Category Archives: Lauren B.

Jon Bon Jovi’s Rosé Can and Should Be Enjoyed Everywhere

There’s a new rosé in town and you’re going to want to grab yourself a bottle before it heats up in Texas! Like, really … we’ll wait while you run down the street for a bottle.

 

You back? Cool … I’ll continue. [Open the bottle and drink along with me.]

This isn’t just any ol’ rosé—it’s Jon Bon Jovi’s rosé that he created with his son, Jesse Bongiovi and former Notre Dame hockey player, Ali Thomas. It’s called Hampton Water, and it dove into the Dallas scene last month with an epic party at the Joule hotel in a kickoff event for KAABOO Texas (the killer music festival featuring The Killers coming in May).

The intimate event called “The First Sip” featured plenty of Hampton Water Rosé and an acoustic set by Jon Bon Jovi himself—no big deal, right?? The event was at the heated rooftop pool deck at the hotel and the second that I stepped out of the elevator, it was clear what a big deal this rosé was at least trying to be. … and it was.

 

All of Dallas’s elite came out to enjoy a glass of rosé from Dallas athletes like Jason Witten and Dirk himself (bless that man)and alumni from The Bachelor to bloggers, media reps and businessmen. It was a huge turnout and the room was buzzing with excitement for both the performance and the launch of KAABOO and Hampton Water. (Just so much to celebrate.)

Have you already poured yourself a glass?

Now let’s talk about why the Wine Spectator featured it as one of the top 100 wines of 2018: The blend comes from wine makers in the South of France and is made from the perfect blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes. It has a nice clean taste with hints of fruity flavors like cherry and watermelon. It has a really balanced, crisp finish which makes it perfect for pretty much any occasion where wine is involved (which should be all the time, right?). Once patio season hits, I have a feeling we will be seeing it all over Dallas. (Hence our aforementioned note to HURRY.)

Also coming to Dallas is the three-day music festival called KAABOO on May 10-12 which will be headlined by Sting, The Killers, Kid Rock, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. KAABOO describes itself as “People against dirty” and “The perfect weekend escape, described in a word that comes from whatever the hell we feel like yelling when we’re high on life and having fun.” It’s taking place at the AT&T Stadium, and you can be sure here will be lots of cocktails available (including Hampton Water Rosé, obviously) along with craft beers, cabanas, six stages and even a Vegas-y pool club!

As I was sipping my glass of rosé and googling how much KABOO tickets are—which are very affordable as far as music-festivals go btw—the crowd starts hustling towards the stage for Jon Bon Jovi’s private set when he played through his well known hits like “American Pie,” “It’s My Life” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.” I now officially have about 179 Jon Bon Jovi recordings on my phone … and I’m only exaggerating a tiny bit there.

Tasting Notes
Grape Varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre
Color: light peach
Aroma: bright fruits
Palate: hints of fruity flavors like cherry, strawberry, and watermelon with just a slight minerality
Finish: long, dry
Region: France — Languedoc-Roussillon
ABV: 13%


Hampton Water
hamptonwaterwine.com
In Dallas, you can find the rosé at Central Market, Pogo’s Wine & Spirits, Nick & Sam’s, Hotel ZaZa, Imoto, Tei-An and Uchi
Retail: ~$18

KAABOO Texas
kaabootexas.com

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

Meet Vidorra, your new rooftop patio obsession

I love Deep Ellum. Like.. I really really love it. I love all the quirkiness and the constantly changing bars, restaurants and local businesses. It’s not news that Deep Ellum has been the home to tons of new cocktail bars and restaurants in the past few years, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The newest addition to Main Street is Vidorra, “Cocina de Mexico.” You can’t miss the bright yellow sign and the rooftop patio with killer views of the Dallas skyline.

Honestly, this place has so many insta-worthy backdrops, it’s unreal. The décor is Mexican-inspired with vibrant colors and unique textures throughout. There is a moss-covered wall, seating suspended on ropes to create swings, colorful couches perfect for all your group photos, and more.

(Oh, and it’s not just pretty … they also make some great food and drinks.) I’ll be the first to admit, I made a mistake right away when ordering my cocktail. I was so busy soaking in the atmosphere that I hardly had time to get through their extensive menu of margarita riffs. So, I panicked when it was time to order and went with “The Gold Digger”, their take on a frozen mango margarita. Don’t get me wrong … it was delicious, but I quickly discovered that they have an extensive cocktail list on the back of the menu that branches out beyond fabulous margaritas.

Their cocktail list plays around with recipes that feature a variety of mezcals and tequilas to make some seriously killer cocktails. After my margarita, I tried a cocktail called “Howl at the Moon” that has Lunazul Reposado tequila, Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, both orange and vanilla bitters, all barrel-aged for a week. It was so delicious that I had to have two. Whatever.

As far as food goes, you really can’t go wrong. For the appetizer, they sent out a massive bowl of their flaming fundito in a 400º Molajete dish. If it weren’t so hot, I probably would’ve drank the queso straight from the bowl. (No shame here … it was delicious.) For my meal, I got the pick two fajitas with steak and chicken and it was easily enough food for 2-3 people—especially because you need to save room to sample all of the delicious cocktails.

Speaking of cocktails, I ended my evening with a cocktail called “The Verdict” (tequila, Mezcal, agave, absinthe and bitters). The flavor was very intense but it was definitely the crowd favorite at our table.

So go for the drinks, the atmosphere, the food or the views. Whatever you do … just get there!


VIDORRA
vidorradallas.com
2642 Main Street (Deep Ellum)
972.215.0640

Axe and the Oak

You guys… I may have found my new favorite old fashioned! Okay okay, it’s at least in my top three. But let’s back up.

Last week I went to 3Eleven Kitchen and Cocktails for the launch of Axe and the Oak Distillery to try out some cocktails featuring their Colorado Mountain Bourbon and Incline Rye Whiskey. If you haven’t heard of Axe and the Oak Distillery, that could be because they operate out of Colorado Springs, CO and just started distributing to Texas—and they made Dallas their first stop!

I had the chance to chat with some of the Axe and the Oak team that came into town for the launch. Everyone was so excited about the expansion into Texas and they couldn’t stop gushing about their experience with the distillery. They said the best thing about their brand was that “they’re surrounded by the best people in the world.” The vibes were almost contagious as everyone enjoyed snacks, cigars and most importantly, the whiskey.

Now, about that old fashioned. For the launch, they had ingredient driven provisions being served. The one I sampled was a delicious variation of a Kentucky Mule. But, I’ll be honest; their signature cocktail was the real show-stopper—the Tobacco Old Fashioned. It was almost as fun to watch them make it as it was to drink it. They got the deep smoky flavor by torching a plank of wood and then trapping smoke inside the glass before they added the bourbon … and other good stuff. The smoky flavor wasn’t overbearing and the other flavors were perfectly mixed by beverage manager, Jay Khan.

Axe and the Oak was awarded the New York International Spirit Competition “Colorado Whiskey Distillery of the Year.” You can now find their Bourbon and Rye Whiskey at Specs, Goody Goody and Siegels (with even more retailers coming soon) starting around $42 a bottle.

For more information, visit them at www.axeandtheoak.com.

Throw It Back with the Harwood District

It feels like the ultra-hip Uptown/Downtown Dallas neighborhood, the Harwood District, is constantly introducing tasty, new restaurants, bars, and hangout spots, so it’s hard to believe that Harwood International is actually celebrating their 30th anniversary this month. To celebrate this milestone, each of the beloved Harwood District concepts are throwing it back to the 80s by adding old-school “Throwback 30” favorites to their menus—think Sloppy Joes and Monte Cristos. Obviously, this is my kind of party, so I had to check it out.

I went to The Grove at Harwood to enjoy the last days of summer and taste the limited-edition Frozen Bleu Hawaiian cocktail—their Throwback 30 item. Sitting in the sun, sipping this drink, and listening to the mellow remixes of top hits that were playing, I could have sworn that I was at the beach and not in the heart of Dallas. It was that relaxing! … and then a semi drove by and honked. 😂

Their take on the Frozen Bleu Hawaiian is sweet, but (luckily) lacks that super syrupy taste that you sometimes get with frozen cocktails. (Yaaaaa no thanks.) Their FBHs is served in custom Throwback 30 cups complete with branded stir sticks with a flag featuring a mix tape—a symbol everyone from the 80s knows and begrudgingly loves.

The Grove is always a good time and they have so many activities to keep you occupied while you sip on cold beverages, make your way through a bottle, or chow down at their very own food truck. Grab your pup and your friends and head over before the summer is over. And don’t forget to try this throwback cocktail while playing a friendly game of sand volleyball or giant Jenga.

In honor of this milestone anniversary, all seven of the restaurants in the Harwood District will be throwing it back to the 1980s with the addition of popular throwback favorites to menus, including: 

Magnolias: Sous Le Pont: Don’t Stop Brew-Lievin’ Cold Brew – a fun play off of the popular 80’s rock band song by Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Marie Gabrielle: On Wednesdays Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens, an urban escape featuring a 1.5 acre garden, river birch trees, an 8,265 square-foot pond, as well as interior and exterior accommodations, will serve Sloppy Joes.

Mercat Bistro: Inspired by a French steak dish named after 19th century composer Gioachino Rossini, Mercat Bistro will add Tournedos Rossini to their menu. 

The Grove at Harwood: The Grove will be featuring their take on the refreshing tropical cocktail Blue Hawaiian – the Frozen Bleu Hawaiian.

Dolce Riviera: Introducing Fettuccine Mare e Monti, a traditional dish inspired by the sea and the mountains.

Happiest Hour: Join Dallas’ largest patio-bar for a celebration that includes a go-to classic, the Monte Cristo sandwich. This savory toasted ham sandwich will have you transporting back in time. 

Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar: Begin your meal at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar by digging into their special Seven Layer Dip, which became overwhelming popular in the 1980s.


The Grove at Harwood
harwoodgrove.com
3019 McKinnon Street (Uptown/Harwood District)
(214) 663-1001

The Sake Social Hour at Uchiba

When Uchi announced that it would be opening a more bar-focused concept earlier this year, I could barely contain my excitement. (Though, I know many of us Top Knot-lovers were a bit wary.) You can breathe easy, because the new concept is yoi (gooooood).

The name makes sense—the word Uchiba combines “Uchi,” which means house in Japanese, and “Ba,” bar. Since its opening on January 31, this concept brought to us by Chef Tyson Cole under the Hai Hospitality umbrella, is Uchi’s sleek and stylish little sister has been a hit for those seeking shareable bites, fabulous décor and incredible cocktails.

 

If you’re anything like me (and our friend Susie), you love a good happy hour, but really love when the good happy hour also has incredible food. That’s why I was so excited to go check out Uchiba’s Sake Social Hour, which is offered daily from 5-6:30pm and the entire menu is $10 or less! Yes, you read that right! It features delicious creations like their hot fried chicken buns, spicy crunchy tuna temaki and hama chili. Oh, and not to mention, half priced specialty cocktails.

All of the food I sampled was incredible, but you can’t miss the nigiri (which is only $2 during the social hour)! I also tried both types of temaki that is offered during the Social Sake Hour, and while it’s hard to choose a favorite, the spicy crunch tuna has a little bit of spice with which the avocado perfectly complimented. And do yourself a favor and order the hot fried chicken bun. It’s similar to Nashville hot chicken but with Asian-style flare. They definitely have a kick but nothing too overbearing.

And the cocktails … yassss. All of the specialty cocktails are half-priced during the social hour. I started out with the Too Much Heaven, which was very similar to an old fashioned but with a nice hint of lemongrass. My second choice was the Sanmittai, a refreshing blend of gin, lemongrass, black warrior shochu, cilantro, mint and basil. It’s like an herb garden in a cup—in the most delicious way possible. If specialty cocktails aren’t your thing, Uchiba also offers a variety of wine and beer for a steal.

Something to note: if after you’ve had a taste of the social hour and you need to really fulfill your Uchiba fix, you can order from the full menu at the same time! I’ve heard that the fried milk dessert is to die for.

You can either walk-in or make reservations based on availability for the Sake Social Hour. If you’re planning to check it out on a Friday or Saturday, I would definitely recommend calling at least a few days in advance since those are some of the most popular days.

Sake Social Hour: DAILY, 5-6:30pm
1/2 price all specialty cocktails
$4-5 select wine & beer
$2 nigiri (sake, avocado, or hamachi)
$2-3 yakitori (shishito yaki, pork belly, or ribeye)
$6 temaki (sake karei or spicy crunchy tuna)
$6-8 tastings (hama chili, foie gras mousse, yuca fries, or hot fried chicken buns)
$6 selected seasonal dessert


UCHIBA
uchiba.com
Instagram | Facebook Twitter
214-855-5454
2817 Maple Avenue, 2nd floor (Uptown)
complimentary valet

Cover image courtesy of Uchiba.
**Thanks to Uchiba for treating Lauren to happy hour.**