Friday, December 08, 2006

Thursday Night Maturity

There's something to be said of a calm, cool evening with friends and drinks. And Thursday nights set the stage almost perfectly. After countless nights of dancing, music, shots, and a never-ending flow of vodka+tonic, a select number of stops in Royal Oak and Ferndale brought about a much needed evening of moderation. We highly recommend you at least try the following itinerary for any future Thursday night desires: Bastone (Royal Oak), Vinotecca (Royal Oak), Gracie's Underground (Ferndale)and The Bosco (Ferndale).

We arrived at Vinotecca just before 8:30p and found ourselves standing around with a light-up pager, waiting for a table to open up. Luckily, Bastone next door had a few seats open, so we settled in for a drink. Despite the commotion of a busy restaurant, the bar was quite comfortable. The bartender was smart enough to throw a cherry in my Black Cherry Effen+Coke, and everyone around was in good spirits. Just before finishing our drinks, the pager lit up and we were off. Since we were just passing the time, it wouldn't be fair to really evaluate things... but if you're begging for it, let's just say "it's cool." Make of that what you will.

I haven't been to Vinotecca in over a year, and for that reason I place a small bit of disappoint in myself. Why? Because it does a wonderful job of blending their atmosphere with their guests' desires. From social discussion to intimate conversation, Vinotecca should be able to cater to most needs. A handful of bottles can be had for ~$40, though the majority are a bit pricier. Between two appetizers and a bottle, we checked out at $82- not bad.

If you're planning on making a visit, make it a tasteful one. Don't go in there with a dozen people for your cousin's friend's birthday party and start asking for shots of Jagermeister. It just won't do. That being said, you should recognize that Vinotecca is not the place to go wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a shirt from Pacific Sunwear. (You shouldn't be shopping at PacSun anyways, but I had to say it just in case you are/were *hint*). You don't have to front the suit and tie or get all dolled up in the latest trends, but at least look presentable. Pretend for a moment you had a real job and it required you to look professional. Better yet, make some use of that sweater grandma gave you. Vinotecca is a classy place, and if you mange to put in even the least bit of effort, you should be good to go.

The place itself isn't very large. There are a handful of sit-down tables in the back, but the front is pretty much all high-top tables and chairs. If you're waiting for a table, you might be able to find a spot at the bar. Keyword is "might." Once you get seated, don't expect to unload the contents of your pockets on the table, or hang up your coat. There isn't much room, so you'll have to settle for putting everything on the back of your chair, or next to the person sitting across from you on the giant padded seating area that runs halfway down the narrow space. Unfortunately, since the space is so narrow, whenever someone opens main door you're going to feel a slight draft. In general, Vinotecca is fairly dark; typical mood lighting. Wine bottles line the wall above the bar, which also has a variety of liquor if that's what suits your fancy. There's also a downstairs which houses their wine cellar and has rooms for private parties. Unlike Cinq (which happens to be next-door and downstairs), the Christmas decorations were tastefully done. But above and beyond all else lies the best aspect of Vinotecca: No Smoking.

You don't have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy a glass or share a bottle. You just need good company... and some halfway decent clothing.

Gracie's Underground
Around 1030p we decided to check out to check out Gracie's Underground in Ferndale. It's situated almost on the SW corner of 9 Mile+Woodward. Walk in, go downstairs, and enjoy. It's fairly new, so it's fairly clean right now. Be careful though because it has very dim lighting; perhaps almost too dim. Suggestions include tea lights on each table, and the removal of all televisions. Considering the place was pretty empty, it's hard to tell what kind of ambiance was intended. My guess is they're going after the casual professional and creative crowds. "Casual professional" because of the overall appearance. "Creative" because the DJ was playing Tiga. Although, the Ultimate Fighting on TV suggests a third audience.... we'll have to wait and see.

The Bosco
If you haven't yet been to The Bosco, you don't know what you're missing. Since this place always yields a good time, we decided to finish the night there. When you visit, be mindful of the coat check at the door, but wait before handing over your coat- usually there's a place inside to throw it. The look is very Scandinavian; mixing soft woods with muted natural colors. Seating consists of a handful of chairs at the bar and large padded seating areas in the front and the back, scattered with the typical Philippe Starck stools. A heated courtyard is also open, weather permitting, and is an ideal summertime nighttime stop. Service is always good, and empty glasses are scooped up quickly. There's really no dress code here, but the general vibe suggests you dress to impress. Leave your work clothes at home, unless you're in a creative field or got the day off work. People come here looking hip and hot, and those that don't are usually just there because they got dragged out. Regardless, the music consists of some solid hip-hop, with bits of whatever other music might be hot at the time. Bottom line: The Bosco will make you glad you went out.

Most nights we go out, we go out to have fun. We look for energy, excitement, and a bit of mischief. But it's not always fun to wake up the next morning with fifty drunken pictures from the night before, and only three showing you sober. This past Thursday night was the perfect opportunity to leave a little earlier, get home a little earlier, and not have to worry about any rough hangovers. Though it may be entertaining, getting trashed doesn't make you any cooler. So why keep doing it? Take a break from the norm and pretend to be all grown up. With places like Vinotecca and The Bosco, it's not all that bad.