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Close to Philly

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Lola’s Garden Blooms in Ardmore

Avram Hornik, FCM Hospitality, Philly’s prolific restaurateur behind Morgan’s Pier, Juno and Harper’s Garden held a preview dinner for his much anticipated Main Line eatery Lola’s Garden at Suburban Square on April 14, 2021, which opened the following day.
Opening in the red hot Ardmore restaurant scene, Lola’s will showcase the culinary skills of acclaimed former Russet Chef Andrew Wood. The seasonal menus will showcase uniquely paired, honest, local ingredients together with small bites, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts that showcase his culinary skills and artistry with a focus on not more than a handful of ingredients on the plate.  Ardmore’s newest restaurant boasts a 1,800-square-foot restaurant (with a 2,500-square-foot outdoor patio) for guests to enjoy. , At the bar, look for a celebration of all things Pennsylvania with 15 all local and state beers on tap, and an entire wine program with taps and bottles showcasing the states best selections.

The invitation for the Grand Opening Preview of Lola’s Garden in Ardmore stated dress for a garden party, no one took it more seriously than Michelle “The Hat Lady” Leonard. She was dressed head to toe in green, and carried the cutest water bucket as part of her whimsical outfit.

Marlo and Jason Dilks the owners of Slice, and P’unk Burger in Philly
Melissa Jacobs, Kory Aversa and Marie Edwards
Joy Medlock, General Manager of Suburban Square and Avram Hornik, Owner FCM Hospitality
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Stay: Ocean Resorts Casino

Good morning. Thanks for bearing with me as I missed a few days of posting. I wish you all well, and appreciate you being a part of my day, and thank you for being subscribers. Those of you who follow me on Social Media know I went to Ocean Resorts Casino over the Christmas holiday. I felt it was safe, our plans were to just hang out in the hotel room with its magnificent views of the ocean, as every room has a view of the water, whether it’s the bay or ocean.

I specifically asked for a high floor, ocean view and I was not disappointed. It was so relaxing. We were on the 40th floor, facing Brigantine. I would say that the dozen or so times I have stayed here, whether it was Ocean AC or formerly known as Revel, I always stayed on this side. In fact I stayed in this room a day before Super Storm Sandy’s full force hit the area, and witness the North End of the boardwalk get destroyed. AC did a great job at restoring the boardwalk as well as the North End of AC, with new residences. They still have a ways to go, but it’s a start.

BTW this is the view looking south, which you would see if you stayed in one of the rooms on that side of the hotel, or lucky us, in the elevator lobby. Yes they have windows in the elevator lobby. In fact Ocean AC even has windows in their casino. I love to go there as I never feel lost inside, as there is always a window nearby which gives me a sense of openness as well as direction.

At the east end of Ocean AC are massive escaltors which connect several floors of the hotel/casino including the hotel floor, casino floor, restaurant and shopping floors, event space floor and the boardwalk entrance. It’s a site to behold and my favorite spot, but don’t look down. And for those afraid of heights, they have elevators as well.

When Mike and I arrived at Ocean AC, we noticed all the Covid19 Safety Measures in place, and although we both already had it, we were glad to see they took it very seriously. Also was glad that all guests had masks all at all times, everywhere. Check in can be in person, or via a touchless system. The desk clerks were great, as was all the staff throughout the building. It was a joy to be there. My plan was to spend 3 days and two nights at Ocean AC and not leave the property, it’s exactly what we did.

Most of the time we spent in our rooms, looking out the window and catching up on reading, actual magazines and books, not the internet. We also visited the fish tank in the hotel lobby. There are seats surrounding it, and its extra zen as it’s raised a few steps above the floor.

We also spent a good amount of time eating, and were not disappointed. Every place we ate at in OCEAN AC was delicious. For dinner the first night we ate at Zhen Bang, a Chinese delight. The decor was pretty as well, very bamboo, clean and cozy. It was a little difficult to find, but just follow the Wahlburger signs, as it’s across the hall. Christmas morning we headed to Café 500, but it’s only open to 1PM, so don’t plan a late brunch. They were nice and let us sit at 12:55pm. dinner we enjoyed a delicious dinner at American Cut Steakhouse Mike also ate at Distrito as well. I was happy he was happy, so I could play a little Willie Wonka, my favorite slot machine.

Ocean AC has shops as well

We had such a good time catching up on reading, enjoying the view and just relaxing. This shot was on Christmas eve, during a Nor’Easter. It was the most fantastic experience watching it from the safety of our room. I can’t recommend Ocean AC enough for a getaway. It was safe, relaxing, delicious and we even went out to the sky garden, where they have fire pits and a great view of the Atlantic Ocean. Originally I was going to book the hotel via HotelTonight (my favorite site for last minute hotel stays), as I saw a rate of $88, but since I wanted a specific room I booked through the hotel website at $119 (it’s the off season). After writing to request about the specific room, Ocean AC recognized me as a previous media partner and comp’d my stay. Thank you so much. It was just what I needed, and what Mike realized he needed. We can’t wait to go back, to this view and the great hospitality extended to guests at Ocean Casino Resort.

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Chestnut Hill not as far as you think and so adorable

Throughout the fall Mike and I went on numerous trips in Pennsylvania, especially to enjoy leaf peeping. We saved the best for last, Chestnut Hill. Chestnut Hill is a short drive from Center City, about 25 minutes. Or take Septa Bus Route 23, 77, 94, 97, L or Chestnut Hill East train. Chestnut Hill is one of the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, but it can seem a world away with it’s leafy, quaint shops, eateries and art galleries.

I’ve gone shopping and eating many times in Chestnut Hill, but this time Mike and I stayed over at the historic Chestnut Hill Hotel, 8229 Germantown Ave. (sadly no ghosts to report)

Mike and I walked around for about 90 minutes soaking in the beautiful night, and scenery.

I can’t wait for Holidays on the Hill especially the long standing Chestnut Hill Stag and Doe Nights every Wednesday in December leading up to Christmas. I’ll have more on this in the coming weeks as Chestnut Hill is advertising with Philly Chit Chat to promote the holiday tradition.

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Cape May Summer

Unofficial summer ends this weekend, and I’m so glad. As I get older, the summer goes by so much faster, just as my mother always said would happen. This year I’m not as sad it’s over, in fact I’m ready for 2021.

That being said, I did have a wonderful summer spent with friends, family and meeting new friends; I traveled to beautiful places, ate entirely too many good meals, all outside during one of the hottest summers ever and now with Lantern Flies, and experienced moments of joy, beauty, awakenings and terror (If I never see a fireworks show again, ok who am I kidding). One of the places I traveled often was Cape May this summer, a beautiful spot.

Although I had been to Cape May many times over the years for dinner, bird watching, the monarch butterfly migration which is from mid September to mid October, and for a quick shopping trip, but I had never stayed there. This year it was on my bucket list, and it was cemented when I found out my nephew TJ would be working at the Chalfonte Hotel. The photo above shows the Chalfonte during the 7PM nightly concert which takes place on the porch. People from all over Cape May come to enjoy professional entertainers every night, as well as locals on Thursday nights where anyone can join the band. (I’ll write more about the hotel in a future post.)

Today I am focusing on the beautiful gardens of Cape May. So many beautiful gardens and porches.

I love my flags, and Cape May didn’t disappoint.

Natures front porch to the Atlantic Ocean

Happy Labor Day Weekend. See you on Social Media, and back here at Philly Chit Chat blog on Tuesday. I’ll be writing about my trip to Lancaster, another area you know I travel to often for day trips but have never stayed over night. Excited to see what else is there in addition to the beautiful scenery and the Amish who I often photograph, but only from behind as it’s not polite to capture their face. Have a safe weekend, be kind and thanks for reading PCC> HughE