Category Archives: Contributor

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen may be filling the spot of Grayson Social, but they are certainly setting themselves apart from the previous southern-style restaurant. This new joint has all the comfort food you could possibly need … and the whiskey list to match, The space lends a feel of porch sitting at Grandma’s after enjoying a home cooked meal.

They’re all about the whiskey and bourbon at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen, and if their “Whiskey Bible” doesn’t do it for you, then I don’t know what will. The extensive book features history lessons, cocktail recipes, and plenty of information on whiskey. As for their cocktail menu, they feature drinks such as their Maker’s Mark Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, Whisk(e)y Sour, and even whiskey flights. (For non-whiskey drinkers, they also have wine, beer, and various signature cocktails available.)

I went with the Kentucky Buck (Four Roses whiskey, fresh muddled strawberries, lemon, ginger, and bitters), and it was SOOOO refreshing—perfect for those wanting to get into whiskey drinking, but not necessarily be hit with it like a sack of bricks.

Now, as a Southerner, I take my Southern-style cuisine very seriously. They do a great job providing traditional Southern fare alongside current crowd favorites like hushpuppies with roasted chili honey butter and Crushed Avocado (aka guacamole) with chimichurri and black pepper crackers.

The main dishes are packed with flavor and cooked perfectly. I suggest the Beer Can Chicken with apple cornbread stuffing, almonds, charred carrots—order it with can of Lonestar for just an extra $2! The Bourbon Braised Short Rib with Lakewood Bourbon Barrel Temptress glaze, asparagus, and brown butter mashed potatoes was also quite intriguing and we decided was worth a return visit for us. If you’re into fish, you might enjoy the Pan Seared Salmon with black-eyed peas, ham hock, pickled shallot, and watercress.

 

The only logical way to end a filling meal is to overstuff yourself with delicious sweets—am I right? It’s pretty hard to choose between the Cast Iron Bread Pudding and the Banana Cream Pie … so just go ahead and get both.

Courtesy of Elm Street Cask and Kitchen

 

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen offers Happy Hour pricing Monday-Friday from 2pm to 7pm featuring $5 bites, $5 select drinks, and $12 chili dog/draft beer/TX bourbon shot combos.


Elm Street Cask & Kitchen
ElmStreetCaskKitchen.com
1525 Elm Street (Downtown)
Facebook | Instagram

*Header photo courtesy of Elm Street Cask & Kitchen*

bartaco in Preston Center

Bartaco may be new to town, but they’re not new to the game. Margaritas and tapas-style taco bites are their specialty, and they know how to do them right. With a uniquely Asian flair, bartaco has something for everyone.

We started with margaritas, specifically the Pomegranate Margarita and the Classic Margarita, both of which were delicious and smooth. The Pomegranate Margarita is actually part of their “Margarita March” promotion, but more on that later on (skip to the bottom if you really can’t wait that long).

I would suggest starting your meal with some salsa roja and corn tortilla chips, which you get to break yourself; and the duck quesadillas, which are tender and served in a blue corn tortilla. If you’re looking for something lighter, the tuna poke is a colorful and refreshing option.

Everything ordered at bartaco is served family style in small tapas form, so you can order as much as you want and not feel guilty about it at all! Each taco will run you $2.50 – $3.50.

We tried a ton of tacos—the baja fish, spicy chorizo, falafel, fried oyster, glazed pork belly, carne asada, and Brussels sprout. All of the tacos were delicious, but the crowd favorite was the Brussels sprout taco … which isn’t even officially on the menu! It comes with a sweet balsamic glaze and spicy carrot purée, which tastes more like a sweet potato mash and works beautifully with the other ingredients. This taco was so good that we ordered a second to share.

We supplemented our taco frenzy with a side of Asian slaw and black beans with sofrito. Sides are easy to add on at just $2.50 each!

Round two of drinks hit the table to help us finish our meal. We (greatly) enjoyed the Mojito Tinto (Flor de Caña silver rum, winter spiced sangria, lime, mint, and sugar) and, of course, the Smoke on the Water (Banhez mescal, Pisco, pineapple, lemon, bitters, and egg white), pictured below. bartaco also serves bottled and canned beers, wines by the glass, and sangrias by the glass or liter.

If you’re anything like me and need to end your meal with something sweet, then the platanos fritos are the way to go. They come with a side dish of a mayo dip, but I personally think they taste better dipped in chocolate gelato. If anyone has tricks for kicking a bad sugar habit, I’m all ears.


Now, back to the Margarita March news that we’ve all been waiting for. Each week in March, bartaco will feature a different specialty margarita, like the Pomegranate Margarita mentioned above (Liber grapefruit cordial, lime juice, lucardo marascino, and Libelula Joven Tequila*). The drinks are only around for one week each in March, so grab your friends, order some tacos, and get to living the #bartacolife!

Photo courtesy of bartaco

BARTACO
bartaco.com
6130 Luther Lane (Preston Center)
Instagram | Twitter

 

*This tequila was selected specifically for bartaco by Destilladora Bonanza and is crafted in the highlands of Jalisco (obviously … or it wouldn’t be Tequila!)

Catch Lovers Seafood’s new menu and patio

Blue crab and truffle deviled eggs.
Crispy shrimp corn dogs.
Maytag blue cheese potato chips.

Say what??

These are just a few of the things you can find on Chef Kent Rathbun’s new menu at Lovers Seafood and Market. I recently had the chance to sample a little bit of everything from this new menu and hear all about their new weekly specials … and you’re gonna want to go check it out.

The tasting started off on a boozy note with the unveiling of their signature cocktails. The tasting lineup featured their Marfa Mary and Gypsy Wife along with a classic, the Corpse Reviver. Each of them were light enough to start the meal nicely without blowing out your palate. (They were also delightful to enjoy on their cute patio!) My personal favorite was the Gypsy Wife (Ketel One, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, grapefruit, basil and lime). This should be no surprise since I’m very into grapefruit-based cocktails lately.

These delicious cocktails are half priced during their happy hour which you can check out Monday through Saturday from 3-6pm. The happy hour also features half priced oysters … such a steal! It’s also very important to note that on Wednesdays they have half priced martinis all night long.

On the new menu, you’ll notice that they have added more grill-oriented items like the Roadhouse Cheeseburger and tender kale salad. This is part of their strategy to re-brand as more than just a seafood spot. (Rumor has it that they will soon change their name to “Lovers Seafood + Grill”.) I love that there were multiple healthy options on the menu like the charbroiled burger bowl that was served over quinoa and sweet potato pieces.

The tasting wrapped up with a sampling of the desserts … and ohhhemmmmgeeeee. They have a key lime pie to die for. The graham cracker crust and raspberry coulis were so good that I would come back just to have dessert.(I seriously considered licking my plate clean. Calories be damned.) Don’t skip dessert when you go!


LOVERS SEAFOOD AND MARKET
loversseafoodmarket.com
5200 West Lover’s Lane (Preston Hollow)
214-414-9880

Jalisco Norte’s new menu brings the heat

Dallas is no stranger to Mexican food—I mean, there’s practically a tex-mex place on every corner. But, about a year ago Jalisco Norte opened on Oak Lawn next to the Zyn22 and I thought to myself, “oh a new tex-mex spot. Cool. I need to check it out.” And I filed it away in my mind but never got around to actually trying it.

BIG.MIS.TAKE. … and not just for missing out on amazing food, but for assuming it was “just another tex-mex place”. Last week I finally went to check out Jalisco Norte to taste Chef José Meza Arróyave’s new menu and I learned that nothing about this restaurant is like a typical tex-mex spot. You won’t find massive plates of greasy enchiladas or a combination plate that you need a separate table to eat—but don’t worry, there is still queso and guacamole! Instead, you will find a refreshing menu of agave-inspired cocktails and uniquely assembled dishes. Overall, the restaurant’s vibe heavily relies on all of Chef Meza’s experiences growing up and cooking in Mexico City. (In fact, there were the coolest masks covering the walls and each and every one of them was hand-picked by the owners in Mexico City.)

During our tasting, the chef said his goal for when people dine at Jalisco Norte is for his food to give them a sense of nostalgia—they wanted diners to know the dishes they grew up with. So he uses everything he has learned all over the world as a guide and uses local ingredients to compliment his expertise.

The tasting started off with three mini tostadas that were unlike any tostada I’d tasted before. There was a tuna tostada with avocado puree, the De Pata Tostada with pickled pork terrine and the fish ceviche tostada with fresh chile powder. All the flavors were fresh and paired together in a way that I would have never thought of – but it worked magic on my tastebuds.

But wait … let’s not forget about the cocktails! I started the evening with the Crafty Paloma and my friend had the Bring the Heat, which is their take on a spicy margarita. I’m a wimp when it comes to spice but she loved her cocktail so much that she convinced me to try it and I kind of wanted to steal it.

Next on the tasting menu came the Coast Chile which I was a little nervous about because of the aforementioned aversion to spicy stuff. But I’m not afraid to admit it – I inhaled this dish. The hatch chile was perfectly cooked and stuffed with lump crab and then topped with baby tomato chips and jalapeño dressing. So, so good!

The second and third tasting was the Osso Bucco and the Veracruz Branzino. The sauces on these two dishes were incredible. The Osso Bucco was packed with so much juice and flavor.. I could’ve eaten four tacos full. The Veracruz Branzino was served with a plantain sauce which I was skeptical about – but was the perfect companion for the fish. I would have probably dipped tortilla chips in that plantain sauce if the table wouldn’t have judged me for it.

Obviously I had to have a cocktail break (or two) with all this food! I tried the Ranch Water which was tequila, lime, Topo Chico and served in the Topo Chico bottle (love that). It was super refreshing and if you’re still sticking to your healthy New Year resolutions—it won’t ruin your diet.

And after that, I just HAD to try their take on the Frosé and it did not disappoint! This cocktail will definitely be added to my rotation of warm-weather patio drinks when the time comes. And how amazing does the fresh mint look?

 

Believe it or not, I still had room for more of Chef Meza’s delicious food and it was a good thing because the carne asada was perfectly cooked and worth every bite. It came with a molcajete sauce that was a bit too spicy for my taste but everyone else loved!

One of the highlights of the whole evening for me was the dessert.. but that’s really no surprise. The light and airy ‘Carlota de lemon’ has a cool story. The Chef explained that this dish is very common in Mexico and is essentially a Mexican ice box cake. It’s something many families would throw together because they had all the ingredients on hand and leave in the freezer for it to come together. It was light, sweet and I 100% wanted seconds.

The morale of the story is don’t be like me. Don’t wait to check out Jalisco Norte and don’t for a second think that it’s your average tex-mex spot. And don’t forget to save room for dessert! All the dishes that Chef Meza has put together with his contemporary approach are something you must try.


JALISCO NORTE
jalisconorte.com
3858 Oak Lawn Ave #470 (Oak Lawn)
(214) 443-5183

Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling

I don’t know about you, but I like to know the history behind what I drink. Call me a booze dork, but knowing the story behind each drink makes it seem to taste that much better.

Chateau Tanunda is located in South Australia—about an hour outside of the town of Adelaide. It was built in the late 1880s and is home to some the oldest vines in the Barossa Valley. The Chateau is the largest and oldest wine Chateaus in Australia. The Gerber family purchased the Chateau in 1998 and continues to revitalize and restore the buildings to keep its history alive. If I ever make it Australia, this for sure will be on my bucket list of wineries to visit.

Chateau Tanunda recently sent me a bottle of their Grand Barossa Dry Riesling, and I was eager to sip, smell, and enjoy it. This fresh, crisp wine has aromas of citrus fruits such as lemon and lime. When most people (myself included) think Riseling, they think sweet, because the higher the acidity of the wine, the more sugar can be in the wine without leaving the sweet taste. If you haven’t had a riesling in a while, or have always been turned off due to the sweetness, you should try a dry riesling. You will be pleasantly surprised.

P.S., I loved reading that most of the grapes in this variety are from old vines that were planted on the estate in the 1920s!

Tasting Notes
Grape Varietal: Riesling
Color: White/clear
Aroma: Lemon and lime
Palate: Bright citrus flavors with a slight acidity
ABV: 11.5%

CHATEAU TANUNDA
chateautanunda.com
Grand Barosssa Dry Riesling: ~$10
can be found in a liquor store near you
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Disclaimer: I was given complimentary product from Banfi.

Howdy, Smithworks Vodka!

I recently had the privilege of welcoming Smithworks Vodka into the Lone Star State with an amazing Blake Shelton concert at the famous Billy Bob’s Texas!

Smithworks Vodka was launched in early 2016 and I’m happy to say that Smithworks has recently expanded its distribution to Texas. Over the next few months, Smithworks will be available in twenty- four states.

Smithworks is an American-made vodka that is made with corn from Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and water from Lake Fort Smith. Smithworks is distilled three times and charcoal filtered for a smooth taste and clean finish. It’s finished and bottled with pride in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and named after the dedicated team there and their hardworking values are symbolized through the tractor icon. They say, “Born and bred in the traditions and values of America’s Heartland, Smithworks embodies the values of the place in which it comes from – local pride, simplicity and hard work.”

Blake Shelton is part of the Smithworks family. He said that he had been waiting to partner with the right brand and he found his home with Smithworks; Shelton said he shares the same values and mission as Smithworks (Vodka. His favorite way to drink Smithworks is with diet lemon-lime soda garnished with a lime. Simple enough.)

Shelton is quoted as saying, “I grew up in Ada, Oklahoma and was raised on the values of hard work, humility and an appreciation for the simple things that make up a good life. As part of the Smithworks family, I’ve been involved in the development of the brand and I’m excited for everyone to finally taste what we’ve been crafting. At its core, Smithworks celebrates that moments in life are better spent with good people and great drinks.”

For the rich mouthfeel and smooth (lack of) flavor, we were surprised by the low price tag—just under $20. A great price for this smooth, clean vodka.

SMITHWORKS VODKA
smithworksvodka.com
~$19.99 / 750mL

We’re eagerly awaiting distribution in the great state of Texas … a note from Smithworks: For now, you can find Smithworks Vodka in AR, CO, IA, KS, LA, MI, MO, NE, OH, OK, TN, IL, NC, and PA. If it’s in your neck of the woods, ask your favorite local spot about us—it’s usually the personal touch that gets it done.

Banner image courtesy of Smithworks.

Tricky Fish

One of the newest restaurants in the Waterside development over in Cowtown put a twist on brunch.

Tricky Fish describes themselves as costal/Cajun vibe. The menu is as southern as you can get—think fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, eggs benedict, po boys, and more. Once I was done sampling all our treats, I really felt like I was deep in the heart of New Orleans … but it smelled a lot better.

“Days spent on the water and evenings spent with good friends, a cold beer and amazing food. Eating out should be a break from the real world. It should be fun, relaxing, a chance to get away from all the things that make our lives…well, complicated. A good meal, spending time with family and friends, trying local craft beer or a glass of wine on the patio – that’s what Tricky Fish is all about.”

The Brunch menu isn’t extensive, but it really packs a punch. The fried green tomatoes are on my must-order list—the batter on the tomatoes was light and crunchy, and it was topped with remoulade and blackened shrimp that complimented it perfectly. My personal favorite dish was the shrimp and grits—the Shiner Bock BBQ sauce gave the dish an extra twist that I wasn’t expecting. If you can restrain yourself from getting too full, the bananas foster monkey bread or pancakes were the right amount of sweet to complete the meal.

Pro Tip: Find some friends who like to share to take here, then order a few plates and eat family style. The portions are big and this way you have a reason to eat off your friend’s plate. They also offer a Couples Brunch for two—two entrees and a Banana’s Foster Monkey Bread for dessert for $25.

Not only is the food great at Tricky Fish, but the drink selection was a perfect way to round out the brunch menu. (You knew we’d get to the booze pretty quickly, right?) The cocktail list for brunch is about what you’d expect—they offer a DIY Mimosa Bar, an Instagram-worthy Bloody Mary (complete with pork rind, okra, and boiled shrimp), and a list of seasonal cocktails.

I tried the Lemon Wedge (Black Tea Tito’s Vodka, limoncello, honey) which was basically an adult sno-cone—and the Blossom (Bacardi Rum, Berry blossom tea, strawberry jam). The Blossom was a little sweet for my taste, but they said that it’s one their most popular drinks. Gotta love those with a bit too much of a sweet tooth ruining it for the rest of us.

If you’re looking for a relaxing brunch out west or in Richardson, Tricky Fish is the place to be.



TRICKY FISH
tricky-fish.com
Fort Worth: 5917 Convair Drive
Richardson: 1251 State Street, Suite 750

facebook.com/TrickyFishWaterSide
@tricky_fish_

HAPPY HOUR
Monday – Friday, 3pm-7pm: $2 off draft beers, wines, and seasonal cocktails
> Monday- $5 mules all day
> Wednesday- half off wine
> Thursday- $2 off craft beers all day

Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm

Welcoming the Original ChopShop to Park Cities

So, you find yourself having lunch sans alcohol … I know, I know … ick. But hear me out. At the end of the day, we can’t have a cocktail with every meal. Just like I can’t have cheese fries daily. (A girl can dream.) Even Susie O committed to a FULL MONTH without cocktails when she was on Keto .. and she’s SusieDrinks.

If you do find yourself focusing on healthy eating or if you just want good some old-fashioned nutrition, Dallas has plenty of places that serve up delicious AND healthy food. I ventured in to one such establishment recently, one of Dallas’s newest, the Original ChopShop!

My fellow contributor, Brian, was lucky enough to check out the location in Las Colinas/Irving earlier this year, but since I don’t often venture out into the great, white North, I was excited to hear that they were opening their third DFW location closer to my stomping grounds in the Park Cities!

Dallas is an active city, and as much as we love our cocktails, we also love to stay work out and eat a healthy meal from time to time, which is why this Phoenix-born neighborhood eatery has been such a hit! (We love the hippy dippy concepts coming to us from Phoenix as of late—Flower Child being the first.)

“We’ve been thrilled by DFW’s response to our ‘Just Feel Good Food’ concept,” said Jason Morgan, CEO of Original ChopShop. “It’s exciting to watch the brand become a part of daily life for North Texans—much like how it became a staple in Phoenix. With this next opening at University Park, we believe SMU students and local residents alike will appreciate having the new Shop in close proximity. Our multi-faceted menu will make it the perfect place for an on-the-go breakfast, study session, lunch meeting or dinner for the family.”

Obviously, I had to go see what the buzz is about for myself. The new 2,675-square-foot location was packed when I got there but the interior is ultra-welcoming with a relaxed atmosphere and sunny accents – making it the perfect spot for a lunch meeting or a quick and healthy breakfast! With the location being right next to SMU, I’m sure it will quickly become a go-to study spot.

The menu features an assortment of juices, breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, and protein/superfruit bowls. There was also a solid selection of protein shakes that I will definitely be returning for! Due to my aforementioned love of cheese fries, I opted for something a bit lighter for lunch—the veggie hummus wrap. It was delicious and filling since it was packed with tons of fresh vegetables including kale, carrots, broccoli, corn, cucumber, feta cheese and of course, hummus. You can choose to make any of the ‘Between Bread’ menu items into a wheat wrap or a yummy sandwich on 12-grain ciabatta bread.

I also ordered a juice from the massive list of options. I’m notoriously indecisive so picking one was tough. I ultimately went with the ‘Daily Detox’ which has beet, apple, ginger, lemon, orange, parsley and aloe vera. It was super refreshing and light. I loved that they have all the fresh produce on display behind the counter so you can see the ingredients that they use for whatever you order!

Beyond the ‘feel good food’ they are also doing good for the community! The company has established a local partnership with Children’s Health Dallas. Original ChopShop plans to give an annual $5,000 contribution to the hospital through various initiatives, which included the VIP preview event they hosted prior to their opening. How amazing is that?

So whether you want to eat healthy in preparation for all the goodies you plan to eat this holiday season, or you’re mapping out some good options for your new year resolutions or if you just want delicious, fresh food, I hope you find yourself near a location of the Original ChopShop.

The Original ChopShop
OriginalChopShop.com
6401 Hillcrest Ave., Ste 100 & various other locations