Rita Cook

Travels with rita

It’s right around the corner and even if she says she doesn’t want anything this year, you’d better get her something anyway. For men, a nice couples spa treatment might be the perfect way for you both to say “I love you” in style.   

Several hotels in the area are offering Valentine treatment packages that are above and beyond the usual way to say you care. If that’s not enough we’ve also included a brand new French Bistro that scores high marks in our world. 

At the Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa two treatments come highly recommended. The “Berried in Chocolate” treatment for two is a 50-minute piece of heaven offering a relaxing dual 50-minute Swedish massage in the comfort of a duet suite, which allows for total privacy as well as a Hot Chocolate Exfoliation Body Scrub. Complimentary Chocolate-covered strawberries and a glass of champagne end the experience along with 20-minutes in the hydrotherapy bath.

In fact, if you don’t like chocolate it’s just a matter of time after this treatment, and coupled with one of the best spas in Dallas; relaxing and hip, you might not leave. The therapists are experts, the treatment options all year long are unique and innovative and the no-fuss elegance, it makes for the perfect place to spend an afternoon or even the weekend. The women’s changing room also has two hydrotherapy tubs, which you can enjoy before or after your treatments (if you didn’t have the chance to experience it in the duet room).

“I like chocolate now, what does that say?” said Russell Dandridge after experiencing the Berried in Chocolate treatment last week. “It makes it extra special with your spouse, too.”

Another option, the two-hour Lavender Aphrodisiac Decadence for Two. This treatment begins with a scrub with lavender and patchouli oils that provides exfoliation to your entire body. The body scrub is followed by a healing 50-minute Swedish massage and a hydro-tub treatment. Each guest receives a glass of champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and a robe to take home.

And, for you women who just want to surprise your man, give him the Men’s Under the Radar Renewal; a three-hour relaxing morning that includes men’s skincare treatment, a Stoneleigh luxe deep tissue massage and a men’s manicure.

The Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa, 2927 Maple Ave., Dallas, Texas  800-921-8498        www.stoneleighhotel.com

Not far from The Stoneleigh Hotel on McKinney Avenue, the Ritz Carlton Dallas has a number of features to enjoy, most notably the spa. Not just for Valentines, but for the entire spring season check out the Slip Into Spring package. The package includes a 25-minute lunchtime pedicure, 25 minute exfoliating body polish and a 25-minute shoulder and neck massage. There’s not much you can argue with here, and if you’re smart you’ll let him know exactly the gift you want complete with a big, red heart.

For men, the spa also offers a number of gentleman’s services, from the Fitness and Sports Massage to the Gentleman’s Hot Towel Facial and, with 12,000 square feet this place has been called “Texas’ most exclusive Dallas spa experience” with spacious treatment rooms, two VIP couple’s suites, a dry cedar sauna and eucalyptus steam rooms.

Ritz Carlton Dallas, 2121 McKinney Ave., Dallas, Texas 214-922-0200      www.ritzcarlton.com

Where to dine: Make it French

It’s not often that we go into a restaurant and can’t decide what to order from the menu because everything looks so good, in fact, we’re usually bored when we even take a peek. My eyes lit up however, as did Russell’s recently when we visited Bonnie Ruths Bistro, which opened a few weeks ago in Watters Creek in Allen, Texas. We were speechless and if you know me, well, that’s a big deal.  First, the co-owner Ernie is worth stopping in to say hello to just because he is so friendly, but that’s another story.

Parisian favorites, beginning with a glass of French red wine and go from there.  First we’ll say that Bonnie Ruths really is a quintessential Parisian bistro down to the harlequin-checkered flooring, distressed mirrors, brass accents, red leather banquettes and vintage French art, but then we’ll add our own opinions too. 

We started with three appetizers since we couldn’t just decide on one; Moules Mariniere, Prince Edward Island mussels with lemon butter, wine, garlic, parsley, tomato confit, and pan grilled bread, the lamb lollipops and an assortment of garlic rubbed tartine (crostini). The crostini was excellent. My favorite of the group the white beans ragout and duck confit. 

With all three appetizers we were oohing and aahing, but it was the Prince Edward mussels that kept us talking long after they had wrestled it from our table to bring out the main courses.  The sauce was “gods food” and both Russell and I looked around considering drinking it, ooh la la marvelous.

The main courses were the Spagetti Aux Noix and a Bone-in Center Cut Pork Loin Chop with a Calvados brandy reduction, potato celeriae puree and sautéed asparagus.  For anyone who enjoys food, this is beyond what you’ll find at those establishments always winning awards on a regular basis, can we take the chef home by the way?

Maybe I’m just French at heart, I always thought so.

But wait, dessert was next and it was four pastry selections we just had to try.  They don’t even have a pastry menu because there are too many items to choose from; however, read my lips “Red Velvet Cake” and I am sure it was made in heaven.

The restaurant’s name, Bistro Francais et Patisserie, translates to French bistro and pastry shop and this new Allen outpost recaptures the ambience and character of a classic Parisian patisserie with its European bentwood chairs, crystal chandeliers and hand painted murals.  

Just for the record too, Happy Hour at Bonnie Ruths is Monday to Friday from 4-7 p.m. with $5 well martinis, $2 off well cocktails and $1 off beer and wine.

Bonnie Ruths Watters Creek; 916 Garden Park Drive,  Allen, Texas 214-244-4990   www.bonnieruths.com

Rita Cook is a freelance travel columnist, whose columns appear frequently in the Waxahachie Daily Light. Russell Dandridge, her husband, contributed to this column.