All posts by Rachel P

Shake Shack Plano is here!

Shake Shack Plano is now open for business! Blazing the trail for a lineup of pretty amazing restaurants planned for the new Legacy West development, the Plano Shack marks the second DFW location for the NYC chain; the first was in Uptown.

ShackBurger, Link Burger, and Fries

In addition to Shake Shack’s classic lineup of juicy burgers, crinkle cut cheese fries and frosty shakes, the Plano location features a special selection of locally inspired menu items. Sink your teeth into a Link Burger, topped with a Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheddar sausage link, and wash it down with something cold and local from Four Corners Brewing Co. or Deep Ellum Brewing.

Brat Burger

Oh, and by all means, save room for dessert. Locally inspired offerings at the Plano shack include a tempting lineup of custard concretes: the West Slide (vanilla custard, Sugar Ray’s old fashioned strawberry cupcake, and strawberry puree), the Top Twirl (chocolate custard, Top Knot banana chocolate cake and miso caramel) and the Pie Oh My (vanilla custard and slice of Emporium Pies seasonal pie).

PRO TIP: If you’re running by during your lunch hour, use the app to preorder and skip the line!

SHAKE SHACK PLANO
shakeshack.com
7401 Windrose Avenue, Plano (in Legacy West)

Opening Hours:
11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday – Thursday
11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday

 

Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts

The holidays have come and gone, and that means the one gift you agonized over has been given. So … what can your go-to gift for the year be?  You know … for the person who has everything. Do your friends like to cook? Or as a minimum … do they like to eat? I have the perfect (read: delicious) solution for you: give the gift of a culinary education, with a little help from Chef Tre Wilcox and American Kitchen Cookware.

At the end of 2016, Julia Pearl‘s Chef Tre Wilcox (you may also recognize him from Bravo’s “Top Chef”, or impressively taking down Iron Chef Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef America”) opened Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts: a beautiful event venue in Plano, featuring a state of the art demonstration kitchen with four cooking stations. Cooking Concepts offers everything from themed cooking classes, to team building events, to catering services. Cooking Concepts’ partnership with American Kitchen Cookware is a match made in culinary heaven, giving would-be Wolfgangs and Giadas the opportunity to experiment with some beautiful cookware that is actually affordable.

I had the opportunity to participate in a cooking class with Chef Tre and his crew, and here are a few things I can share:

  1. This is not one of those “cooking classes” where you sit back and watch someone else do all of the heavy lifting while you half-watch amidst socializing with your friends and sipping mediocre wine from a plastic cup. Oh, no. I have very few pictures from this event, and this is because I was constantly chopping, stirring, sautéing, or pan-searing something. You are going to earn your dang dinner.
  2. That said … you will not be thrown to the wolves. Each of the four demo stations were staffed with one of Chef Tre’s kitchen minions, who were A) extremely talented, B) extremely helpful, and C) REALLY INTO FOOD … kind of like that Central Market deep voice guy but remarkably less annoying.
  3. You may learn that you’re doing everything wrong in the kitchen. Just accept this heading into the experience. There can’t really be a “wrong” way to chop an onion, right? Oh, on the contrary. There is, and it’s the way you’ve been doing it all along. Get ready to make some adjustments, and you will learn some time saving (and injury saving and perhaps even watery eye saving … ) hacks you will want to use at home.
  4. You can cook a delicious, impressive, restaurant quality meal. Ok, so maybe it’s under the watchful eye of someone who is slightly more well versed in the kitchen than you are, but that’s a technicality.   Shrimp and grits … pan seared scallops … Thai coconut salmon … yeah, I created all of these dishes. (Me, the UberEats Queen.)
Picture courtesy of American Kitchen Cookware

Here is a list of upcoming cooking classes, with themes running the gamut from sushi, to Southern cooking, to knife safety.  Note: Cooking Concepts is offering a couples’ cooking class for Valentine’s Day, which is coming up quickly. So, make your plans! Online registration is available. Classes are small, and will fill up quickly!

If you’re going to surprise the aspiring chef in your life with a Tre Wilcox cooking class, you may as well give them the right tools to be successful once the class is in the books. Check out American Kitchen Cookware to peruse some of the cookware Chef Tre uses in his demo kitchen. You’ll want to take some home with you.

Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts
trewilcox.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
8200 Preston Road, Suite 135 (Plano)
(214) 296-2168

A great, big “thank you” to Chef Tre Wilcox and American Kitchen Cookware for inviting me out to get schooled … and fed! It was so much fun!

Now Open: Smashburger in The Colony

Smashburger, the quality-obsessed, Colorado-based, “better burger” chain, is spreading like wildfire. In November, they opened their most recent Dallas-Fort Worth location in The Colony on State Hwy 121, just east of Josey Lane.

If you’ve never experienced Smashburger before, you’re not doing it right. Smashburger’s commitment to building a “better burger” starts out with high-quality ingredients. Fresh, never frozen, natural Certified Angus beef is “smashed” for exactly ten seconds on a 385º buttered grill top. The burger perfectionists at Smashburger have the “smashing” down to a science; this time and temperature has proven to be the secret to locking in that juicy goodness, while crisping the bottom of the burger to a crispy, caramelized shell. Hungry yet? Your burger is then nestled between a soft, buttery artisan bun, and topped with fresh, high-quality ingredients.

What kind of ingredients, you might ask? Well, that’s up to you. With burger offerings that include spinach & goat cheese, spicy jalapeño Baja, and buffalo blue cheese, the sky is (more or less) the limit. Feeling inventive? Take your shot at BYOB (that’s building your own burger), instead.

If burgers aren’t your thing, Smashburger also offers delicious chicken (grilled or crispy) sandwiches, as well as a black bean burger in their lineup. If you’re inclined to ditch the bun altogether, try indulging in one of Smashbruger’s fresh, plentiful salads. If you’re looking for a little something on the side, four equally tempting varieties of fries are available: Traditional French Fries, Smash Fries (seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, and garlic- my personal recommendation), Spicy Buffalo Fries, and Sweet Potato Fries. Also available: Onion Rings and Fried Pickles. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, try the Veggie Frites- a flash-fried side of green beans and carrot strips.

If you do opt to demonstrate remarkable discipline and choose the Veggie Frites for your side, I think it’s only fair to reward your responsible decision with a delicious hand-spun milkshake. (That’s how this works, right?) Smashburger handcrafts all of their shakes with Häagen-Dazs ice cream, in a range of irresistible flavors like Nutterbutter, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Oreo. I highly recommend stopping in for their seasonal shake offering, the Belgian Cookie Crumble- sweet cookies blended with vanilla ice cream and notes of cinnamon and caramel, topped with cookie crumbs and whipped cream. Holy yum.

Smashburger serves a variety of rotating local craft beers from the likes of Deep Ellum Brewing and Rahr and Sons, to name a few. You will want to keep this in mind, come warmer weather. Conveniently located just a stone’s throw from Lake Lewisville, I’m hard-pressed to think of a better way to conclude a day on the water than indulging in a juicy Smashburger, a piping hot stack of Smashfries, and an ice cold local craft beer on Smashburger’s new patio. Note to self: This is happening.

SMASHBURGER – The Colony
smashburger.com
214-618-0880
-multiple locations- & 4940 State Highway 121, Suite 125 (The Colony)

Open  daily 10:00 AM- 10:00 PM

 

Studio Movie Grill: New Menu Items

Studio Movie Grill continues to think outside the (popcorn) box with their ever-expanding, evolving menu offerings.  With a lineup of seven new menu items to choose from, now is as good a time as any to liberate yourself from that $9 Coke and $11 box of stale Raisinettes.

Thirsty? Studio Movie Grill has added two new adult beverage options to the lineup:

You’re an adult, so you’ve clearly earned the right to enjoy dessert before dinner. That said, this frozen cocktail tastes like it’s straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The Bailey’s Cookie Butter features Kahlua, Monin Cookie Butter, Bailey’s, and Pepsi ($9). Yes, you can taste the Pepsi … and I assure you, it totally works.

The Fiery Apple is here just in time for chillier weather; this combination of Angry Orchard and Fireball ($9) will warm you up inside quicker than this season’s biggest Rom Com.

Studio Movie Grill’s five new edible offerings are sure to rival what’s on the big screen as the “Feature Presentation”:

Their Seared Ahi Tuna is mixed ruby greens, edamame, roasted peppers, avocados with wasabi lime drizzle. Surprisingly fresh and delicious, you can’t go wrong here. Unless you’re watching “Finding Dory” … then, you might try, ya know, not fish. ($12)

The Blackened Chicken Flatbread Pizza (Southwestern cheeses, roasted chiles, onions, cilantro) was delightfully spicy and seemed downright healthy. ($11.50)

Their Scratch Tempura Onion Rings are served with a zesty Creole dipping sauce which gives these hot, crispy, and dangerously addictive rings a nice zing. ($6.95)

While it’s a bit of a departure from traditional spaghetti and meatballs, even the Corleones would have to admit that the Blackened Chicken Pasta is pretty delicious; Blackened Chicken, cavatappi pasta, bacon, green and red onions, tossed in a Southwestern cream sauce. ($13)

I can’t really think of a cheesy movie-related joke to make about their Roasted Pepper and Garlic Hummus that’s served with fresh cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, and toasted flatbread. If you’re a hummus enthusiast, you may be interested to learn that there is an actual movie devoted to the topic of hummus that is purportedly sweeping the nation as we speak. Seriously, this is a real thing. ($8.25)

Studio Movie Grill Daily Specials: 

MONDAY: $5 House Margaritas, $5 Regular Popcorn
TUESDAY: Ask Your Server About Our $5 Food + Beverage Specials!
WEDNESDAY: $5 Big Beer Cans, Endless Pizza (One Topping, No Sharing)
THURSDAY: $5 Deep Eddy Handmade Vodka You-Call-Its, $5 Desserts
FRIDAY + SATURDAY: $5 Off Margarita Pitchers, $5 Betty’s Blend & SMG Cellars (Glass)
SUNDAY: $5 Betty’s Blend & SMG Cellars (Glass), $5 Ice Cream Sundae

STUDIO MOVIE GRILL
studiomoviegrill.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Click for Texas locations

A great, big “thank you” to Studio Movie Grill for having me out to try the tasty new menu lineup, and for creating a situation in which I was able to manipulate my 40 year old husband into watching Moana with me, which I’m pretty sure he secretly enjoyed. 

The Second Floor Fall Offerings

The culinary team at The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich always manages to keep things fresh and interesting–and most importantly, delicious. With new addition Chef Ryan Barnett (formerly of Stephen Pyles) at the helm, this certainly continues to be the case. I recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to Second Floor to check out a French-inspired “Classics” prix-fixe menu that ran for a limited time. From the first bite of French Onion Soup down to the last taste of Cambozola en Croute, each dish was flawless and exceeded my expectations. Other highlights of the evening included a beautifully seared Steak Diane, as well as a masterfully executed Rack of Lamb. Thoughtfully curated wine pairings were available for each course. Chef Barnett informed me plans for future prix-fixe menus are on the horizon, so keep on eye The Second Floor’s website for a peek at what’s to come.

In the meantime, The Second Floor has debuted a new lineup of fall menu offerings that you won’t want to miss. Among them, the Texas Gold Shrimp & Grits with an anchiote tequila cream sauce ($14/$25), an Orecchiette Pork Ragu with slow-braised pork jowl ($15/$24), and a Lobster Risotto with roasted butternut squash ($14/$36). And, consider drinking your dessert; The Second Floor’s featured fall cocktail (created by Gina Gottlich) the Caramel Appleton, is made with Ciroc Apple, Bailey salted caramel, butterscotch, cranberry, cream and garnished with a caramel rim ($13). If whiskey is closer to your speed, check out the Cinnamon Whiskey Sour (Makers 46, cinnamon, cranberry, citrus, rocks–$13). See the full fall menu here.

The Second Floor Happy Hour:

  • Speciality cocktail of the day (changes daily) $5
  • Domestic Beer $4
  • “The Best Wine in the City”, Honoro Vera, Garnacha, Spain, or Les Costieres de Pomerols, Picpoul de Pinet, $5
  • Various Snacks and Small Bites $2-5

The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich
13340 Dallas Parkway (inside Galleria Dallas, Level 2)
(972) 450-2978

 

State Fair Treats & Walmart: a Marriage Only Texans Would Understand

The State Fair of Texas ends today, … didn’t get a chance to make it out there this year? (Or, you just simply weren’t in the mood to navigate a sweaty sea of humanity in the sweltering heat, intermittently pausing to open up your wallet and shake it until it’s empty?) Well, I have good news for you and your taste buds … but, bad news for your cholesterol count. A variety of deep-fried, State Fair favorites are now available, indefinitely, at none other than … Walmart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s such a delightfully perfect pairing (and I do not think I need to elaborate as to why that is). State Fair Treats has opened up shop inside of the Coit Rd. location in Plano.

fullsizerender_1

Isaac Rousso, three-time winner of the Big Tex Choice Award for “Most Creative” deep-fried offerings, is the mastermind behind this amazing marriage of commerce and culinary delights. (You can thank Rousso for the imagining of past delicacies including the Fried Pop-tart, Smoky Bacon Margarita, and Deep-Fried Cuban Rolls.) State Fair Treats features a 45 snacks and treats from the requisites like corn dogs and nachos to indulgent sweet treats like Funnel Cake Fries, Fried Oreos, and the Texas Bluebonnet (a cream cheese-stuffed, deep-fried blueberry muffin topped with whipped cream and more blueberries). I may have had one two, and it was admittedly delicious. Rousso’s award-winning Cookie Fries will join the lineup of goodies this week.

While you won’t find any livestock or midway games at State Fair Treats, it’s definitely worth stopping in for an indulgent goodie or two … and bonus: you’ll still have enough cash left to buy whatever a goodie from Walmart on the way out.

State Fair Treats
StateFairTreats.com
Facebook
425 Coit Road., Plano (Located inside Walmart)
(972) 612-9637

Hours: daily, 7am (yes, they have breakfast) – 9pm

***Thanks to State Fair Treats for inviting us in to check out the fried goodness!***

Shake Shack is here!

— post collab: words by Rachel Farrar, pictures by Susie O. —

It’s finally here! NYC’s very own burger Mecca, Shake Shack, has opened up shop in Uptown, smack dab in front of The Crescent. Admittedly, I was a little taken aback. Being a Shake Shack virgin, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Was there any possible way burgers and shakes could live up to the hype? The short answer is: Yes.

As soon as I sunk my teeth into my ShackBurger, I understood. My burger was juicy but not greasy, perfectly seared, and amazingly flavorful. Shake Shack uses freshly ground 100% natural Angus beef, featuring a proprietary (read: delicious) “Shack blend”. The soft, fresh potato bun snuggling my burger + toppings was the perfect accompaniment. Equally delicious, the decadent hand-spun peanut butter Shake I sipped on alongside my meal.

Shake Shack Uptown has incorporated a few menu offerings that highlight local favorites, including the Link Burger, topped with a Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheese sausage link (pictured above), and the Dallas Pie Oh My, a custard concrete blended with a slice of seasonal pie from Emporium Pies. (Look for pumpkin … just released today!) Oh My, indeed.

Some bonus items:

  • Local beers are available on tap along with Abita’s absolutely delicious root beer.
  • It’s dog-friendly and they even offer a couple of menu items for dogs. (Suh cute.)
  • Their Shack-cago Dog is real damn delicious thanks to the 100% Vienna beef dog … but watch out for the pepper. That’s some unexpected spice, my friends.

shake-shack_chicago-dog_susie-oszustowicz

As if the food wasn’t enough of a draw, it also bears mentioning that the Shake Shack Uptown location is incredibly cool. With plenty of patio seating available under the shade of towering oak trees, this is a perfect spot for al fresco grubbing, relaxing, and people watching. Lawn games like Bocce Ball are also available, if you are so inclined.  Even cooler?

 

Shake Shack – Uptown Dallas
shakeshack.com
2500 N Pearl Street (in Crescent Court), Dallas
214.983.1022

Hours
11AM – 10PM, Sunday – Thursday
11AM – 11PM, Friday & Saturday

 

Pakpao Thai Plano

Add another gem to Collin County’s increasingly impressive  lineup of Dallas hotspots making their way north because Pakpao Thai just opened their third location in West Plano Village. Highly accessible (located at Parker and the Tollway), plenty of parking, and a great patio situation; what more could a Suburbanite such as myself ask for? Well, great food, for one thing. Luckily, Pakpao delivers.

Pakpao and celebrity chef Jet Tila welcomed guests at a grand opening with some of their favorites: their take on the swirled margarita, the “Chula-Rita“- featuring premium tequila infused with lemon grass for 10 days ($9). With a cocktail menu featuring an array of fittingly exotic ingredients (think tamarind, lychee, and Thai basil), you’re sure to find something new to try (and love). Pakpao features an assortment of Thai beers (in addition to the usual suspects), and a nice assortment of wines, which are, well … not Thai. (This isn’t a bad thing.)

img_8822

We started out with an array of appetizers, including the Beef Jerky Trio–Salty Thai, Spicy BBQ, and Massaman Curry jerky–each paired with a local beer ($14). If there are two things Texans love, meat and beer and high on the list, so I don’t really see how Pakpao can go wrong with this offering. Personally, I was impressed by the Crispy Morning Glory Salad … because, speaking of things Texans love, THIS WAS BASICALLY A FRIED SALAD, Y’ALL. Crispy Thai Spinach, shrimp, shallot, yum dressing, and cucumber relish ($12) … I promise you, you are going to want this “salad” in your life.

 

We sampled a variety of entrees, including the Chicken Pad Thai ($12), which I heard more than one diner proclaim to be their favorite pad thai in DFW. The Drunken Noodles ($12) were also a big hit, with just the right balance of Thai basil and a savory sweet sauce. If noodles aren’t your speed, try the Short Rib with Massaman Curry, with tender braised short rib, sweet potato, tamarind, peanuts, and massaman curry sauce ($19), definitely a hearty meal worthy of sharing. I would be remiss not to mention an unassuming little side dish that was unceremoniously placed our table, the Coconut Jasmine Rice ($5). Holy crap, you guys. Get this. It was one of the most talked about dishes of the evening, with its perfect creamy texture and mildly sweet flavor; a total crowd pleaser.

Save room for dessert, because the Thai Donuts ($7) are pleasantly reminiscent of delicious beignets; except for the accompanying plum jam and condensed milk, which as it turns out are perfect for dipping.

Pakpao Thai also features a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The brunch menu is really interesting, and definitely a departure from your requisite Eggs Benedict. Pakpao offers a happy hour Monday-Friday, 4-6pm, featuring $5 Chula-Ritas, Thai beer, and house wine, in addition to select appetizers available for just $5.

Pakpao Thai – Plano
pakpaothai.com
3310 Dallas Pkwy (Parker & the Toll Road)
972-378-1224