A friend's email prompted us to partake in a spontaneous date night. Why do married couples almost automatically say no when asked to go out? The wife and I are generally no different, but on this day, I was set on changing things. We secured a babysitter, got gussied up, and headed to the Rainbow Lodge for drinks. Six friends knocked back beverages, split a few appetizers, and listened to a one-man keyboard band play such tunes as the Charlie Brown theme song.
The pulled pork sliders and cheese plate were spot-on, with absolutely no complaints from the group. The mixed drinks were weak and packed with ice. But the presence of good people in a beautiful, lodge-like setting brought the level of cocktails up a notch.
The wife and I kept the party rolling and headed to Haven (it was Friday night and I had made reservations). Drinks at Rainbow and dinner at Haven is not how we usually roll, but it had been way too long since our last date night. Plus, I was dying to try Haven. Plus, I had just watched Date Night. By the way, that movie sucked.
We pulled up to Haven around 8:30 and valeted the car for a second time in a three-hour span. It doesn't take long for you to feel special at Haven. The hostess did a nice job of making us feel like the most important people in the joint, and the waiter definitely carried that fine service over to the meal.
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We ordered the pig trotter fritters for an appetizer. The tender pulled-pork balls were fried to perfection. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how non-greasy they were. I was told the shrimp corndogs were the way to go, but I'd have absolutely no problem getting the trotters again.
Next, I ordered the Gulf fish (grouper). The moist fish was mild in flavor, but cooked so well, and the sweet jumbo lump crab meat and tomato sauce were phenomenal.
My wife tried three side dishes -- the cheese grits, stewed okra, and collard greens. At $5 each, the sides proved to be a good value, especially given the large portion size. All were exactly where they needed to be. The grits were creamy and cheesy, the stewed okra was sweet with a kick, and the collard greens had the bitterness you look for in such a leaf.
Date night was a success, but not without a price. Make no mistake, for most (like us), Haven and Rainbow Lodge are special-occasion places.