Date Night Spotlight: City Winery

Best For: Bringing Your Parents Out OR Double-Date

INSIDER'S TIP: All seats are pretty good, but request ones that are centered so you have a good view of the stage. Also, this is a great spot to get a bottle of wine for the table - an affordable and satisfying selection.

Will Set You Back: $60-80 PP taking into account the ticket/seat (depending on where you sit) + 2 drinks/shared bottle and an appetizer.

Atmosphere: Intimate and casual. Guests are requested not to speak loudly while the musician is on stage and there is some "shushing" that goes on in between songs and during quieter ones. The decor is extremely pleasing to the eyes, however, and waitstaff is very friendly.

Twas’ an early Monday evening as I climbed tirelessly on the stepper at the New York Health and Racquet Club. While the daytime had held clear blue skies and a relatively easy start to the week, I was still feeling remnants of the Monday blues wearing me down.

That is, until I received a text from my boyfriend stating the following: “Me and my parents are about to head over to City Winery for Kenny Loggins. Extra seat. Want to join us?” The opportunity could not have come at a better time.

In accordance with their website, "City Winery strives to deliver the highest-end combined culinary and cultural experience to our customers who are passionate in sharing wine, music, and culinary arts." It is a full winery, an intimate concert venue, and a gorgeous space complete with fine dining.

I raced home, threw on my go-to LBD and caught the 1 train downtown to Houston St. Since I had never been to City Winery before, it felt particularly special upon entrance. The exterior provides a welcoming feel on an otherwise empty block. Al fresco dining, sprawling greens and bright pops of burgundy line the large wooden doors that invite you in. The staff continues the theme of cozy service inside, greeting patrons at the door and seamlessly placing delectable cheese dishes on the table while quietly filling glasses of champagne throughout sets.

Of course, the atmosphere, service and surrounding company were not the only wonderful aspects of the evening. Kenny Loggins brought down the house with reverberations of classic tunes and little gifts in the form of new music alongside Blue Sky Riders partners Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr. In between songs, the audience was treated to personal anecdotes and background into when and how various songs were conceived. The whole evening truly was a treat.

After enjoying a show at City Winery, I am thrilled to have a new regular spot for enjoying live music. I mean, how often do you have the chance to see such raw, classic talent in such an intimate and friendly setting? While I love getting up and jamming out as much as the next rocker, I also loved having a designated seat, perfect view, and tableside service to go along with the music. What can I say? I’m spoiled.

The atmosphere at City Winery is simply unparalleled and the lineups are more-than-reliable. With tickets starting as low at $25 for barstool seating at certain shows and often coming in as low as $45 for table seating, City winery is a win-win situation. Not to mention, the food is on-point to an artisanal level and actually affordable. While I was lucky to be treated on this fine occasion, I still scoped out the menu to get the inside scoop on pricing.

The Verdict?

In exchange for that $22 plastic cup of house cabernet you’ll receive in the Delta Sky Lounge at an MSG concert, you can get two glasses of high-quality, sommelier-selected wine at CW. Not to mention, a selection of appetizers and flatbreads are available for under $15. Oh, and in case you needed one more reason to get down to City Winery, Tuesday nights have been declared “free music night” for the rest of summer. I mean, seriously: food, wine, friends and music. Does it get any better?

All in all, City Winery was more-than-well-worth-it for experience…. even if I did take an elbow to the head during the encore rendition of “Footloose.”

I mean, girl's gotta dance.

Perfect For: Bring-Your-Parents-To-Town-Night, Date Night, Friends Night

Price Level: A seat, two drinks and some food will cost you about 5 days worth of groceries. But it's okay - this is what ramen was made for. (No, not the momofuku variety.)

The Weekend Getaway: Saratoga Springs, NY

Saratoga Tips on Gambling, Fried Chicken, Mob Mentality & MORE!

My number 1 rule when it comes to gambling is if I don’t hit my first bet, I walk away.

However, my #1 rule when it comes to everything else in life is don’t ever give up. So you can see how after I lost my first bet on Friday, I felt conflicted. Then I continued betting. And losing. For about 14 races. Eventually, the karmic gods praised me for my fortitude and awarded me with a $196 exacta in the last race, so I only walked away about $50 down.

Stick with me and you’ll be alright.

I had planned on sharing betting tips on this post, but considering my strategies led to me more to posting pictures with the hashtags #spiraling and #theyrecomingformypinkyfinger, rather than raking in the cash, I'm going to expand the topic matter.

Tip 1: Learn how to bet on the horses from the professionals.

         Download the One-click Pony app!

         Download the One-click Pony app!

Tip 2: Indulge in Hattie’s Fried Chicken. It is more than worth it

Lucky for me, Saratoga isn’t just about gambling. It’s also about traditions; some of which date back to over 150 years ago when the races first began and others that have sprung up over time. During our visit, it was “Hats Off to Saratoga” weekend, which meant I was able to whip out my favorite accessory – the hair piece – and go wild. And if there’s one thing I enjoy more than betting, it may be playing dress-up at the track.

Because there’s just nothing like putting on a fancy dress and eatin’ fried chicken. 

Tip 3: Dress up! See the Saratoga dress code rules here.

While the style in Saratoga ranges from conservative to casual and everything in between, there are some basic rules to abide by. If you’re sitting in the regular Grand Stand or hanging in the picnic grounds, a tee-shirt and shorts will fly – BUT, keep in mind that they don’t have to. Even in the picnic area, many people choose to honor the age-old tradition of summer hats and sundresses. On the flip side, if you’re seated in the Clubhouse, Box Seats, or any of the other luxury options, definitely be sure to get a little dapper.

Tip 4: Rush The Gates!

Mama once said, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” to which my answer has now been forever altered to: “Depends on how much fun the jump is."

Every morning during the fleeting 6-week racing season, track-goers line up with their chairs and tablecloths as early as 5AM to wait for the gates to open at 7AM. Once the gates open, the crowd charges forward like angry cattle breaking free from a corralled-off, grass-less space. People sprint into the park to slap belongings down on picnic tables and lay claim to grassy sections for chairs, umbrellas, etc. Since we were sitting in the picnic area on day two, our fate was inevitable. We had to join the mad dash. I was not let down.

To give you an idea of how seriously people take this tradition, here are a few sound bites from my experience:

“Once the gate opens, it’s free game.”

“Yeah man, we’re blowing past all these people.”

“I got my Nikes on and everything. I’m ready to GO." 

Then, as the time drew nearer and tensions mounted...

 “Stick to the original plan!”

“Hold the line!”

And my personal favorite, “We just got married last night. This is our wedding run!”

While 7AM may seem early, it’s hilarious and so worth the experience – plus, you can go back for a nap afterward. 

Tip 5: Check out some live music! 

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The most unexpected part of the weekend came when we were wandering around the downtown music festival. Home to a fabulous summer line-up, it is very common for DMB, Phish and a slew of other uber-talented artists to frequent the Saratoga stages. Of course, the hometown bands also contribute their fair share of surprise rock sessions and street parties. In fact, one band really struck a chord. Having strolled over merely by chance, we came across the band Better By Morning in none-other than the obscure post office’s parking lot on Saturday night – and, in a sweetly serendipitous moment – fell in love with their sound. I reached out to the band, (essentially, a group of teenagers) and asked for a sample. Turns out, they are just producing their first single.

From open mics to cover bands to primetime performers, Saratoga has it all, every night of summer. Take a look at the full concert calendar here.  While the summer’s first weekend music festival has passed, there are plenty more to attend to, including Wine and Music Fest Sept 5-7.