Elevated Living: Wagamama

Too often there’s so much focus on lack, or disappointment, or negativity, instead of sharing The Good News. The expression is if you don’t like something you’re more likely to tell 10 people; and when you do like something, only 2. So, I wanted to take a moment to highlight a pleasant experience at Wagamama (Prudential Center) that made me enjoy my meal, and the restaurant, that much more.

While working the Boston Marathon Expo at Hynes Convention Center I had a 40 minute lunch break. Honestly, it was just enough time to grab a bite to eat and briefly relax, after navigating the maze of crowded runners about the aisles.

I was craving more than fast food, particularly a hearty soup, and hoping for something on the healthier side. I opted for Wagamama.  The restaurant had just opened for the day and the server was not only attending to guests at tables, but greeting guests at the door as well. Regardless, I waited only a moment before being approached and welcomed.

“I’m wondering if I can be in and out in about 20 minutes,” I inquired. I was told that because they had just opened, ‘It was a high possibility, although it wasn’t a guarantee, they’d do everything to make it happen.’

This is a great way to let the guest know you understand their needs and you’ll do your best.
Simultaneously, you empower the guest to make their own decision to stay, and make no commitment or promises. *It’s always when you make a guarantee that something happens! (Murphy’s Law!)*

My server pointed out menu items that would be speediest, which was easy enough since I wanted Spicy Chicken Ramen with Spinach and a cup of Green Tea.

The server assistant brought my soup and tea, and only two bites (slurps?) into it the server came back to check that everything was to my satisfaction. She then dropped my check saying take as long as I like, but wanted me to be prepared to leave when I needed to. Honestly, this was all under 8 minutes. I ended up staying about 18 minutes, with the freedom to leave on my time.

Working in the service and hospitality industry, from busser to management,
being a guest has taught me a lot about proactivity and expectations.

Dining out helps hone ones skills to realize what the guests needs and wants are. From a customer perspective, you then learn the difference between meeting and exceeding. An overall example would be; meeting, bringing everything the guest asks for; while exceeding would be, the guest not even needing to ask.

Servers, and experiences like this, are the ones that need to be mentioned and thanked. Yes, it was early in the day, my order was ‘simple,’ and this may not always be the case. But when it is the case it deserves to be acknowledged. Personally, I would rather spread positive experiences rather than negative ones. For it’s always best to make sure the guest leaves with a good taste in their mouth. That way they’ll only be hungry for more.

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate Your Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber

Facebook: Elevated Living   Twitter: @DivAmber   Instagram: @DivAmber

Elevated Living: Lunch Time

It’s #LUNCH time! Everyone has their theories on what the biggest meal of the day should be and mine is lunch. I like to start my body off easy in the morning, as it wakes up, but not overwhelm it at night with a heavy dinner.  Lunch is also a great time to #Spend wisely; where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Last #Wednesday I went to a local #Boston #Indian #Buffet at Tantric India Bistro.* It was packed- but that’s a GOOD thing when it comes to buffets. A busy buffet means a high turnover, so nothing is getting stale, overcooked, or forming bacteria. It means it’s being catered and cared to, and that the food is being cooked FREQUENTLY!

What I love about #Indian #Bistros and #Buffets is you usually have really tasty vegetable and vegetarian options.  Another great thing with Indian cuisine, #Japanese, and #Greek lunch specials is those healthy options, vegetarian or not, will have excellent flavor.

So seek out a buffet close to you, serve yourself, sit back and relax. It’s a great way to take a break from fast paced and processed food and make some time for yourself outside the office, solo or catch up with friends. Buffets save you time AND money and that is a great way to Elevate Your Everyday!

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate Your Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber

Facebook: Elevated Living   Twitter: @DivAmber   Instagram: @DivAmber

*I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Tantric on quite a few occasions. Service and food were impeccable each time!

Elevated Living: Start Your Week At Restaurants

Do you ever abstain from dining out because it’s too expensive? Of course! So it’s important now more than ever to learn HOW to do it!

If you’re up for going out on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, you’re apt to enjoy yourself just as much, if not more than going out on the weekend. Many restaurants offer Prix Fixe meals, some only certain days of the week, usually the beginning: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. These are the days restaurants provide enticing offers like Prix Fixe menus, specials and other options that won’t break your budget but will still fill their seats. Consider this when coordinating date night, or girls night out. Thursday, Friday and Saturday do NOT have to be your ‘go-to’ nights!

Another advantage of dining out at the beginning of the week is it’s less crowded. While everyone is getting into the groove of the week ahead, recovering from their weekends, you have a better chance to enjoy a seat at the bar; without someone reaching over you.  I have had some of my best meals at a fine dining restaurant bar on a Monday or Tuesday. In addition to a satisfying meal, I usually receive excellent service, sometimes even a complimentary glass of wine or beer pending locale. This is also the time when you can usually grab the most requested table in the house. You know the one. By the window- with the view. Or the private corner booth, booked up for months in advance.

My last two reasonings to Start Your Week At Restaurants are your budget and your mood. Starting off your week, for those that do budget, you’ll have a better outlook on the reality of your finances. You won’t be squeezing something you can’t really afford at this moment in time, but instead enjoying yourself. You’ll be paying for a 3 course meal what many will pay for just their entree later on in the week. Now feeling good about that, is a great way to start your week. It’ll help carry you through until the weekend too; and then again til next Monday’s date night.

 

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate Your Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber

Facebook: Elevated Living   Twitter: @DivAmber   Instagram: @DivAmber

Elevated Living: An Apple A Day… is Life Alive

For those who know me,  I’m often elbow deep in wings, ribs, and anything pork- #BACON!!! Alas, I bet you didn’t see a blog about a #vegetarian establishment posting anytime soon. So leave it to a health issue to bring me back on track.

Wednesday evening, I recognized symptoms of a very common health issue cured with antibiotics. So of course I freaked. I mean, I don’t have #insurance, therefore, no doctor. In addition, the clinic I contacted said they wouldn’t have availability for a week. A week– eek, all my research said handle this immediately… So I researched some more…

…Now, I’m normally the girl who won’t take tylenol or advil unless my headache is #RAGING; for the simple fact that I don’t like putting anything in my body when I’m not sure what it is. #KeepItNatural

But for whatever reason, my excuse is the holidays and my happiest #30th #birthday (!!!), I allowed my ‘usually’ balanced diet to go off track big time.  I completely ignored my thirst for #6 Juice [spinach, kale, apple, celery, ginger & lemon] from the aptly titled: #Juice @Juice_BackBay in #BackBay Station: http://www.juicebarboston.com I skipped my cravings for “Boston Rolls” salmon/avocado/cucumber from #Zen Japanese Restaurant http://www.zensushibar.com/home.html in #BeaconHill.

Instead of adhering my intuition and listening to my body- I became sick.

As the universe would have it I ended up in #Cambridge the next day.  Home to all things healthy, natural, hippie and communal. This is where I stumbled up: Life Alive @lifealivecafe http://www.lifealive.com

Immediately welcomed upon entering, I enjoyed being greeted by name, not by my order number. To me, that immediately sets the tone for guest relations and interactions. Looking around the place was immaculate, organized and clean. I paid, retrieved both my food and smoothie- by name with a smile and bid warm adieu.

After a few sips of my smoothie, my nose stopped running on the walk home. I took notice realizing that Avocado, Banana, Dates, Lemon, Kale, Chia, and Almond Milk aka the “Harvest Alive” were taking immediate effect. I eagerly opened my Green Goddess meal and was enraptured by my enjoyment of some seriously delicious vegetarian happenings. “Our Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce enhanced by flax oil and garlic, empowering avocado (seasonal), broccoli, dark greens, and tofu. All are served over short-grain brown rice.” I had mine with half tofu and half legumes. Now THAT is how You have it #YourWay.

LifeAlive

I’ve returned to Life Alive in #CentralSquare several times since. I’ve been there when there’s a line out the door, a private party happening downstairs and it’s raining. The staff works well together, efficiently, clean and SAFE. They even have time to put out smoothie and juice samples to entertain guests with ‘occupied time.’

So, although I’m not a doctor, my best advice is to try this place BEFORE you NEED to. Carnivores unite and give your body a break- even if only for a meal. There’s no medicine like being proactive, especially when you can maintain- and exceed- your health, great service and tantalize your taste buds, because that’s Elevated Living

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate The Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber

Elevated Living: Attitude of Gratitude

Approaching a friends door recently, I was amazed that they have yet to take down their #Christmas wreath. I must admit; it is in excellent condition and still brings a smile to my face, as the holiday season is a great time of year. The holidays bring out the best (in most!) and are a wonderful time of gathering around the dinner table with family and friends. Ah yes, the dinner table. The root of it all.

To be #thankful to fill not only our plates, but our bellies. To perhaps raise a glass to all that we’ve been given. Unfortunately around the holidays, I find that stress gets in the way through the day to day activities. A time where many forget to relax, savor, and enjoy.

Add in the financial pressure and stress, and the sudden treats with friends and family become, annoyances to endure and debts to repay.  Alas, I’m here to remind you that treating yourself, and one another, in the holiday spirit does not have to break the bank! It should also extend well past through the holidays- to be honest- year round!

Restaurant Week is one of those ways to, “Elevate the Everyday,” twice a year. Going through photos of my four (4) dinners dined during Restaurant Week Summer 2012, I’m reminding myself- and YOU- to give ‘holiday style’- throughout 2013 and beyond. #Boston #Restaurant week is fast approaching beginning March 17th-22nd & March 24th-29th.*

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Feel free to revisit my #RestaurantWeek #Boston tips #blog for some great information. Speaking of #tips please see the attached photos for Restaurant Week tipping etiquette!

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Also enjoy this website Boston Restaurant Week as an excellent resource on who, what, where and when. (*Some restaurants are extending their RW menus on the Saturday March 23rd.) imgres

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate The Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber

Elevated Living: $1 Oyster Crawl

“Why then the worlds mine oyster, which I

with sword will open”- William Shakespeare

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 2, scene 2, 2–5

Fortunately for you, no swords necessary. These three joints have shucked all your oysters for you. Now, if that wasn’t enough to draw you in, and the beverages amazing enough to keep you, oysters are all only $1. Yes, you read correctly. $1. Three different establishments and atmospheres, all within walking distance of each other with one common goal: bivalves for a buck. Go forth and enjoy, the world is your oyster.

Legal Seafoods, a chain known throughout Boston and beyond has a special called “6 before 6.” This means you can purchase $1 oysters 6 at a time anytime before 6pm. It’s not exactly advertised and I recommend calling ahead of time to make sure the Legal’s near you participates. Legal Seafoods is a corporate style restaurant and very by the book more often than not. They have a great wine selection with comprable prices considering most alcohol mark-ups are where restaurants make their money. Their oyster selection is also very pleasing. I believe we had 6 different oysters to choose from ranging from Naked Cowboy (New York), Kumamoto (native to Japan) and many from MA. Enjoy at the bar, or in addition to a meal at your table. Service obviously varies, and some servers/bartenders are more knowledgeable than others. So just ask for your receipt and they usually place the oysters in order they’re listed. Some locations also use popsicles with the names of the oysters written on them. So helpful! Especially after a few rounds… Of oysters I mean 🙂

Marliave, is a place I like to call home away from home every time I go. You walk in and something along the lines of Billie Holiday is probably playing, and the service is outstanding. The third oldest restaurant in Boston, it promotes it’s history without being pompous. Though with the food, cocktails, and service provided, they could be pompous if they wanted to. Marliave serves $1 oysters twice a day, everyday: 4pm-6pm and again 9pm-10pm. I had the pleasure of introducing my mom and my friends to one of my favorite beers, Delirium Tremens. A great belgium beer, a perfect compliment to the oysters.  Though if you’re feigning a cocktail try the Tres Curieux. The staff is knowledgable on everything from food and drink, to oysters and pairings. Alas, if they don’t know- they know to ask, and will find out for you. Again, here at Marliave, the oysters range from around the nation, and beyond, and change daily. I haven’t had the pleasure of trying their French cuisine just yet, but from being associated with Grotto and the newly opened Kitchen on Tremont St., I’m sure it’s nothing short of delectable.

McCormick & Schmick’s is another corporate chain around the nation with a two spots in Boston, MA. Serving $1 oysters only on Tuesdays, McCormick & Schmick’s start serving oysters when they open at 11:30 am, and continue until they run out. Drawing quite a crowd M&S is a known tourist attraction, but many who dine (local and foreign alike) are unaware it’s a $1 destination. M&S serves one kind of oyster for the duration of the special, which pleases some and not others. What pleases all though, is the show performed, as the oysters are shucked in plain sight at one end of the bar. Truly a sight for all to see, their oysters shucked to order. With plenty of cocktails to choose from, there’s also the idea of a white wine flight if you’re feeling fancy.

I chose to end our $1 oyster crawl at McCormick & Schmick’s on purpose. In addition to their $1 oyster special McCormick & Schmick’s run a “Happy Hour Menu” twice a night including a $3.95 half pound burger and an order of wings for $4.95 seen here: Happy Hour Menu This way, if our bellies were requiring more than oysters, we only had to “belly up” to the bar 🙂

  • Boston Legal Seafoods: Long Wharf: 255 State Street Boston, MA 02109 (617)-742-5300 (3pm-6pm)
  • Marliave: 10 Bosworth St. Boston, MA 02108 (617)-422-0004 (4pm-6pm) & (9pm-10pm)
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Park Plaza: 34 Columbus Ave Boston, MA 02116

These are only a few spots among the many in Boston serving $1 oysters; including a new favorite: Barracuda Tavern. Barracuda Tavern serves Blue Point oysters for $.75! All day. Everyday. How’s that for Elation? ‘Get Hooked’ will ya?!

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate The Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber

Elevated Living: Tips for Restaurant Week!

Your Guide to Restaurant Week Boston!

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A few quick things to remember about dining out for restaurant week! (In no particular order) #Boston #Restaurant Week

1) Servers, Bartenders, etc. are STILL working for TIPS

2) Some restaurants have prix-fix lunch and dinner menus available YEAR ROUND. Focus on visiting the restaurants that you’ve always wanted to try. Be it a new type of food, something normally out of your price range, anything. Be daring!

3) Personally, I like to combine my use of #OpenTable Reservations Systems to make reservations and earn points to #FreeFood. No, but seriously… If you’re going to make a reservation, or a few, why not take advantage of some incentives towards going back to a new restaurant find later on?!

4) Important new trends; SOME RESTAURANTS:

-Offer different menus for RW 1 and RW 2

-Offer different menus DAILY

-Offer different menus for lunch and dinner

-Only participate in EITHER LUNCH OR DINNER

-Participate in Restaurant Week on the SATURDAYS.

Otherwise the schedule is: Sunday August 19th- Friday August 24th & Sunday August 26th- Friday August 31st

5) There are three options, Lunch 2- course $15.12, Lunch 3-course $20.12 and Dinner 3-course $33.12

***BE ADVENTUROUS & HAVE FUN… It’s Lunch and Dinner- not Life & Death 🙂 What have you got to lose!***

I will post as I dine, but here are some other links in your quest for deliciousness!

http://www.bostonchefs.com/

http://www.restaurantweekboston.com/

http://boston-restaurant-week.tumblr.com/

http://bostinno.com/2012/08/19/boston-restaurant-week-best-menus-for-restaurant-week/#ss__205104_1_0__ss

Until then, keep finding ways to “Elevate The Everyday”

XO

*DivAmber