Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

Objectively Black in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Last week, we were in Nashville for business, but we still found many opportunities to eat and drink well in one of America’s fastest growing cities. We mainly stayed around Downtown and Broadway for this entry and when you’re traveling for work, you need to be on your A-game twenty four-seven lest you show up home from work early and have to explain to your wife why you’ve put in an application as an Uber driver…

So, not too many crazy adventures or anecdotes this go-round, but if you’ll allow us some latitude, we’ll drop a couple pearls on where to eat, drink, and party it up. (We’re 2-stepping only tho. Business casual out here, you feel me?)

Dinner

Husk 

Located in Rutledge Hill in the heart of Downtown Nashville resides the new classic, Husk. “A celebration of Southern Cooking”, Husk is headed by Executive Chef Katie Coss who uses fresh and local ingredients from local farms to create amazing dishes. 

Given the central role that African Americans and other Immigrant cooks that lent to traditional Southern cooking, its important to note that when we talk about “traditional” southern cooking, we need to go all the way back to the beginning to pay homage to those that literally slaved in kitchens across the south creating and curating these dishes.

Husk has done a great service to what I deem to be classic traditional southern dishes. With both of my parents being born and raised in South Carolina, my family grew up on southern recipes passed down for generations. You know the classics: Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Grits, Biscuits, Cornbread, you name it. Just thinking of some of these foods brings back great emotions from my childhood and reminds me of simpler times.

I also heard the Cheeseburger described as “perfect”, but alas, it was not on the menu for the night.

They have a large wine cellar in the basement and the cocktail menu is on point as well. You really can’t miss with anything on the menu. Our table ordered a smorgasborg of menu items and shared a little bit of everything. I won’t review everything individually but I’ll say with certainty that this is the best meal I’ve ever had in Nashville over multiple visits. Here are the standouts:

  • Bear Creek Farm Beef with Smoked Tomatoes, Butterbeans, Embered Beef Fat and Basil
  • Field of Dreams Chicken, Sweeter Days Shishitos, Schmaltz Red Potato, Miso Butter, Benne
  • A Plate of Southern Vegetables 
  • Shrimp and Grits

Again, Husk did an amazing job but in the end, they ain’t got nothin on my Grannie’s home cookin. Guess I’ll need to make sure to get down south for the next family reunion.

Score — 4.7/5

Virago

When we first booked this restaurant, I gotta admit that I was a little skeptical at first. Sushi? In Tennessee? Gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised. They did a really great job. Sushi Chef Himmi continues a sixteen year stand of creating amazing Makimono and Nigirizushi dishes. 

The menu was intelligently split into several different columns: 

Garden

Land

Sea

Temaki (Hand rolled sushi)

Nigiri-Zushi (Slice of fish atop of compacted rice)

Sashimi & Nigiri (Thinly sliced fish)

& Makimono (Sushi rolls)

The restaurant had recently moved to a brand new space and had rebuilt the restaurant from the ground up. The new ambiance really worked for them and evoked a traditional Japanese Sushi restaurant vibe. It was very relaxing. It felt like I was back in Tokyo again and had stumbled on to a ritzy sushi spot in Ginza.

The food and service were both great, but given how popular Japanese Whiskey’s are right now, I’m a little surprised that Nikka was the only one they had on the drink menu. Really my Nikka’s?

Either way, I’d definitely recommend this spot and will likely be back if I’m in Nashville again anytime soon.

Score — 4.3/5

Breakfast

Kitchen Notes

Similar to Husk, Kitchen Notes is a Farm to Table Southern Cooking experience located at the Omni Hotel. The Omni is probably (definitely) the most expensive hotel in all of Nashville. It has a gorgeous lobby and really leans into the the country and blue grass roots of the region. It’s located right across the street from the Nashville Convention Center (Which if seen from above, looks like a giant guitar. Pretty dope).

I ventured over for breakfast one morning and realized that I’d eaten here once before on a previous work trip to Nashville. The food was just as good but the service as a little slow (I’m not gonna name names. We’ll just call dude Frederico for now). The waiter forgot to bring me A1 for my Steak and Eggs a couple of times. Also, I found the seating arrangements and dining room setup a little strange. There were square tables for four flanking either side of the room, but in the middle of the room, were big benched tables with seating for about 6 each. Now, I was there pretty early, so the restaurant wasn’t anywhere close to full yet for breakfast. They sat me dead center of the room at a bench….and then sat an incoming couple right next to me! Come on people,  I know you Tennesseans are super friendly and hospitable, but after a long night and an early morning, sometimes a guys just wants to eat breakfast and catch up on the news on his own.

“Ay Frederico… Where’s the steak sauce, my guy?!”

Score — 4/5

Bars

Thursday Night 8:00pm – 3:00am

Acme Feed & Seed Rooftop – Downtown Broadway

Acme Feed and Seed – (4 Level Bar on Broadway with a Rooftop Bar) 8:00pm – 10:00pm

We had reservations on the rooftop, and it was really nice with the weather being around 75 degrees and breezy. The rooftop bar overlooks the river and has great views of Nissan Stadium and the Walking bridge (if that’s what you’re into. You can actually see down the entirety of broadway on the left side of the bar.

The drinks were all comp’ed, but they seemed to be decently priced with a pretty good selection of local beers and IPAs.

Tin Roof (Live Bar and DJ)10:15pm – 11:15pm

Now, this place is interesting. Its split right down the middle by two different bars with a live band none side and a DJ on the other. The crazy thing is, you aren’t able to hear the other from either side. We kicked it on the DJ side where he spun some current and classic tracks. Had to roll out tho, when the ladies started shotgunning Red Bulls.

“Bartender…A mop over here please?”

Ms. Kelli’s Nashville (Karaoke Saloon)11:30pm – 12:00am

Didn’t stay too long. Ms. Kelli’s was super divey, but the Karaoke was very well organized….That’s all I got, really….

Dirk’s Bentley’s  (4 Level Bar on Broadway)12:15am – 2:15am

Yikes. This place was huge. The DJ on the 2nd floor was doin the damn thing with all the latest Hip-Hop cuts. Don’t think I didn’t notice you played a few songs multiple times tho, my G. You gotta freshen up the MP3s on that MacBook Pro.

I’ve been to Nashville more than a few times now and its always finds ways to surprise me. You’ll find live music of all kinds, good and bad. There are your typical nine-to-fivers in the classic Honky Tonk’s, like Tootsies or Robert’s Western World, and there are some amazing local artists just trying to become “the next Taylor Swift”. The town is growing and with growth comes different perspectives. I’ve never had any issues with rowdy crowds (tho they do get rowdy), fuckery, or redneckery. People in Nashville will really surprise you and that doesn’t seem to be what they are about. People seem to be there just to have a great time. Black or White, Red or Blue, Country or Hip-Hop, people treat each other with respect and that’s the mark of a truly progressive city. 

Sure, there are some areas that could use a little more work. Much like Denver, Colorado, the homeless population has not really been addressed. People don’t harass you at all like they do in NYC but when cities grow this quickly, local businesses and legislators focus on new attractions, hotels, shopping malls, bars, sports arenas, etc. People that need help tend to get the short end of the stick and to me that really keeps a city from reaching its true potential.

The city is growing enormously and with people coming in from all over the world, it seems like Nashville is trying to create more opportunities to cater to people from everywhere. Yes, the country music culture will always be intrinsically tied to Nashville. That will always be their unique identifier and claim to fame.

But there are a lot of other really cool things going on in Nashville right now as well. 

“Scheduled to open in Downtown Nashville in early 2020, the National museum of African American Music will be a 56,000-square-foot facility that will encourage visitors to discover the many connections and influences that composers have had on all genres of music. From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM will integrate history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and subgenres. It will be an unparalleled institution, not confined by record label, genre or recording artist, but instead will tell a unique narrative through the lens of black music”. – NMAAM

On Broadway in particular, there are a lot of different options in a small area. All the “touristy” bars are on Broadway and can be in a lot of fun, but it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. Many of the bars are multi-level and have something different going on each floor. You could be singing “Friends in Low Places” with a live band on Level 1, Twerking it out to Old Town Road and Cardi B on Level 2, Yee-Hawing to Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban on Level 3, and Vogueing to Madonna and Lizzo on Level 4. Theres a lot going on and you’re anything like me, you’re going to need to buckle down and figure out what you really want to do for the night. 

I will say though, that going out with large groups makes it even more difficult for people because of all the jumping from floor to floor and across the streets from bar to bar. Somehow tho, it all evens out and you have the time of your life. You’ll hit the sack around 3:00am but not before you stop at a local diner to get some Hot Chicken and Biscuits.

Neighborhoods to check out:

Downtown Broadway

Germantown

East Nashville

Belmont

Green Hills

Midtown / Vanderbilt

Standard
Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

Objectively Black in Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos 

Traveling is important. 2019 has been one for the record books for us and we continue our globe-trotting, perspective finding journey.  This year we’ve been to Denver, Philly, Montreal, Peru, Colombia, and now Turks and Caicos (with Brazil up next!). 

We’ve been drinking, hiking, partying and all other imaginable states of being, but a tropical setting was just what we needed to end the summer and truly relax and unwind. My wife and I recently ventured down to the beautiful island of Turks and Caicos in the British Virgin Islands for some clear water and white sand at Grace Bay Beach. 

Using our credit card points (I can’t stress the importance of a great travel credit card and making your purchases work for you enough) we stayed at the beautiful Palm Hotel and Resort on Grace Bay Beach. High on luxury, the Palms has consistently scored in the top 100 hotels in the world. Impressive, right? The 72-suite luxury condo hotel is directly in the heart of Grace Bay (also named one of the top 5 beaches in the world), right on the waterfront.

We flew JetBlue and had no problems getting through checkpoints due to our TSA Pre-Check. Again, if you are traveling often, the “luxury” of not taking off your shoes, rummage through your 3oz or less toiletries and stand in a much longer line saves you some much needed time and stress when you are heading off for a relaxing vacation.

I will however note, that the trip was almost ruined when I got to customs in T&C and realized that I had forgotten my Givenchy slippers. 


Young H-O, Pitch the yea faithful
Even if they patrol, I make payroll
Benz paid for, Friends they roll
Private jets down to Turks and Caicos

JAY Z

The Palms was a short 15-minute car ride from the airport on beautiful Grace Bay Beach. The weather was a perfect 85 degree average everyday with wonderful breezes and no rain. 

Upon recommendations from many friends and co-workers who had been to Grace Bay Beach before, we were told that the Thursday night Fish Fry was a must and also dinner at Coco Bistro would be a great way to end our trip. We planned to do both… but more on that later.

Wifey: “Ugh, its so beautiful here. I never want to leave. I’m so glad they don’t allow kids at this property becau…

Who the fuck allowed these kids in here?!

Me: Babe, I don’t think this is an adults only property…

Wifey: This trip is ruined! I didn’t spend all this money to hear screaming kids!

(I’m mainly kidding. My wife is a teacher and loves children)

Everything was fine. 

Of the properties that allow children, The Palms was still very serene and all the kids and families were very respectful and were there to enjoy their time on the resort as well. After all, if you are paying good money for a vacation, you typically aren’t putting up with your kids bullshit lest you leave them tied up in the hotel closets.  There were a few families with kids of all ages but again, everyone was nice and respectful of each others stay and experience.

Another point of note, is that we walked to Beaches Resort one day and I’ve gotta say that if you are a family bringing children with you to T&C, I don’t think there is a better property for you. They have a fun DJ that engages the kids, live entertainment, water games, Sesame Street characters, and daycare to entertain your kids while you hit the spa or relax at the pool. Not to mention, its all-inclusive.

The Palms property is immaculate. Everything about it is perfectly well kept and well-manicured. The staff only refer to you as Sir or Ma’am and go out of their way to make you feel like you are true royalty.

The hotel had a full-service breakfast included daily from 7am to 10am and the bed in the rooms could only be described as gigantic. A California King maybe? I don’t ever think I’ve slept that well in years. I’ll have to invest in a new mattress at the very least. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful the pool at the hotel was. The water was heated to a perfect 84 degrees. Now, that sounds hot, but when the sun is blazing at 91 degrees, slipping into a perfectly temperature controlled pool is pure heaven. 

Dinner – Parallel23 at The Palms

For our first night, we stayed on the property and had drinks and dinner at Paralell23, which was one of the property’s restaurants. We made a great decision. The service, drinks, and food were all amazing. I had seared Ahi Tuna and it was perfectly cooked. Usually when you order fish, you get a small piece with some bullshit garnish on the side. I’m guessing that the fish they caught that day was as big as a shark because the serving that I had was probably more tuna than I’ve had in my last 5 order s combined. And it was delicious. We ate outside in the hotel’s open courtyard. It was beautiful and romantic to sit amongst the stars in warm breezy weather.

Paralell23

Sidenote: Many of the other travel blogs and forums warn visitors to the island about the terrible mosquito population. I even read some weird things about sand fleas and water bugs in the ocean…

I’m not sure if any of that is true, or maybe it was just the time of year that we went, but we were out all hours of the day and night for 5 nights and didn’t see “not a near nutta” goddamn mosquito! Its propaganda! Zika my ass. 

Dinner- Kalooki’s

We ventured offsite to a local restaurant call Kalooki’s. The taxi driver picked us up and was clearly high as fuck. He even had the Even had the Cheetos ready on the floor for later. We see you, Rasta. 

If you love Caribbean food, T&C is your heaven. Many of the restaurants are either Caribbean or Seafood and given where the island is in the world, you are getting the best of the best most authentic dishes. Dinner was solid and of course I had to get my first taste of Jerk Chicken, Coconut Rice and Plantains.

Turks and Caicos Dream Tours – Snorkeling

Busting five knots, wind whipping out my coat
You can’t stop me, motherfucker, ’cause I’m on a boat.

The Lonely Island

We booked a half-day snorkeling trip with Dream Tours Turks and Caicos. The whole thing was really well planned. Its a 4-hour trip with drinks, food, and tour included for $95.00 each. They take you about an hour offshore into the ocean, give you a life preserver, flippers, and a snorkel and lead you out into the ocean to see sea creatures and coral reef.

This is where I have to be a bit of a downer. If you’ve ever seen what the Coral Reef looked like before mankind destroyed it, you remember seeing creatures and vegetation every color of the rainbow. 

The damage that we’ve done to the ozone, oceans, and planet has burned the reefs and turned them brown and desolate. It’s still a sight to behold and there is still plenty of life out there, but knowing what it used to be like is a little saddening considering what we know and what we could have done to improve the situation.

With that said, the experience was still incredible and a lot of fun. I personally have never snorkeled before and had to learn how fairly quickly with no land around and no real places to rest save for the boat we rode in on. I’m happy to say that I did fairly well. Swimming in the ocean with a mask covering your nose and nothing to breathe out but a plastic tube can be panic-inducing. Especially when the waves get high and fill up the only apparatus you are breathing from. But you adapt quickly and pretty soon you just start to trust your swimming skills and just have fun. I had a blast. 

About halfway through the excursion, they dropped us off on a mini island in the middle of the ocean inhabited by nothing but iguanas. It was beautiful but also crazy. I love adventure and typically read a lot of fun fiction and fantasy stories. Its wild to think about washing up on an uninhabited island with nothing to eat but iguana and coconuts, and nothing but your wits to keep you alive. 

After an hour of exploring the island, we set sail for home. 

Dinner – Fish Fry

Everyone on the island, and even friends from back home told us that we couldn’t come to T&C and not go to the fish fry. After many many recommendations from the islanders, we figured out that its basically a large gathering of food trucks and vendors from around the island. You are on the island to spend money and have a good time so it’s a great way to support local businesses and their families, and also experience more of the islands culture than a hotel or resort can offer. It’s definitely a must-go.

The different foods were great. You had everything from Jerk Chicken to Homemade Ice Cream and Coconut Rum drinks fresh off the trees. Also, it was the first day of Lobster season so many of the vendors were grilling up freshly caught lobsters. Jerk Lobster. Boiled Lobster. Fried Lobster. It was incredible.

There was also a live DJ and MC that sang and entertained the crowd. People danced like fools and later on in the night, a Caribbean band made their way through the crowd and really got things going. You’re guaranteed to have a good time. Just ask anyone where the fish fry is. They’ll point you in the exact direction.

Lunch – Somewhere Else

Another spot that was recommended to us was a lunch spot called Something Else. It was about a 15 minute walk from our resort down the beach, so we walked down the coast and arrived just in time for an outdoor lunch under shady umbrellas. 

The burger was surprisingly good but the real surprise was that there was FREE snorkeling just along the beach in front of another resort. We borrowed some snorkels and swam about 150 yards out to see a beautiful display of reef and fish just by the beach! As opposed to the middle of the ocean, we are only about 15-30 feet up in some spots but to our surprise, we ran into a few Sea Turtles grazing on some vegetation along the reefs. It was the one time during the trip where I wish I had a waterproof Go Pro to film the moment. 

My takeaway here is, you don’t always have to spend a ton of money to have fun on vacation. We paid about $250.00 during our first snorkeling outing. It was still amazing experience, but the free snorkeling trip was just as good or better. Keep your eyes open and weigh your options carefully but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger when new opportunities arise.

Somewhere Else

Dinner – Coco Bistro 

So this was the big one. The restaurant that we had heard so much about and planned around our last night on the trip. Before dinner, we decided to chill at the pool and have a few drinks before getting ready to leave to the restaurant.

Being the friendly New Yorkers that we are, we struck up some conversation with a group of people that were at the resort on a work-trip. Their company Edward Jones, comped their entire stay and all their food and drinks! Pretty nice setup, huh? So, them being friendly and hospitable, decided to extend their free and comp’ed drink status to us! Thoughtful, right?

We stayed in the pool and drank and laughed while we got to know them and traded stories of living in different parts of the country. I’m even sure there were a few shots in there somewhere. We said our goodbyes and went back to our room to get ready for dinner.

…We made it the 30 yard walk back to the room before both of us started tripping over our feet and falling into the walls.

You should know: When you are drinking on solid ground, you’ll know fairly quickly if your body has had too much alcohol because you may lose your balance and equilibrium and will instantly know if you need to slow it down or stop altogether.

When you’re drinking in a pool however, you aren’t holding your full body weight and thus its harder for your brain and body to compensate and fully understand the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed. 

Rookie Mistake.

We both jumped in the shower and tried to quickly get ready for dinner but it was too damn late. My wife fell OUT of the goddamn shower and I ended up face down in the bed with nothing but a hotel robe on. I can’t tell you if it was opened or closed so don’t ask. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.

I spent 4 hours vomiting into the room’s ice bucket while my wife rocked back and forth on the hotel couch trying not to pass out.

Me: Babe. Babe. I’m dying. I feel so sick. I’ve never been this drunk in my lifffffeeeee!

Wifey: Do you need to go to the hospital?!

Me: YES! Please call an ambulance! I need an IV!

Wifey: Fuck you! I’m not calling 911! We aren’t even in America! Tough it out!

Me: Please, help me!

Wifey: I’m sick too! I’m going to order room service…

I don’t remember eating, but we both woke up around 2:00am to a trashed hotel room covered in fries, a half-eaten burger, chipotle mayo on the floor and two unworn outfits meant for a classy dinner for two.

Me: …I think we missed our reservation.

Aside from our… indiscretion with the drinks and shots in the hotel pool, our vacation was incredible. We’ll definitely be back and we highly recommend Turks and Caicos. Let us know if you ever have any questions or need any recommendations.

Music

Bob Marley was everywhere on the island. He’ll truly live forever through these cultures. His music is EVERYWHERE and it’s almost like he’s a member of your vacation party. I grew up on his music and learnings and its truly beautiful to see his legacy respected and carried on so well all over the island.

Here are a few selections that speak well to our vacation and overall vibe:

Useful Phrases

Wa Gwaan: What’s going on? (my personal favorite)

Yeah Mon: Yeah Man

I soon reach: I’ll get there when I get there

Standard
Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

Objectively Black in Montreal – Shuttlecock Boyz

For our mid-summer classic, we wanted to escape America but didn’t want to travel too far. Europe is in the midst of one the hottest heat wave in recorded history, and as for tropical locations, we’re not really beach bums. So Montréal, Quebec Canada was our winner. We rolled 4 deep with a strong crew of no-nonsense gents who will forever from this day forth be known as “The Shuttlecock Boyz” (more on that later). 

Montréal is a beautiful town with a chill vibe and Parisian sensibilities. We’ll let you know how our trip went, what the people are like, where to eat, and where (or where not) to party. Let’s get into it. 

Air Canada Flight

The flight was quick, and no-stress. (Pro-tip: At LGA Terminal B, priority pass select is complimentary for Chase Sapphire Reserve holders). Including taxi, take-off, and landing, you’re looking at about an hour and fifteen minutes all in. That’s light work. There was one small child on the flight but he wasn’t a problem. He spoke at a decibel louder than should be allowed for a child of his age only once and the homie Idris Grey was all over it:

Idris: “PUT THAT BABY ON VIBRATE!”

Customs is pretty much non-existent in Canada. Being Americans, we were prepared for hell on earth. 

Patdowns. 

Questionnaires. 

Full cell phone data uploads. 

Solitary Confinement. 

Waterboarding… 

But we got off easy. We punched a few buttons on a computer console, and proceeded to the nice girl at customs. 

Customs Girl:So. What brings you to Canada?”

OB:Well, we are here to-”

Customs Girl: “A Bachelor party. You’re here for a bachelor party. I get it” *winks*

OB:What? No. No, no, there’s no bache-”

Customs Girl: “No, its fine. You boys have a good time.”

*winks with the other eye*

OB: “…..Ok, thank you…”

DAY 1

We caught our first Uber of the trip and it was 5 mins in the car before the driver started confessing his undying love for Celine Dion. Stay Candaian, Canada.

Arriving at the hotel, our accommodations can be described as a boutique hotel, but it was the location that stood out. Seeing as how we were likely going to be out until 3:00am every night, we essentially just needed a place to sleep. We ain’t broke boys out here. We could have stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, but again, the hotel was in the perfect location. Right at the beginning of Rue Saint-Laurent; Hotel 10 is on one of the most poppin streets in the city. We got situated in our rooms and then hit the streets to officially get some drinks and start this vacation right. 

In Montreal, the winters are long and brutal, so people generally take advantage of the summer time. It seems like everyone in Montreal is in amazing shape (America, lay off the cheese fries) and the women are just flat out beautiful. It not just their physical looks either, it’s their energy as well. Everyone is walking around smiling and generally in a good mood. Coming from NYC and LA where everyone has a hustle and will only deal with you if you can help them out in some fucked up way, it was refreshing to see people just enjoying their lives. You ask us, the sexiest thing a person can do is smile. Well, that and bussdown.

Toddry: The women here are beautiful! I’m here for these bad bitches!”

Dougie: “Settle down fam, we haven’t even had a drink or anything to eat yet.”

THE Joe Dressel: Hold up. You guys came all the way here to play BADMINTON?”

Toddry: What?! No! Bad BITCHES.”

THE Joe Dressel: Ohhhhhh”

Toddry:I’m trying to serve that ShuttleCOCK!”

All: “LOLOLOLOL”

End scene

St. Laurent Blvd has an amazing art scene. It’s almost like an outdoor museum. There are galleries, street art, and murals everywhere. From what we’ve heard, new art pieces are commissioned yearly to bring new energy and culture to the community.

Going back to our comparisons about what we see in Canada vs. America, Canada doesn’t seem to have the same inhibitions or social stigmas about many parts of life. Men and Women are covered in beautiful tattoos. Sex isn’t looked at as some evil societal burden, and graffiti isn’t stashed away in dark corners of the city. It’s displayed proudly as a legitimate expressive art form.

Shaker Kitchen and Mixology – St. Laurent Blvd (henceforth known as SLB).

Lunch was dope. Shaker specializes in Cocktails and Gourmet Burgers. The selection for each were on point and we also got our first taste of poutine. The waiter was gracious enough to teach some of us a few phrases to get along during the week and also interact with the fairer sex. We should note though, that damn near everyone we spoke with has both French AND English on lock. Again, America you’re slacking.  

Reservior – Brewpub & Rooftop Bar

We chilled up here for a while. The rooftop opened at 2pm and was decorated nicely in a chill garden vibe. At this point we had a nice day drinking buzz going so the rest of the details are a little hazy to us right now.

Taverne Midway – Gay Village

For dinner, we went to Taverne Midway. Apparently, its been around since 1927 and it definitely had an old town feel. The food was solid and there was a free pool table in the back that was clutch albeit in poor condition.

TRH Bar – Bar/Dance Floor and Half-pipe?!

As we bar hopped up and down SLB, we stumbled into a divey as fuck club called TRH Bar. It had a dance floor and a quarter pipe?! The people here were more interested in their turn on the bowl than actually doing any dancing. The shit was straight up entertaining to say the least. It looked like a scene out of Ninja Turtles or the Lost Boys from Hook. Bangarang.

Tokyo Bar – Bar/Club

Another interesting (but divey) spot on SLB. The DJ was INCREDIBLE and really knew his stuff. He was hittin us from all angles with classic cut after classic cut. The crowd was moving and we probably had more fun at this place than many others. The only caveat about this spot (and most of Montreal) is that the drinking age is 18. Because of this, many bars and clubs have really young crowds. Some of these kids looked like they were seeing dance for the first time. 

DAY 2

St. ViateurBagel Shop

This place is on damn near every “must visit” list for Montreal. So we had to do it right? Maybe we just did it wrong because we just were not impressed. Again, we were all hung over so maybe we were expecting something more robust. Either way, we got to the front of the line (side note: all lines in montreal, no matter how long they are, move very quickly and efficiently) and made our order:

Bagel Bro: “How many bagel you want?”

Idris: *Looks at menu* Yeah so, we –

Bagel Bro: “My friend. How many bagel you want?”

THE Joe Dressel: Don’t rush us. You’re making us panic, dude.”

Bagel Bro: “How. Many. Bagel. You. Want?!”

Idris: “Fam, Just give us 6 random bagels with cream cheese…”

Toddry: Fuck, that was stressful. I feel like we are in an episode of Seinfeld.

Terassee William Gray – Rooftop Bar/Amazing View of Old Port

The William Grey Hotel is a 4-5 star property that has a gorgeous rooftop bar with what we deemed was the best view in all of Montreal. Its located in the Old Port and for that reason it really gives you an old paris feel. The hostesses and waitresses are lovely and friendly. The vibe was chill and we kicked it here for most of the morning while we nursed various stages of hangovers.

Fesitval International Nuits D’Afrique

Later in the afternoon we randomly stumbled upon an African/Latin music festival. We heard the conga drums from afar and couldn’t resist checking it out. When your culture calls, you answer. This completely free festival had food, amazing music, and vendor selling local art and clothing.

It was really beautiful to see people of all shades just living it up and enjoying the music. People were camped out on blankets and kids of all ages were out dancing with their parents. It was a great experience.

Joe Beef – French Restaurant

This highly rated and recommended restaurant was booked months before our trip. It was popular and thus difficult to get a reservation. Joe Beef was easily the best meal of our trip. We liken the experience to visiting Paris without going. We recommend that you get a few appetizers and share the entrees to get a full sampling of all the different flavors this restaurant has to offer. 

Philemon – Lounge

We went here to have some drinks before officially going out for the night, but the vibe was so great that we probably should have stayed here…. Like typical millennials, we wanted more than what we had, and so since we had a list of 2-3 other places to try out that night, we left and shot ourselves in the foot because none of the other places we went that night were as poppin. Bird in the hand, I guess. Lesson learned. 

Muzique

Good music. Crazy crowded. 

By the way, to the customs agent who made wild accusations about why we were in Montreal, there were waaaaaayyyyyyyy more bachelorette parties than bachelor parties in Montreal. So you need to re-evaluate your biases my dear lady.

La Voute “The Vault”Nightclub

La Voute aka “The Vault, is a nightclub that was built into an old bank vault. Cool idea, I guess. Many of the ladies we spoke to recommended that we go here to avoid the younger crowds. It was supposed to be a “real nightclub” which usually means real money. 

Dougie: Hey my man, we’ve got 4.”

Bouncer: “…”

bouncer turns around and consults some wannabe Instagram model. IG model, while smacking on a piece of gum, without even looking up from her phone whispers something to the bouncer.

….The bouncer turns back to us.

Bouncer: $800.00”

Dougie: … 

*walks away*

We re-enacted this scene about 10 different times throughout the rest of the trip. If nothing else, this was a great reminder that laughter is always the best medicine because you have to be on some SUCKA SHIT to pay $800.00 to get into a “club”.

DAY 3

Cafe Saint Barth – Cafe Bistro

Terassee William Gray – Pt. 2

We went back to this spot because we had such a great time the first go round. Since it was Saturday, there were many more people out and the whole city was ready to party. We saw some of the gents that we met in line at La Voute the night before who actually paid the “cover”. Apparently we dodged a bullet and saved $800.00 because the club was a straight sausage fest! Nothing but groups of dudes who’d been suckered. Always trust your gut people.

La Pequeno Bar – 

This was a tiny speakeasy with a true mixologist. You could honestly extend both arms and probably touch both walls. Maybe the best mojitos we’ve ever had. 

Bord’elle

Bord’elle is a “Supper Club”. Basically means you eat dinner, and then they clear out the tables and it turns into a nightclub. Supposedly there are burlesque dancers and cirque du soleil type shit modeled after The Great Gatsby. Not our bag, but it was highly recommended, “you see, old sport?”

The catch is, if you want to stay for the club, you’ve got to drop $800.00 on bottle service for the night. We had a prior reservation but cancelled because the food is supposed to be trash. I know a hustle when I see one, so we cancelled the rez.

We dropped by later in the night to see what the energy was looking like. The crowd was sexy and it looked like the place to be, so we went to the doorman and had a quick convo.

Dougie: “Hey my guy, we were here earlier with a reservation. Can you get the 4 of us in?”

Bouncer: “4 guys. $600.00”

Dougie: -_-

People, there may be some suckas out there, but we ain’t them. I don’t care where you are in life or what your level of income is …DO NOT PAY $800.00 TO GET INTO A ROOM.

Also, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” 

Heat

BLVD44

This club is attached to Hotel 10 and since we were guests, there’d be no cover and no hassle. Seems like it would have been fun. 2 floors of Hip-Hop with a local famous DJ on the 1s and 2s…But we were exhausted and flights were early so we just kicked it for the rest of the trip.

Overall, we’d highly recommend Montreal. The people are nice, laid back, and no drama. Sure, the nightlife is a hustle if you want to do the fuckboy shit but there are way too many options to have a miserable night. There are a ton of different bars, clubs, lounges, and vibes. You can’t always look things up online, and you shouldn’t just take recommendations either. Feel it out and figure out what YOUR comfort zone will allow for. Chances are there is a scene that’s perfect for you. Figure things out for yourself and just go with the flow.


Epilogue: When we arrived at the airport, we were surprised to find out that 3 out of the 4 of us had the same AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage. We honestly can’t stress to you how sturdy, durable, compact, and affordable this luggage is. Why would you drop $225.00 on Away luggage that has the same utility when you could pay $49.99 for something that will be reliable all over the world? The 20″ luggage fits perfectly in an overhead and is the perfect size for a quick 3-day weekend. Let’s shop smart people. Save that $175.00 on something that you really want.

AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage – $49.99

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!

Standard
Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

NYC Restaurant Review: The Randolph At Broome – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when we patronize these establishments. We’ve all been there. Your service seemed extra slow. Maybe people are looking at you crazy. Either way, we know that our treatment in public spaces is much different than others. We aren’t going out looking for fights, and hopefully soon, Black Safe won’t even be necessary. But for now, we gotta report back to y’all on what we experience.

How was the food? How were the drinks? We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5.

F. Dougie: To start off, I gotta say that I’ve been to Randolph Beer before. Not this location, but the Randolph’s in Dumbo serves as a hangout spot for me and my crew on weekends. The Broome street location was easy to locate and had plenty of space both at the bar and in the dining room. With over 30 different beers on tap, this is a choice spot for happy hour. The 10oz to 16oz Happy Hour upgrade is catchy, but not stellar enough to be considered a happy hour favorite.

Again, the beer and drink selection is dope so it’s hard to complain, especially when the prices are around an average $8 per pint. The bar itself is dark AS FUCK so set your phone to low brightness unless you want temporary corneal damage. As for the ratio, we definitely held it down on Broome street. A few other brothas and sistas rolled in and I personally want to thank Randolph’s for not asking me and my partna to leave (as they could have) when we got extra, extra black and had a loud “discussion” about gentrification and opportunity zones (more to come on that later). I have a feeling we’ll definitely be back. The fried chicken sammich was bomb bar food and definitely hit the spot after a long ass stressful day. I also appreciate the bartender asking if I wanted hot sauce on the side. We really appreciate you for that, fam.

It’s the little things, right Y’all?

Black Safeness: 4.4/5

Idris Gray: Listen Y’all, we started this segment off the only way we know how. LOUD! As we do… we got into a heated conversation about politics on a random Wednesday night.  But that’s ok, the Randolph at Broome, was still happy to accommodate all our blackness. First off, the location is super easy to get to, both the green and orange are nearby. They have a wide assortment of beers and plenty of space to accommodate big groups.

While there isn’t anything special about the bar upon entry, it fit the bill as a comfortable location for drinks and or a meal after work. I am currently abstaining from drinks after a very eventful New Years, but the food was good and priced about right for Manhattan. I had a grilled chicken sandwich which hit the spot. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how was the ambiance? Well, it was fucking dark. Like I almost lost Dougie, dark. So take some advice from uncle Idris, and make sure you take that first date outside under a streetlamp before you make that final decision. Furthermore, it seems like Dougie and I have been going to the wrong spots for years. Cause this was one of the few times we weren’t the only two brothas in the spot. That was a pleasant surprise for sure. The Randolph was good all around and I will for sure be hitting this spot if I’m ever in the area again.

Black Safeness: 4.4/5

Standard
Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

NYC Restaurant Review: The Henry at Life Hotel – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when we patronize these establishments. We’ve all been there. Your service seemed extra slow. Maybe people are looking at you crazy. Either way, we know that our treatment in public spaces is much different than others. We aren’t going out looking for fights, and hopefully soon, Black Safe won’t even be necessary. But for now, we gotta report back to y’all on what we experience.

How was the food? How were the drinks? We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5.

F. Dougie: Henry at Life Hotel is an African, Caribbean, and African-American inspired concept by head chef J.J. Johnson. He took over the restaurant in the fall of 2018 and it quickly jumped to the top of many New York restaurant critics must-eat lists.

From the moment we walked in, we could tell this was going to be a different dining experience. The staff was diverse and the music was expertly curated. I can’t remember the last time that I stopped in the middle of a dinner conversation to sing “Hypnotize” (Biggie) “I Get Around” (Pac), and “Electric Relaxation” (Tribe). My man Idris almost started freestyling to “Get By” (Talib) during a conversation about the government shutdown. This expertly chosen playlist helped inject some much-needed blackness into lower-midtown. After a long ass day of dealing with entitled-ass clients, sometimes “Gon’ blast, squeeze first ask questions last” is just the shit you need to hear to keep you motivated.

The food was on point, but you didn’t really expect a brotha to get African and Carribean food wrong, did you? The drinks were pricey, but much to be expected from a hotel restaurant. I had a Captain Lawrence ‘Golden Delicious’ and couldn’t have been happier with my decision. I know what y’all are thinking. “Why would he drink a Belgian ale with Afro-Carribean food?” Sure, I’m certain there are many different cocktails that would have paired better with my meal, and I’m sure the head chef and mixologist worked hard to create some great cocktails that complement their menu better….but I got a baby that needs to go to college one day and you know damn well how much a cocktail costs in New York City so Y’all can go to hell.

The Lamb Suya Kebabs with Za’atar Yogurt and Roti were an excellent starter and you already know I had to go with the Roasted Jerk Chicken for my entree. Yeah, I got chicken for dinner. I did this for Y’all! We gotta make sure if someone is putting Jerk Chicken on the menu, they representing. It was tender, succulent, and had a crispy, almost fried skin. If you like spicy (white people beware), this should give you juuuust enough of that Caribbean kick without overpowering. We’ll definitely be back.

Black Safeness: 4.6/5

Idris Gray: “Mazel tav, it’s a celebration bitches!” – Jay -Z (Roc Boys). This was the mood as soon as we entered Henry at Life Hotel, right on 31st between 5th and 6th avenue. It’s the one with the big neon pink sign in the window. You can’t miss it.

As you walk in the restaurant you are immediately greeted with great service. You’ll want to make a reservation before coming, but walk-ins are definitely welcome. There’s a good sized bar as well, which is ideal for those after work drinks. We made a reservation for 7:30 but they were able to seat us a bit earlier. Now let me warn you, as you walk to your table you may be stopped in your tracks by the sound of 50 Cent, Talib or HOV over the speakers. Do not adjust your TV set fam, this real life, you’re at home. At several times during the dining experience, you may find yourself breaking out in song just to remind everyone that you know all the words to Let’s Ride by Q-Tip.

We can’t say enough about the diversity of the restaurant. It’s not that hard to find good service at a hotel restaurant but it is hard to find a staff as diverse as the one here in midtown Manhattan. That diversity doesn’t quite resonate in the seats of the restaurants from our sample size, but this was one night. And this is why we are here! To let Y’all know about these gems!

For drinks, I did the Captain Lawrence ‘Golden Delicious’. Cocktails looked good but I’m never sure what type of glass a mixed drink will come in, so I just get beer. Weird, I know. Don’t @ me. Either way, the beer was good. Now for the food and the menu. Being of West African descent, I could definitely appreciate the menu choices. I think the chef does a great job of incorporating different parts of the diaspora. That being said you don’t have to be African to enjoy every part of the experience here. In fact, if you’d like to enjoy every part of the menu there’s an option for that. It’s called the “It Was All a Dream”. I imagine that the food coma you are put in post meal is the main reason why, but it incorporates the main dishes in the menu into one and feeds the whole squad.

After the Lamb Suya Kebabs with Za’atar Yogurt and Roti appetizer which was amazing. I chose to go with the Salmon Noodles with  African Nectar Broth, Bok Choy, Edamame, and Rice Noodles. I had no idea what “African Nectar Broth” was. But now I’m mad at moms for never making it. The broth was delicious and the Salmon perfectly cooked. I really can’t say much more than you need to try it, and try this restaurant. We’ll definitely be going back.

Black Safeness: 4.8/5


Standard