An Ode to the ‘Secret Hot Girls Club’…

Another random post while I’m riding along with my online grad course. The inspiration for this post came from one night being home alone with no TV to watch so I ended up binge watching some of my all time favorite shows, Sex and the City. (Hey it’s my thing, let it go). Watching some of the episodes reminded me of the past year and it also put me in the mood to get some of my gal pals together, actually dress up and go out for a great meal.

This past year in November I got three other ladies who also work at the same place as I do together for a weekend: we took Friday off then drove up to the cities spent the day shopping at the Premium Outlets in Eagen, then spent the night at the Hyatt Place in Downtown Minneapolis with a night out watching the Drag Shows and dancing at Gay 90s, and spent all day Saturday at the Mall of America before coming back home that night. Six months later we did another shopping trip but just spent all day up there and came back that same night. I have so much fun and hope we keep doing this or if someone can’t come at least have someone else in the mix to keep the magical group number of 4 ladies having fun! I called it our Waldorf Ladies Shopping Group but fellow member Samantha, suggested we call it the Secret Hot Girls Club! (Both of us also like watching That 70s Show and thought that name from one of the episodes was very fitting!)

I’m reminded that over the years, some of my best friends have relocated to outside of our local area and I found that these three other ladies have been through the same thing. But now two of our group members will no longer bu around the area come November if we decide to keep up with our bi annual Hot Girls shopping trip. Like I said all four of us have been separated from great friends but I see that I was lucky to befriend you all as a group for the time we had. You all are great biotches and I still think so even when I have to find replacements for you! Haha i kid! Maybe you all will be able to hang out with ‘old’ friends that you haven’t hung out with in forever or make new ones. At least as an adult I’ve gotten much better at making acquaintances and friends than I did even in college and I’m glad I’m doing this at this point in my life when everyone my age is having babies or has kids already.

If you ladies are reading, let’s get sexied up, have a nice meal and get silly. I have a new dress that is yet to be worn and tall black pumps that are just calling to go out for another night. Having gal pals is a great thing, it’s been awhile since I’ve had one of these nights so let’s do it! If any other ladies reading have that group of girls they love going out with, I hope you have a night out soon as well!

 

The Lodge of Forest City

Anyone who has followed me on social media since March has seen how often I’ve posted or raved about the Lodge Restaurant. The name isn’t a new one as the establishment has been around for nearly 30 years. A residence turned into a hotel and restaurant resort off Highway 69 in Forest City, the name came to represent fine dining and accommodations; where you would go for a fancy sit down meal or recommend someone stay from out of town. In the late 2000s after the economic recession, the Lodge was sold from its original owner Winnebago Industries and it has changed hands several times over the course of 10 years. Whenever you would see the Lodge was for sale or sold in the community paper, you hoped that whoever would take it on would restore it to it’s former glory or at least something that works for our town. New ownership brought with it new restaurant management in November of 2016. When I finally visited the Lodge under new ownership in March of 2017, I can honestly say not only did they bring back the atmosphere of fine dining but the restaurant is better than ever!!

On March 9th, 2017 I achieved a quarter life goal of mine when I made my final student loan payment! I texted my husband to ask if he could have the night off (at the time he still worked on 2nd shift while I work days) and we could celebrate! He only was able to get half of the night off meaning he had to be back in at 7 PM. I really wanted to splurge on very nice meal for the both of us on me and wasn’t sure if I could do that in town when we only had two hours from 5 PM when I got off work to 7 when he had to be back. Both of us remembered The Lodge had reopened and since neither of us had been there since it happened, we decided it would be the perfect spot for the night.

From the moment we walked in until we left, I can’t say enough how much I loved everything about it. The dining room has a gorgeous view of the river and golf course and we were sat by the window. We started with a glass of house red and I ordered the cheese board as an appetizer; three different types of cheese and baguettes, some imported. The cheese addict in me was very satisfied. We were surprised that each dinner came with an ‘amuse’ (sorry if I’m butchering the name/spelling), tonight it was a jalopeno glazed deviled egg. Very tasty! Both Tyler and I ordered the Ribeye De Burgo which came with potatoes and vegetables. The taste and proportions were perfect! You won’t leave here hungry or too full! To conclude the meal, each guest receives a chocolate truffle which the head chef spends hours on so they can reach perfection!

After this meal, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of an excellent experience it was and I was so upset that I didn’t take any pictures! I noticed a new lounge area was built upstairs and used this as my excuse to come back the following week. On Tuesday I would post to Instagram this picture:

The caption read: I’m drinking a martini in an actual martini glass in Forest City! Dreams do come true!! I decided this would be my new favorite place to have a drink when I’m by myself.

Thursday I came back and decided to try some appetizers at the bar:
  
I tried the Escargot as well as the Ricotta board. Way more food for one person but if you want to have fun on a budget, an appetizer is enough food for one person.
That following Saturday night, Tyler and I stopped back for drinks at the bar making it my third visit in a week span. We were able to get to know the Executive Chef Josh Hayes while bonding over our collective love of Cabernet. Chef Josh studied in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu and has been all over the world so it’s always fascinating to talk to him. Tyler and I love to hear his stories and appreciate his modern, forward thinking and what it has done for this establishment and essentially this town.

Lunch and Dinner Menu (has since been updated but more on that later)

The next week Saturday when Tyler suggested the Lodge for dinner and I didn’t put up a fight. Not saying that we fight over were to eat but I know we aren’t the only couple that at times cannot decide where to eat!!

Our amuse were duck wontons and I forgot about the loaf of bread that comes with each meal! My mouth is watering as I write this! We ordered the grilled shrimp as an appetizer and as you can see we scarfed it down before I remembered to take a photo. (Yes they are that good)

On to the main course: I had the ribeye de burgo again so I could get a photo of it. Tyler ordered the lamb chop and said it was sooo very tender.

The next morning I would take my parents for Brunch at the Lodge. Yes they have brunch and I was proud of myself for eating there twice in less than 24 hours!
Brunch menu:

As you can see, this is a wonderful, made fresh brunch meal and not a buffet. What’s even better is their Mimosas and bloody Mary’s!
 My parents and I each had a mimosa.
I wasn’t sure what to try as everything looked amazing! There’s a chicken infused waffle on the menu! My mom and dad both went on the lunch side of things and ordered a BLT:

Since this was brunch, I always tend to lean more to the breakfast type of food. I chose the Eggs Benedict. You can have them traditional with hollandaise or with crab cakes or salmon. I chose with crab cakes.. BEST DECISION!!

After brunch was over, this had officially been my sixth visit to the Lodge from March 7th to March 26th. However before the month was over, I came again and had lunch with a friend. I had the Ceasar salad, which comes with anchovies on top and I decided to add chicken to it.

I can’t tell people enough who haven’t been here yet to TRY IT OUT!!! It may be a little more than what people pay for a nice meal out but it really is worth every penny. I guarantee it will be one of best meals of your life!

Starting in April, Josh has updated the menu to have a more spring/ summer lineup. While there are still some things from the fall/winter menu, it’s entirely different and all good! Of course, Tyler and I have already tried it! I tried the Mediterranean pasta with grilled shrimp. I never though that purple pasta that resembled Medusa’s hair could be so tasty!

There also has been a separate bar menu added since then as well which boosts, appetizers, lighter entrees and lighter fair. My friend Maggie and myself were just there for the bar menu: I had the Lodge Salad and she had the special of the night: a Gyro with frites. Both of us enjoyed our meals!

As you can see this place is one of my obsessions and I feel so lucky to have it in my town of Forest City. It really is unique and I hope our local people of the area come and support it so it can stay around for many more years!!!