Category Archives: Contributor

Keeping it LOCL at NYLO Plano

Chances are, you may already be familiar with NYLO Hotels’ Southside  property; after all, the hotel is home to SODA Bar, NYLO’s trendy rooftop watering hole which boasts what is arguably one of the city’s best views of THE BEST SKYLINE IN THE WORLD (Nice try, Chicago. Better luck next time). Here is something you may not realize: The original NYLO hotel, which opened its doors in 2007, is located just up the road, in Plano. You may find yourself wondering: In the absence of the illustrious SODA Bar, what does Southside’s big bro to the north have to offer us suburbanites?  Let me assure, the answer to this question is a resounding, “Plenty!”

NYLO PlanoI was lucky enough to receive an invitation to sample the new menu at NYLO’s restaurant and lounge, LOCL. Before I get into the highlights of the evening (food and booze, duh), I would be remiss in not mentioning how hip and unique this NYLO property truly is. Upon entering the lobby, I forgot that I was in Plano after about two seconds. The decor is modern minimalist, with dim lighting and geometric shapes and colors that give the lobby an art deco feel (hello, suspended egg chair). LOCL is NYLO’s indoor restaurant and lounge area, where the minimalist vibe continues, as evidenced by polished concrete floors and exposed ducting. Polished silver antlers adorn the chandeliers, giving you a subtle reminder that you are, in fact, still in Texas. The LOCL menu tasting event took place outside, on NYLO’s amazing terrace. I’m not really sure what NYLO could have done to make their courtyard (read: event space) any more awesome. The courtyard features a good-sized gazebo with a bar area, and beyond that lies a sleek lap pool, flanked with a giant, kick-ass fireplace. Just beyond the terrace, a large event tent beckons you to partake in a night of clumsy, drunken dancing at a wedding or office Christmas party.

NYLO PlanoNow, onto LOCL. I had the opportunity to sample four of LOCL’s fresh and inventive cocktails during this event:

  • First, my personal favorite, the “Grapefruitini” (Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, Cointreau, grapefruit juice, sugar rim, $12); The grapefruit juice in this tart and tangy cocktail made all the difference in the world; it tasted very fresh, and really made this drink pop. Riiiight up my alley. Yum.
  • NYLO Tini
    NYLO Tini

    The signature “NYLO Tini” (Tito’s vodka, pomegranate liquer, triple sec, pineapple juice, presecco, $12); Pomegranate lovers, this one is for you. The pom this drink brings to the table is not subtle!

  • The “Basil Lemondrop” (Tito’s Vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, fresh basil, sugar rim, $12); fresh and lovely, sweet with a hint of basil.
  • The “Southern Lady” (Tito’s, creme de cassis, triple sec, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice, pineapple, juice, prosecco, $12); Pineapple lovers, apply here. Aptly named, this drink was sweet and bubbly.

I did not fully appreciate when I arrived at this event how badly I would want to put on my stretchy pants by the end of the evening. I was fortunate enough to sample a LARGE selection of fun and creative dishes from LOCL’s newly revamped menu.

photo 1 (14)General Manager Joe Massar (a most gracious host, I might add) explained that Chef Anthony “Tony” Knight set forth to “step outside the box,” regarding the marriage of flavors and textures in his menu additions. An excellent example of this would be my favorite of the four appetizers we sampled, the “Green Apple Guac“. This was pretty much exactly what it sounds like: your traditional guacamole recipe, blended with small bits of crisp green apple. This at-first surprising flavor combination lent itself to a marriage of zesty and sweet; crunchy and creamy. In addition to the expected side of traditional corn tortilla chips, the guac was served with an assortment of fresh veggie slices, and yes, crisp green apple slices. This appetizer seemed to be a crowd favorite. Other tasty starters, or “Big Boards,” if you will, included “Shrimp Summer Rolls” with cashew cucumber sauce, the fresh and tasty “Ode to Acapulco Shrimp Cocktail” with zesty tomato and avocado, and “The Big Cheese,” a beautiful cheeseboard, featuring 5 farmstead cheeses, local honeycomb, dried fruit, and nutty bread (all “Big Boards” are $12 and feed 3-4 people). 

photo 2 (11)We sampled three salads, including my personal preference, the gorgeous “Chop Chop,” which consisted of baby kale, mountains of crunchy vegetables, chopped egg, and a light, fresh vinegar based dressing. Fresh mint really popped in this salad. Also delicious were the “Toasted Haloumi Cheese” salad, featuring arugula, two kinds of tomatoes, generous chunks of cheese, and a hint of mint, and the “NYLO Caeser,“a deconstructed take on the traditional Caeser  featuring parmesan cheese, anchovy filets, and DEEP FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS…yes, you read that right (All salads are $9; salads are large enough to share).

Flank Steak
Flank Steak

Following the appetizer and salad courses, I felt my food coma coming on…and that’s when the entrees made their appearance. The stars of the show were the “Peppered Flank Steak,” ($12) featuring tender strips of marinated beef seared to a lovely medium temperature accompanied by some delicious mushrooms that were definitely not of this earth, and the “Dragon’s Breath Burger,” ($9) featuring melty white cheddar, hot horseradish, house mustard, and chopped onion; juicy and tender, this burger definitely lived up to its name…and, the hand-cut French fries ($6) that accompanied it may have brought a little tear of joy to my eye. Also sampled were the “Wicked Garlic-ky Chicken,” ($12)

Mahi Mahi
Mahi Mahi

served with feta tzatziki and warm pita, “Crab Fried Rice,” ($12) featuring jasmine rice, gulf crab, and basil, and the “Market White Fish,” ($12) which on this particular evening consisted of a lovely curried mahi mahi creation served atop steamed banana leaves with assorted spring vegetables. Additionally, we were treated to delicious “Texas Beer Battered Zucchini Sticks,” ($6) served with a spicy romesco dip, and our “Something Green” ($6) for the evening, crisp, garlicky broccoli rabe, which was perfectly prepared.

Finally, dessert. I felt like a real American Hero at this point in the evening, sacrificing my personal comfort and future good health in the name of food and beverage blogging. The “Blueberry Crisp,” and the “Chocolate Mousse”  (dessert prices and availability may vary) we sampled were a perfect, sweet ending to this immensely enjoyable event

In conclusion, I’m sold; NYLO Plano is a great spot for locals and visitors alike to sit back and enjoy a tasty cocktail and a delicious meal. Do yourself a favor and check out their new menu, soon.

Here’s the scoop on NYLO’s happy hour: Drink specials and promotions rotate on a daily basis, and the schedule changes month to month. Friday evenings feature live musical entertainment. Be sure to check out their website for happy hour times/prices and entertainment schedule. Here is the scoop for October:

October 2014 Happy Hour/ Live Entertainment Schedule

NYLO PLANO AT LEGACY
972.624.6990
8201 Preston Rd, Plano, TX 75024
Website | Facebook

LOCL Restaurant & Lounge
Reservations are not required; walk-ins welcomed

Breakfast:
Monday-Friday | 6am-10:30am
Saturday & Sunday | 8am-12pm
Lunch/Dinner:
Monday-Thursday + Sunday | 10:30am-10pm
Saturday | 10:30am-12am
LOCL Bar:
Sunday-Thursday | 11am-12am
Friday & Saturday | 11am-1am

Breakfast Menu | Lunch/Dinner Menu

Flight Song

I was excited to receive my latest SDD delivery of Brancott Estate Flight Song wine. Anytime wine is delivered to my front door is a good day in my book!

I got to taste a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. I would have never guessed these were low calorie wines and I was sold on the taste immediately. This isn’t like a “diet” version of wine by any means. According to Brancott Estate, “these wines are twenty percent lighter in calories in comparison to a traditional glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. The grapes are harvested earlier than usual so that it is naturally lighter in sugar, calories, and alcohol content.”

The Pinot Grigio will be a staple in my wine refrigerator from here on out. Each 5oz serving is an average of 87 calories. (Most wines average 123 calories/5oz.) It has a fruity, tart taste that reminded me of green apples. This wine was light and refreshing, which was perfect for a warm day.

I’ll say that I usually don’t enjoy Sauvignon Blanc wine, but Brancott Estate did a great job on this wine as well. It did not taste “diet” or watered down either, even though it is also naturally lower in calories. Each 5oz serving of this variety has an average of 88 calories.

In summary- try this line of wine, you won’t be sorry. For those of you who have a slight guilty feeling when pouring that extra glass of wine, this is for you. Think of it as your 100 calorie snack.

Retail Price: $14.99 ($11.57 at Spec’s)
brancottestate.com | facebook | twitter

*Disclaimer- I received these bottles compliments of Brancott Estate.

The Classier Side of NOLA

While on a weekend getaway to New Orleans, I wanted to see another (dare I say “calmer”) side of Bourbon Street. I had heard lots of good things about the Carousel Bar that is housed in the Hotel Monteleone. It’s a bar and show all in one … just as the name says, the bar is a revolving Carousel.

There are 25 seats at the bar along with a beautiful, spacious lounge. I would have to say that this bar can be quite confusing (especially after a few drinks). If you leave to use the restroom, your seat will not be where it was when you left it. The bar makes a full revolution every 15 minutes. The first question I had was: how do the bartenders enter and exit the inside of the bar? I could not find any openings. Within a few minutes, mystery was solved- these bartenders have to be quite limber because they literally crawl over the bar.

The Carousel bar has lots of history and is popular with locals as well as tourist. Before you plan your trip, check their website for their live music lineup.

I played it safe and my first drink was a Cuba Libre and it was very smooth. A simple drink of plantation dark rum, coke, and a lime-high quality ingredients and packed a punch. This simple drink was so good … that it called for seconds. My boyfriend ordered the Perfect Storm which was New Orleans cajun spiced rum, ginger beer, and lime. He said it was a nice change up from the usual Moscow Mule.

The speciality drinks on the menu run about $9, as well as they offer a full bar and a few local beers on tap.

I would recommend this bar to anyone visiting New Orleans. Not only is it just plain awesome because its a moving carousel (duh), but the drinks are outstanding. Great atmosphere, music, and drinks- what else could you ask for?

Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge
hotelmonteleone.com | facebook twitter
214 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 523- 3341

Open 11am-1am daily (no happy hour specials)

Sailor Jerry’s Pins & Pin-Ups

Earlier this month, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum threw fun bowling competition amongst some of your favorite bar staffs from around the DFW area called “Pins & Pin-Ups”.  The evening at Bowlounge in the Design District included free Sailor Jerry cocktails, an open taco bar, raffle prizes, pin-up models and, of course, bowling! It was a great event packed full of fun, tasty rum cocktails and good times by all in attendance. Thanks, Sailor Jerry!

Try out one of my favorite cocktails from the evening:

Jerry & Ginger
2 parts Sailor JerryGinger beer
2/3 lime wedgesGlass: highball / beer glass
Build in glass over cubed ice & garnish with squeezed lime wedges.

 

Afternoon Wine Tasting at Mercy Wine Bar? Wine-Not?

A few weeks ago I attended Mercy Wine Bar’s Passport to Rioja tasting series, featuring wines from the Rioja wine region. The event allowed us to taste a full spectrum of Rioja offerings, including centenary wines, classic modern styles and collector’s wines.

A little background on Rioja Wines: Rioja is a wine region in Spain that is famous for it’s Tempranillo wines. Tempranillo is an Old World wine that pairs well with food. (Obvious,but for real. I was craving a steak dinner after the event!) In terms of flavor, Rioja wines vary from more fruit-forward to silky, smooth with a bit of spice. To learn more about Rioja Wines, check out RiojaWine.com.

photo-2About the Event: There was no twisting my arm needed to get my RSVP. So on August 19th, I happily dashed up the Tollway to their Addison location.

Every table at the tasting featured several wines from different winemakers in the Rioja region. The event was thankfully relaxed and intimate, so I was able to learn about each wine I tasted. There were several wine retailers and restaurateurs in attendance (which made me feel prettyyyy fancy) who all seemed to be intrigued and impressed by the wines represented — which even further reassured me that I was about to be blown away.

The Wines: For your sake, I won’t go into every wine I tasted in this review. In short: I felt spoiled to be able to try the best of the well-known and typical varietals from Rioja, as well as explore some blends and whites that I didn’t even know existed.

The Reds: I was able to try some vintage and reserve wines from Faustino, including one from 1964! I also fell in love with Palacios Remondo’s La Montesa which uses organically-grown grapes making a light and delicious tasting blend of Mazuelo Tempranillo and Garnacha; a perfect red to sip out on a patio in the summer. As the gentleman at the tasting table put it, “It has a great slam ability factor.” (Yes, he said that.)

For White Wine lovers: The biggest and most pleasant surprise of the event for me was how much I loved the white Rioja wines, made from Viura (or Macebo) which is a Spanish white grape variety … and a severely underrated one at that! They tasted full-bodied and substantial light and refreshing; somewhat like a Sauvignon Blanc but less sour and less fruity. I especially enjoyed the white from Milflores (the bottle is gorgeous too).

Food: Thankfully, with all that wine tasting (I couldn’t get the hang of the spittoon), they passed around several delicious hors d’oeuvres such as Risotto Balls and Smoked Bruschetta (which is Smoked buffalo mozzarella, garlic olive oil, marinated tomatoes, and balsamic reduction).

Mercy Wine Bar’s Passport to Rioja tasting series was a truly unique experience that forced me out my Pinot Noir and Savignon Blanc comfort zone to learn and taste the best of the best wines from a historically rich and renowned region in Spain. I’ll be back soon, Mercy Wine Bar, to try a glass (or two) of something new and unexpected!

TIP: Mercy also will sell their wines to you at retail price. So be sure to grab a glass of Rioja wine at Mercy Wine Bar next time you are up in Addison and then take a bottle home with you!

Ole!


MERCY WINE BAR

5100 Belt Line Rd #544, Dallas, TX 75254
(Located in the Village on the Parkway, at the southeast corner of Beltline and the Dallas North Tollway, between Sebastian’s Closet and Blue Mesa.)
(972) 702-9463
mercywinebar.comFacebook | Twitter

Hours of Operation:

  • M-W: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
  • Th-F: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
  • Sat: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am
  • Sun: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

HAPPY HOUR SPECIAL | 4pm – 7pm daily
$5 wines by the glass (choice of 11 different wines)

 

About Mercy Wine Bar:

To be honest there is a lot of big chain restaurants and bars up in Addison, so Mercy Wine bar is a perfect antidote, with its small, cozy setting and unique wine and food selections. This award-winning Dallas staple is a great place to go grab a glass of wine before or after an event up there.

 

TGIF!

I love going to out to eat.  It’s an opportunity for my wife and I to relax, talk and eat and drink (obviously). Deciding where to go can, at times, be a point of contention … You see, I’m against fast food (unless it’s Whataburger and I am on the way home from a bar), making reservations assumes we know where we want go prior to us pulling up, and, like most people, we live on a budget.  So it may or may not come as a surprise that I value, and, dare say, appreciate the role the big chain restaurants play in the restaurant scene.  (To me there is something almost comforting about these places.) 

I remember TGI Friday’s from back in the day as more of a restaurant with a sports bar feel than a place I expect to find craft cocktails, artisan appetizers and “hand-crafted” food.  I checked out the Addison location down the street for me and realized the Friday’s from my younger days is long gone. (Rest in peace.)  They are embracing change, shaking that suburban eatery rap and catering to a younger generation of foodies and more particular cocktail and beer drinkers. The hodge podge of wall decor is gone with cool photos and prints in their place and the waiter’s 37 pieces of flair have been replaced with an impressive level of knowledge on how to make a drink.

We struck gold with (read: devoured) our Ahi Tuni Crisps, a combination one might not expect of blackened Ahi tuna on a tortilla chip with guacamole, jalapeños, Sriracha sauce and Avocado Vinaigrette, topped with a cucumber-wasabi ranch.   Followed by an order of Bacon Mac N Cheese Bits.  My Friday’s Spike Lemonade (made with Tito’s homemade vodka, lemon and lime juice, agave among other things) washed down the starters I would normally never eat, but couldn’t resist at least trying … and then ended up finishing the plate.

Before night was done we also had gone through a Hendricks Cooler, Best Friday’s Margaritas and a Double Berry Mojito, which made me eager to come back again.  It was one of those kind of meals where you end up full before the entrees are even brought out but you can’t help but eat most of it.  (Some of our steaks ended up coming home with us to be enjoyed the following day.)

And what is dinner without dessert? Those who know me know I do my best to eat healthy(ish), but I was able to muster the willpower to resist the Oreo Madness.  The same can not be said about my wife…

It’s no secret that competition and staying power among restaurants is difficult, especially in a city with a thriving food scene like Dallas.  Of note, this TGI Friday’s location happens to be one of the more tenured restaurant establishments in Addison (RIP: Trulucks, Mi Piaci, Sambuca, Bennigans, Mi Piaci, Jake’s, Champps, Duke’s, etc).  Having sampled what they’re cookin’ and shakin’ up over there, I’d encourage you to stop in and check out what they have going at their new Addison location!

TGI FRIDAYS
www.tgifridays.com
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram  Tumblr | YouTube

Current Drinks Specials (daily specials may vary from TGIF to TGIF!)

  • Monday – $5 Bloody Mary, Mimosa and Calls
  • Tuesday – $5 Jack Daniels
  • Wednesday – $3 martinis & half priced bottles of wine
  • Thursday – $3 drinks

 

***TGI Friday’s are supporters of the SDD team and provided complimentary gift cards for this meal***

 

 

Chopin Vodka

Upon my latest Susie Drinks Dallas delivery I immediately thought, “Yay vodka! Let’s make some drinks and kick off this weekend early!” Mind you it was only Tuesday and this was much needed. Then I figured I should skim the label and, to my surprise, I held potato vodka in my possession. Chopin Potato Vodka to be exact.

(Potatoes and I have a longstanding relationship. Mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potato gratin, baked potatoes, potato skins and all the other which ways potatoes come …I love them all.)

Chopin came to the U.S. market in 1997 from Poland and has notes of vanilla, green apple and that ever-so-alluring earthy finish. It comes crafted from potatoes grown naturally (good news for all your organic, non-GMO sticklers), yeast and purified artesian well water. It takes 40 potatoes to make one 750 ml bottle of vodka. (That’s like … a whole sack’a’potatoes.)

I’ll break down the process for you: Cleaned and left unpeeled, the potatoes are pressure-cooked to create a “mash,” which ferments for three days. The fermented mash is distilled four times, creating an almost 100% alcohol spirit, which is then transported to Chopin’s bottling plant in nearby Siedlce, Poland. Here, it blends with artesian well water and filters five times before its final destination of master distiller Waldemar Durakiewicz.

Additionally Chopin produces a Rye (2011) and Wheat, the newest addition. Rye holds a medium body with hints of spice and aromas of rye dough. Wheat offers a bread dough nose with hints of honey and butterscotch. Basically, it sounds like you’re drinking a breadbasket. I would say that assumption rings fairly true, but it’s an interesting flavor profile that grows on you the more you give it a chance. The Rye and Wheat are close in flavor profile, but I felt the Potato finished smoother with less of a bite at the end.

The trio comes best served as the base for cocktails like martinis with extra olives or with a splash of cranberry and soda with lime.

Here’s a recipe for a “Chopin Cuban” using the Potato Vodka that I deem completely necessary as summer cocktail season winds to a close.

Chopin Cuban
3/4 tsp. sugar
3 fresh sprigs of mint
3/4 oz. lime juice
5 large ice cubes
2 oz. of Chopin Potato Vodka
a splash of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne.

Crush sugar, mint, and lime juice. Add ice cubes and Chopin Potato Vodka. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with a splash of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne.


CHOPIN HAND MADE POLISH VODKA

www.chopinvodka.comFacebook | Twitter

 

**Disclaimer: I received this boozy bottle of potatoes for free from Chopin Vodka**

Not (S)Mash’d

“Have you heard about that moonshine place?”

“Look, Sandy Glopperson checked in on Facebook and is drinking Burt Reynolds’s juice from a jug!”

One of these two sentences describes how social media first introduced me to the fact that there was a restaurant less than five miles from my house serving a bunch of variations of moonshine and moonshine-based cocktails I needed to check out. At the time, I was loosely familiar with the idea of moonshine, but didn’t realize this was the start of a quick crash course elsewhere (more on that later).

I went on a Friday night with a group of friends and was impressed at the quick transition from strip mall parking lot to a cool indoor scene and open patio. Basically, it’s about as comfortable as you can feel within a football field or so of a Twin Peaks. Our waiter was very attentive from the beginning and it was apparent he really enjoyed presenting the menu and concepts to people – which I only note because I think I would be sick of doing that in about a week.

20140530_195900For the uninitiated, the menu has three tiers of strength and flavors – ranging from sweetened sugar water with a kick to the stronger, fruit-infused flavors. We went with the waiters recommendations and quickly ran through a number of options that were on the sweet side and not too strong, but good, including the Cherry Limeade and Pineapple Bomb. The South House Cherry Limeade was listed as its own moonshine flavor, but the waiter encouraged me to try it with Sonic-style ice and mixed with a bit of Sprite to taste exactly like a spiked drive-thru drink. It was delicious and dangerously easy to drink, although I learned later getting the moonshine straight minus the Sprite is much better for those used to drinking stronger cocktails. The bomb was also a great tropical cocktail (although you have to really like coconut to enjoy it without being overpowered). There was also the Jolly Rancher that tasted exactly like a watermelon Jolly Rancher (I guess they hit that one on the head) … so high fives all around on that one.

At this point, it was time for a food break, and Mash’d had some good options (although food reviews tend to get a lot more positive after everyone has 3 drinks). A twitter follower recommended the beef Bulgogi tacos–which I happily devoured–and the wings were good as well. Reviews on some of the other food the group had was a bit more mixed, but everyone found at least one item on the menu that they enjoyed.

With some food in me, it was time to tackle one of the stronger moonshines on the rocks. (DUN DUN DUN.) I went with the Midnight Moon Blackberry and quickly found it was like drinking a straight infusion. All of a sudden, it was like I snapped out of some sugar-induced haze and remembered what I like about drinks to begin with – complexity, tasting the alcohol, a nice finish that lingers. (Oh yeah … and the intoxicating properties don’t suck either.) This is kind of where my review turned on a matter of personal taste. I had enjoyed everything I had earlier in the meal, but it was very much a novelty and not something I’d make a habit of drinking. I also sampled the straight apple pie moonshine and had the same reaction – this was something I would want to pour myself at home versus sampling one time with friends.

20140530_215915I had also been told to close the night with Hillbilly Moonshine, their moonshiney take on a white Russian and, if that’s a preferred drink, I can say you won’t be disappointed. It’s very heavy (which, I mean, duh), so I wouldn’t plan on more than one and I’d do it at the end of a meal only.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip out, although for future visits, I plan to only stick at the straight, high end of the menu and probably skip the cocktails altogether. I would definitely recommend at least a visit to Mash’d for a different drinking experience and a chance to try new things, but my bigger recommendation is to keep an eye out at Total Wine, Spec’s, etc. for the different flavors of South House moonshine and start building your own experience at home.

Drink strength: 3 of 5 (I mean, I had all or parts of 8 different drinks in 3 hours and, while I didn’t drive, didn’t feel remotely smash’d)
Food: 3.5 of 5

MASH’D
3401 Preston Rd, Frisco, TX 75034
www.mashd.com | Facebook | Twitter/Instagram: @Mashdfrisco
(214) 618-9440

After my visit, I had the opportunity (along with the other SDD contributors*) to visit JEM Beverage Company in Carrollton, who makes many of the moonshines at Mash’d under their South House label, as well Western Son vodka (also featured in the Hey Ginger frozen drink at Mash’d) and Red River Whiskey … and some other delicious stuff. It was here I learned what moonshine is (they make bourbon, infuse it with flavors and then don’t age it, which explains why I liked it so much straight). I walked out of the distillery that day with several bottles of each and have been enjoying drinking all of it on the rocks at home without the syrups, sugars, etc. Simplicity is key.

*Note from Susie: if you think you’re a good drinker and can speak English and spell (or if you know someone who fits that criteria), email me! I’m looking for writers both in Dallas and other cities!