Anvil: Bar and Refuge

Anvil Bar and Refuge opened in 2009 and is still such a hotspot for Houston. Right in the middle of Montrose, there are a million different restaurants and bars in this area and we highly suggest that you give Anvil a try. It’s simply a classic cocktail bar with some originals on the menu as well. Everything we’ve tried there, we’ve loved. The classics are just amazing and you can tell it is deliberately done so. The cocktails they create are all made carefully and exactly how they should be. They didn’t become classic without a reason!

On the menu Anvil has seasonal original cocktails as well as a list of Anvil classics developed at the bar. I’ve already mentioned that they serve a multitude of classic cocktails as well, but to be more specific, there is a list of 100! 100 cocktails!! Anvil believes that every single bartender should know these classic drinks and theirs sure do. We absolutely love the list because we feel it is always so hard to think of a drink that you want and this menu is extremely helpful for us (and we think it will be for you too– I mean who actually knows the name of or what’s in all these standard cocktails?).  

Our favorite thing about this place is that They. Care. About. You! No matter how crowded it is, as soon as you walk in, they flag YOU down and hand you some menus. This is just unheard of in Houston. We’ve got great southern hospitality when it comes to customer service as a whole, but at the counter if that’s where you order. Typically, you have to head up and scavenge for a menu and then be met with a friendly, but rushed, face at the bar. That is not how things work here at Anvil. After you are handed your menus, you can head to wearever to digest it and figure out what your first drink is and then head up to the bar, unrushed, and order. The vibe inside is really classic with a twist. It feels like an old fashioned cocktail bar, but very industrial. Somehow it still has a feeling that is warm and welcoming at the same time as this industrial backbone.

They’ve got a selection of bar snacks, cheese, and charcuterie on the menu too. Although we would LOVE to get the cheese board, usually we just head to Anvil for some drinks with friends. As much as it pains us to say it– we haven’t tried their cheese board yet. We’ll be back though and you’ll get an update.  🙂 Our fave cocktails are: the Golden Gate Swizzle, the Martinez, and the Lion’s Tail. Every cocktail is so perfectly balanced here, so we know you won’t go wrong.

They do have a Happy Hour, but boy it is short. From 4-5 Monday through Friday they have ½ priced drinks off the 100 list. Maybe we will catch you there sometime!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Central Market

Spring is here and there is no better way to celebrate than with fresh veggies, flowers, and of course cheese boards on the patio. This week we are taking you to another one of our favorite stores, Central Market, to shop for the perfect cheese board to have your friends over for some weekend patio sitting. There is only one Central Market in Houston but the location is great for all neighborhoods and close to some of our favorite shops – so double the fun when we venture to this store.

Before we get into the details of the cheese board, we want to tell you some of our favorite things about Central Market in general. First, this store is one of those grocery stores that is more than just a grocery store, it is somewhere you go for the experience of walking through their well defined maze and seeing what yummy surprises end up in your basket. We love stocking up on fruits and veggies because they always look so beautiful and so fresh! This time we were on a mission, so we only grabbed some strawberries for the cheese board. More than the produce department, all of the departments at Central Market are filled with all kinds of delicious goodies. The pre-made meals are perfect for those grab and go nights. But our favorite part of the Houston Central Market is the “California Connection” sandwich. It is truly the best sandwich we have ever eaten. If you haven’t tried this sandwich, you must go order it. Our favorite lunch consists of turkey, cheese, pesto, caramelized onions, and avocado – sooo good! Another great thing about Central Market is their cooking classes. We went on a double date with some friends to one of the classes and had the best time. We were able to make foods that we weren’t totally comfortable with making on our own, like mussels – who makes that on the reg?! Not us! Grab some friends and take one of their classes – such a fun night and even better because you get to make AMAZING food and eat it that night!

The cheese department is UNBELIEVABLE. We love cheese a whole lot, but we definitely aren’t experts. What we are for sure of is that you can find any cheese you want here. To help us in our shopping, we consulted our friends at “That Cheese Plate” to give us a list of the specific cheese to look for to make the perfect board. On our list was Brie, Mahon (a new one for us to try), Pecorino and Boursin. We were so excited to pair some of our favorite staples with new cheeses. We love trying new things because you never know what you will stumble upon.

After the cheese, we of course needed the other goodies for the board. We got some Prosciutto, Peach jam, crackers, dried apricots and mixed nuts. Another bonus about Central Market is the bulk section. They have just about every combination of snack mix or nuts you could imagine. Right now they also have sooo much Easter themed candy! It took everything in us to resist the candy. The last thing to finish of our trip was a stroll through the wine department. They have so many wines at all different price points, so it is really great for any budget. We picked a new Malbec that was so delicious! There were so many options that it was kind of overwhelming, but we found that if we go with our normal budget and a grape we know we like, we aren’t usually disappointed.

So now for the fun part, putting the board together. If you don’t follow “That Cheese Plate” or “Cheese By Numbers” on Instagram, they are a must follow. They help you create the most beautiful boards by giving you all the ingredients you need and then showing step by step pictures of the board as you build it. We took our inspiration for the board this week from them, and then made a few tweaks to include our favorite things. We will definitely be using this account for more inspiration in the future because this one turned out AMAZING!

Let us know what your favorite things are about Central Market or what other stores we should try!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Julia’s Fave Things

Hi there pals, it’s Julia. This week was my birthday, so I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things with you. For an easy skim of my list, run through and look for the bolded words.

Wine and Cheese and snacks

Obviously. Love wine and cheese. I’m trying to learn more about both, so I’m always trying new things. I think a big part about learning in general is stepping outside of your comfort zone and just tasting. Not to say that I don’t have my favorites! I just try and mix it up. When I just want something that I know I’ll like I go for the Trader Joe’s Cheddar Gruyere Cheese and some sort of goat cheese. Those are my all time faves. I also love Manchego and am a big fan of a little funk when trying new cheeses. As for wine, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Malbec is my go-to. Its full-bodied and I just always typically like it. I don’t really have a go-to bottle, I’ll just scan bottles that I want to try at the store on Vivino. I do this every time I buy wine and I don’t care that I’m the crazy person taking pictures of labels. I just read some reviews and check the rating and average price and wah-lah! I’ve got my pick. Some other wines I love (if you’re looking for something new to try) are Cabernet Sauvignon (Have you heard of it? lol), Super Tuscans, and Tempranillo. Snacks. KETTLE CORNNNNN. It’s a weakness of mine for sure. Some fun snackage I love to add to cheese boards to add to the grazing are Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Snack mix- like the Sweet Cajun Heat mix at HEB— Yum!

Houston

We have tried A TON of happy hours in Houston. My favorite happy hour to date is Heights Bier Garten. They never ever disappoint. Their happy hour is unbeatable with their half price craft cocktails that are delicious. The atmosphere is great and in my opinion, it is also the best patio bar in Houston. There are a million but this place takes the W for me. Favorite wine bar is 13 Celsius. In our previous blog featuring 13 Celsius, we talked about how it has the most wonderful European vibe and it really is true. It has the best atmosphere and honestly the best and knowledgeable staff. They are so helpful with talking through which glass to try. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite restaurant but two of my top and the dishes that I order at each could not be more different. I love Nidda Thai ( don’t @ me about how it’s not the best without a rec 😉 lol but really) and I usually order the Yellow Curry and the Steamed Dumplings. So good! I also always have the best leftovers for the next day! The other place that I always love is Adair Kitchen and there I order the Superfoods Bowl.

My fave other Stuff- Places and Things

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to travel- especially with the love of my life (I said I love cheese), Trevor. Traveling is a new love of mine because I really never did before we got married, but I have a feeling that my travel bug is sticking around. Italy has been my favorite (and I also think that it will stick around awhile too). It won me over with the views, the people, the food, the wine, the history, the art, the lifestyle, the everything. In Texas, one place that will always have my heart is the Texas Hill Country, specifically Fredericksburg. It’s always so lovely and if you haven’t been, you should. The wineries are great and there is plenty cute factor with the shops down main street.


  Tuscany (Chianti), Italy

     Camp Mystic- Hunt, Texas

     

Some things that make me smile: candles (I’m a sucker for Capri Blue Volcano, but who isn’t), plants and flowers, board games, Aquaphor, HomeGoods, and Texas A&M football.

Welp. That’s a wrap! Those were a few of my favorite things. Stick around for Lauren’s later in April 🙂

Peace & Pinot,

One of the Pals

Brunchin’ at home

Everybody is all about brunch these days and we are here for it. There’s something about brunch that just brings thoughts of sunshine and smiles. There is nothing better than a big group of friends just eating and drinking and catching up together for hours. Brunch always has such comforting options, which is why we just love to linger and chat with pals until we’re able to move again. That is why we think that sometimes eating brunch out at a restaurant in a large group can be difficult. We completely understand this is the unpopular opinion. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE a good morning out at a swanky brunch place. You can for sure catch us at The Dunlavy or Tiny’s No. 5 every once in a while and we are always on the lookout for new places to try.

Last weekend was the perfect example of when to all meet up at a friend’s house for a good ole fashioned potluck brunch. (If you want to make everything and just host a brunch at your house— totally go for it, you’re a rockstar) There was a significant amount of us with some friends in town. We were all headed to the rodeo following our meal and wanted some good quality time with our friends we don’t get to see often before making our way to NRG. It’s always so hard catching up over a meal with a big group. You can really only talk to the 4 or so people around you and a lot of who you get to talk to just ends up being who you sit next to at the table. Also, depending on the noise level of the restaurant, it could be just the person next to you. It really is fun to go to lively (questionably rowdy) places full of atmosphere, but we just think if you really want to have some good conversation, save it for another time. Alright. So what’s our go-to brunch menu?

Always a breakfast casserole of some sort. We’ve been doing this one a lot lately because it is legit so easy. It also has a few of our favorite things: bread, cheese, and breakfast sausage. Yummm. Breakfast casseroles are a great way to go for things like this because you can make them the night before, pop them in the oven the morning of, and they feed a crowd. We also make them when we go on weekend trips around Texas together. We usually have bacon on the side as well. Sometimes we candy it– brown sugar is amazing, but this time we had a really sweet addition to our lineup, so just plain-jain amazing bacon for us hit the spot. For our sweet tooth, we made cinnamon roll monkey bread or as they are called in my husband’s family, “Pull-aparts.” They were the perfect offset to our savory options. We love them because it’s just like a bunch of centers of cinnamon rolls! No crispy edges. Also featured were some scrumptious Pigs in a Blanket and an assortment of fruit.

What we can’t forget to mention is the last item on the menu Cream Cheese Sausage Croissants. These are not just a staple for our brunch get-togethers, they are a staple for most sports watch parties, sometimes games nights, and anytime one of us is hosting a shower. One of the pals grew up going to the most amazing camp and this is a recipe from the cookbook you get before you go to college. After the very first time it was made for everyone it was a hit. Now we all have the recipe and make it for our families. After all that hype here are the ingredients: Crescent rolls, cream cheese, breakfast sausage, egg wash, and poppy seeds. So easy. So amazing. As a hope that you’ll make these and host your friends we’ve given you the recipe!

It’s brunch… AKA there are probably drinks involved. 🙂 For our drink spread we had: Mimosas (duh) Bloody Mary’s (yumm) and coffee (because we all knew it was going to be a longgg day at the rodeo. The two staples for any brunch are for sure Bloody’s and mimosas. You can get creative and add other things to your spread, but for us it’s always easier to keep it simple and keep people happy. The prosecco we used this time was Savino Prosecco and it was about $10 a bottle. It was delicious. The pals usually only add about an eyedropper of orange juice in our mimosas, so good bubbly is a must. There is no need to go fancier though because in our opinion, you should NOT be adding anything to prime bubbles. For the Bloody Mary’s we use Tito’s, like any good Texan should. As for the mix- we use Zing Zang. Best mix we’ve found! Also, I’m seriously considering starting to be the girl who carries hot sauce in her purse because nothing is better than Cholula on everything and especially in a Bloody Mary– thanks for the tip Auqa from Cheetah Girls!

We can’t wait to hear about your brunch feasts and about all the special memories from spending time around your table with friends. There is truly nothing better than good food, good drinks, and great friends.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Te Amo Tequila!

Thank goodness it’s Thursday! Does anyone else feel like this week has been so long…maybe it’s Daylight Savings Time and losing an hour of precious sleep or maybe it’s the lack of sunshine here in Houston. Fingers crossed there will be some sunshine this weekend because of course we will be back at the Rodeo for the final weekend. Enough about the weather, this week we are taking you to a new spot in Houston that is so bright and colorful inside, you will forget the dreary days outside.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila is tucked inside of the Houston Galleria next to a lot of new fantastic restaurants, so it is perfect for a day filled with shopping and then wrapping up with happy hour. That is what we did as pals, and it couldn’t have been better. The only downside to this new great spot being in the Galleria is the parking, but never fear, there is valet parking right outside the door of the restaurant- but it will cost you a pretty penny.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila is for sure one of our new favorite places for happy hour! The deals are great and the tequila is better!. Here’s the lowdown – Happy Hour is from 3-6pm; food ranges from $4-$8, which is a great deal! Cocktails and beer are both $5 – talk about a great happy hour. The menu says that happy hour is only in the bar area, but we were able to sit at a table and get the good prices. Make sure you ask your waiter to clarify before being seated.

So what do we think you should get?! Absolutely try multiple things because we loved everything we tried. The margaritas were soo good and easy to drink and you can’t go wrong with a classic marg, but better than that was the red wine sangria. It tasted like a juice box which of course can be dangerous, but we could have sipped on that refreshing treat all day long. The food was also delicious and the portions were very generous for being on happy hour. We of course could not decide what to get so we tried quite a few. Everything they have is classic mexican food like queso, guacamole, nachos, and tacos. My favorite item we ordered was the guac. So fresh and the perfect mix of avocado and spice. The queso was also yummy and had guac, sour cream, and pico de gallo to mix in with the cheese. We always love when there is an added bonus to a staple in our diets. The nachos were the size of a small hill and loaded with all sorts of tasty toppings. You really can’t go wrong with any of the drinks or food! We want to go back to try their dinner options because the menu looked INCREDIBLE. If you’ve already been, let us know what we should try next!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals