Friday, January 10, 2014

Weekly Top 5 (#5) and a Thumbs Down:

Sorry it's been awhile, lovies. Tried to use my winter break as an actual break. Now that I've been inspired by good times with friends, great vintage gifts from that man of mine, and lots of good food, here's somethings for you to enjoy, too.

1. Starbucks Hazelnut Frappuccino: I try to stay away from chains if I can, but I got a gift card for Christmas, so sue me. I'm usually a cold coffee kinda girl, and trying this drink was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time. It is very, very sweet and would taste great alongside anything peanut butter-y or salty. (It's probably drinking straight sugar and syrup, so if you're on a diet, definitely steer clear.) If you don't like coffee or a strong coffee taste, this is your home in a plastic cup. If you generally like black or mildly flavored coffee or quality, well, maybe this isn't for you.

2. "Let it Come, Let it Be," by Blackmill: This song is incredi-chill. Blackmill is easily in my top three favorite electronic bands. Their music is usually instrumental, mixing strings, piano, and electronic beats, but this particular song features female vocalist Veela for a nice change of pace. If you're looking for something to do yoga or chill out to, this is where you need to be. Other golden chill music nuggets by Blackmill are: Evil Beauty, Fortune Soul, and Journey's End. You'll recognize their music by their squirrel icon. Why they picked the most hated animal for their mascot, I have no idea, but I can listen/look past that because their music is delectable and inspiring. Spotify it up.

3. The Nose Dive's Honey Bourbon Ice Cream and Candied Bacon Brownie: Need I say more? This is probably the best dessert I've had in my life outside of Brick Street Cafe's Sweet Potato Cake (that's another review day). The Nose Dive is a GastroPub (it means they experiment in fancy ways with food) in downtown Greenville, attached to the Westin Poinsett Hotel. It's a bit on the pricey side depending on what you get, but you can easily eat their appetizers (my favorites are the crab and white cheddar pretzel, and the duck mac 'n cheese with Cheez-its) and get out for a decent price. It's one of the most interesting places downtown - good music, really unique and delicious food, and a modern atmosphere. Definitely pop in for a meal or just dessert soon.
Yeah, Boi, took this picture myself.

4. Altar'd State: Well, guys, I have been introduced to the best store on the planet. For most of you, the closest location is Biltmore Town in Asheville. It's an inexpensive version of Anthropologie. The sale rack is ruh-dic-i-luss. I'm not done. It is a Christian company that treats it's employees well and sells lots and lots of fair trade and missional things.  (Read all about them here) Overall, I have no complaints, other than the fact that I can't own everything from this place. The merchandising is fabulous, customer service is great, products are overall well made, and the music is also nice. Wish I would've known about it before Christmas.

5. The Balm's White Tea Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer: First of all, it's made in America. Secondly, this is maybe my favorite beauty product ever. My face has been the most acne-free while using this product. I have very sensitive skin (allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide, i.e. every acne medicine ever) and I have combination oily/dry skin, because that makes sense. This moisturizer fights acne without harsh chemicals, moisturizers so your face doesn't get flaky and gross, yet absorbs excess natural oils so your pores don't get clogged. Ah-mazing. I'm not a stickler for using products together, normally that's just a marketing ploy to get your money, but I do recommend you grab a tub of their White Tea Mint face mask to use weekly. It really helps purge your skin of bad bacteria and clogging factors. It's also very, very reasonable for a moisturizer and lasts a good bit of time. You can find some on for around $15.

☹ Thumbs Down: The Bavarian Pretzel Factory  ☹ 
Haywood Rd Location
I thought since you all are trying what I love, you should be saved from the terrible things I don't like as well. If something makes my thumbs down list, it's truly not a good thing; I'm a very forgiving and optimistic patron, I promise.

Two of my girlfriends and I tried this "pretzel factory" the other evening because I'm obsessed with soft pretzels, and I dragged them down with me. The company was beyond brilliant but the restaurant left much to be desired.

When you first walk in to the hostess area, you can't help but notice the odd layout of the place. There's a mock living room in the middle of the restaurant, two sofas, table and huge tv included. (I don't understand.) Beside the mock living room there's a room made more for dining, completely surrounded in widows with brighter lighting. Once seated in said room, you realize the tables and chairs are probably even cheaper quality than those of Ikea and could break beneath you at any moment, or at least feel that way. You expect the chair to be heavier since it's made out of wood, but when you go to scoot it out, you realize you've exerted far too much strength than that that is needed to move it and accidentally throw it out one of the surrounding windows (almost, anyway).

There is a bar in the place, and it was very small, sectioned off with a few high tables. Being a German restaurant, they had a large alcohol list, (because Germans brew a lot of beers, not because they're alcoholics) but some of the drinks were extremely over priced. Do you even know what a Bahama Mama is? Predominantly juice, so I am certainly not paying $10 for it.

There was another "inside open-air" dining area between the bar and the weirdo living room. It was obviously meant for larger parties, which apparently stop what they're doing to stare at everyone who walks in which makes you feel as though you're intruding on something quite intimate, as if you'd just walked into someone else's house when you thought you were coming into your own.

The food menu was quite lengthy, and we were thankful for what we thought to be a ton of great options because everything is served with either a pretzel or fresh bread and butter. But don't be fooled, the bread and pretzels are brought out before the meal as if they were complimentary items. And when they come out, they are not warm, as a soft pretzel should be. So, when your actual meal arrives, if you're like me, you have two huge, white, veal sausages swimming in a citrus water to eat with sweet or spicy mustard (that your waitress will forget to bring to you unless you ask). I also ordered a bowl of their signature dumpling soup which is for some reason almost six dollars for some chicken broth and TWO, do you hear me? TWO DUMPLINGS. Chicken stock + Water + some weird potato ball thing does not equate to six dollars. One of my girlfriends tried their potato pancakes, which were extremely salty and needed some sort of sauce to cut the salt-lick that was once a potato. It came with a side of applesauce, which I am convinced came from a jar of Mott's from the grocery store. (They tasted exactly the same. Do Germans make Mott's? I doubt it.)

On top of all this, my girlfriends and I split an appetizer of baked brie. That was supposed to come with cranberries. Not only was this the tiniest wheel of Brie I've ever seen, but it was fried and still slightly cold in the middle. I don't care how slammed your Kitchen is, (the restaurant wasn't all that busy), you don't bring out a dish that's only halfway done and halfway dressed.

On top of that, the waitress had no idea how to pronounce the items on the menu and didn't take the time to write down the order. How do you what I'm getting if you don't even know what the name of it is? Even though the poor girl tried to bring us out our different dishes in a progressive manner, we ended up with thousands of plates littering our table to the point where we could hardly eat without knocking something over.

However, dessert was alright, and reasonably priced. We tried their marzipan torte cake (very rich, only made it halfway through) and their Bailey's Irish Cream cake (same issue). The desserts change every day because they are always baked fresh, which is nice. There are plenty of them to choose from, too. If you're a dessert person, eh, maybe consider it for only dessert. Beautifully crafted, tasty, not enough to save the experience.

If this place stays in business, I will be thoroughly surprised.

So if you're looking for good German cuisine or a good pretzel, you won't find it here. There are probably a few acceptable things on the menu, like their pretzel burger or schnitzel sandwich, but the poor service puts a damper on simply trying the wrong menu items.

I never wish failure on a business, but for a chain restaurant, they have a lot of improving to do before I'd even consider going back.
One Star. 

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