Refuel Wine Bar

Recently I posted on how important dating was for married couples to disconnect from the world and plug-in to each other.  It’s the busiest time of the year in the industrial construction industry and most definitely for my Audley.  He has been flying out on Monday and returning on Thursday or Friday each week.  We make sure we are enjoying quality family time with our teenagers each weekend, but I’m also making sure Audley knows that he is my number one.  With time limited right now our dates are often just a quick supper out while the kids enjoy pizza on their own.

Our last date night took us to downtown Spartanburg. We were actually headed out for sushi when we stumbled upon a newly renovated (and recently reopened under new management) little Wine Bar called Refuel.

 We had actually planned an early night out because we had extra teenagers at the house and we were so tired and wanted to be in early. Sushi dinner was the perfect option, but as we were cutting through what we thought was a wine shop, we discovered a lovely and intimate place that screamed “DATE NIGHT”.

 refuelwinebar

What attracted me to Refuel?

(Excuse the poor photography, I didn’t plan to restaurant review this particular night)

The interior….

A Cozy little sitting area for enjoying a glass of wine and chatting with friends.

A Cozy little sitting area for enjoying a glass of wine and chatting with friends.

SImple yet well-stocked bar.  So many options to choose from!

SImple yet well-stocked bar. So many options to choose from!

Exposed brick walls with art from a local artist

Exposed brick walls with art from a local artist

The fabulous wine selection…

Not a huge list, but one that was very satisfying to our palette

Not a huge list, but one that was very satisfying to our palette

Audley's flight for tasting

Audley’s flight for tasting

 Or the fact we were able to relax and indulge….

fruitandcheeseplatter

cheeseplatter

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Now I will be honest with you, critiquing the food really isn’t possible. I know we thoroughly enjoyed our supper, but with the smooth modern jazz in the dimly lit, intimate space and the sheer coziness of it all, the food just completed the package. It all went so well together.

Black and Blue Salmon Salad

Black and Blue Salmon Salad

I do know that the chef stopped by our table twice to make sure we were enjoying everything.

Refuel Wine Bar apparently has been around a couple of years, but recently was taken over by new management who have set out to give adults an enjoyable place for a night out. The staff was so friendly and met every need of ours, going above and beyond to see that we were well taken care of. The menu is limited, but that is a good thing as it keeps you from stressing over too many options when ordering! As I mentioned, we had gone out to supper before the evening rush, but Refuel often has live music or DJ’s on the weekend to make the night out a little more exciting.

Audley and I enjoyed going early because we were able to enjoy time alone. We were early enough in the evening that the supper crowd was actually arriving for reservations as we were leaving.  Does this mean we are old?

While our waiter totally met all of our needs, he realized this was a date night and let us enjoy our time together without rushing us out the door.  That was most appreciated!

As for dining at Refuel, I know that Spartanburg is not a premier vacation destination, but if you are traveling I-85 from Atlanta north, take an hour or so to stop in for a lovely supper out in our small, but revitalizing downtown.

Have you dined at a unique restaurant lately?  Would love to hear you favorites!

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Olive & Then Some

Who would’ve ever thought that mixing fruit infused balsamic vinegar and vanilla ice cream would be such a treat?!  The little note on this sign totally intrigued me to the point I just had to find out!

The little sign that peaked my curiosity outside of Olive & Then Some

The little sign that peaked my curiosity outside of Olive & Then Some

Last week while stepping out for a lunch date, Audley and I discovered the neatest little shop in downtown Spartanburg, “Olive & Then Some.”  

Olive & Then Some

While we initially headed out for sushi, we spent so much time exploring this little shop on Magnolia, that we ended up rushing to eat salads from Jason’s Deli instead!

Just a glimpse of the Olive oil Bar

Just a glimpse of the Olive oil Bar

Owned and operated by Sandy Burn, Olive and Then Some is a fairly new and different twist to Spartanburg’s small downtown district that has been in the midst of revitalization for the two and a half years we have lived here.  Several new restaurants and shops have opened that are making the downtown area just a little more appealing.  Audley and I have gotten to where we enjoy going downtown and checking out some of the places.

This unique shop offers a selection of over 50 varieties of olive oils imported from all over the world as well as a few gourmet oils (like a delicate truffle oil and a rich walnut oil), and wonderful range of balsamic vinegar produced in Italy & Spain.

At the olive oil bar

With such an array of  olive oils from around the world, they keep a very fresh as well as seasonal supply on hand for enhancing numerous dishes in your kitchen.

The set-up is simple; a tasting bar where you can sample the oils using french bread chunks (actually VERY good).

Olive Oil Tasting

Each oil and vinegar is labeled and also offers suggestions on how you can use it.

Mushroom Sage Olive oil

Olive oil pairings

The day we visited, the owners had used the Blood Orange infused olive oil to make brownies……

Oh MY!

blood oragnge infused olive oil

I love the taste-first concept of purchasing items to prepare food with in my kitchen.

Audley and I each sampled several flavors of olive oils.  We have different tastes, so he chose the bolder and spicier flavors while I stuck to the mild and delicate flavors.

We saved the balsamic vinegar tasting until the end (a wonderful way to cleanse your palette) and that is where we discovered the wonderful combination of balsamic with vanilla ice cream!

balsamic ice cream

Very simply, a Balsamic Sundae is Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, drizzled with a dab of balsamic vinegar.  It’s that simple and absolutely ah-mazing!!

Audley tried more flavors than I did, from peach to blackberry to pomegranate.  Me?

I couldn’t seem to tear myself away from the fabulous Strawberry balsamic.

In fact I was so attached to it that I had to purchase my own bottle.

We also purchased a mushroom and sage infused olive oil (which is absolutely divine over roasted red potatoes) and a peach white balsamic vinegar (which is delicious on a spinach salad).

Each jar of oil or vinegar is bottled and sealed at the store.  You can wash and return your bottles for a discount on your next purchase…. Don’t you love to recycle?

filling our olive oils

Olive & Then Some also carries a wonderful selection of culinary as well as locally themed gifts.  It was a perfect place to pick up a wedding gift for a shower over the weekend.

culinary offerings at Olive & Then Some

accessories for the cook

I know Spartanburg is not a premiere vacation destination, but if you are passing through between Atlanta and Charlotte sometime, think of taking a little detour and checking out our growing downtown.

Olive and Then Some

With a Lily Pulitzer store, a small book cafe, Pure Barre (wonderful exercise classes), historic and beautiful Morgan Square, several local restaurants (including the amazing sushi from Miyako) and a wine bar as well a few brewery there is a little something for everyone to explore!

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Monsoon Noodle House

For Mother’s Day lunch this year we decided to enjoy lunch at a new to us restaurant in downtown Spartanburg, the “Monsoon Noodle House”.  We have heard great thing about it, and from what I could tell it had great reviews on UrbanSpoon (a great resource when you are wanting to check out a new restaurant if you are unsure whether or not you want to eat there).  Monsoon Noodle House has a 91%  rating with 281 likes which is most positive.

One advantage of early worship services on Sunday is that we can generally make it to the restaurants before other places let out.  We have been hearing about this place for a while now.  It reopened last spring after a fire destroyed it, so the restaurant has been packed  every time we have been by there.   It’s a popular hangout for many of the college kids from Wofford University, just a couple of miles away.

 While Monsoon Noodle House filled up quickly after we arrived, we were the first through the door, which allowed for me to ask a few questions about the menu and snap a few quick pictures of the restaurant interior without random people in the pictures.

I love the environment as the restaurant itself is very open with a contemporary vibe.  If you don’t like sitting right next to strangers in a restaurant, this probably isn’t the place for you as the layout encourages you to mix and mingle.  Fortunately, I have very social kids, so this was just the right environment for us.

Each of the chairs had a “M” cut into it.  I thought it was rather neat.

I fell in love with the noodle display or as I referred to it as the “Wall of Carbs” which is actually a display of all the noodles you can sample here.  Unfortunately for me it was not a carb day (yes, I went to a place that specializes in noodles on a no carb day…), so my family partook in all of the sampling, constantly telling me how good it was.

As for the food, the staff was great to answer questions about what was in everything.  As is true with most Asian fusion restaurants there were lots of sauces and of course noodles.  You can choose your spice when it comes to the food or even make it vegetarian.  And they do not use MSG in their foods, either which is a real selling point for me.

There is something for everyone.

As difficult as it was, I kept to my diet and ordered Mongolian beef without the sauce.  Mongolian stir fry is all about the flavor of the onion anyway, which there was plenty of, so it was still quite good.

I didn’t eat the rice…. my kiddos enjoyed it for me.

Audley ordered his Mongolian beef with the sauce & absolutely loved it!  He also enjoyed the Potsticker dumplings.

And to top it all off, Audley ordered the Monsoon Wings which were fried chicken wing pieces with an absolutely amazing spicy/sweet chili sauce.

I did try just one of these …. they could be dangerous for my diet.

He loves to try new food, especially if it is Asian themed.

The kiddos each ordered something different.

Madeline started off her lunch with Thai tea which is a strong iced tea with cream.

I took a sip of this, too.  Then I told her to keep it away from me!

Lot’s of cream.

She and MacKenzie both enjoyed sesame chicken for their lunch.

Since their plates didn’t even have one grain of rice left on it, I assume that they liked it!

Bradley had Chinese hot tea with his lunch, which accompanied his Sukayiaki Udon.
This dish consisted of shrimp, chicken, scallions, mushrooms, snow peas and eggs.

It looked amazing!

Over-all I have to say we really enjoyed our lunch at the Monsoon Noodle House.  The service was fast and efficient, and the staff was very helpful in seeing that my sometimes picky needs were met.  I highly recommend checking them out if you are ever in the area.  And if you need added incentive, Monsoon Noodle house in right on Main Street and borders several great local shops and the beautiful Daniel Morgan Square.  You could spend an entire afternoon enjoying just three city blocks!

We have discovered quite a few local eateries in the Greenville/Spartanburg area, so I hope to try out a few more this summer and share them.

I know this doesn’t seem like the ideal vacation get-away, but it’s a great area with a lot of local interests.  Maybe you’ll be inspired to check it all out someday!

Have a great weekend!

A Beautiful Mother’s Day

I truly hope all of my lovely friends had a wonderful Mother’s Day!  Around here things were a little different as it was the first time ever that I have not spent the day with my own beautiful Momma (who I miss so much!), but my own little family made it perfect and special for me.
After a wonderful worship service we found ourselves in downtown Spartanburg to check out a local restaurant, Monsoon Noodle House.  It had great ratings on UrbanSpoon (if you have a smartphone this is a must-have app if you travel a lot), so we were excited to try it!

While waiting on Monsoon Noodle House to open, I took the opportunity to shoot a few pictures of my little family, since we could not have asked for a more beautiful spring day!  We had a lot of fun hanging out in the beautiful Daniel Morgan Square.  

It’s funny, I visited the Greenville/Spartanburg area back when I was in college and thought what a sad ending to a couple of historical old cities.  I’m a serious believer in preserving history, especially these gorgeous old Southern cities.  In the last 20 years these two cities have totally turned around and are revitalizing and rebuilding their downtowns.  Parks, restaurants, B&B’s local shops, cultural centers and growing universities have restored these beautiful and historic cities.  And the plans continue.
I absolutely love living here!

Daniel Morgan was a Revolutionary War hero from Virginia who made quite a name for himself at the nearby Cowpens National Battlefield.  This statue was placed in Spartanburg’s city square in 1881 in his honor.

I just love how South Carolina is proud of it’s history.

My kids were in rare form for pictures (meaning they cooperated … perk of Mother’s day, I guess) so we had a lot of fun posing on the square.

I can’t believe they are all teenagers now.

Daniel Morgan Square is so pretty.  From the hanging baskets down the street lights to the statues blending into the scenery, this particular Sunday in Spartanburg was almost like a scene from a movie!

And my teenagers were more than happy to let their personalities shine.

Even my son….. He insisted that he pose like his sisters.

Check out the Basset Hound socks he is wearing…..

I was quite spoiled for Mother’s Day …. from a most shocking and fabulous gift to lunch out and my girls cleaning the kitchen for supper.

One massage a month for an entire year!!  I told you I was spoiled!

Without a doubt, it was a beautiful Mother’s Day.

I’ll share details of the Monsoon Noodle House on Friday.  It was quite good and they did cook for my healthy palette so they get a good rating from me just for that!

Enjoy this beautiful spring day!