I never see friends over the holidays. I have to visit family or they visit me. So rather than a trickle of lunch dates to belatedly call in the new year I think a girls night out is the best plan. Not an inner circle girls night, an all encompassing, invite the girl you just met at the dog park kind of night. It’s a great way to catch up with the PTA mom who you keep promising to catch up for coffee, but not have to suffer a one on one. Or maybe you’re not that shallow, whatever. In fairness to me, I love an organic group, where new people are always welcome, friends from one bubble maybe connect with a friend in another bubble. That’s what I love about Lakewood Ranch really, there are lots of little social circles but they are all porous. It’s easy being a LWR newbie!
I actually hate planning so this kind of event is perfect for me. Pick a date, “Invite all” on Facebook, click guests can extend invite. Pick a venue. Okay, well, I had no idea how many people are going, who will want to eat etc. So I needed a casual venue where we don’t have to commit to a sit down meal. It just so happens there is a brand new place in town that I wanted to try. It has an amazing outside patio with gas heaters and lounge chairs. It’s on Main street so is super convenient for everyone, and people who can’t leave the bubble will then come. So, I tell everyone to go to Grove: Restaurant, Patio and Ballroom.
The problem is of course, I didn’t inform the Grove that I had told everyone to go there! I told you I hate planning. Luckily they were not super busy with it being the first Wednesday of 2019 and luckily the staff were super accommodating. They seated those who wanted a meal and the rest of the crew got to takeover the lounges down the side of the patio.
I have to say Grove is long overdue. At last!!!! I don’t want to dine in the ambiance of a cruise ship. I don’t want to be inside with white table cloths and Titanic panelling. I don’t want to tell my date that I’ll promise my heart will go on, as I endure the air conditioning. I live on the gulf coast and want to feel like I am! Grove feels trendy. The walls of the restaurant bifold away, blending the interior and exterior. The huge bar creates a loud, casual, youthful (granted the snowbirds haven’t landed yet) ambience. The patio heaters add to the modern style, especially the long gathering table with a center flame. Not sure how much use it will get once our brief winter is gone. I wonder if they could burn citronella from it, or have I just invented something for Shark Tank?
The crew ordered (Besides cocktails and Prosecco) a bunch of apps and Flat breads, since we were just at the lounge chairs. Delicious, I mean, how can a concept like Balsamic Chips; bacon, melted bleu cheese dressing,balsamic reduction, tomatoes, scallions, not be! The fries were yummy, but my husband complained I stunk of garlic the next day! Our friends, who had a sit down meal, reported the food was great, but they didn’t get any sides with their steak or salmon, which was a bit tight for the price! They ordered sides but they are sharing portions, so maybe they’ll tweak that with enough feedback as that would put me off! I enjoyed my food so much I went back the next day with the family as I was desperate to try their cashew chili for when I start my low carb resolution… I need that recipe!
It was great catching up with all the ladies. There are some fun women I only really get to see on nights like these. Everyone is busy, family dynamics are changing, kids are getting older, husbands are getting traded, homes are getting downsized, parent’s are aging or worse. LWR is getting larger. The days are gone where we were all in one hub every weekend bumping into each other. It’s nice to have a new place that draws us to main street, to reconnect and remind each other we have a support network as life throws it’s curve balls. The casual vibe really made the night for us. We didn’t feel rushed to take the check. The servers managed our large, vibrant group really well, considering we were spread out and floating about. One waitress confessed she had text her friend to say she was serving The Real Housewives of Lakewood Ranch! Well, these ladies do bring the bling, we weren’t champagne slinging though. Hope it’s not another year before we all reconnect again! Happy New Year Lakewood Ranch Ladies!