Monday, January 31, 2011

Spa Review: Tranquility Med Spa (Don't Do It!)

Typically, I don't post negative reviews on my blog but recently I wrote a review on Yelp about an awful experience I had at a spa in Alexandria, Virginia and I wanted to warn others about it.

While the massage itself wasn't "that" bad, the entire experience definitely left a lot to be desired.

I purchased a deal for a 60 minute Swedish massage via Living Social in December to a "med spa". A few weeks ago I called to schedule my appointment and was greeted by a voicemail. The message basically said they'd received an overwhelming response to the promotion and to book an appointment you'd have to do it online. Should've taken that as a sign of what was to come.

I booked my appointment online about 3 weeks ago but had some questions about other services that couldn't be booked through their website so I attempted to call them several times. I called in the morning, midday, and in the afternoon, still no answer just the same voicemail.

Fast forward to today. ..I arrived at 6910 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, VA around 12:10 for my 12:30 appointment. It was a 4 story office building, not at all what I was expecting but I figured since it was a med spa it would be a little different.

I walked in and circled the first floor several times trying to find Tranquility Med Spa. I finally spotted someone who worked in the building and she said she'd never heard of the place and suggested that I was at the wrong address (which I was not). Again I tried to call the spa for further directions and yet again I got the same voicemail.

Eventually, I walked back outside and was about to get into my car. I ran into someone else who worked in the building and he also said he'd never heard of it but said there was another entrance on the other side of the building.

I finally spotted a place called Whole Health and went in to inquire if they knew where Tranquility Med Spa was. They told me that they were Tranquility. Mind you, there was not one thing, no signage, no marketing materials, nothing that said anything about Tranquility Med Spa, outside or inside.

So around 12:20 the reception hands me an application to fill out then she disappears. Next thing I know she comes back to the desk with a plate of food. I know it was lunchtime, but really? Another woman with a laptop, I'm assuming was the manager, eventually said someone would be right with me. My masseuse Shayla came out to get me for my 12:30 appointment at 12:38.

I walked into the room and the first thing I noticed was how loud the overhead music was. The room was bare except for the massage table, a chair and a sink. I noticed the walls did not go up to the ceiling so I could hear everything.

I made a note to look at the clock in the room to see when my massage began because I had a feeling they were going to try to short me because they were late. My massage began at 12:42.
Like I said before the massage itself wasn't that bad, the pressure was fine unlike the previous reviewer. The main issue was how loud it was in there. For the first half of my massage I had to endure a conversation between whom I'm assuming was the manager and a salesperson having a meeting.

They had a very boisterous conversation about products, logos and websites, I could hear every word they said. I was obviously annoyed and I guess the masseuse could see the displeased look on my face so she let out this loud "Shhhhhh". The two in the room next door finally quieted down for a minute or two before they started talking loudly and laughing again.

Next thing I know the masseuse is asking me how my massage was. I looked up at the clock and it was 1:25PM on the dot. My 60 minute massage ended up being only 43 minutes. I was thinking you've got to be kidding me.

I walked out to the receptionist and immediately asked her if my massage was supposed to be 60 minutes or 45. She confirmed it was 60 minutes, just as I'd thought. I told her my massage was only 43 minutes and that it was incredibly loud because of the conversation going on in the room next door. She simply said "Oh". The manager who was also out there and heard my comment didn't say a word either. No apology, no trying to make amends, nothing. Totally unacceptable!

My massage at Tranquility Med Spa was definitely one of the worst experiences I've EVER had. I would NEVER EVER recommend that anyone else goes there. I truly feel bad for the other 2k people who purchased the deal from Living Social. Do yourself a favor and just don't go!

Here's more information about the "spa" and yes, I use that term loosely.

Tranquility Med Spa or Whole Health Medical Center
6910 Richmond Highway, Ste. 120
Alexandria, VA 22306

Restaurant Review: Casa Nonna

I went to Casa Nonna the first Monday of Restaurant Week and it also happened to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Walking up to its corner location pn Connecticut Avenue brought back the memories of passing by the California Pizza Kitchen that used to be there. It wasn't that I frequented CPK, it was just always a place I'd somehow end up at and could easily find my way home after getting lost in DC countless times.

A friend and I walked in and the first thing I noticed was it didn't seem all that busy for a restaurant located in Dupont Circle and especially not one that was participating in the much awaited Restaurant Week. Later I realized it was probably due to the freezing rain that was in the forecast. Guess I didn't pay attention to that.
Fast forward, we were seated in one of their many dining alcoves. We were surrounded by about 5-6 other couples. I liked the way our area was sectioned off, which made it seem more intimate than if they would have had a huge open dining area. Our waiter was very attentive and did an excellence job of explaining everything to my friend and I.

I'd checked out the regular menu and the Restaurant Week menu prior to getting there so I was ready to order as soon as we were seated. I ordered a Blood Orange Margherita (margarita) for my cocktail. I liked the sweet and sourness of it but it didn't have much alcohol in it.

Our meal began with a complimentary Antipasti dish, it consisted of eggplant, ricotta and prosciutto. I'm not usually a fan of eggplant but it was made into a delicious sauce with the ricotta sprinkled on top and it went well with the toasted bread they gave us. We ended up eating every last morsel.

For my first course, I ordered the potato gnocchi (pronounced Noh-key, I always forget how to say it). I still can't get over how much melted gorgonzola and parmesan cheese it had in it. It was so good but too rich for me to eat it in one seating. Our waiter came over, looked at the dish and then me and said I'll wrap that up for you. Let me just say, it was even better when it was reheated.

Next, I had the Braised Pork Shank served with mustard greens and mashed potatoes. The pork was super tender and was well-seasoned. Since it was a shank cut, there really wasn't much that much meat. I'm a slow eater but I'd say I was done eating it in less than 3 minutes including the mashed potatoes.

Lastly, I had the tiramisu. I wouldn't say it was the best I've ever had but it was quite delicious and I fell in love with its presentation.
Overall, my experience at Casa Nonna was a pleasant one. I definitely have it on my list of places to go back to.
Food A
Ambiance A
Service A
Casa Nonna
1250 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 629-2505

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things to Do: The Mansion on O Street

Last spring, I purchased a LivingSocial deal for an Afternoon Dessert Tea and Scavenger Hunt at a place I'd never heard of called The Mansion on O Street. I'm a huge fan of architecture (especially old homes) and scavenger hunts so when I visited their website I knew it was something I had to try out for myself. While I probably wouldn't have paid $70 ($35pp) for it normally, I got it at great deal.

I arrived at the Mansion at 2:00PM with a friend for our reservation. Note, you need to book at least 1-2 weeks in advance because slots fill up quickly. We were warmly greeted by an older woman (whom we later found out is the Founder H.H. Leonards Spero). She showed us to our table and told us to help ourselves to the desserts. After we returned to our seats with our treats, we waited a while for the tea to come. The tea wasn't anything special and was served in mugs, not tea cups and saucers, which was a little weird but we went with it.

About 45 minutes, we chose one of the scavenger hunts they had available and were told we had free range over the house. We started in the basement and made our way to the kitchen where we were told we'd find the first of many hidden doors. We then continued throughout the house trying to use the clues provided to find the 3 items on each of the floors.

The house has 4 or so floors, it was hard to tell because the 3rd and 4th floors were expansive and there were secret doors everywhere that took you to random rooms and hallways and some led to stairs. Throughout the house, there were tons of items for sale (practically everything is up for grabs). Some of the most notable items (to me) were a Pee Wee Herman doll, a jukebox, and a sculpture of two elephants engaging in "relations". I don't know why that tickled me so. Another cool feature was most of the rooms, if not all, could be rented out since it is an Inn too. Some rooms were incredibly elaborate, one even had a glass table with a chessboard in the middle of the bathroom floor.

After the first hour or so of trying to find the items on the list, we became more interested in looking at all of the random artifacts that were all over the mansion. There were so many historical items, including letters from politicians/celebrities, signed photographs, and miscellaneous books on any topic you could possibly imagine. All of the books were on sale starting at $1.

Another interesting feature were the custom-made guitars that were spread out throughout the mansion. After speaking with the founder, we found out she had a relationship with someone affiliated with Gibson Guitars and he's donated several one-of-a-kind guitars to the Mansion over the years.

Nearly three hours later we left vowing to come back. I had willpower and only purchased one thing, a black marble elephant. Hey, it was only $22 (minus 10% since we did the scavenger hunt) which was very reasonable. Sure the elephant, along with most of the items in the mansion was used but as they say one man's trash is another one's treasure and there is something for everyone in that place.

The Mansion on O Street is definitely a place where I wouldn't mind getting lost again. They also have brunches, lunches, dinners and the venue can be booked for special events.

The Mansion on O Street
2020 O Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things to Do: Diamonds and Desserts with the Junior League

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is pleased to present their second annual event, Diamonds and Desserts to support JLW projects including Tossed and Found, their annual spring fundraiser.

The event will be held at JLW Headquarters in Georgetown and will feature a diamond giveaway. According to their website, "you may find a precious sparkler in your glass of champagne", thanks to Goldman's Jewelers! Additionally, there will be an estate sale of jewelry.

Tickets are $25 and the proceeds, along with a portion of sales, will benefit the JLW projects through Tossed and Found - the annual spring fundraiser that puts fabulous finds in your shopping bag and high-quality used goods back into the community every year.

Junior League Headquarters
3039 M Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20007

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things to Do: Indoor Scavenger Hunts

Recently, I was talking to a coworker about scavenger hunts and how I was looking for some in the area that didn't involve running around the city during the dead of winter. He in turn shared with me a list of scavenger hunts at local museums that one of his friends had compiled. Enjoy!

The Murder at the National Gallery Scavenger Hunt (For Adults Only)
Saturday, January 29 or February 26 at 2:00PM
The National Gallery of Art

6th and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20565
A murdered curator has left behind a cryptic trail of clues connected with secrets in works of art. As your team gathers answers about the art, you begin to piece together a sordid tale about greed, lust, pride, revenge and treachery, all revolving around the museum’s planned multimillion-dollar purchase of a Da Vinci. The murder victim knew too much—and now it’s up to you to learn what he knew and discover what drove one of four suspects to commit murder. To find out, you’ll have to crack a secret code left in the victim’s appointment calendar. Can you figure out who dunnit? Be prepared for our most challenging hunt.

The Naked at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt (For Adults Only)
Saturday, February 12 or 13th at 1:00PM
American Art Museum

F Street at 8th Street, Washington, DC 20004
Go in search of the naked and the naughty in the American Art Museum. Highlights include a tempting she-devil, an Eve who’d get you to bite an apple, a giddy drinker, native men with no need for a gym, a startling Lite-Brite picture, and a nude that gives new meaning to the word “hot.” No knowledge of art, or nudity, is required.

Murder at the Museum of American History Scavenger Hunt (For Adults Only)
Saturday, February 19 at 2:00PM
The National Museum of American History

14th Street and Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20560
Someone, or something, has been bumping off National Museum of American History staffers involved in the recent discovery of a long-lost invention by Benjamin Franklin. This “infernal machine” has a murky past: Freemasons supposedly used it as part of a secret ritual. Are the deaths caused by the invention, or part of the fabled “Curse of the Freemasons”? Or is a serial killer on the loose? Your team of sleuths will have to crack a secret code and uncover the museum’s secrets to solve the mystery and stop the killings. This hunt is for adults only. For murder hunts, we strongly recommend hunting with a team of three or more.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Things to Do: Speed Dating at the Washington Auto Show

I've always wanted to go to the Washington Auto Show and this year I finally have some free time.  As I perused the Schedule of Events, I came across one for Professionals In The City.  What a great venue to meet some fellow professional singles in the Washington, DC area!  See below for the information I pulled from the website.
The Washington Auto Show Takes “Speed” to a New Level
Partnership with Pros in the City brings Speed Dating to the Show Floor

February 1, 2011
7:00pm - 9:00pm

The Washington Auto Show® has partnered with D.C.’s most popular social networking group, Professionals in the City, to rev up the singles scene in Washington.
On Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., daters can pack in a slew of mini-dates amid the fun-filled atmosphere of people watching and car watching. Check in for schmoozing at 7:00 before the dating begins at 7:20.
Afterward, enjoy touring the magic of The Washington Auto Show and check out the latest gadgets and gizmos in the industry. Maybe you’ll even have a new friend join you! 
Tickets to speed dating cost $30, if purchased in advance, and includes entry to the Washington Auto Show on Feb. 1. Tickets are limited and may be purchased through Professionals in the City through its Web site at:
For a more detailed event description, view the following video link to see speed daters in action:
Professionals in the City will enable daters to choose matches from the event through its exclusive online system, where members can exchange messages without disclosing their e-mail addresses.

Also, if you're just interested in going to the car show and not the speed dating event, Groupon is offering discounted tickets at 50% off for a limited time, they are only $6.  To purchase yours, click here.
For more information about this year's Washington Auto Show which will be held January 28 - February 7, 2011, click here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Restaurant Review: Merzi

I'd first heard of Merzi through a tweet a few weeks ago.  When I went to the website, I thought it was a great concept and I had to try it out for myself.  I'd heard a few people describe it as an "Indian Chipotle" and that's exactly what it is.

They have a few base options like rice and naan.  You then select a meat, I believe they had 2 types of chicken, lamb, beef, and shrimp.  Next they had several other toppings including peppers and onions, potatoes, chickpeas, a salsa-like concoction, corn, and several sauces ranging from mild to medium to hot. 

I chose the rice bowl with chicken, most of the toppings and the warm medium sauce.  I love eating mango ice cream after having Indian food so I ordered their drink called the Mango Fantango.

As I sat down I honestly didn't know what to expect.  I love Indian food, in fact one of my favorites Rasika is right around the corner, but Indian fast food was a new concept for me.  The food ended up being very good and everything tasted fresh.  Halfway through, I started to get that full feeling like I do when eating a Chipotle Burrito Bowl but of course I didn't want to stop eating.  I left a few bites and polished off the frothy mango smoothie which was refreshing and very pleasing to my soul.

The staff and service were excellent. I appreciated the fact that they were very patient and quick to offer suggestions since I was clearly a newbie.  If it were a little closer to my office (it was an 11 block walk in 30 degree weather) I'd be a regular there, it's a nice alternative from the usual.  Next time I need a quick fix of Indian food, I'll definitely be back.

415 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things to Do: American Ballet Theatre (Discounted Tickets)

I just came across this promotion in a Travel Zoo email I received.  In case you don't already receive their deals on everything from travel packages to nearby cultural and sporting events, click here.

Here's the Travel Zoo description...

Snag Orchestra level seats to see American Ballet Theatre perform at the Kennedy Center, and save up to 60%. This deal includes 7:30 p.m. performances Jan. 18-20.

The ballet company, recognized as one of the greatest in the world, will be performing a special program featuring some of the Kennedy family's favorite works in honor of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's presidency. Works include Balanchine's "Theme and Variations," Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas," Balanchine's "Duo Concertant," and Robbins's "Fancy Free."

The following seating options are available for all three performances:
  • Side Orchestra (price level 4) ... $24.50 (reg. $59)
  • Rear Orchestra (price level 3) ... $31 (reg. $62)
To purchase tickets:

Click here to book online at The Kennedy Center.
Scroll down to the calendar and select "Tickets" next to one of the applicable dates. On the following page, select the Orchestra level of the map and select seat marked Price Level 3 or 4. Click "Move to Cart." Click "Checkout."  (Fees: $2.43-$3.07 per ticket)

Call The Kennedy Center at (800) 444-1324
Mention Offer Number 57133 to receive your discount.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: Smith Commons

First, let me begin by saying I won't be too harsh in my review because I did go on the 3rd day after their opening, so I'll be nice. 

I'll begin with the space itself. It's a 3 story renovated row house located on the revitalized H Street NE Corridor.  On the inside it's absolutely beautiful tons of exposed brick, contemporary lighting fixtures and tastefully chosen furniture.

My girlfriends and I arrived at 6:45, just in time for Happy Hour, unfortunately HH only included beers and Jim Beam or so the inexperienced waitress told me.  I ended up ordering a margarita.  It literally took our bartender over 10 minutes to make it.  I was wondering what was taking so long and was shocked to look over and see she was reading instructions on how to make the drink (yes! a margarita) and was using the jigger to actually measure out everything.  Really?  I couldn't help but laugh because she looked so serious as she measure out every ingredient and constantly referred to her guide.  Nice, friendly girl but her bartending skills were definitely not up to par.  Imagine if I would've ordered something not so common.  I'd definitely expect more from that kind of establishment.

So we left the bar for our 7:30 dinner reservations and were promptly seated at one of the larger tables in the back of the restaurant on the 1st floor.  Shortly after we were seated, our waiter came over and we ordered our drinks and meals.  I ordered a glass of Riesling and was told they only had a Riesling blend.  After reviewing the wine list again, I politely corrected our waiter and informed him that they did in fact have it on the menu.  Let's just say I should have just had another margarita because I was not a fan of that Riesling.

Since they were offering 25% off for food on their limited first week menu, I wanted to take full advantage.  I ended up ordering a Caesar salad, the Tiger Prawns with a side of potatoes and the Molten Chocolate cake.

The wait for food was pretty slow considering the dining area wasn't that crowded but the girls and I were having a great convo so it wasn't a huge issue.  For some reason, my entree arrived just before my appetizer salad, so my food was left to get cold while I ate it first.

The salad was a typical caesar salad, nothing to rave about.  It did have capers and some toasted parmesan which gave it a slightly different taste.

I was pleasantly surprised by the tiger prawn dish.  It was topped with extremely fresh tomatoes, diced and cherry, with a mixture of olive oil, basil and something else I couldn't quick pick out.  It was delish!  Wish I would've ordered the larger portion since it only came with three shrimp.  I also ordered a side of potatoes (since most of the dishes don't come with any) they were tasty and well seasoned.

Lastly, the molten chocolate cake came out.  It was nicely plated but not at all what I had imagined.  Usually when it's a molten cake, it has hot chocolate inside of the cake, this one did not.  It was a small, actually tiny, piece of chocolate cake served in a teeny-tiny ramekin with a smear of melted chocolate on the plate and some thick whipped cream (I was hoping for ice cream to offset the chocolate).  The cake was a little dry for my taste.  Afterwards, I realized I should've just ordered a glass of Moscato d'Asti for dessert (since they had 2 on the wine list which isn't very common).

Overall the food was good, I wasn't overly impressed.  Our waiter was extremely friendly and we had a lot of fun joking with him which made the experience better despite a few hiccups.  Local celebrity Paul Wharton (Stylist and Real Housewives of DC character) was there making his rounds as a social butterfly and posing for pics, so it made the night a little more interesting.

After dinner we ventured upstairs to check out the 2nd and 3rd floors.  They both had fairly large bar areas and a few seating options.  It seems to be a pretty laid back with a nice, diverse young professional crowd.

With that said, I definitely intend on going back.  Hopefully in the coming months they'll have all of the kinks worked out.

Food B
Ambiance A-
Service A

Smith Commons
1245 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Things to Do: FREE Salsa Classes at The Salsa Room

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things to Do: A Conversation with Cornel West & Tavis Smiley

While, I'm not a huge supporter of author and broadcast journalist Tavis Smiley (mainly because of his abrasive political criticisms of the current administration, which I won't be going into on this blog), I'm quite a fan of the eccentric Cornel West (noted orator and Princeton University professor).  I'd heard a few months ago they'd joined forces for some speaking engagements along with a new radio venture.

The pair will descend upon DC on Friday, January 14, 2011 at 7:30PM and will engage in a lively conversation on one of their favorite topics, African-American history.  It's $20 for the general public, $18 for members of the National Geographic Society, and limited $10 Student Rush tickets will be available the day of.

The event is presented as a preview to the exhibition America I AM: The African American Imprint, which opens February 2 at National Geographic Museum. 

For more information about this speaking engagement and the new exhibition, please click here.

National Geographic Live!
1600 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Greetings! Let me begin by saying I'm so sorry for being gone for so long. What can I say, life has been hectic over the last few weeks.  Again, please forgive me but I'm back for 2011.  Soon, I'll be posting some new and exciting events my savvy Washingtonians and DMV followers.  Enjoy!