Tuesday, May 29, 2012

spotlight on: bravo happy hour

Truly, there is nothing like a good happy hour. My friend here in Baton Rouge and I are on a search for the best ones in the city. Thus far, my favorite has been Kona Grill (see this post). But the one at Bravo! (yes, including the cheesy exclamation mark) is a close runner-up.

My Bravo! is located at Mall of Louisiana, in their little outside promenade, if you will. Like Kona, you have to sit in the bar to get the deals. The bar includes their outdoor section. They have a cute little patio with lots of hanging lights. I haven't actually been able to sit outside because it is h o t here in BR already, and I've only gone during the day, but I have intention to camp out on a Friday evening to people watch, sip, and dine.

At ours, the hours are Monday - Friday from 3 - 7 PM and 9 PM - close. This is very generous as far as happy hour times go,  so there's an advantage. Their drinks are a bit more expensive than Kona ($5 each), but they have some seriously delicious options that are pretty intricate (including the below, as captured by my cell phone.. I wanted to get pics of the food, too, but I already felt a lil foolish snapping a photo of my drink -- guess I'm not in full blogger mode yet, huh? Side note: Yay, Instagram for Android!).

Sangria Rosa -- raspberry vodka, muddled pineapple & strawberry, Rosa Regale

Their food is the real winner -- their "bar bites" are $3.95! These are very generous portions (which makes up for the less than generous portions of alcohol they put in their drinks.. ahem). This includes their Bravo! burger with fries (a generous burger with provolone and caramelized onions on a crisp bun with amazing thin, crunchy fries -- I highly recommend it!), cheese ravioli with assorted sauces (three giant raviolis in alfredo sauce with pesto and marinara), a caprese salad, a "lasagna" dip with crispy bread, huge chicken and bacon flatbread, etc.! Even better, there are several vegetarian friendly options on the menu.

I hope you have a Bravo! near you and can check out this great happy hour. I know I'll be back!

Monday, May 14, 2012

calling baton rouge

I moved to Baton Rouge last summer. In the heat of August, to be exact. And although this is not my first choice in living locales, I am slowly accepting that I am going to be here for three more years, and I need to get used to it. But I don't want to just get used to it... I want to make the most of it. So I'm going to compose a list of things I'd like to do in the city in hopes of sticking to my plan to actually enjoy living here.
  • Live After Five -- this is a weekly (free!) outdoor concert series in the spring/summer. I haven't been able to go yet because I'm usually not around and/or completely exhausted at that time, but I'm working on it! I'm changing my work schedule the next two months, so I'm hoping to make it out at least once. Maybe on June 1st for Island Fever, which is described as "Summer Party Jam" for the genre. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but it sounds great. I feel like a lil BR Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar may be appropriate beforehand, no?
  • Happy Hours/Drink Special Nights -- with me, this is a given. On my list:
    • Bravo! Italian Restaurant Bravo! Hour According to their website, enjoy $3.95 bar bites and $5 drink specials Mon-Fri 3-7 pm and 9 pm - close in the bar. (I actually went to this today -- review forthcoming, of course -- and it even includes their expansive outside patio. My friend and I will be back, preferably on a Friday because Monday is a little less than hopping.)
    • Duvic's Martini Bar This place has pretty awesome martinis. I liked the Cosmo Jewel. But they're pretty steep price-wise. So maybe a stop on Wednesday for $5 martinis.
    • This list will definitely expand in the near future after I do a lil more HH research ;).
  • Concerts -- so Baton Rouge does not have the best music scene, but I'd like to see a concert at Spanish Moon (great news, Chappo is playing for $10 in early June! and Eisley for $10 in late June! Yay!) and Chelsea's
  • Farmers Market -- I love Baton Rouge's cute Red Stick Farmer's Market, which offers everything from local honey, fruits and veggies, baked goods to potted herbs and other plants and puppies and kitties to adopt! It has such a small-town feel, and it's in the center of downtown. I highly recommend it.
  • Parks! -- It might be nice to get outdoors, and BR actually has a pretty extensive park system. They have classes, a rock wall (I think they offer free climbs!), and a great board-walked swamp (only $3) I'd love to take a picnic in (but maybe when it's less muggy and filled with mosquitoes.. so no time between February and November, geeeeze). 
  • Restaurants -- it would just be silly to ignore my very favorite places to visit, the restaurants. Although BR doesn't have the extensive options New Orleans offers, there are some pretty decent options, so here's some places I'd like to try:
    • Bread Box -- gourmet lunch restaurant? I'm sold.
    • Magpie -- this place isn't open yet, but it looks so cute already!
    • Zippy's -- I have heard good things about their margaritas. Nothing can beat Ninfa's for Tex-Mex in Baton Rouge, though (in my humble Texan opinion).
    • Another Broken Egg -- the boy and I are breakfast fiends, so this is a must. Soon.
    • J Alexander's -- this may be a bit too expensive, but a girl can dream.
    • If you're looking for good/fun restaurants here, I like Zeeland Street Market (yummy red beans and rice!), Mason's Grill (very popular brunch stop with build-your-own bloody mary bar and unlimited mimosa options, plus some serious burgers and tasty breakfast options), Tsunami (more than a little overpriced, but the ambiance is great!), Fat Cow (as mentioned in this post, and sorry, I'll stop talking about it now), Yvette Marie's (adorable gourmet lunch cafe inside a fabulous antique shop),  Burgersmith (more great, juicy burgers), Frosted, (really creative cupcake combos! including one with Dippin Dots inside, I am not kidding you. I would not lie to you about something like this.) etc.  
  • Any and all fun events -- of the likes of the recent one I missed, Hot Art, Cool Nights, and anything happening at Perkins Rowe, which is a great little shopping center that I frequent.
Well I think this is a pretty ambitious list to get me started. Live in Baton Rouge and have some suggestions? Please leave a comment!

Friday, May 11, 2012

groupons & the women who love them

It's safe to say I'm a Groupon groupie. If you've read any of my posts on this blog, you probably know that I like to go out to eat, and I like to save money. Sometimes it's hard to enjoy both of those things at once. That's when Groupon and assorted similar sites come into play. Admittedly I have spent a decent amount of money on the coupons themselves, but I've also gotten to try lots of delicious new restaurants that I may not have known about (and probably couldn't have afforded or gone to almost guilt-free).

There are also city-specific coupon sites like Groupon. My favorite here in Baton Rouge is 225 Best Eats.

Lemme share some of my most recent deals (and maybe some brief reviews of the places I went!):
  • French Quarter Daiquiris -- (LivingSocial) I got a $15 for $30 deal here. it just so happened we went to spend this ($30 that had to be spent all at once, semi-unfortunately) during their happy hour, so we got an additional ~$5 of savings. As far as a review goes, I will say that you get some serious bang for your buck -- these seemed pretty strong to me. My favorites are Cajun Lemonade (super tart) and a mix of Strawberry and Margarita. I've gone there before LSU football games to buy a frosty adult beverage for the hours of tailgating, and they haven't disappointed yet. Here's their Yelp reviews too. 

  • Louisiana Pizza Kitchen -- (225 Best Eats) Like its similarly named competitor, LPK is a casual kind-of Italian restaurant, like a local version of CPK. They're going through a weird revamp right now and trying to make it trendy, so I'm not sure if this review will still stand if you go soon. But previously, their food was consistently tasty and fresh. I like their spinach and artichoke dip and fettucine alfredo with spinach, yum!
  • Whole Foods -- (LivingSocial) This place is seriously expensive, so I snagged that deal as soon as I saw it! This is fairly self-explanatory.
  • Starbucks -- (Google Offers) Also fairly self-explanatory. I was even able to transfer the value online onto an existing gift card. That was my first (and thus far only) offer through Google Offers. 
  • Fat Cow -- (225 Best Eats) I am a little obsessed with Fat Cow. It's kind of trendy and looks like a restaurant that belongs in Austin, Texas (one of my absolute favorite cities, and thus a huge compliment). If I have visitors (who are carnivores) I take them here to make them think Baton Rouge is at least a tiny bit cool. They have great burgers, fries, and milkshakes. And by that I mean all three of those things are fantastic. Their buns are really unique, with an onion flavor that I haven't had elsewhere. I love that their milkshakes are so thick you need a bubble tea style straw! Portions are generous (even the small burger!), and prices are reasonable. It is pretty popular, so you may be in for a short wait (it's counter service and a somewhat limited seating area). Their Yelp reviews are here.
  • Ginza Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse -- (Groupon) This was one of the first restaurants the boy and I went to in Baton Rouge. We went for hibachi, and it was delicious! Our cook was really funny, too, which is always a plus. He even made our fried rice into a heart (how endearing, no?). Hibachi is always expensive, so if you see such a deal, grab it while you can! I haven't been to any other hibachi restaurants in Baton Rouge, so I can't really compare it to anything here, but I would say it was comparable to any of the hibachi I've had in New Orleans.
Disclaimer: Yes, those links are my referral links (none for Google Offers at this time). Feel free to use them (or not) if you want, no pressure! At LivingSocial, you'll get $5 free deal bucks if you use my invitation, so leave your email in the comments if you want me to send one.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

great advice from a beautiful mess

Elsie from A Beautiful Mess is one of my absolute favorite blogs. Everything she posts inspires me, and the fact that she's made her blog into a super successful business is really impressive. I have no desire to make blogging my full-time job, but I did find her recent post on how to make a great blog useful.

One of her tips is to give your blog a solid, defined theme. So because I'm going to have a tiny bit more time during the summer (no graduate school classes for this girl!), I figured I would put some work into this little blog of mine. I think a theme is a great place to start.

So from now on, the theme of The Clever Life is going to be "thrifty living." I've kind of stuck to that theme thus far (with my happy hour posts, sweepstakes winner posts, etc.), so I think that's a good direction for me to head. And it's what I know a lot (or at least a little!) about.

I'm planning out some more posts, including showing off some freebies I've gotten recently, spotlights on some more happy hours and the like, and just various ways I've found to save money. So be on the lookout for more content coming soon!

Some people might call me cheap, but I think I'm just clever ;).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

my handsome boy

Admittedly this boy cat is a serious troublemaker. For example, he just snatched some chicken out of the sink and ate it before I could steal it back from him. He's also been known to bite guests (and me, of course) within 10 minutes of them being in my apartment, spill expensive Whole Foods guacamole onto my (luckily green) rug, and hop into the sink anytime the water is on (this is going to be dealt with -- I hope -- by buying a fancy water fountain for him soon).

But I adore him. He follows me around like a dog would -- seriously, if I'm in my apartment, we're generally within eyesight of one another. He sits with me on the couch. He meows at the door if I'm gone too long and flops at my feet when I come back. And he loves going out on my apartment patio. So enjoy the below photo session of the most handsome little boy cat I ever did see. (Oh, and ignore that awkward sideways table behind him.. that's so he doesn't jump from the second floor patio to the stairs right next door, where birds have created a very impressive nest in the light fixture.)

P.S. Want to adopt your own rescue kitty like Boudreaux? I got him from Project Purr in Baton Rouge. Check it out! Even if you're not in BR, please consider adopting.. it's kitten season, and there's a TON of abandoned mommas and babies in the shelters right now that need you to give them a forever home.