Sunday, June 24, 2018

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill Restaurant Review - Raleigh, NC

4350 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue
Suite 118
Raleigh, NC  27609
(919) 788-8778

Exterior View

Interior Decor

Complimentary Bread

Aged Ribeye - $23.99

Chile Ribbed Delmonico - $24.95

This is a review of a steakhouse called Firebirds Wood Fired Grill located  Raleigh, North Carolina. It's located in the lovely North Hills Shopping Center only a couple of miles from I-440, take the Six Forks Road South exit 8A. They are open from 11 am until 10 pm except on Friday and Saturday when they close an hour later at 11 pm. Parking can be hard to find near the shops and restaurants, so I recommend parking over by JcPenny and then walking. Turn left off Lassiter Mill Road when you see JcPenny and left again, that's where we park. If you can't walk, there is plenty of handicapped parking closer and there is valet parking. From the JcPenny parking lot, walk towards the shops and turn right at the Spring Rolls restaurant and you'll find Firebirds at the end on the left. Check out the map for more information, look for space 140. Their health score is currently 96.5 which is good. We visited on a Saturday around 1 pm. Upon entry we were immediately greeted by a friendly, young lady and escorted to our requested booth. The restaurant was quite busy, but there was no wait. It's a very large restaurant, so there is a lot of seating. It features a large square open concept room with a few divider walls. The kitchen is visible at the rear. There's a delightful wood scent coming from their wood fired grill. 

Shortly after arriving at our booth we were greeted by a friendly, young man named Joe, who took our drink orders. He returned very quickly with our beverages and then took our entree orders. I ordered the Aged Ribeye which is described as a "traditional ribeye". Hubby ordered the Chile Ribbed Delmonico which is described as "a tender southwestern accented favorite". Both steaks were 12 ounces. The steaks are aged for twenty-one days and hand cut daily. According to the menu, they come with one side and the choices are a loaded baked potato, parmesan mashed potatoes or seasoned steak fries. Our waiter said we could also chose from tater tots, spiced pecan green beans, cider slaw, southwest au gratin potatoes, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit or port mushrooms. I chose a loaded baked potato and Hubby chose the spiced pecan green beans. He also mentioned that a small salad is $1 extra. I asked for some bread since I read a review that sometimes they don't serve it and I was starving. A couple minutes later he brought the warm bread and butter. It's a bit hard on the outside and I needed more butter. It's ok for when you're hungry, but nothing special. It would be nice if they had served it with a butter knife rather than a sharp steak knife. Next time I'll order a salad and skip the bread. Only thirteen minutes later our steaks arrived. They arrived hot, but not so hot that you couldn't immediately start eating it. My baked potato was warm not hot. We both ordered our steaks medium rare and they were a bit more rare than that. We both loved our steaks, they were tender and scrumptious. My ribeye tasted just like the barbecued ribeye steaks Hubby has made in the past. The Delmonico steak has quite a bit of Chile spice on it. It was a bit too spicy for me, but it was nice to sample a bite of Hubby's. Hubby loved his green beans, but they were a bit sugary, so I don't recommend them for those on a low carb diet. My baked potato was pretty good, but I would have preferred the addition of butter and a bit more sour cream. The bacon bits were chewy instead of crisp and the cheese had not melted since it wasn't hot enough. Next time I'll ask for it without the bacon. Hubby asked for more sour cream and the waiter brought it to the table very quickly. It was a very filling meal for both of us, so either come really hungry or take some home. Since it was a celebration meal for us, we didn't mind paying $24-25 each for our steaks. Note that the Aged Sirloin is $4.00 more at dinnertime yet the Delmonico is the same price. There are many items on the menu that are less expensive, for instance a cheeseburger is only $11.50. They also offer a seasonal menu

It was a very enjoyable and delicious meal and we had a lovely experience. The decor is attractive and the booth is very comfortable. Joe was a fabulous waiter who was very attentive, happy to answer questions and swift to fulfill our requests. The other wait staff appeared to also be attentive and it's clear the management is doing an excellent job of running a tight ship. I especially appreciate that they are open for lunch since so many steakhouses don't open until 5 pm. I highly recommend this location, but be aware that not all Firebirds locations have the same level of service. For example, we didn't care for the location in Winston Salem and never returned.

Be sure to check out my other restaurant reviews before you go. There are over one hundred of them listed on my Pinterest Restaurant Reviews Board. Please do me a favor and share this restaurant review blog post with your friends via Twitter & Facebook. Sharing would be most appreciated:

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Firebirds Wood Fired Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Vivace Restaurant Review - Raleigh, NC

4209 Lassiter Mill Road
Suite 115
Raleigh, NC  27609
(919) 787-7747

Exterior View

Interior Decor

Complimentary Bread Basket

Pappardelle - $14.00

House Salad with Salmon Added - $8.00 + $6.00 = $14.00

This is a review of a Italian restaurant located in the North Hills area of Raleigh, North Carolina. They are open from 11 am until 10 pm Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday they stay open one hour later and on Sunday they close one hour earlier at 9 pm. Their current health score is 95.5 which is good. We arrived around 2:30 pm on a Sunday. We were immediately greeted by a not so friendly, young hostess and seated at a table for two. No smile was displayed and she simply placed the menus on the table and walked away without a word. It's customary to wait until the customers are seated and hand them the menus or at the very least say something like "enjoy your meal". This wasn't a good first impression. I also thought while her outfit was cute that she was underdressed. I don't think a very short denim skirt is appropriate for a hostess. There were only three tables with customers other than ours, so this is a good time to visit if you don't like crowds and noise.

We were given what looked like perhaps the lunch menu which doesn't match any of the menus on their website. According to their Facebook page they were serving brunch until 3 pm, but we did not receive a brunch menu. I ordered a Diet Pepsi which took twelve long minutes to arrive, 2nd bad impression. The waiter took my drink order and left only to return to take our entree orders without the drink. He didn't smile either, 3rd bad impression. The young guy who was bussing tables appeared to be upset and had a bad attitude that made us uncomfortable. He was standing near our table with his arms crossed and shaking his head which makes for the 4th bad impression. It appeared he was having some relationship issues with the young hostess due to the look they were giving each other. It's a shame they couldn't be professional and leave their issues at the door. The vibe of the restaurant was unpleasant and uncomfortable. It appeared the entire staff except the bartender were in a bad mood. While the young guy was bussing tables he was eating bread, 5th bad impression. Again another very unprofessional move on his part. He was also walking around with a piece of bread in his hand which I found to be very unappetizing. Odds are he pulled off a piece of bread with dirty hands from bussing tables while in the kitchen. There was no sign of any management the entire time we were there. The white bread arrived with my drink twelve minutes after we ordered and it was cold. I was shocked it wasn't served warm.  Even Olive Garden offers freshly baked, warm garlic bread. It came with some type of bean butter which had a weird taste and texture. I asked for regular butter. The crust of the bread was hard and the bread had little flavor. They don't make the bread fresh nor serve it warm, 6th bad impression, especially disappointing for an upscale restaurant. Not to mention, I expected garlic bread or knots or olive oil dipping since it's an Italian restaurant. Our entrees arrived six minutes after the bread was delivered. I ordered the Pappardelle which is described as "Bolognese and goat cheese crema". The pasta had the perfect texture and the meat sauce wasn't tart instead it was delicious. It had a wonderful flavor and it was served nice and hot. I would have liked some more goat cheese, that's my only complaint. This dish is crave-worthy and if I lived nearby, I would order it for carry out. Hubby ordered the House Salad with the addition of a piece of salmon. It's described as spring greens, roma tomatoes, red onion, pistachios, ricotta salata and white balsamic vinaigrette". He said the salmon was perfectly cooked and it was very tasty. He also enjoyed the salad minus the tomatoes since he's on a low carb diet. He said the dressing was delicious and very little of it is needed since it's packed with flavor. When we left no one said goodbye or come back soon, 7th bad impression.

The food was excellent, sadly the service was poor which is a deal breaker for us. We wont be returning even though I'd love to have the Pappardelle again. We didn't feel that our business was appreciated, so we will be taking our dining dollars elsewhere. What's your favorite restaurant in Raleigh?

Be sure to check out my other restaurant reviews before you go. There are over one hundred of them listed on my Pinterest Restaurant Reviews Board. Please do me a favor and share this restaurant review blog post with your friends via Twitter & Facebook. Sharing would be most appreciated:

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Vivace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 22, 2018

Play! by Sephora Subscription Box Review - June 2018

Summer Nights - June 2018

This is a review of a monthly cosmetic subscription box called Play! by Sephora. It costs only $10 per month including shipping. The retail value for this month's box is $35.73. For June I received the following products:
  1. Too Faced - Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick in Queen B, made in the USA, .1 fl. oz., $5.25 retail value
  2. Alterna Haircare - Caviar Anit-Aginig Miracle Multiplying Volume Mist, 1.4 fl. oz., $8.75 retail value
  3. Milk Makeup - Kush Mascara in Boom Black, made in Italy, .10 fl. oz., $7.05 retail value
  4. Prada - Candy Sugar Pop eau de perfum spray, made in Spain, .05 fl. oz., $2.70 retail value
  5. Clinique - Take the Day Off Makeup Remover for lids, lashes & lips, made in the USA, 1 fl. oz., $4.52 retail value
  6. Belif - The True Cream Aqua Bomb, made in Korea, .33 fl. oz., $7.46 retail value
I'm so happy I finally received a sample of the Too Faced Matte Lipstick, I've been wanting to try it for a long time. Thankfully, they picked a pretty color, some of them are a bit wild. It's powdery rose pink color that is very pretty and understated. It's really easy to apply with a decent applicator tip, it's not drying and it's quite long lasting. I really like it a lot! I've received the Alterna Haircare Volume Mist before and I wasn't impressed. It's just ok, nothing special for my long, fine, straight hair. Maybe it works better with a different type of hair. I haven't received a Milk Makeup sample before, so I'm anxious to give this mascara a try this weekend. I'm also happy to receive a Prada perfume sample and this one is yummy. Strangely, mine wasn't full to the top like perfume samples are normally. I really love this scent, it's going on my favorite list. It's a floral scent with top notes of bergamot, green citrus and red apple. Middle notes are caramel, peach and floral and the base note is vanilla. I first smell a powdery floral followed by vanilla, caramel, apple and lastly bergamot. If you enjoy food and floral scents, you will probably approve of this one. I'm not a fan of really thin liquid facial cleansers that you need a cotton ball to apply. This Clinique one says to use only on the lids, lashes and lips which is odd. I don't want to have to pull out a 2nd cleanser to clean the rest of my face!  I'm willing to give it a try on stubborn mascara. I've tried the Belif moisturizer before and I liked it. This one is like a gel serum in consistency and it sinks in quickly which I prefer. It also has a cooling effect which is appreciated in this hot summer weather. 

I'm very happy with the June box even though the retail value is on the lower end compared to previous boxes. My favorite item is the lipstick and my least favorite is the makeup remover. Which item was your favorite this month? If you're not a subscriber, please take a moment below to tell me why or which cosmetic subscription box is your favorite.

Bargain Alert:

Mr. Rebates - 4% cash back for online Sephora purchases! 

Check out my Play! by Sephora Pinterest Board to see what I have received in my previous twenty-five boxes. Also, check out my Subscription Box Pinterest Board to see what other boxes I've subscribed to over the years. Don't forget to follow this blog via Facebook, so you don't miss any of my future posts.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Kanki Japanese House of Steaks & Sushi Restaurant Review - Durham, NC

3504 Mt. Moriah Road
Durham, NC  27707
(919) 401-6908

Exterior View

Interior View

Fire Show


Lunch Hibachi Steak - $13.95

This is a review for a hibachi Japanese restaurant called Kanki located in Durham, North Carolina. They have two other locations in Raleigh. Take exit 270 off I-40 West, turn right on to US-501 and then turn right at the first traffic light and you'll find it on your right. They are open Monday through Friday from 11:30 am until 2 pm, reopen at 4:30 pm and close at 9:30 pm except on Friday when they close an hour later. Sunday they are open from noon until 9:30 pm and Saturday they are close an hour later. Reservations are recommended during the lunch and dinner rush. We arrived around 2 pm on a Saturday, so it wasn't very busy at all. We were immediately seated at an empty hibachi table. 

We had to wait quite awhile for the waiter to arrive so we could order our drinks and we waited even longer for our chef to show up. There were only two other people at our table. Our soup didn't arrived until twenty minutes after we arrived. It was another twenty minutes before we had rice, zucchini and onions on our plates and a few more minutes more for the mushrooms & steak. The visit took about an hour. The soup was barely warm which was a disappointing start. It had fried onions, uncooked mushroom slices and green onion in chicken broth. It was tasty, but I prefer miso soup. You have the option of salad instead. The rice was a bit overcooked and included two eggs, the zucchini was a bit undercooked and the mushrooms would have tasted better if they had marinated them in butter which some hibachi chefs do. Hubby had the Steak & Shrimp and his shrimp were a bit overcooked, but they had a nice lemon flavor. The steak was cooked as I had requested, medium rare, but it wasn't of the highest of quality. It was tasty and mostly tender though and I guess the best one can expect for only $13.95. The dinner price is $22.95 for steak. They also offer shrimp, chicken, filet mignon and salmon. The chicken is also tasty, but it's the last to be plated since it takes the longest to cook, that's the reason the majority of the time I chose the steak instead. The chef wasn't that entertaining. He did a show with his spatula and fork at the beginning, lite the grill on fire in the middle and at the end did a show with his pepper and salt mills. I have seen much better shows at the Raleigh location. They use to offer an appetizer of two shrimp per person included in the price, but it's not offered anymore at least at lunch. Perhaps at dinnertime they offer it. 

We've been to this location many times and occasionally visit the Crabtree location. The location we've visited the most is the one on Old Wake Forest Road. All in all it was an enjoyable experience, just not as great as we have had in the past. It's a fun place to eat especially during lunch since the prices are much lower. It's plenty of food and most people take home leftovers even at lunch. What's your favorite hibachi restaurant in the Triangle?

Be sure to check out my other restaurant reviews before you go. There are over one hundred of them listed on my Pinterest Restaurant Reviews Board. Please do me a favor and share this restaurant review blog post with your friends via Twitter & Facebook:

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Kanki Japanese House of Steaks and Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 15, 2018

GIVEAWAY - Blue Apron Meal Kit Worth up to $70

The winner must be over 18 years old, have never subscribed to Blue Apron, provide me with their name and email address to give to Blue Apron, provide Blue Apron their credit card number in case they want to continue with the service past the first box and live in the US (not in Hawaii & Alaska). Winner will be sent an email from Blue Apron & simply need to click on the link to redeem their free Blue Apron box online. To cancel future shipments: visit their website and go to account info, then chose "manage"  & then "cancel" or to skip future shipments select delivery schedule and chose "skip". Box is shipped via FedEx and arrives at your doorstep on your choice of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. 

The photo above shows an example of one of six servings that Blue Apron provides in each box and one of the three meal kits. Each box contains three recipes with ingredients for two servings each. This giveaway is only for those that have never subscribed to Blue Apron before.  Please do not enter if you don't intend to redeem the free box! Note you will have to give Blue Apron your credit card number to redeem. It's easy to skip and cancel online, if you don't wish to remain a subscriber after your free box. It's a limited time offer, so you'll need to redeem in a timely manner. I have reviewed twenty-four Blue Apron deliveries, so be sure to check those out before you leave. Start with my 26th delivery. Then check out my Blue Apron Pinterest Board, click on the photo of the recipe that you fancy to see the matching blog post.  Also, check out my Home Chef reviews starting with my 59th delivery. In addition, check out my Hello Fresh reviews starting with my 18th delivery and my Sun Basket reviews starting with 27th delivery.

Bargain Alert: 

Hello Fresh - $40 off
Home Chef - $30 Off
Sun Basket - $35 Off

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Macy's Beauty Box Review - June 2018

Macy's June Beauty Subscription Box

This is a review of a monthly cosmetic subscription box from Macy's for $15 per month including shipping. The approximate retail value for the June box is $44.43 not including the $5 coupon and the cosmetic bag. For June, I received the following products:
  1. Sunday Riley - C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, made in the USA, .17 oz., $14.45 retail value
  2. Marc Jacobs - Daisy Love Eau de Toilette Spray, made in France, .04 fl. oz., $1.97 retail value
  3. Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask, made in China, 1 oz., $9.81 retail value
  4. Coola - Sport Classic Sunscreen Fresh Mango Moisturizer SPF 50, made in the USA, .34 oz., $ 2.17 retail value
  5. Smashbox - Super Fan Mascara, made in Italy, .2 oz. approximate, $11.51 approximate retail value
  6. Vita Liberata - Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish, made in the UK, .34 oz. $4.52 retail value
  7. $5 coupon for beauty products at Macy's
I love Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume, to me it smells similar to Chanel. Their new  Daisy Love scent is different. It's described as a warm floral with notes of crystallized cloudberries, daisy tree petals, cashmere musks and driftwood. It smells nice, but not one of my favorites. I really enjoy Peter Thomas Roth's masks. This one is very cooling, be sure to put it in the refrigerator to chill it even more prior to use. It goes on clear and it's no where near as sticky as most masks. It almost feels like a serum and it sinks into the skin quickly. It only takes a few seconds to dry and it leaves your skin feeling moisturized. Since it has aloe in it, it would be fabulous, if you had sunburn on your face. I'm disappointed and surprised it's made in China. It's also easy to wash off, which I really appreciate. I'm not a fan of Coola sunscreens. I prefer to use Bare Minerals powder foundation with SPF since my skin is so sensitive. I haven't tried the new Smashbox Super Fan Mascara yet since I have others waiting in line. I wish the cosmetic subscription boxes would slow down on the liners and mascaras and bring us some blushes and eye shadows instead. Vita Liberata is too dark for my very fair skin, I'll have to gift, sell or trade it. I love serums, since they are so easy to apply quickly. The Sunday Riley one is not clear like most serums, it's white. I don't like how it leaves a bit of stickiness, but it's very moisturizing. Perhaps, it's better for before bed rather than prior to makeup application. Wow, it's expensive coming in at $85 for only 1 ounce! 

This month isn't very exciting to me, I'll only be using four of the six samples. The cosmetic bag is nice and sturdy and waterproof, but I'm not crazy about the phrase "Friyay". It's better than their competition, Sephora, though. Did you get a box from them this month? If so, please comment below your thoughts on what they sent us. If you don't subscribe, why?

Check out my reviews of the previous Macy's Beauty Boxes:

May 2018 $43.95 retail value
April 2018 $43.24 retail value
December 2017 $63.14 retail value
November 2017 $38.21 retail value
October 2017 $55.97 retail value
September 2017 $31.84 retail value
August 2017 $35.36 retail value

Also, check out my Play! by Sephora Pinterest Board to compare it to Macy's Beauty Box and check out my Macy's Beauty Box Pinterest Board. In addition, check out my Subscription Box Pinterest Board to see what other boxes I've subscribed to over the years. 

Bargain Alert:

Mr. Rebates Cash Back from Macy's

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

18th Hello Fresh Meal Kit Review & $40 Coupon

Sausage Pasta Dinner & Shallot Zucchini Risotto Lunch


Lobster Ravioli & Shrimp with Tomatoes & Tarragon Cream Sauce


Mushroom Gravy Chicken over Couscous with Lemony Arugula


This is a review of our 18th delivery from a weekly food subscription box called Hello Fresh. This week we gave all three recipe four out of five stars. Calories ranged from 560 to 840 and preparation time ranged from five minutes to forty-five minutes. Actual preparation time ranged from five minutes to fifty-five minutes. This one costs $9.99 per serving for two people and shipping is free. You can chose 2, 3 or 4 recipes per week. The family plan is $8.74 per serving and you can chose two or three recipes per week for four people.

Sausage Pasta Dinner & Shallot Zucchini Risotto Lunch

We both gave this recipe four out of five stars. It was really delicious and I appreciated that they sent us Italian pasta and high quality sausage. This recipe is a new concept for them and they offer one of them each week. They offer two meals from one recipe and it costs only $7 for the second set of two servings! You cook everything for both meals at one time, so that it only takes five minutes to make the 2nd recipe for lunch the next day. You have the option of not cooking the ingredients that aren't shared in the lunch recipe until lunchtime. I'm not showing a picture for the 2nd recipe because we decided to have it for dinner instead and go low carb by skipping the rice. It looked just like the above photo, but without the pasta. It was plenty of food even without the rice. Pasta is in the dinner dish and rice is in the lunch dish. Most of the ingredients are the same with a few changes to make it a bit different. The sweet Italian chicken sausage was scrumptious! Hubby complained that it was chicken sausage, but changed his tune when he tasted how delicious it was. The fresh tarragon and parmesan cheese were lovely additions. The dinner recipe took fifty-five minutes to prepare and the recipe card states forty-five minutes. The dinner was a very generous portion with pasta leftovers. The lunch recipe had just as much sausage, they sent us eight links total. The 2nd package wouldn't fit on the cutting board for the photo, so it's not shown in the photo above. The risotto lunch has 800 calories and the pasta dinner has 840 calories. 

Lobster Ravioli & Shrimp

This is the 2nd time I've purchased this meal kit. Last time was back in September. I gave it five out of five stars when Hubby cooked it and I gave it four stars this time since I cooked it. Hubby is a better cook than I am. I probably didn't use as much butter as he did the first time. It comes in at only 600 calories yet it tastes like many more. Again, the use of fresh tarragon is wonderful. It's a very generous portion with lots of grape tomatoes left over. There were so many, I didn't use them all in the recipe. My preparation time was forty minutes, Hubby took thirty-three minutes and the recipe card states thirty-five minutes.   

Mushroom Gravy Chicken

We gave this recipe four out of five stars. Oh my, the mushroom gravy was scrumptious! I'm not usually a fan of that type of gravy, but purchased it for Hubby who does. I don't like this type of couscous, Israeli, so I ate very little of it. I prefer yellow couscous. With the addition of a salad, the couscous wasn't necessary, it was filling enough. Amazingly, the dressing made simply with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper was very tasty on the arugula. It took fifty minutes to prepare while the recipe card states forty minutes. It was a healthy portion with only 560 calories and leftover couscous. 

Hello Fresh has really stepped up their game lately and has been impressing us. Have you tried Hello Fresh yet? If not, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, so grab the coupon below, chose your recipes and wait for it to arrive at your doorstep. Your first box will only cost $19.94! Check out all the recipes we have made so far on my Hello Fresh Pinterest BoardSo what's your favorite food subscription box or recipe you have tried lately that you love? 

Bargain Alert: 

Hello Fresh - $40 off which makes your first box only $19.94 for 6 servings!
Home Chef - $30 Off which makes your first box only $29.70 for 6 servings!
Sun Basket - $40 Off

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