A world of flavors await in Branson

11 Jun

I love it when Branson and the Booze Beat collide.
Last week I headed to Branson on a busman’s holiday, of sorts. I scheduled a day of business calls Wednesday and decided to take a vacation day on Thursday.
When it comes to relaxation, Branson has a lot to offer. I booked a room at the Branson Convention Center Hilton, 200 E. Main St.
The view from my eighth floor balcony was spectacular. From atop Branson’s premier hotel you to see down Lake Taneycomo and up river towards the dam on Table Rock Lake. Shopping and dining on the Branson Landing are just steps away. It’s a hard combo to beat.
Rates for a king room run between $179 and $209 a night, but government, military and other special rates may apply.
Since I last stayed at the Hilton on New Year’s Eve, a few things had changed. The Hilton has recently changed up its lobby bar and remodeled and rethemed its restaurant.
Clear, the revamped lounge in the hotel’s lobby, is a welcome change. Drink prices at the dark, comfortable lounge are reasonable. A good-sized cosmopolitan martini set me back $8 and a vodka cranberry was $5.50. Not bad. The service was fast and friendly.
All American
Upstairs at Level 2 Steakhouse, the hotel’s renovated restaurant, the dining experience was memorable. Level 2 serves 28-day aged, Angus corn-fed, Midwest beef; fresh seafood imported from Hawaii, Missouri pork and locally grown produce. As always, the Hilton’s dessert selection impressed.
A Kansas City strip ran $29; an Angus burger $12 and a beef tip appetizer came in at $10. Salads were $7.
On the drink front, a glass of Francis Ford Coppola’s cabernet was $12, a sauvignon blanc $7 and a Bud Light was $4.50. A long, relaxing dinner for two and several drinks set me back $112 plus tip.
I discovered a couple things about The Branson Hilton. It’s a pet friendly hotel. I didn’t know. It welcomes four-legged guests and makes accommodations for them without any fuss.
Hilton’s fitness center is top notch and the pool areas — inside and out — are outstanding. Another plus: Bar service from the lounge extends to the outside pool area and private cabanas are available.
Mediterranean fare
Downtown Branson has several good restaurants. A couple of blocks from the Hilton is Blue Olive, a Mediterranean grill and bar. I hit Blue Olive — inside the Chappy Mall — a couple of times throughout the stay.
On Wednesday evening it offered a quiet happy hour and great appetizer selections. I opted for the medley of Mediterranean spreads ($9.95) including hummus, a red pepper and feta spread, an olive tapenade and grilled pita wedges. Great stuff and just enough to get started.
The bartender, Claude, suggested the drinks. The app, a pear vodka and pomegranate martini and couple of cocktails ran around $40. Check out Blue Olive the next time you travel down Branson way; it’s worth the time and the price.
Gourmet Mexican
When In Branson, I usually make a stop at Cantina Laredo, 1001 Branson Landing. Last week was no exception.
Laredo sets on The Landing with a fantastic patio view of the Fire and Water show. With a big selection of unique tequilas and margaritas to try, it’s easy to waste a few hours watching the Landing crowd and taking in the view of Taneycomo.
I’m not a guacamole fan, but my friends who are say Laredo’s is the best. Ask about their small-plate appetizers and flavored margaritas. A couple of small plate apps and two drinks came in under $25. The view alone is worth that and the service has always been great.
Italian cuisine
Around the corner from Blue Olive is Rocky’s, a locally owned restaurant specializing in Italian fare.
Rocky’s, 120 N. Sycamore, reminded me of the kind of places you see in a Soprano’s episode. The food is authentic, the portions large and the bar a little dark.
After a couple of cocktails in the lounge, I settled in at a table for my meal. A great, sweet marinara covered my veal. The drinks are reasonably priced. Four well vodka drinks in the lounge before dinner ran $17.
Dinner for two including veal Parmesan, linguini with meat balls, salads and two glasses of wine was only $44. Here’s a bonus: Legendary musical impressionist Bob Anderson performs in the lounge on weekend nights. Bob’s show pays tribute to the Rat Pack and he always entertains and interacts with the crowd. His show is a must see: Call Rocky’s for show dates and times.
Downtown isn’t the only place to find a good meal when in Branson. Just off the Strip is Florentina’s Ristorante, 2690 Green Mountain Drive. The Italian spot is reasonably priced and close to shows and attractions on The Strip.
I was a first time diner and will return. Drinks came in under $5 and dinner entrees were around $14. Check out the Best Read Guide Branson for a buy-one-get-one half price coupon. That will save you $7. Fifteen-ounce draft Beers are $3.50 and cocktails $4.75.
It’s no secret, I’m a big Branson fan.


One Response to “A world of flavors await in Branson”

  1. Stan June 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Re. Blue Olive Med. Grill. Food Ok. The so called alcoholic drinks at ten dollars per were non-alcoholic .Food was overpriced. Appetizer was great. On a whole though for $110.00 I felt ripped off.

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