Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Menu Debuts

On Monday, June 18th, Mercy debuts its new menu
designed by General Manager (Cellermaster,
Wine Buyer) and now Menu Designer,
Vincent Havard.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Headhunter

August 3rd Mercy Wine Bar hosted a post screening party for the soon to be released movie, The HeadHunter. Dallas filmmaker, D. Edward Stanley, produced and directed this film about his life with the King, Elvis Presley. D. Edward / David is the HeadHunter and this is the story of his years on the road with the king. In from LA was actor Matt Barr who brilliantly plays David in the movie. Matt has appeared on the current hit show OC, as well as an episode of CSI, Miami. Peter Dobson, playing the King, drove in from LA to be with us as well. He is credited with playing Elvis in the very successful movie, Forrest Gump. It was a star-studded night for investors of the film. Mercy rolled out the red carpet and the star spotlight was shining all night with limos pulling up. One would have thought we were in LA! Look for the upcoming release of The HeadHunter, coming to a theater near you soon!

October 19th is Mercy Day

October 19 was declared Mercy Day by the City of Addison. Mayor Joe Chow was on hand to present the proclamation to owner Glen Agritelley.

In celebration of the wine harvest, Mercy offered all lady patrons the opportunity to jump into a wine barrel and stomp grapes. The Garden Spa and Gallery was there to provide foot massages for the ladies. The entire evening's proceeds were donated to the Red Cross to help Katrina victims. It was Mercy's way of continuing to provide a great experience for our guests and giving back to the community in a meaningful way.

Everyone had a great time!

Viva Las Vegas '05

Mercy boys make another great pilgrimage to Sin City for the largest men's clothing show in the world. Buying was our mission for next spring and fall for Sebastian's Closet. Wow, where to begin. 7 days in Vegas of wining and dining and a bit of gaming boils down to some of the finest culinary experiences yet! Before the decadence of food and drink there is fashion.......Here it is.......jeans, jeans and more jeans. Flip flops with jeans that are whipped and distressed, t-shirts and suit jackets! Just when you think you have seen all the jeans you can take there is another line to look at. We observed that patrons in the finest restaurants in Las Vegas are wearing jeans!

Now for the foodies and winos! Night one: 3950 at the Mandalay Bay. No more than 20 tables with a waitlist of weeks finds this great boutique hidden away in the corner and easily missed. 3950 is the address of the restaurant. Nuveau Americana cuisine is outstanding with elegant presentation. The restaurant's decor is modern Las Vegas red and black and walking in you escape the madness of the gambling crowds. You are pretty certain to find a celeb or two hidden away in here as this is one of their favorite haunts to get away and enjoy an incredible meal. Their business cards states "reservations are coveted". Gotta love it! After a great meal who swung over to the Flamingo to see George Wallace the comedian. George has been on the road opening for guys such as Tom Jones for over 30 years. He is better and funnier than ever! One of the Mercy boys got called and stage and berated. Very fun evening.

Night 2: One of the highlights of the week: Le Reve, the "Cirque like" show at the Wynn then dinner at Bartolotta's restaurant also at the Wynn. is the website. Check it out. If you have a chance to dine at this establishment do not miss the opportunity to do so. It is like being on the coast of Italy eating seafood caught that day. Paul Bartolotta, chef and owner, has done an incredible job recreating and experience that one can only have by traveling to Italy. This is not to be missed! The entire wine list is Italian. Amazing experience!

Night 3: Bradley Ogden! What can you say about this 1st class experience in culinary delight. Everything is special about this restaurant and the experience you will have here. Service is over the top, as usual and the food is truly amazing. It is no wonder he was voted best new restaurant in Vegas. Book your reservation NOW for this place!

Newly opened Fleur de lys in Mandalay Bay also is an incredible experience in French dining at it's best in Vegas. This is a beautiful restaurant that seats 100 so your evening is intimate, quiet and so incredibly comfortable. A great wine list with a real highlight of great wines by the half bottle. We spent 3 evenings here just having a drink to get tuned up before the night began! Stop in for a glass of wine to see this place or spend your evening here dining. You will not be disappointed! I promise.

Night 6, our last night found us back at Bartolotta's with design guru Arnold Zimberg and his lovely wife Giselle. Dining in the center cabana by the wading pool, chilled as to give you the feeling of air conditioning outside we looked back on this gorgeous restaurant and was taking care of by Chef Bartolotta himself! Doesn’t get much better than this. 2 bottles of Antonari's Tignanello capped off a feast that was fit for Caesar and his court!

Ok, have gone on long enough. Get the picture we had a good time. Gee, if I leave now I can be there by lunch……..Another great Mercy trip! Where to next?

See you are MERCY!


Back to Nashville

Back to Nashville and recording, and look who yours truly gets to hang with: Bucky Barrett, Roy Orbison's lead guitar player, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley’s lead guitar player, and Bob Moore. Now you certainly know the first two but Bob? Bob played bass for all of the Patsy Cline hits in the '50s. Also for such notables as Bobby Darrin, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty - and as a partner in Monument Records, played bass on the original Roy Orbison hits of the early '60s. All three are Grammy Award winners, and Scotty is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Bucky is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. I am not worthy, but wow did I have fun!

Now dining... two new spots were discovered on this trip. First, Zola. Voted Best Menu, Best Chef, and Best Restaurant in Nashville in ’02 and ’03. Great quaint little place with an outstanding wine list. The proprietors are a husband and wife team. Ernie mans the front of the house and was our host and Debra is chef extraordinaire! This couple has taken the name of Zola from a street in Paris. A beautifully appointed space and the food is reflective of the attention to detail and incredible flavors. They are also “winos”. Their list was varied from around the world and very well thought out. Congrats to Nashville. You are lucky to have such a great place. Check it out,

Our last night we stumbled upon a real gem - tayst (pronounced, taste)! Like Zola, this is a one-stop restaurant, independently owned. Owner and GM Dan Morrissey was our host for the evening and a wonderful one at that. Deep red décor, simple but elegant, with B&W photos throughout the establishment. Dan says his place is “rustic elegance” and could not have said it better. Presentation of plates was some of the best I have seen. Everything we had was a home run and looked too good to spoil the presentation of the plate but guess what... we did and we cleaned our plates!

Back to Vegas in a few weeks... more then.

See you at Mercy!


Charlie Trotter's

If there is a culinary "Mecca" in the U.S., one of them has to be Charlie Trotter's. Yours truly ventured to the Windy City last week for an experience of a lifetime: guest chef for a day in the kitchen. After several very fine offers from prominent chefs in Dallas to carry my bags, I decided to do this one alone. Charlie Trotter's has been voted best restaurant in the U.S. for three consecutive years, as well as Charlie having won numerous awards world-wide for his artistic talent in the kitchen.

The restaurant is in a brownstone home in a residential area of Chicago. Very understated from the outside; in fact, it would be easy to walk by without noticing the small brass plaque on the wall with the name of the restaurant on it. The moderately sized kitchen is home to 16 chefs. Yes, 16, all at one time. More kitchen chefs than front of the house people. Everything is spotless, since guests are invited to tour the kitchen as well as the wine cellars all evening. There is a constant parade of guests touring the kitchen throughout the evening's dining. This is a five-star experience at its best. Charlie has created an environment where sustained excellence is the norm, every day with every course and with every plate.

My journey began at 2pm with a lot of prep work. I became part of the team and was given the same tasks to do as any of the other chefs. As the evening approached you feel the momentum building, waiting for the first guest to arrive and that first order to come into the kitchen. In the dining room there is an eight course menu served with paired wines or alone. Every evening one table is set up in the kitchen for four to six guests to dine. Yes, the table is fully dressed and in the kitchen, where you have the opportunity to view all of the happenings. My wife and her party of four dined in the kitchen that evening at the early seating to watch yours truly work. And work I did! The kitchen menu is a 15-course tasting menu, which is a miracle to watch being prepared and served. THE most beautiful presentation one could imagine. I was given the honor of helping plate food that actually went to the guests; no, I didn't lose a finger! The chef I worked with told me, "It is perfect every single time!" Wow, what incredible standards. I was asked, along with the server from my wife’s table, to assist in serving the table and helping describe the dish.

The culmination of the evening was Chef Trotter walking into the kitchen and spending a few minutes with me. You can feel his passion and the level of excellence he commands in his presence. He was the most gracious host and made me feel like part of the team and thanked me for my contribution to the evening's success. What an honor to spend a few minutes with him and see for myself how the "best of the best" works.

At the close of the evening, my wife's server, Conrad, escorted our party outside, hailed a cab for us, opened the cab door and ensured that we took off safely. Right till the very last second, everything was an incredible experience.

Do yourself a favor and treat yourself this one time. It is well worth the price of the ticket to experience Charlie Trotter's! If you are a "foodie" then this is a dining experience that may only happen once in a lifetime!

Until we hit the road again...see you at Mercy!


To Miami

The Mercy Boys + 1 hit the dusty trail again. This time it was our annual pilgrimage to Miami for the NASDAQ 100 tennis tournament. How good is this: sitting in 85 degree weather watching the best tennis players in the world for 8 hours, then hitting South Beach and eating at some of the finest restaurants in the U.S.! I know, ugly job, but we have worked hard to be the ones to carry this heavy burden.

First, the tennis. Absolutely incredible. This is like sitting ringside for the world heavyweight title. One of the two top tennis tournaments in the U.S.

Now for the food: our first night there we made our way up to Delray Beach to meet famed songwriter George Goehring. George is credited with the number one hits from the late '50s by such artists as Connie Francis, Gene Pitney, The Platters, and Elvis! Yes, even the BIG E! We dined with George at a great little neighborhood establishment called the Pineapple Grill. Great local seafood and a super great little wine list. If you can find it, you should definitely make this a stop. What a happening little town Delray Beach is!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday found the Mercy Four (was going to give you the Fab Four but just couldn’t bring myself to do it, sorry) on South Beach trying to find Casa Tua. Once we did, we were awestruck. Great house, converted to a restaurant, tucked behind 20-foot cyprus trees. This is THE hidden gem of Miami. This may have been one of the top 5 dining experiences yours truly has had in the U.S.! Italian in the U.S. at its best! We started our dining excursion off with a super Tuscan, Tassinaia from Castello del Terriccio. A wonderfully smooth, big Tuscan wine that went so well with all the food we tried - and try we did! We started the evening off with a glass of vino on one of the best patios in Miami. Hidden from the traffic and hustle of South Beach you lose yourself, and you actually begin to believe you are somewhere in Tuscany. Hunt this place down and make your reservations early! If you are really adventuresome you’ll try the chef’s table in the kitchen which seats 20 people. It's worth dining with folks you may not know to have the experience of being in the kitchen!

Night 3 found us at another great Italian restaurant in South Beach: Vita. It's one of 3, maybe 4 great Italian restaurants in South Beach. From the outside, it reminds you of a busy neighborhood storefront, but walk in and you find yourself in a modern, hip, & cool restaurant. We decided to venture to another country on our wine excursion and ordered ’96 Elciego Alava Rioja. A small change of pace. The culinary delights of homemade pasta & homemade buffalo mozzarella began our evening. The boys opted for all seafood this night, and no one was disappointed. After a great meal we moved, slowly I might add, to the back outdoor patio. How cool was this! Above the bar, on a brick wall, we could watch an Ingrid Bergman & Cary Grant movie from the early '50s. Open air with Italian lanterns and a full South Beach moon. It doesn’t get much better than this.

For the last supper we decided a dramatic change was needed. We walked into Café Sambal, located in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This is an elegant, upscale Japanese restaurant. In keeping with the trend we started, we opted to move our wine selection to a Malbec, Cadus Malbec, Mendoza, 2002. We knew we’d be spicing it food-wise so we needed a comparable wine. We were not disappointed. This was a fine, smooth, complex Malbec. We dined on big bowls of spicy Maine lobster and Mahi Mahi.

Mercy... another incredible few days of tennis, great food, marvelous wine, and sun!

Until we hit the road again...See you at Mercy!


MERCY ....... We've Turned 2!

Over 400 of Mercy's guests celebrated our second birthday on March 8th. A packed house sampled wines from all over the world and tasted kitchen creations of Chef Snowden. It was a virtual three-ring circus, with a constant show going on featuring performers from The Expressionists Studio.

The evening's celebration was intended to be Mercy's way of thanking you, our guests, for your continued support over the past two years. We will continue to work hard to bring you the best wine experience possible.

For many more photos of the evening's activities, please visit:

To Spain

Yes, I guess it is a bit excessive but yours truly took a quick longweekend trip to Spain. Why you ask? To root on our US Davis Cup team. The US made it to the finals of the Davis Cup playing against the tough Spanish claycourters! We got our butts kicked! Seville was the home site of the games. Largest crowd ever to watch a tennis match. 28,000 people screaming for their country! An incredible experience. Davis Cup is the pinnacle of tennis!

Of course while there I had to try some of the local cuisine and wines. Two major growing regions of Spain are the well-known Rioja region and the lesser-known del Duero region. The Rioja wines are more well-known in the US and tend to be considered more typical of Spanish wines with a bit more dryness to them; however, do try the del Duero region. The Duero River runs through this north central region of Spain and the wines are smooth and silky. 2001 was an incredible year, maybe one of the best in 25 in Spain, much like our '97, and the '01 wines throughout Spain are spectacular. My personal preference is the del Duero wines. The tennis bums and I hit the local little Spanish hangouts and tried the paella. Gets no better than this! The-50 minute wait for the dish was well worth every second. Of course it allowed us time to try another bottle of wine. Americans beware, restaurants don’t open for business until 9pm. I know most of us are getting ready to settle in for a good evening of The Practice by then but when in Spain…. or is it Rome? Oh well, when over there push your lunch later in the afternoon, take a siesta at 4, and get ready for some great culinary delights latenight! The boys took in an authentic flamenco show in some dark back alley which took us several miles of walking to find but well worth it. This is the home of flamenco and worth experiencing. You cannot visit Spain without sampling the tapas! Good chance to sample some local wines by the glass along with a few tapas, then on to the next bar for more. A real fun way to try lots of different things with some local flavor and color of the bartenders.

A beautiful country with warm and friendly people; despite them kicking our butts on the tennis courts, their food and wine are incredible. Don't underestimate the Spanish cuisine and wines.

Mercy... better luck next year, boys!

Yours truly,

Viva Las Vegas '04

The Mercy Boys +1 took on Vegas for another great trip. Our annual pilgrimage to the largest men's clothing show in the world consumed the better part of a week for the boys. Once again we brought our own rock star, Bucky Barrett, and Mr. PR himself, Jeffrey Yarborough. Jeffrey’s company, BigInk, serves as the PR firm for both Mercy and Sebastian’s Closet. Jeffrey is the master of SCHMOOZE. He knows everyone!

Another very successful buying trip, and next spring you’ll see it all. Hold on to your seats because fashion is changing. HURRAY, the grunge look is fading! Bold, bright striped shirts with collars are in. You remember those, right? Some very cool new things made just right for a nice evening at Mercy!

As you'd expect we sampled some of Vegas' finest dining but first, sightings: Brother Leamy sighted Boy George walking out of the men's show! What, was he lost? The women's show was at the other end of the convention center. It was only 3 p.m. -- he must have gotten up early and was disoriented! First night in Vegas the entire team saw Chris Isaak perform at the House of Blues. He is incredible! We worked hard to get into Chris' dressing room before the show to say hello but he was entertaining Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas. Imagine that! After the show Buckster met Chris, a Roy protege who performed with the Big O. Chris was genuinely pleased to meet Brother Bucky. If he comes to your area he is a MUST see.

Night 1, China Grill: A great place. This has become a ritual now. Three years in a row. Great food, consistent and outstanding service. I know, I can hear you now, how can Chinese food be done like this. Well, it is and this place is great!

Next, Simon Kitchen & Bar: Take particular interest in this place -- housed in the Hard Rock Hotel right across the hall from the famed Nobu. Simon has a great menu with home favorites like meat loaf. But you didn’t grow up on this meat loaf. It is over the top! Great pasta dishes, all at moderate prices. He has a great wine list with many unexpected selections. Now here is the best part: Simon's is coming to Dallas. Yes, in the Crescent Hotel. He will be a great addition to the already superb list of restaurants in Dallas. We can’t wait. Well done, Simon, and we look forward to your grand opening in the Big D!

Now for the creme de le creme: Bradley Ogden. Caesar's Palace is home for this elegant establishment. Recently voted Best New Restaurant in the U.S.! You got it, the entire U.S.! Starting with the sleek and elegant decor, it doesn’t feel stuffy or formal at all but relaxed and comfy. You know this is special when the wait staff approaches in tan suits and ties. Chef Ogden changes his menu every day and has a kitchen nearly the size of the dining rooms. We ordered a bottle of '99 Silver Oak. (After all, it was the last night.) We politely let our waitperson know we were from the "cloth" and asked if the chef was able to pay us rogues a visit. Within two minutes the master, Chef Ogden, was standing at our table. I gave him a card, and to our surprise he had heard of Mercy. Score one for the team! He invited us to a private tour of his kitchen after dinner and allowed us to have photos taken with him. This is a culinary Rock Star! This was not just a nice dinner; this was a dining experience that we will all remember. I can honestly say it was one of the finest dining experiences I have had in the U.S. EVER! Everything about the evening was top notch. If you are in Vegas and do not partake of this experience you are missing out on something very big! Call in advance and make your reservations early. Bradley Ogden is THE MAN!

You really can't top that! We are all back safe and sound and looking forward to seeing you at Mercy!

"No one looks as good as you... MERCY!"
Roy Orbison

To London

The entire Agritelley clan plus two made the pilgrimage to Wimbledon this year to attend the tournament. If you are a tennis nut like us, this is Mecca. Despite a rain out day we did see 2 full days of tennis and loved every second. Sitting courtside and watching the likes of Layton Hewitt, Tim Henman, Carlos Moya and Mark Philappossas, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati was an incredible thrill.

In tow was our brother, Bucky Barrett. Bucky and yours truly had the opportunity to do an hour radio interview on the BBC in Liverpool with Billy Butler, an early British rock & roller. He asked about Bucky’s time with Roy Orbison and the release of my recent cd project. We spent most of the Liverpool day touring the Beatles sites with a certified Beatles tour guide. Stood on the stage at the Cavern, the Beatles first major club gig.

London is not necessarily known for being one of the centers of fine cuisine and drink but we at a few outstanding places. The culinary highlight of the trip was J. Sheekey’s restaurant in the theatre district of London. Noted as one of London’s finest seafood restaurants and it certainly lives up to it’s reputation. Great wine list to accompany the great international cuisine. Finding this is not easy but ask ANY cabby in London and they’ll know. Bit of trivia: cabbies in London train for 3-5 years before they are allowed to drive their own cab in London.

We also dined at a great little French bistro called Lou Pescador. Another fine seafood establishment with a definitive French flair. The owner is happy to amuse and abuse you while you make your selections. A fun evening.

A shocker was the show Jailhouse Rock. Musical adaptation of the 50’s Elvis movie. It was incredible. Half way through the show I had to remind myself I was not listening to the King!

Forget even seeing a bottle of California wine on the list. This is a GREAT time to explore the European wines. Great selection of French and Spanish wines with great prices. Highlight at Sheekey’s was a ’97 bottle of Chateau Cantenac Brown Margeaux. A spectacular wine to go with a great meal.

Hardest part of the dining experience is the early evenings. Most places roll up the sidewalks at 11pm. Pubs and wine bars close and pack up for the night. A tradition firmly embedded in the cast system where they workers needed to get home so they could rise for work the next day and not stay out all night drinking. Some traditions need to die. This is one of them!

London is a great city that is easy to get around and offers so much that 8 days is just not enough.


Child Abuse Prevention Center Annual Charity Event

Mercy participated in this year's fundraiser for the Child Abuse Prevention Center of Dallas at the Park Cities Hilton. Yours truly was a celebrity waiter for an evening. The staff at Mercy has nothing to fear from me. I donned the black Mercy t-shirt and served to friends in black tie. One of the partners who got a bit smart was served his salad on his lap. Still in the plate of course! Mattie Roberts, TV host of Mattie in the Morning, chaired the event and notables such as Congressman Pete Sessions, Congressman Martin Frost, and CNN reporter, Ashley Banfield attended. A host of restarauntuers and chefs all served up a fine meal to help raise funds for this very worthy cause. The evening raised over $150,000 for the Prevention Center. Johnny Reno and his big band played to a packed room. What an incredible evening for an incredible cause. No, I won't be serving at Mercy. I'll let the pros do that!


Roy Orbison Party

The Roy Orbison Birthday Party

Could there have been a better place to celebrate Roy Orbison's birthday? Mercy, no. Friday April 23 was Roy's birthday and we brought the new year in for Roy in style. Bucky Barrett, Roy's lead guitar player, was our guest celebrity that evening and what a great job he did as well. Over 200 people attended to listen to Bucky play. He did much of his own, easy listening, tunes then broke into the classic Roy songs that he played so many times with THE MAN! I did bring several pieces from my private collection for everyone to see. Signed albums and pictures added to the ambiance of the evening.

We did have another very special guest show for the evening, Wesley Orbison, Roy's son. Wes wrote co-wrote the song, The Only One, on Roy's last album, Mystery Girl. Wes had a great time at his first visit to Mercy and said as the evening came to a close, "dad would have been really proud of tonight".

Thanks Bucky for the genius you bring to Mercy in your playing and thanks to Wesley for being there.

Oh yes, everyone left with a pair of Roy shades to remember the evening by.


To Aspen

Begin the day with 1985 reserve champagne and continue the first hour of tasting with nothing but '85 vintages from around the world.

This is how we began our visit to the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. Hundreds of wines from around the world were sampled during the weekend festival. We spent two hours exploring the delicacies of the Spanish wine experience. One entire tent was dedicated to Spanish wines. We sampled some incredible wines at incredible bargains. Chile, Spain and South America have some great values right now on some really outstanding wines. Many of these wines we have at Mercy for your pleasure.

Food and wine pairings were a big topic of discussion in many of the seminars. The experts all agreed that the axiom of white with fish and red with meat no longer stands up. Pairing the wine with the accompanying sauce is more appropriate. Many lighter reds are more appropriate with fish. Find the taste that you like the best and "go with it". You certainly wouldn't want to drink a very big red cab with a light, delicate fish. Here is a good rule of thumb we discovered: big tasting food, big tasting wine; light, delicate food gets a more delicate lighter wine. Most interesting of all, a wine that may not taste great as a stand- alone drinking wine may taste incredible with a companion food. Food and wine pairing is about the resulting incredible flavor one gets in one's mouth when the wine and food are combined.

Sitting and watching famed Chicago chef, Charlie Trotter, cook modern day versions from his cookbook written 10 years ago, it is no surprise he is considered one of the best chefs in the US today. It was a rare experience to be in a class watching this master work his magic. His cookbooks are well worth having in your food and wine library. The weekend was capped with a party hosted by Food and Wine Magazine with cooking and tasting stations by the top 10 new chefs in the U.S. From New York to San Francisco and everywhere in between, this was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Aspen abounds with great restaurants. Just to name a few amongst the many there:

Kenichi: Great Japanese food, some of the best we have had. Happening place. When you go there ask for the owner, Billy. A wild man!

Rustique: Country French, incredible food, warm family style environment; Aspen at its best!

Sysygy: Gourmet Continental, elegant contemporary dining. Wonderful fish.

Jimmy's: Hearty steaks, great for drinks even if you are not dining. 75 tequilas! Wow.

To Vegas

The Mercy Boys are on the road again. This time it was eight days in Las Vegas! Wow, how do you survive eight days in Vegas? Perfectly legitimate reason for being there: buying mission for the 2004 spring season for Sebastian's Closet. Covered two complete shows back to back, and the spring fashion season next year is looking GREAT! Very very cool new things happening and you'll be able to partake right next door to Mercy.

Amongst everything else, Las Vegas has become a center point in the US for great restaurants. Many of the great chefs and proprietors have set up shop in Vegas and we took it as our mission to sample as much as we could. Highlights of great dining:

Aureole: Wow, probably one of the most beautiful spaces in Las Vegas. Great cuisine. A must when you go. Wine is selected from notebook computers and you navigate your way through countries with great descriptions. You can select a great wine from the 50,000-bottle inventory. After much contemplation we decided on a superb '97 Brunello that was just out of this world. Once a wine is selected you can watch a "wine angel" navigate a pulley system and scale a three-story-high wine rack that is smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. Incredible experience! Difficult to rival this one! This is nestled in the Mandalay Bay resort. When you are finished dining, work with the concierge of your hotel to get you on the list to get into the Foundation Room, at the top of the Mandalay Bay. Must have your name on the list to get in. By far the most breathtaking view of the strip from the balcony. Very dark wood with great couches, a large movie room playing great concerts and several smaller rooms for more intimate experiences make the Foundation Room one of the most coveted spots on the strip.

China Grill: Staying in the Mandalay Bay, across from Aureole you can enjoy the China Grill. Probably one of the finest Chinese restaurants in the country. You cannot beat this for Chinese food with a definite twist. All is to share and portions are incredibly flavorful. We had a great Coppola Pinot Noir with our dinner that complemented the food superbly; another highlight of the China Grill is their rest rooms. They were written up as one of the top 10 bathrooms in the US by the Travel Channel. An entire experience unto itself! On Wed, after 11 pm, this entire restaurant turns into a very hip cool lounge called Red Dragon. Get there late, the later the better!

Nobu: Now, here is the home run of the century. Call way in advance for reservations. We made ours weeks in advance and were lucky to get in. By far the best Japanese cuisine we have ever had; this has become one of Vegas's best. Hard Rock Hotel serves as home for this little gem. The first was in LA and the next two are in the Big Apple. Incredible service. Ask your waitperson to just "bring you food". You'll be very pleasantly surprised what a great job they do. This will be one of the highlights of the trip! Promise.

There are a few great staples of Vegas that we had to try:

Piero's: This place has been there for 50 years. Frequent guests were the Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra was known to frequently entertain there as it was one of his very favorite restaurants. Fine Italian cuisine with very generous portions. The food was great and the main reason to go is the wait staff. You have to experience this for yourself. Very New York Italian. This is tucked away off the strip a bit but worth the 3-minute cab ride. It is an experience dining there, and one well worth it. Ask your waiter to decant the wine and sit back and enjoy!

Drai's: Another major highlight of the trip. In the bottom of the Barbary Coast, this gem is hidden away. Yes, I said the Barbary Coast Hotel. Has been there forever. I think Bugsy Segal may have stayed there himself! This restaurant is one of the sexiest environments you find. Splashed all in red with zebra- and leopard-patterned couches, it is a great place to hide away. How unexpected is this in the middle of the strip? Food and service are awesome. The red walls are bathed in candlelight. Candles everywhere! Loved it!

Rosemary's: The Rio Hotel is home to this casual dining experience. Great space with a great view from the hotel. We thought the wine list needed a bit more to it, but overall the food was good and the space is very cool. There are so many great places to experience in Vegas, if you are there for your 3rd or 4th time during the year, this would be one to try. We put it on the "B" list where the others were on the "A" list.

Lounges: The latest term is "Ultra Lounge." The hotspot in Vegas is Tabu. The MGM Grand Hotel is home to this wild and wooly spot. The boys hit it at 1 am to find a line of about 50 people outside. Having pulled a couple of strings, we were fortunate to have our name on the list to get in. The place is rockin'. Guys, you cannot wear sandals. Ripped jeans are cool, but NO sandals. Must have shoes. Two weeks before we were there, Tom Jones was partying with a bevel of beauties along with Dom Perignon. It is THE place. Worth a visit. V Bar: The Venetian is where you'll find this great little spot. Has been there for a while and this will be our 3rd or 4th visit to this great space. Very sleek and chic. Great music and comfy couches make this a happening place. Oh yeah, great wide screen TV showing flicks like "Old School" make this a very fun place.

Sounds like we didn't do much but eat and drink the entire week. NOT TRUE.... The troops made it to a couple of shows and took our buddy, Bucky Barrett (Roy Orbison's lead guitar player,, to see his first Cirque Due Soleil, MYSTERE. Our opinion is that this is the best of them. Incredible experience for everyone from 3 to 80! Don't miss this.

Another night found us at the pool of the Hard Rock in a private party standing five feet from the bandstand experiencing the Gypsy Kings. How cool is this;, we are there with one of the best guitar players in the world, Grammy award winner and he says, "man, these guys can play, they are incredible". The Gypsy Kings were incredible! If you don't have their music run and buy it!

Eight days seems like a long time in Sin City but let me tell you, we covered some ground. Oh, yes, the trade show was great! We got some very cool stuff for spring of '04. Loud stripes and shirt tails out, guys! Tim Leamy, one of the Mercy boys and manager of Sebastian's, can help get you set for the new season. Men and Ladies, stop by and see him.

The Mercy Boys!

To Nashville

The Mercy Team Travels to Nashville

Well, the saga continues! Half of the Mercy team traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for a long weekend to visit our brother, Bucky Barrett. We found out that Brother Bucky was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. What an honor! We hope you have had the pleasure of experiencing Bucky's playing. If not, go out and buy the duet with Roy Orbison and k.d. Lang. Bucky won his Grammy for the guitar work on that song. Look for him live at Mercy in the near future.

OK, so on to the culinary delights of Nashville. Our all-time favorite place is the Boundary. What an incredibly cool space, and the food and wine are just superb. This is probably the hippest spot in all of Nashville. Now if hard core country music is more toward your liking, then Tootsie's is the place. Wear your boots, hat and crease those jeans. Not so at the Boundary. Hip and cool are in at the Boundary. A two-story restaurant with a third-floor, very very cool, tree-top bar. You feel like you are in a tree house with open air all around you. Several ideas for Mercy were inspired by this great place. Wine selection for the night was a Melbec, 2001 Cetena from Argentina. Wow, this was a very yummy wine. I must admit we drank a couple of bottles, it was so good. OK, we started with a 2000 Shafer Merlot. Very nice way to start the evening. The wine selection is outstanding with many things that are unique to one or two restaurants in the state and the Boundary has them. Very nice wine list by the glass as well! They also have over 100 beers from around the world. Here is a great tid-bit of news on the Boundary: the accountant is also the #1 poker player in the world. For those of you who watch poker on ESPN you'd recognize Chris Money Maker. Yes, he just won the world championship of poker. Very nice guy - well, he may have been bluffing with us also!

Evening #2 found us in another great restaurant in Nashville, Café Margot. Now, here is an interesting story. This used to be an old-time gas station on the corner and was converted over into a great little restaurant. Good-size bar with a few tables downstairs and a mezzanine with tables upstairs as well. We have our favorite table overlooking the bar from the top. Great food, continental gourmet cuisine. Elegantly done! Very nice wine selection and that night we enjoyed a '99 Tenuta, Guado al Tasso, Antonari. A very big but delicious selection.

Evening #3 found us back at the Boundary for one more great dinner before hitting the Grand Old Opry. Yes, you got it, the Mercy Boys + Bucky did the Opry. Saw some great talent and some well... let us just say not-so-great talent. The reason we did this little gig was to hear the group The Mavericks. Recently reunited, the lead singer is a RoyO protégé named Raul Mayo. A first for the boys. Afterward back to the Boundary's sister restaurant, Southstreet. Who was camped out in the corner? Raul and Mavericks. We journeyed over and introduced ourselves and had a great visit with these super nice guys. If you haven't had the pleasure, get some of their music. Recently released CD has them on tour promoting it. Well worth a listen to!

A great time with great company in a great city. Unique from anywhere else in the US. The music influence is everywhere! Love it!

Stay tuned. More to come!