Archive for the ‘gold coast’ Category

Eric Smith, NBC5Chicago Street Team

On location at TEAMiFIT Lifestyle Center-676 N. LaSalle Street-with Founder, President and Wellness Coach-Amy Leffel.

Speak a little bit about your background-life before TEAMiFIT and how all this happened?

I received my undergraduate degree at Indiana University in Exercise Physiology and Public Health.  I worked as a personal trainer and exercise specialist-teaching fitness classes at gyms across the city.  Then I went back to school to get my masters degree in Education, where I worked with kids from 1st grade all the way up to 8th.  While as a school teacher, I was also teaching fitness classes and working as a personal trainer on the side.  So I have about seven years working in fitness.  This has been my passion, so doing this doesn’t feel like work.

TEAMiFIT at Chicago Soul Music Festival

Amy Got Soul

The initial concept was exercise on location at different outdoor venues across the city.  What gave you the idea to get started that way?

I’ve had this vision a long time.  April through September every year we hold outside classes.  So you’ll have classes happening all around the city…Lincoln Park, West Loop, West Town, River North, Gold Coast, Lake View and South Loop.  We also take these classes to the beach.  And as the weather cools we bring this more of this action to our space here.

So what makes TEAMiFIT different?

TEAMiFIT Lifestyle Center


TEAMiFit is a one-stop shop promoting health and wellness!  You can come here and get fitness classes for adults and kids.  We have Strictly CORE, TurboKick, Zumba, Strength Boxing classes and more…we’ve got all kinds of flava flava-including Power Yoga and Power Pilates.  We’ve got specialized workshops like plyometric training focusing on high-intensity movements for high impact.  We also have small group personal training called ‘Armed and Dangerous’ for only six people, to work with a personal trainer at a discounted price.  And beginning in November we are going to have educational classes ‘Doing Life Together’, where our lifestyle coaches will educate based on personal experience using their expertise to focus on what our members want.  Topics will include like how to eat right when working out, how to balance life, how to spend smart over the holidays, educational self-massage, couples massage, etc.  The lifestyle coaches will be here to educate and build relationships with our clientele.  We’re basically doing life together.



Amy is definitely on the move in Chicago and wants to get your body moving.  For additional information and register for classes visit TEAMiFIT online and Facebook.  To hear the entire interview, download the audio casts below.

Part 1  Interview w/Amy ‘Body’

Part 2 Interview w/Amy ‘What You Waiting For?’

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Spa EM side 2by April LawsonSpa EM Front

If you are accustomed to the factory assembly line get ‘em in and crank ‘em out philosophy of the average manicure joint then you are in for a treat at Spa Emilia on 21 West Elm. After 21 years they have developed a reputation for the best manicures and pedicures in Chicago bar-none. On any given day you may find yourself seated next to some of the city’s most successful and savvy businesswomen. Anyone from Christy Hefner to our nations current Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers to the founder of the original White party. Even HARPO Studio’s books a weekly spa day with them.

Partners Grace Sniezynski and Elizabeth Gilewicz are endearing and committed to providing unparalled customer service. You will be greeted at the door with a cup of organic herbal tea whose bright fresh green color is surreal.  (Even the premium tea leaves are a customized mix by wellness gurus DWD and cannot be store bought.)  “We want customers to have a lovely, pampering experience … an escape from their stressful lives. So every manicure and pedicure includes a fabulous massage to relax them and improve blood circulation,” says Grace. “Our staff is mostly European. The difference is more extensive training than the usual one year in the U.S. To protect our business, we are very selective about who we hire. They must take pride in what they do.” Spa Emilia is a Gold coast neighborhood jewel that no woman should miss.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

I’m not here to provide a history lesson, but I have to address the fact that today is Bastille Day. While you may see it as an excuse to dine at a resto in town that’s offering a special menu, the day actually commemorates the storming of the Bastille (a prison),

Monet - Bastille Day

Monet - Bastille Day

which took place on July 14, 1789 (the theory behind those crazy priced menus you might see this week.) While it sounds like a horrible reason to celebrate, the act actually symbolized the fall of the king’s power.

While my favorite Bastille Day memory was sitting with my mom on our hotel balcony (in our pajamas, I might add) watching the French soldiers march off to the annual parade on the Champs, I managed to make my way to the kitchen this morning to make up a batch of crepes for old time-sake. The truth of the matter is, I own Charles Aznavour CD”s and most would consider my apartment a mini Parisian flat in the heart of Chicago. While I try to get away for a short visit once a year, I fill the time in-between with events and experiences to hold me over until the next visit. Whether you love France or just good wine, Bistro 110 has a Tour de France Wine Tasting Series that will be venturing into the Loire Valley on Thursday, July 23 from 6-8 p.m.

Chateau de Chaumont - Loire Valley

Chateau de Chaumont - Loire Valley

Summer is a time to be casual and mingle, so the event will take place on Bistro 110’s newly opened “terrasse,” the outdoor patio where guests can sip  and nosh at their leisure. Along with the French staples of bread and cheese, Executive Chef Dominique Tougne will provide a selection of bites ranging from Valencay-Style Chicken with Grapes and Muscadet Wine Sauce, to a Whole Poached Salmon “Bellevue” with Tarragon Mayonnaise.

Reservations are available, but not required. Attendance is $25 per person, including tax and gratuity (a bargain in any language.) Bistro 110 is located at 11o East Pearson. 312.266.3110.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


Yesterday was Father’s Day, so chances are you spent some time with good ol’ dad feasting on brunch, or firing up the grill. You may not have realized that yesterday also marked the Summer Solstice, a celestial event that prompts longer, light-filled days. NBC-panepatio

Pane Caldo is celebrating this astronomical occurrence with a special “White Nights”  lunch and dinner experience, available through June 27. Executive chef Maurice Bonhomme got creative in the kitchen and came up with special dishes featuring light and white-colored foods, such as steamed white asparagus with morel mushrooms and truffle dressing, and grilled halibut fillet with with golden beets and a grain mustard sauce. Pastry chef David Same’ didn’t forget about your sweet tooth, so save room for the ice cream bar of white chocolate, muscatel and white cherries.  Wash it all down with (what else) a crisp white wine.

If you’ve never been to Pane Caldo (or need to revisit how fabulous it is), Bonhomme only uses the freshest ingredients, seasonal herbs, organic meats and wild seafood in his preparations. Of course, as the restaurant name suggests, fresh-baked bread is an accompaniment to every table. Another way you can celebrate the warm temps is by dining alfresco on Pane Caldo’s newly expanded outdoor seating area, which has doubled in size this season. If you’re watching you wallet but still want to experience a little of  “la dolce vita,” then dine early from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and take advantage of the 3 course prix fixe dinner menu for only $34. It’s cheaper than a trip to Italy, but tastes just as good.

For more information and reservations, diners can visit www.pane-caldo.com or call 312.649.0055.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


Similar to the restaurant industry, the spa biz (considered even more of a luxury than dining out) has not escaped the effects of the current financial crisis. In fact,  independent research company Intelligent Spas confirms the global 2009 decrease in average annual revenue, but also predicts some more encouraging news for 2010 – an expected growth between 8%-32%. So what must a spa do to continue to attract the consumer without compromising on quality or service? It’s safe to say that not all facilities adopt such practices, but one spa that has consistently placed service on the front burner is the Spa at the Ritz Carlton Club at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Among other awards over the years, the spa just received the Conde’ Nast Traveler award for the “best hotel in the U.S. for service in 2009″ and the “#2 urban hotel spa in North America,” as voted on by the magazine’s readers. nbc-ritz

I was able to go experience the spa for myself and discovered that the feedback provided by Spa Director Kathryn Wittman did not disappoint. From arrival to departure, the staff was accommodating while being respectful to my “me” time. While the facial was decadent beyond imagination, it was also one of my favorite kinds of treatments – results oriented. Kathryn shares with us what goes into a five star facility that keeps guests coming back for more….

Describe the spa’s aesthetic.

The Spa at the Carlton Club takes great pride in establishing comfort. The
facilities, while contemporary, are anything but pretentious and feel
certainly more like a welcoming home away from home. It may be that the Spa
is housed within the private club grounds, where members mingle and tend to
know each other by name; Or perhaps, due to the staff’s anticipatory
service skills and sincerity in their actions and speech. Either way, the
aesthetic is inviting and interactive.

What is the most popular service?

The Punta Mita Massage remains the most popular for it’s effective
qualities. Coined the ‘travelers relief’ massage, the combination of heated
towels, lengthening stretches, detoxifying aromatherapy and lomi lomi
techniques guarantee a release of stress and tension. Hotel guests often
return asking for this treatment by name, as it becomes a ritual experience
to revive their stress from traveling.

Most high-end service? What would you call your “super star” treatment?

The Four Seasons In One Body treatment is a combination of techniques that
transitions the body from season to season. With heat and cool therapy,
moisturizing shea butter formulas and a medley of massage techniques, this
entices the client who ‘wants it all’. The service has elements of each spa
category; exfoliation, moisture renewal, envelopment, massage and hand &
foot care.

Spa perks (i.e. steam rooms, extras that come with treatments, etc).

Each of our locker rooms are equipped with steam and sauna rooms and the
shared facility includes a heated lap pool, jacuzzi, relaxation room and
fitness facility; each of which are complimentary for hotel guests during
their stay and encouraged to utilize before or after spa treatments.

Anything else we should know?

Beginning in 2007, the Spa at The Carlton Club has been a home to a medley
of inspired treatments using organic product lines. In an effort to ‘Go
Green’ we redeveloped our menu to accommodate the well being of our guests,
through the security of luxurious, organic and natural ingredients. Our
mission is to provide the best in care with an extensive knowledge on
treatment ingredients and benefits from all staff. Within this goal, are
also changes to our locker room amenities, cleaning supplies and ways of
recycling. The commitment to well being for our guests is held in the
highest regard, and no measure is overlooked.

If you’re ready to run over for a treatment, there is one little detail you should know:  the spa is only available to hotels guests and members of the Carlton Club. For those of you who are already used to paying a monthly gym fee, this could be a refreshing change of pace from the meat market scene equipped with lackluster spa space. Perhaps the exclusivity is one of the additional perks in this private pamper palace. For information on membership, contact The Spa at (312)573-4900 or  e-mail  carlton.club@fourseasons.com.

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC Chicago Street Team

Just because the economy stinks, that doesn’t mean your fashion has to as well.

On Friday, fashion-forward Gold Coast boutique Jake (939 N. Rush St.) will launch a new budget-friendly store-in-store promotion called “It’s Great To Be Jake.”

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

Of course you love dad, but we all know it’s really mom who digs a nice brunch and a little bit more than a Hallmark card on her day of honor. So here’s some ideas for some fun alternatives to basic flowers and breakfast in bed.

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC Chicago Street Team

Always on the go? Or maybe you just hate those extended stays hotels.

Well here’s a chic and cost effective alternative, rent a corporate apartment!

When your job takes you everywhere and home is where your suitcasebed is, you DO have a choice.

Corporate apartments offer most of the same amenities at those luxury hotels but sometimes at a fraction of the cost plus with additional space.

Now, this isn’t for everyone especially if you love to pick out place-mats. But if you’re a busy traveling professional, need a home styled vacation rental or a one-stop shop short/long-term lease this may be a great idea!

Personally, I don’t have time to worry about the small stuff and with my career taking me from city to city every few years this is the perfect solution.

Why spend time towel shopping, buying dishes or moving bulky furniture up and down endless flights of stairs when it could all be there waiting for you with maid service?!

Chicago has several  very reputable corporate housing companies that offer a wide range of prices and accommodations to suite almost anyone’s needs. From modest studios to luxury 4 bedrooms town homes they have it all! Listed below are my personal favorites. And as they say home is where the suitcase is!



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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team


We finally got a taste of warm temps yesterday, a reminder of beach volleyball, alfresco dining and (gulp) swimsuit season. Before you start having visions of clocking in hours on the treadmill and crunching away that muffin top, consider an alternative approach to getting in shape – year round.

Photo Credit Eric Hoffhines

Photo Credit Eric Hoffhines

Equniox Fitness recently debuted CONSCIOUS MOVEMENT, a new genre of lifestyle and fitness teachings that pave the way for members to go beyond physically-oriented classes in order to facilitate an understanding that every action and thought comes from and has an effect on those around us. But because actions speak (and in this case work) louder than words, you’ll be doing a lot more than just thinking your way to a trimmer bod. “Our larger goal is to change the conversation regarding fitness, health and well-being among our members and across the world,” says Kathy Freston, the program’s adviser and author of Quantum Wellness.

Any of the CONSCIOUS MOVEMENT classes are an opportunity for you to strengthen your body – as well as your mind.  

Circular Strength Training:A unique combination of moves derived from Prasara yoga for enhanced flexibility and gentle rehabilitation-inspired techniques to increase joint rotation and overall strengthening.

Yoga Tune Up: A class that integrates the practices of the classic yogi as well as core-focused Pilates and basic calisthenic exercises so that every square inch of the body is challenged while the mind gets recharged.

PowerNAP: A 45-minute  head-to-toe tune up set to meditative music involving light yoga poses and stretches, each intertwined among the thoughtful teachings of the Eight Pillars of Wellness. The grand finale A brief 15-minute slumber.

The Feldenkrais Method: Focuses on the power of the mind over the body and incorporates a culmination of movement, breath, and vision practices meant to expand flexibility, boost coordination and reduce physical pain while boosting a positive thinking process.

Nia: A blend of a wide range of well-known genres including dance, martial arts and meditation to jump start the heart rate and the spirit.

For more information on any of the CONSCIOUS WELLNESS classes or Equinox membership, visit www.Equinoxfitness.com

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

Baseball season has officially started and you’re getting those pants with the expandable waist ready for Easter brunch this weekend. All of these things are signs that warmer weather and longer days are right around the corner, but considering it snowed last Sunday, days on the beach still seem scheduled for the distant future. 

Similar to purging items from your closet or washing off the deck chairs, a trip the Peninsula Spa by ESPA could be considered as a method of personal spring cleaning. The spa recently introduced a collection of “Ceremonies,” which were especially designed for the Peninsula by ESPA. The treatments are considered a fusion of European concepts with Asian and Ayurvedic philosophies and contemporary treatment skills (all the technicians are heavily trained and tested before being able to deliver the services).penspa

There are several options to choose from, but if you’re looking to shake the winter doldrums, then go for the Uplifting Mint Experience (2 hours, $295). Unique to the Peninsula Chicago, beating the blues wasn’t the only reason why mint was chosen for the treatment. The herbaceous plant actually grows naturally in the Midwest (yep, we have more than corn here) and then there’s that cheeky parallel to Wrigley. 

Arrive a bit early so you can spend some time hanging out in the relaxation area, complete with fireplace and electrically controlled lounge beds separated by privacy curtains. Just as you are about to doze, a spa attendant brings you hot mint tea and a granola snack. After all, you need a little sustenance for a two-hour treatment.

Your experience begins in the treatment room with a refreshing tea and ceremonial foot ritual using fresh mint. At this time, the therapist walks you through an aromatherapy “scent test,” so that the products used in your treatment are customized to your liking and need. A skin softening mint and apricot kernel body scrub prepares the skin for the massage which is where the magic begins.

Advanced massage techniques are used to tap into the marma points on your body.  Stemming from Ayurveda, marma-point massage has been utilized for thousands of years, but has just recently been introduced to the Western World. Marma is a Sanskrit word meaning hidden. A marma point is a juncture on the body where two or more types of tissue meet, such as muscles, veins, ligaments, bones or joints. The idea behind massaging marma points is to cleanse blocked energy (also called chi). The refreshing mint oil that is used is believed to improve headaches, mood and provide stress relief. All good things must come to an end and in this case, the end involves a scalp massage to dispel any remaining tension.

If you’re looking for a traditional Swedish massage, then this is not for you, but if you’re looking to leave the treatment room feeling instantaneously refreshed and centered (and who isn’t), then this unique experience should be added to your checklist as you go out with the old and in with the new this spring.


Call 312.573.6860 to make a reservation for your spa experience


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LaShonda Matlock, NBC Chicago Street Team

Not in the mood for steak this weekend? Then why not try something different, something cold, hard or even a little messy?

On Saturday, N9NE (440 West Randolph) will unveil a new Saturday-only raw bar hosted by executive chef Michael Shrader.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team
Even if you’re not getting married, chances are you know someone in your circle of friends that is. If you are the lucky bride-to-be, then an event at the historic Drake Hotel this Thursday should be on your radar.

Read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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LaShonda Matlock, NBC Chicago Street Team

Not Acceptable!                                                       

 Social workers inspected the home of octuplets mother Nadya Sulemanin La Habra, CA yesterday (March 12).  As they deemed her future home unacceptable and decided her babies should remain at a Bellflower Hospital for several more days, Nadya had a team of cameras following her every move — possibly for a new reality TV show??

Howard K. Stern is Busted!

The longtime companion and attorney of Anna Nicole Smith was charged March 12th, for conspiring to furnish drugs to the Playboy pin-up in the years leading up to her 2007 death from a prescription medication overdose. Stern and one of the doctors charged voluntarily turned themselves in to police Thursday night (March 12th) and were immediately arrested and booked. Another doctor who is facing the same charges is reportedly expected to turn himself into police on Monday.

Chirs Brown  Says…  

Don’t believe everything you read.  Contrary to a New York Post report claiming that Chris Brown had fired all his staff — including the manager who allegedly sent the text message that caused this mess in the first place — his mom/co-manager Joyce Hawkins has issued a statement saying it’s all – “unequivocally” – not true

She says: “Reports that Chris is looking to replace his team, including Mark Geragos, Tina Davis and Mike Sitrick, are false. There are only two people who could make a change at that level on Chris’ behalf: his business attorney Kenny Meiselas and me — and neither of us were the source of this information. To the contrary, Kenny told the media outlet that broke this item, that the information they had was false. So there is no room for doubt or misunderstanding, let me state unequivocally, that no change is planned or being made with respect to Mark Geragos, Tina Davis or Mike Sitrick. We are very pleased with the work they are doing.”

WEEKEND HOT SPOTS!                                                                                   FRIDAY: Social Twenty-Five opening tonight! It’s being called the perfect blend of sports and style—sort of the Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen of River North watering holes. Social Twenty-Five 25 W. Hubbard St (between Dearborn and Wabash)

SATURDAY DAY: Dye The River Green Party at Fulton’s On The River! Green beer, prime viewing spot and Kegs N’ Eggs ?! Fulton’s On The River 315 North LaSalle 9am-4pm

SATURDAY NIGHT:                                                                                                JBAR-  Sexy drinks, hot music, the A-list crowd and DJ Rock City! What more could a girl want?! J BAR – 600 N. Rush Street – Chicago, IL 60611

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

The word “authentic” is often overused in restaurants when referencing cuisine.

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, especially Italy, then you probably have a good idea of what authentic food is all about. Chefs that specialize in Italian cuisine don’t always have the luxury of having grown up in the mother country, so they have to draw on their childhood kitchen experiences for inspiration and influence.
Such is the case with 200 East Supper Club‘s executive chef Tony Navarro.

The 200 East Supper Club is located on the main level of the historic Seneca Hotel. It’s a moderately-priced, business-casual spot that features live entertainment Tuesday through Saturday. The ambiance feels somewhat old school, with a splashes of elegant touches sprinkled throughout the main dining room.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

Far and few in between are those moments in life that we get to have a wish come true. Be it landing a dream job, saving enough to go on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or being asked to go on a date with the hottest person we know, it can happen. For many Chicagoans, the launching of Tod’s new line of handbags, shoes and luxury goods, hit the spot.

At a fine cocktail reception last night, the Italian brand showcased the latest of their must-have items for the season, to the delight of many of Chicago’s fashion aficionados.

Keeping true to their palette of natural tones (which means no electric-green-anything, thank goodness), sensible forms (which means no square toe boxes on men’s shoes, a double Amen on that), and the beautifully crafted “vacchetta” leathers that have come to define the company’s goods, the store boasted a superb array of items for both men and women.

Launching right before Valentine’s Day, Tod’s collection will surely be featured on many Wish Lists this year.

To learn more about Shlomi’s suggestions shopping in Chicago click here.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

Shopping at the 900 Shops on Michigan Ave. can work up quite an appetite.  Although I’m not a big shopper, I am a frequent guest there mainly because of my better half.  Even though my window shopping is limited,  I tend to venture to the 6th floor to check out Oak Tree, my favorite restaurant in the building.

Click here to read the full post on nbcchicago.com.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

Last week I posted a blog about the World Pizza Championships held in Italy every year.  It was brought to my attention that there are two different teams in the U.S. that compete for the coveted title.  The team that I referenced in last week’s blog is the  “World Pizza Champions” not the U.S. Pizza Team.  Leo Spizzirri, Executive Chef at Giordano’s, is a member of the “World Pizza Champions”.  The team is led by nine-time pizza champion Tony Gemignani.  The “World Pizza Champions” is touted as America’s #1 Pizza Team.  Hope that clears up any confusion about your favorite pizza team.

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Megan Bowers, NBC5 Street Team

In an effort to further my big-city experience, I decided to check out the Gold Coast neighborhood, where the nightlife is rich and the men are richer — and older. The area is jam-packed with people, fancy cars and Fendi handbags.

All of my disclosed jealousy made me hungry, so me and a couple fellow street teamers “jumped” over to Hugo’s Frog Bar. While this place is usually “hopping” (OK, I’ll stop with the frog analogies) when the sun sets on Rush Street, it is now open for lunch!

We sat at an outside table (the sea captain digs inside isn’t really my scene), and it was a prime people-watching location. Granted, one should focus on their food during mealtime, but this neighborhood has such a unique crowd that you just can’t help yourself.

Ever wonder why it’s called a “frog” bar? Apparently, “Frog” was the nickname Hugo Ralli (one of the owners) called his grandfather, General Bruce Hay of Her Majesty’s Imperial Forces, which explains the ship-like decor.

For starters, we had the crabmeat avocado. It was like a small crabmeat casserole topped with avocado slices. While I’m no professional food critic, I thought it was delicious. You can eat it alone or have it as dip with the great assortment of complimentary bread. However, I must warn you, although the serving looks small, it will certainly fill you up.

We all ordered different things, from the seared halibut to the garbage salad. There were no complaints among us and the service was magnifique! I went for the lobster roll/sandwich/huge mouthful of seafood. Even though I struggled to get a handle on it at first, it was completely worth it.

I definitely recommend this place. The lunch menu is reasonably priced, considering the good selection of seafood and the food is great. I’ll have to check this place out for dinner when night falls, but until then, you can find me people-watching from my intern desk. Until next time!

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