Friday, May 20, 2016

Fun with the family goes without a hitch

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 10:37 AM

Why is it that every Monday, no matter how long the weekend was, is accompanied by a sinking feeling of what’s to follow? That’s how I felt walking into work at 7:30 a.m. this past Monday after a four-day weekend. I had taken Friday off for my cousin’s graduation from Winston Salem State University and ended up working from home for three days. You would think that I would’ve been well-rested at the start of the week but that wasn’t the case.

On Thursday night, my nightcap included three glasses of wine, and a late bed time — I didn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. on Friday. So, it’s not surprising that when my alarm went off around 7:15 a.m., I was startled. Feeling a little queasy, I rolled out of bed and threw on my outfit for the graduation. We arrived at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston Salem for the ceremony around 9:30 a.m. and I was feeling anxious to see my cousin walk across the stage, so we that we could get back on the road to Charlotte.

Five hours later — yes, I said five — the “Dirty Dozen,” as my family is often called, was packed and headed to the Queen City. If you picked up last week’s article then you may remember I talked about how hard it was to find things for a large family, with diverse interests, to do in the city. But then, I stumbled upon Blue Restaurant & Bar in Uptown.

As you can imagine, travelling with a large family is challenging. Disorganization, food and gas means an hour-and-a-half trip can easily turn into a three-hour adventure. After getting settled at Aloft in Epicentre, we quickly realized that dinner reservations in Ballantyne would have to be cancelled. Instead, we opted for Blackfinn Ameripub since that was just a hop, skip and a jump away from the hotel. Despite having heard great things about their food, I was still surprised at how delicious everything was — especially my blackened brie with sliced apples and apricot cranberry chutney. Not to mention, we snagged the perfect people-watching spot on the patio.

Of course my family was moving slow, so my pops and I closed out and walked ahead to make sure all was well with our reservations at Blue. Being situated on the corner of East 5th Street and North College Street, made Blue easy to find. The venue was beautiful featuring white linen, mood lighting, a fully stocked bar, a private dinner room and a lounge area. We were walked to couches situated to the right of the bar where the marketing and events coordinator, Deborah, sat after a long day. She was extremely accommodating and friendly — even helping us move the couches and chairs closer together for my family.

A grapefruit vodka and sour apple martini later, the crew started to arrive and, they too, were in awe of the atmosphere. They were having an event “A Night in Ecuador,” an earthquake relief fundraiser, so the live music feature was a Latin band instead of their usual jazz — they’ve been awarded “Best Place to Hear Jazz” in Charlotte — but we were still impressed by the vibe they created. The skinny on the spot? If you’re planning a special date, looking for a place to host a private party or you’re interested in an alternative to sloppy nightlife, Blue Restaurant & Bar has a lot to offer.

After Blue, we were hungry again. They weren’t serving food since the fundraiser was going on, so we decided on Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar in the EpiCentre. This is one of my parents’ favorite spots to go to when they’re visiting the Q.C. That’s not just because almost everything we’ve tried on its Pan-Asian menu is amazing or because of the dimly-lit electronic house party feel. It’s because they love to watch the drunk people stumbling through EpiCentre while nestled on the patio right out front.

We ended up grabbing a couple more drinks — a mistake I regretted until 8 p.m. the next day — and two orders of Mongolian beef (my absolute favorite dish on their menu). Before long, we were asking the waitress if we could pick up wings from Wild Wing Cafe and bring them back.

As you can expect, the night ended on a boozy note. Most of my family retired to their respective hotel rooms while I grabbed my luggage and parked myself in front of a galaga machine in Tin Roof until 2 a.m. Though I’m still exhausted, I can honestly say weekend fun with the family in the Q.C. was a success. I popped my family-friendly nightlife cherry and now I’m up for the next challenge.
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