstruct the classic dessert, plating little cubes of moist, spicy Carrot Cake with sweet Carrot Puree, Candied Walnuts and Ginger Ice Cream. This was beyond anything that I was expecting. I love a good restaurant dessert, especially ones like this, that totally reinvent the wheel.

Do yourself a favor and make a reservation here before the word gets out even further. This is an awesome spot for a girls night, date night, or when you want to have yourself a little Top Chef adventure. I'd like to come for every iteration of the menu.

Friday, March 10, 2023

2023 Oscar Predictions

Hello from the other side. It's bananas that it's both mid-March, AND that I have been off the blogger grid for the past 4 months! I've had my hands full, but not without a FEW quiet moments here and there to catch up on some of this season's buzzworthy films. The Oscars are right around the corner (this Sunday!) and I'm taking any excuse to have some bubbly, park myself in front of the TV and stay awake past 8:30pm (but not much later). I hope everyone who cares enjoys the evening. I know I will.

Best Actor
Austin "hunka burnin love" Butler, Elvis
Colin "finally getting his time" Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan "high school crush" Fraser, The Whale
Paul "who?" Mescal, Aftersun
Bill Nighy, Living

Should Win: At press time, I have not seen The Whale, but everyone I've spoken to who has seen it says this is an incredibly heart-wrenching performance by Fraser. As much as I loved Butler as my man Elvis (he was the only good part about that movie), Fraser never disappoints and has paid his dues. I think he's got this locked down.

Will Win: Fraser.

Best Supporting Actor
Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
Brian Tyree "paper boi" Henry, Causeway
Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans
Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
Ke Huy "in the bag" Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Should Win: EEAAO was just too overstimulating for me, but the acting was incredible. Anyone who watches this film could empathize with Ke Huy Quan's sensitive, delightful, relatable performance. And Hollywood loves a comeback story. The Banshees boys were fine. I just could not get through that film. And BTH's day will come.

Will Win: Ke Huy Quan.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Tár
Ana de Armas, Blonde
Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
Michelle "always a bridesmaid" Williams, The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Should Win: Michelle Yeoh is a sneaky one - she has been around forever, been in more films than any of us realize, and shines in everything she does. She can do action, drama, romance - and while I didn't love EEAAO, she is a force of nature in it. This Oscar is hers to claim. Cate Blanchett was wonderful in Tár (she is always phenomenal), but she has 2 statues already. And Ana de Armas will have her moment in the sun eventually.

Will Win: Yeoh.

Best Supporting Actress
Angela "queen" Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hong Chau, The Whale
Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee "proud nepo baby" Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Should Win: The critics are loving Queen Bassett's performance in Black Panther, but I have not yet seen it. I can say, however, that JLC was unrecognizable and absolutely fabulous in EEAAO (this is the year for all the acronyms). 

Will Win: It's a toss up between Angie and Jamie.

Best Director
Martin McDonagh, The Bashees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Todd Field, Tár
Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness

Should Win: I would like to squeeze in a viewing of The Fabelmans before Sunday (doubtful) because Spielberg is always great. Hollywood loves longevity and the man certainly has it. I think Todd Field did a tremendous job with setting the mood for Tár. It's not my choice for Best Picture, nor is EEAAO, but I think the Daniels or Field should win for their direction.

Will Win: The Daniels.

Best Picture











Should Win: This is tough for me. I've only seen 5/10 and of those 5, I really only liked Top Gun: Maverick. But should it win the Oscar for Best Picture? No. So by process of elimination, that leaves me with the (very wrong) opinion that Elvis should win (it should not). Again, I would like to see The Fabelmans because I do think it has a chance. But a very small one.

Will Win: EEAAO. It's going to sweep.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Margaux's Restaurant

Walk into Margaux's Restaurant in Raleigh, and you'll immediately feel at home. Or like you're in a modern art museum. This bustling spot is full of smiling servers who genuinely seem excited that you're there. Funky paintings adorn the walls, and sculptures are scattered throughout. A long bar stretches across the restaurant. An eclectic menu that changes often keeps things exciting. They even offer early bird specials (heck yes) and a 3 course prix fixe menu. Definitely check this spot out.

Margaux's bartenders got game. My husband said his Martini was among the best he's ever had, and my virgin Mojito was perfection. A light and refreshing Strawberry Salad is accompanied by Candied Walnuts, salty Feta Cheese and a delightful Blueberry Vinaigrette. It's definitely large enough to share, as is the French Onion Soup. When you finally get brave enough to take a bite of the molten hot insides, the Caramelized Onions are soft, the Gruyere Cheese is unctuous, and the Croutons are plentiful. I've had a shocking amount of French Onion Soup throughout the past month and this is among some of the best.

I couldn't pass up the Jerk-Seasoned Shrimp Bowl, complete with Rice, Butternut Squash, Pinto Beans, Mango Salsa, Plantains and Haricot Verts. The subtle sweet heat from the jerk seasoning resonated throughout this dish, and really made it sing. Scooping some of the mango salsa on a plantain disk was my favorite part. And I counted at least 15 shrimp in this bowl, so you can eat on this for a few days. Insane!

Pan-seared Salmon is cooked to perfection and served over a very interesting combination of flavors and ingredients. A Carrot-Ginger Spatzle is enhanced wtih Peaches and Zucchini, then everything is topped with a mound of Fennel and Grapefruit Slaw. I think the chef should have stopped there, but he doused everything with a bit too much Sesame Oil, a flavor I don't think belonged. But I get excited anytime I see my beloved German spatzle on a menu (which is hardly ever!)

I don't think I had ever seen this much fresh Plum Tomato Sauce on a bed of pasta. My husband absolutely loved this Angel Hair and Shrimp dish, just swimming in that robust, acidic sauce. Did I mention the portions are humongous?

Don't make the same mistake we did, by not saving room for dessert. The options are plentiful and they have nightly features. By the time we left, nearly every table was full. This is definitely the type of place to garner "regulars". And I intend to be one!

Friday, October 14, 2022

All the Screens

I've finally caught up on some films I've been wanting to see lately, so I thought I'd do a quick recap for anyone who might be interested in checking these out!

Hocus Pocus 2 - If you're a diehard fan of the original (like me and literally every single one of my friends), you've probably seen it already. I don't think they needed to bother making a sequel, but am I glad they did? Sure. It's definitely sillier and has fewer "creepy" moments than the original, but is it one I'll re-watch over and over every year? Probably not. I found myself laughing out loud a few times, an indicator that I was actually enjoying myself, and shout-out to Tony Hale for making the most of his limited scenes. Fans should check it out but keep expectations to a minimum.

Bros - It's 2022 and hard to believe this is seriously the first big-budget, studio, gay rom-com that we've had. So A+++ for representation! Billy Eichner does not hold back with his foray into the world of gay relationships. I'm a fan of Eichner, but his character's whiny and self-deprecating humor did get a bit old after awhile. He had decent chemistry with Luke Macfarlane, one of Hallmark Channel's beloved actors. I applaud this movie for apparently being the first of its kind (still shocking) and I hope we continue to see more of them. And that they'll be even better.

Don't Worry Darling - There was a LOT of buzz about the making of this film - onset drama, actors getting replaced, premiere drama - which was almost more exciting to follow than the actual film. This is basically the Florence Pugh show, and that is fine by me. She stuns in this film, reminiscent of "The Stepford Wives", with an absolutely beautiful production and costume design. The cinematography and music are great and incredibly creepy. I would have liked a tighter conclusion, instead they kind of rush through it. Don't listen to the critics on this one. I enjoyed myself. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

Crawford and Son

Crawford and Son in Raleigh has been on my list since I moved here a year ago. It was most recently named "Restaurant of the Year" by Raleigh Magazine, so I decided I couldn't wait much longer to check it out. I have to agree with the masses - this is perhaps the finest establishment in Raleigh. From the food, to the atmosphere, to the service, it's a 10/10. They change their menu seasonally, so that gives you at least 4 excuses each year to go. It's dim, but not too dim - very grayscale with lots of slate. It's small, but not too noisy - noise-dampening panels mostly help keep volume to a minimum. Water glasses were never less than half full. It's clear why this won such a prestigious award. I totally get the hype.

Since I'm still off the sauce, I was excited to see not one but TWO spirit-free options. I opted for the Mini Jammer, a beautifully balanced Blueberry, Ginger and Lemongrass sip. We were tempted by two appetizers so we opted for them both. The revered Manchego-Herb Biscuits need to stay on the menu permanently. 4 come in an order and they're crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and cheesy and herbaceous as promised. They're utterly addicting and are great for breakfast the next day (if there are any left).

The Sweet Corn Risotto is sensational. The sweetness of the corn echoes the sweetness from the crab, and a light, slightly funky Parmesan Mousse rests atop. Flavors of Dill permeate the dish, bringing a nice earthiness. It's super rich and actually really great scooped up by a bite of biscuit. 

Swordfish can be hit or miss for me, but Crawford knows how to handle it. A beautiful, thick, white filet was cooked to perfection - still glistening on the inside - and sat atop a Tomato and Olive emulsion. It's served with Tabbouleh and a Cucumber and Olive Salsa. This was a really unique flavor combination - I love olives but the olive flavor almost overwhelmed the entire dish. The fish itself was great, as was the tabbouleh, but this sauce was a little strong for me.

My husband's Pork Chop was outstanding, particularly the creamy Farro that accompanied it. We think the pork was sous vide because it was super thick and cooked perfectly all the way through - how in the world could they have pulled this off otherwise? Tomatoes and Squash were nestled in the farro, and the pork had subtle flavors of Peach and Mustard. If I had known how fabulous this was going to be, I would have ordered it myself. It was a rich dish that ate light.

Would you believe that a sugar fiend such as myself was too full for dessert? Alas, my husband let me try a bite of his Dirty Chai Custard, and while I wasn't too excited by the sound of Chocolate and Chai together (I'm a weirdo, I know), I admit I snuck several bites. A moist Dark Chocolate Cake is covered with a slightly spiced Chai Custard, which read more like a light chocolate pudding, topped with crunchy Hazelnuts, Feuilletine and Whipped Cream. Like my mocktail, it was perfectly balanced and really what every pastry chef strives for. We were thoroughly impressed.

Do yourself a favor and make a reservation at Crawford and Son. I'm already seeing some changes to the menu from when we went a week ago, so if you haven't been in a while, now's the time to revisit. And for first-timers, prepare to be wowed.

Friday, September 23, 2022


Jolie strives for authentic French cuisine in Raleigh's bustling Person Street neighborhood. Nestled between hot spots like Crawford & Son, (ish) Delicatessen and Two Roosters Ice Cream, it's a really happening scene and you can't go wrong, anywhere you choose to hang. I was excited to celebrate my 35th birthday at Jolie, and for the most part, I was quite pleased. 

Next time, I'll request a table on their stunning, open air, rooftop patio. As we approached the restaurant, it became very clear that the rooftop is where you want to be. The inside was tight, though I was grateful for their noise-dampening panels, which helped keep what could have been a very loud environment relatively quiet. It's an open-kitchen concept, with a few seats at the bar, and tables down a long hallway. It reminds me a lot of my beloved Mozelle's in Winston-Salem! Intimate, almost TOO intimate. I was very excited to see a spirit-free cocktail on the menu, feautring the trendy Seedlip (a non-alcoholic spirit), Black Tea, Strawberry and Basil. It was citrusy and bitter, a nice change from the sprite-doused mocktails I'm often offered.

Do not sleep on the Baguette with Fancy Butter - this was some of the best butter I've ever had! If only the untoasted, room temperature bread had done it justice. I would have loved for the whole wheat baguette to be toasted, or ever so slightly warmed, because chewing through the crust was entirely too tough on my jaw. But I would have eaten anything if it meant getting a bite of that sweet, honey butter, topped with Sea Salt, Paprika, Sesame Seeds and Herbs. Sensational! I admit, I was pretty surprised when one piece of bread remained, with plenty of butter for it, and the dishes were removed from our table to "make room for our next courses". For $6, I think our server should have left this on the table, and even offered additional bread! But I'm willing to overlook that.

This pregnant mama has been craving all the cheese, so the French Onion Soup naturally called to me. Jolie's version is incredibly rich, with a beefy, brandy-forward broth, loads of Croutons and Thyme, Caramelized Onions (not quite enough, frankly) and Fromage Cantal, a white cheese that passes for the classic Gruyere. You can tell that the chefs put a lot of TLC into the broth, which was indeed delicious, but I was missing some of the soft, caramlized onions - the crouton to onion ratio was off for my preference. But the cheese pull...heaven.

When I read the words "truffle", "parmesan" and "gnocchi", I knew exactly what I would be ordering next. This Gnocchi is incredibly tender, definitely made in house, and sat in a stew alongside Corn, Peas, Oyster Mushrooms and Tomatoes. The dish had just a kiss of truffle flavor, but I could have used more Parmesan (I think it was hiding was in the broth). This dish, while delicious, was having a bit of an identity crisis. I wanted a pasta dish, this read more as a stew. Killer flavors, though.

My husband could not get enough of his miniature Whole Chicken, and in fact said it was the best he's ever had. It was indeed incredibly moist and perfectly seasoned, though the Mixed Greens Salad might not have been the best option as a side dish. The chicken just screamed for a starch, a potato of some sort, to accompany this comforting protein. I don't know that a starch would have made a difference though - he had tunnel vision for the bird.

Jolie changes their menu frequently so I'll be keeping my eye on what's to come. I had quite a lovely experience, and with a few tweaks, I think this place could be truly outstanding.

Friday, August 26, 2022


Cortez is a trendy, happening spot on the even trendier and more happening Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Their menu changes frequently, so if you have your heart set on something, I suggest going stat before it gets replaced with another seasonal offering. Being pregnant, I found it difficult to navigate a menu flush with oyster and raw seafood options - I will most definitely return when I can indulge appropriately. But the food I was able to eat was all outstanding, and paired with exceptional service - no water glass was ever empty and that goes a long way in my book! My only criticism would be the air circulation - the partly open-kitchen concept is cool, but smoke permeated the entire restaurant so badly that I had to wash my hair when I got home. If they could get some better ventilation, it would be one of my top picks in the area.

An order of Bread and (Sea)Weed Butter goes a long way, as it should, if you're being charged for it. Four thick slices of bread are served along side a soft, herbaceous butter that thankfully didn't give off too many seaweed notes. The butter was salty and the bread was soft, and a fine substitute for the dozen raw oysters I would have preferred to enjoy.

'Tis the season for watermelon, and I've certainly had my share of it, but I couldn't resist their rendition of a Watermelon Salad, complete with 2 (count them, 2!) types of watermelon - red and yellow - with a tangy, fishy Nuoc Cham Vinaigrette (think about what you're served along side Vietnamese Vermicelli Bowls or Thai Spring Rolls), Peanuts and Herbs. This was a beautiful dish, with the juicy watermelon cubes stacked along side each other and sprinkled with the toppings (if only I had thought to take a photo!) I would have loved a bit of spice, perhaps a serrano or something for heat, but this was a lovely, light start on a hot day.

The Grouper with Hominy exceeded my expectations. A beautiful, thick grouper filet is covered (unnecessarily) in Hollandaise, and is served on a bed of Hominy, Okra and Chorizo, with a beautiful tomato sauce binding it all together. I've never enjoyed hominy this much! It wasn't the grainy, mushy, corn kernels I expected - it was cooked perfectly and was a really unique spin on a side. The chorizo was in bite-sized cubes and a great addition of saltiness. I cleaned my entire plate, aside from some of the hollandaise (the dish was rich enough without it!)

Churros are not high on my dessert favorites list, but I couldn't resist the sound of Corn Ice Cream, Caramel and Cinnamon Sugar - I mean, what's not to love about that combination? The Churros were presented in a coil, served hot and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They served as a bed for that not-too-sweet corn ice cream, and it all just floated in a bed of caramel. This is a dream come true, pregnant or not.

I would definitely recommend Cortez, but next time I'll eat outside. I look forward to continue trying their ever-evolving menu!