Khao Lak, Thailand

Cross Over to X2 Khao Lak, Thailand

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

I recently returned from an epic trip to Thailand, which was not only my first trip to that wonderful country, but my first visit to Asia, as well. I would be lying if I said that I have not already been looking into plane tickets to return. I loved everything about my time there – the culture, the people, the lush, tropical landscape, the food, the beaches, and discovering towns off-the-beaten-path, such as Khao Lak.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

When visiting Khao Lak, located in the heart of the Phang Nga Province, we stayed at the X2 (“Cross To”) Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort, which opened only five months ago. Situated directly on the white sandy beaches of the Andaman Sea, “Khao Lak” literally means “Lak Mountain,” which is one of the main peaks in this small mountainous region. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the General Manager with cold refreshing towels and beverages mimicking the blue Sea.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

With just nine private bungalow suites, each with its own breathtaking view of the central pool and Lam Kaem beach, guests receive personalized, five-star service, complete with on-call butlers catering to guests’ every whim.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Rooms are modern, comfortable and extremely spacious, and offer every amenity both necessary and extravagant, including aromatherapy lamps, two-person soaking tubs, beach mats, toiletries, and personal Samsung Galaxy tablets for use during one’s stay.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Each private bungalow follows an open floor plan, and has been designed to bring comfort and allow for exquisite views of the surrounding nature. Deluxe rooms have high ceilings and large windows that lead to open verandas where you can enjoy magnificent sunrises and sunsets. Suites open right onto the Anda Mani garden with a view of the pool and beach just beyond. The Beachfront Villas offer the epitome of luxury and infinite views of the Andaman Sea.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Being at the center of the resort, the swimming pool is its heart, and it is where your private butler will serve you drinks and treats during the time the resort dubs “Sip and Nibble” while lounging below the towering palm trees.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

One of the best things about our stay was the beachfront massage, which blended both traditional Thai massage techniques with the more familiar Western style of massage. Listening to the waves while being pampered in such an idyllic atmosphere is an experience I will not soon forget, and will definitely return to.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

For a small resort catering solely to its own guests, the food at X2 Khao Lak was phenomenal. A poolside snack of cured salmon with seasonal melon and mango was the perfect refreshing meal to hold us over until dinner.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Dinner at the poolside 4K (“Fork”) Restaurant was perfect, and offered some of the best food we tried in Thailand, made even better with a refreshing Singha beer. Combining Thai and international flavors, only the freshest seasonal ingredients produced locally are used.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Breakfast is served poolside every morning, and includes fresh fruit, including the best papaya I have ever tasted, fruit juice, yogurt, muesli, and more.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani provides the Cross To atmosphere, which is a perfect blend of design and dedication to place, and caters to a cosmopolitan group of creative and stylish guests who enjoy living life and are looking for the ultimate holiday experience. X2 provides only the highest service standards in first class accommodations, and allows one to Cross To a whole new dimension of designed luxury. A winning combination in my book.

Khao Lak, Thailand

Photo: Chritiques at X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani Resort

Learn more about X2 Khao Lak Anda Mani, as well as other X2 properties, by visiting its website.

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received a complimentary stay to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Soccer, Pub97

Get Your Game On at Heineken Pub97

Welcome to soccer paradise. Heineken Pub97 is a full service restaurant and bar designed by soccer lovers, for soccer lovers. Located inside the 12,500 square foot clubhouse at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, which is owned by the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Pub97 offers something for everyone – food, drinks, games, game-day shuttles to the Chicago Fire games in Bridgeview, and a front row seat to the action taking place on the state-of-the-art soccer fields just feet away.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Chritiques at Heineken Pub97

Pub97 offers more than your average bar food; tortilla and potato chips are made in-house, and the quality ingredients, including all-natural chicken, stand out. A full bar offering beer, wine and specialty cocktails is available, as well. I recommend the house-made margarita, with a spicy and smoky salted rim.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Heineken Pub97

Twelve 4k flat screen TVs adorn the walls, and during the warmer months, an outdoor patio, complete with its own televisions for convenient soccer viewing, sits next to the Chicago River and 125,000 square foot, year round sports facility and soccer fields, which are open air from April through November, and within an inflatable dome between December and April.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Chritiques at Heineken Pub97

Work off those wings by playing ping pong or bags outside, or foosball, Jenga, and other bar games, as well as FIFA16 on Xbox, inside the pub. Step it up a notch by joining one of the many rec leagues that play at the adjacent fields.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Chritiques at Heineken Pub97

Pub97 is open for dinner, Monday through Friday, for lunch on Friday, and for brunch, lunch and dinner on the weekend. Sunday movie nights occur every week, with $2 specialty popcorn, and during English Premier League games, a full serving of English breakfast is offered.

Soccer, Pub97

Photo: Heineken Pub97

Heineken Pub97

3626 North Talman Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Tastefully,

Christina

Event, Chicago Magazine

A Toast to Chicago’s Best

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

Chicago magazine hosted its annual event on August 11, 2016, toasting some of Chicago’s best. Best of Chicago 2016 honored the city’s top culinary, cultural, and business talent selected by Chicago magazine’s editors and readers.

Event, Best of Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Hundreds gathered inside Morgan Manufacturing for small bites provided by Monteverde, Dos Urban Cantina, Swift & Sons, Stan’s Donuts, and more, and specialty cocktails by the city’s best mixologists and wines from Chloe Wine Collection.

Event, Best of Chicago

Photo: Chicago Magazine

Mario Tricoci was on hand offering manicures, makeup touch-ups and massages, and Kia was showing off some new rides.

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

The evening’s charitable partner, SOS Children’s Villages, which builds Villages that unite brothers and sisters in foster care, surround them with a community of hope, and help them grow into caring and productive adults, spread its mission to the attendees, as well.

Event, Chicago Magazine

Photo: Chritiques at Best of Chicago Event

DJ Lani Love, voted Best DJ in the Readers’ Choices awards in 2015, ramped up the revelry and capped off the evening by getting everybody dancing and celebrating some of Chicago’s best. Overall, it was a wonderful evening of sampling bites and drinks from some of the city’s top restaurants, bars and mixologists, being pampered, and celebrating Chicago in one spot.

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received complimentary passes to this event, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Chicago, Private Club

University Club of Chicago

The University Club of Chicago, one of the nation’s finest private clubs which was founded more than a century ago, exists to broaden opportunities in the business world, and to nurture and sustain social successes. Established in 1887, the Club was founded for the purpose of fostering an appreciation of literature and the arts. College or university graduation remains the basic requirement for membership, and within the membership nearly every business and profession is represented. In addition to professional and social opportunities, the Club also offers unparalleled food and beverage offerings, a bevy of cultural programs, and well-appointed accommodations for members and guests.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

I recently visited the Club in order to tour the facilities and learn more about its dining program. James Beard nominee Mark Baker has served as Executive Chef of the Club since 2002, after nearly 23 years with the Four Seasons Hotel Group. During his time at the Club, Baker has brought his sensible, distinct style of cooking to each area, blending the history and tradition that make it such a unique place. And, the food at the Club is one of the reasons why I selected it to be my wedding venue in 2012!

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: Chritiques at The University Club of Chicago

The Club offers various dining options, depending on the time of day and year. During my visit, I dined on the patio of the Gallery, which is open from May through September, and boasts one of the finest views of Millennium Park and Chicago’s lakefront. The Gallery is open for lunch, dinner and cocktails, and focuses on local produce, seasonal ingredients, and a tapas-inspired menu of shareable plates.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: Chritiques at The University Club of Chicago

During colder months, Cathedral Hall is available for fine dining during dinner hours; College Hall offers self-service lunch dining; and the Front Grill offers a full service grill menu seven days a week, for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. And, rumor has it that the Club is currently building out an 8th floor rooftop deck that is slated to open late summer, 2017, and will be available to members only for food and drinks.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

Built in 1908, the Club recently underwent a full renovation of its guest rooms, featuring Restoration Hardware bedding and Molton Brown bath amenities. Additionally, the Club offers a wide range of special events and activities, as well as several special interest groups, which foster both business and personal relationships with other members.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

The Club is also well-known for its squash program, and courts, leagues and lessons are all available, in addition to a full service Pro Shop. Additionally, a strength training center, cardio center, golf center and aquatics center are all available in the Club.

Chicago, Private Club

Photo: The University Club of Chicago

For those interested in membership at the University Club of Chicago, initiation fees are currently being waived. To learn more about membership, please email membership@ucco.com or call (312) 696-2226.

University Club of Chicago

76 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603

Tastefully,

Christina

While I received a complimentary meal in order to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Chicago Loop

Revival Food Hall

Forget what you think when you hear the phrase “food hall.” A sleek, modern version will be arriving in Chicago’s Loop any day now, and it is unlike any other. Operated by Chicago hospitality collective 16″ On Center (Moneygun, Dusek’s, Longman & Eagle, among others), Revival Food Hall is an all-local dining concept spotlighting the best of Chicago’s acclaimed culinary scene all in one spot.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Nick Fochtman, Eater Chicago

The massive, 24,000 square foot venue is located in the heart of The Loop and on the ground floor of the fully restored 1907 Daniel Burnham designed building, The National. Featured are 15 of Chicago’s favorite neighborhood restaurants in a grab-and-go setting, plus a handful of all-new, quick-serve concepts from several acclaimed Chicago chefs. Some vendors offer wine, beer and cocktails, with Revival Bar serving draft cocktails, as well.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Chritiques at Revival Food Hall

The space is modern and bright, with a high-energy atmosphere that promotes people to get in and get out, rather than linger over a long meal. Counter seating is available at some of the kiosks, with communal seating spread throughout the space, as well.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Nick Fochtman, Eater Chicago

Breakfast-time favorites will include a stop at Graze Kitchenette for the Avocado Matcha bowl, with mango, coconut, goji berry, lime and granola, Harvest Juicery for Green Juice #3, and at the Revival Café for La Colombe’s Draft Latte. You have not had a latte until you have had a La Colombe Draft Latte.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Chritiques at Revival Food Hall

Popular lunch spots will be Smoque BBQ for some of the best ribs and brisket in the city, The Budlong for Nashville Hot Chicken, Antique Taco for its Crispy Fish Tacos and House Rosemary Margarita, the food truck favorite The Fat Shallot for Grilled Cheese and Truffle Fries, Aloha Pokê Co. for pokê bowls that all the kids are going crazy for, and, especially in the winter or when fighting a lingering cold, Furious Spoon for the Citrus Chicken Shio Ramen that will have you sweating from the first slurp.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Chritiques at Revival Food Hall

And how can you forget dessert? Three words: Black Dog Gelato. With a rotating menu of seven options, made fresh in-house daily, cones, cups, and both Root Beer and Turkish Floats will be available. Chicago pastry queen Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is also in the house, serving up her acclaimed cookies, hot chocolate, and other sweets.

Chicago Loop

Photo: Black Dog Gelato

Finally, for happy hour, Revival’s bar will be serving beer, wine and cocktails, and Danke, from the team behind the popular Logan Square restaurant Table, Donkey & Stick, will serve customizable charcuterie and cheese plates designed to pair with a curated list of unique and affordable wines and craft beers.

Hungry Loop workers, rejoice!

Revival Food Hall

125 South Clark Street, Chicago

Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tastefully,

Christina