Lucy's, Barcadia, Tivoli & Lee
So my GF had a couple of meetings to go to down by the conference center and I ended up hanging around the area a bit. A few thoughts:
I went to a 25 or so person event was upstairs at Lucy's. Now I have nothing against Lucy's -- dollar taco nights are okay by me -- but was really surprised how well they pulled off a function. The room upstairs (who knew they had one?) was a nice space: lots of clean light wood and surf memorabilia and the kids serving drinks and food were engagingly hospitable to the mostly out-of-town crowd. The food was a real surprise though: beef tacos, broiled fish, shrimp & grits, and a tex-mex-ish chicken wrap thing were all way better than I'd have expected. I wouldn't hesitate to head back over to get the shrimp & grits specially. Anyhow, a recommended space for someone looking to pull together a smallish reception near the conference center.
The Girl & I had a some nosh and drinks at Tivoli & Lee another night and I left surprised that I don't read more about the place here. The food was solid -- if a little complicated -- we shared a fried pimento cheese topped with a couple of duck eggs (yeah, that didn't suck) and a beet salad with duck tasso. The salad would have benefited from losing some of the extraneous ingredients (particularly the almond brittle: I understand wanting to introduce a texture but that particular note was discordant). The cinnamon doughnut "bread pudding" with coffee ice cream was a nice finish.
The drinks at T&L were (unsurprisingly, knowing who's behind the stick there) excellent. In a world where drinks seem to be too extreme (Four types of bitters! Blood sausage washed vodka!) or tooth numblingly sweet (pretty much all the rest of them[*]), here they were novel but balanced: neither jarringly bitter nor bone dry. On a return visit I might be tempted to stick with old favorites but I'll take comfort that they'll be well made.
Sad that they have a TV at the bar though. It was muted but still -- with nobody watching it and nothing notable on, why not just shut the damn thing off?
[EDIT] Hell -- I forgot my brief stop at Barcadia. I went in to kill a few quality minutes playing Centipede but sort of accidentally ordered up a plate of nachos & queso fundido. While not sublime or anything, they were good, the beer was cold, and the service solid. I've been to far worse arcades...
[*] Perhaps someone can send out a memo reminding places who should know better -- I'm looking squarely at you, Carousel Bar -- that sugar is not the primary ingredient in a Sazarac?