GNO {girls night out}

When you’re with people you love, it’s hard not to have a good time.  Myself and three of my closest friends have had a GNO planned for several weeks now.  And as time progressed, the plans got more and more exciting.  What started as a dinner and drinks turned into quite the evening with just the girls.

First stop:  a little pampering at Parlor Dry Bar.  For $35 you get your hair washed, dried and styled.  Having someone else style my hair is one of my favorite things – in fact, if I could have one super power it would be able to style my hair like a professional.  Or have enough money to hire someone on a daily basis.

We all ended up getting a little curl added and we were ready for our next stop.

A couple of weeks ago Marlo stumbled across an event at the NC Art Museum – Art in Bloom.   In short, florists from across the state (and beyond) interpreted works of art though flowers.  We were amazed at the detail of all the works of art and flowers.  Simply amazing.

Having never been to the NC Museum of Art, it’s now on my radar and I plan to return very soon.  There’s even a restaurant in the museum, Iris, that was filled to the brim when we arrived on Friday evening.

After racing to finish seeing all the displays (over 45!), it was time for dinner.  We were not about to miss our 8:30pm reservation at Bida Manda.  I had to stalk the restaurant for two weeks to finally get a reservation for the four of us.  Big Guy and I dined at Bida Manda last summer during restaurant week and I was so excited to return.

And I’m going to make a bold statement:  Bida Manda is my favorite restaurant in Raleigh.  Impeccable service, craft cocktails that are incredible and a menu that is sure to please anyone.

To start, I ordered a cocktail from the bar.

Alpine ’76 – Potato Vodka, Fresh Lemon Juice, Elderflower Liqueur, Sugar, Sparkling Wine

The four of us split three appetizers (most of their appetizers are pretty small portions):

Crispy Rice Lettuce Wraps – with herbs, peanuts and vegetables

Panang Crab Cakes – dill, panang curry, picked radish

There was a special appetizer for the night, too, which was a housemade sausage full of fresh herbs.

The crispy rice lettuce wraps are by far the best appetizer on the menu.  Big Guy and I shared them when we visited and all the girls agreed they were phenomenal.

The texture and flavors are out of this world.

And for dinner, I ordered the Sweet Chili Salmon with ginger rice and lime vinaigrette salad.  The entree portions are large and there was no way I could finish it all.  There was a little hint of spiciness in the salad and the salmon was cooked to perfection.

For dessert, we all shared the Trio Plate – With apricot-tamarind cobbler, lao coffee creme brulee, and coconut custard crisp.

I was in love with the apricot-tamarind cobbler.

We ended the night at a new mezcal bar located above Centro called Gallo Pelon.  The drinks were strong and I loved the vibe of this super small but hip bar.  I cannot wait to take Big Guy back to this spot.

Such a fun night out – good food, delicious cocktails and even better company.

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