Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention

Do you ever wish that you could have a do-over? Or perhaps you wish you were better prepared with knowledge before you visited a hotel or restaurant? I know there are no guarantees in life, but there are certainly ways to 'try before you buy', if you know what I mean.

Let me explain.

I am a big fan of reading reviews. I read reviews of restaurants, hotels and even products I am thinking about buying. My favorite site for restaurants in the Houston area is B4-U Eat . I really like this particular site because these people are totally honest, I mean brutally honest. Sometimes I do feel they need to cut the wait staff some slack and perhaps even just get over themselves, but I will say I have benefitted from their experience. I SO wish I had read the reviews of a restaurant we popped into on Friday night. We are huge fans of Mexican food and have had great luck with the 'dives' around town but tonight was NOT our night. It had been recommended to us and the parking lot was packed....we decided to give it a shot. Service was decent, food was above average, but not great.....but as we were paying, a crawly guy scampered across the table....and all the waiter had to say was, "Um, Sorry?" People, hear my clearly, I had to smash it with a packet of Sweet 'n Low. I am not sure what kept me from totally losing it, perhaps because it was a baby and not a full-on Grand Daddy Cookaracha, but I can safely say I will never go back. No ma'am. And then I read the reviews and sure enough, the place has gone down hill and then my good friend, Kelly, informs me that she had been to a different location, same chain, and she spotted crawly guys and the when she brought it to the waiters attention, he squashed it mid-stride, never missing a beat. Eeewww! We were SO close...but alas, we will just keep going here and here. On a side note- I did visit Rao's Bakery yesterday (Cypresswood location) and it is just darlin'. I was completely blown away by the variety of pasteries, cookies, cupcakes, muffins and desserts. The presentation was amazing, complete works of art. I had a sample of the most amazing Spiced Chai Latte...and that is a saying a lot because I am NOT a coffee drinker. As my friend Leigh Ann said, "It tastes like Christmas in a cup." Perhaps I need to have it on ice whenI stop in there again. And while we are on this subject, how do you coffee-drinking people drink it year 'round in Houston? It blows my mind to see people enjoying their coffee, outside, at several coffee places around town. I mean, they keep Starbucks like a meat locker in the winter, how do they pay their electric bill from June to August? But back to Rao's, if you are near Champion Forest Baptist Church, bring a good book or magazine and pop in for a visit.

Now, on to hotels. Trip Advisor is a great site. Their motto is 'Get the truth, then go". Love that! Again, nobody is paying these people so they can throw caution to the wind when they give their rendition of their stay. Expedia (don't tell me their marketing group failed because you KNOW you immediately heard the jingle in your head) is another go-to site as well as. Note: When visiting these review sites, be sure to look at the dates of the reviews as some are older. Case in point, we were in Round Rock for a baseball tournament and stayed here and found it to be nothing like the reviews. The management was delightful and the breakfast spread was incredible- perfect for 11 hungry baseball boys and their families.

And finally, this site is the end-all-be-all of the reviews. This is my go-to site for books, appliances, toy ideas for my kiddos and any other thing I just want to know a bit more about before I lay down the cash. and have proved helpful in the past. Give them a look as well.

So for all you type-As out there, considered yourself armed and for all you adventurous, go-where-the-wind-takes-you types, I wish I could come over to your side, but I just can't. Maybe next year I'll try again to be 'Fun Laurie'. 2008 didn't work out so well for me yet. Old habits die hard.