Last week I was invited out to happy hour at Grace and Little Red Wasp in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. Both of these amazing restaurants are owned and operated by Adam Jones–Grace is the “fancier” of the two restaurants as well as a higher price point. Grace provided a lovely experience, but Little Red Wasp was my favorite out of the two. Both of these restaurants are a stones throw from some of the best downtown Fort Worth has to offer–Capital Grille, Del Friscos, Ruth’s Chris, and the like.
The bartender reported that the two most popular drinks at Grace are the Bosc Pear Martini and the Seven. The Bosc Pear Martini (Grey Goose Le Poire Vodka, Amaretto, Lemon, Vovetti Prosecco) has a slightly slimy in texture thanks to the grit of the Grey Goose Le Poire, but the taste was incredibly silky and subtle. The Seven (Ultimat Vodka, mint, cucumber, lemon, lime, simple syrup) was almost a mojito with a kick. The outside of the glass was rimmed with salt and cayenne pepper, which certainly stayed with you after the drink was gone. Even though these were the most popular drinks ordered at the bar, I would like to go back and try some of the other mixed drinks on the menu.
So now on to the highlight of the night (for me)–Little Red Wasp. I can’t say enough good things about the atmosphere and the drinks here. I was lucky enough to get a taste of almost every cocktail on the menu, and I honestly can say that there was one drink that I wouldn’t order again (good odds), but my top two must try drinks are: the signature Little Red Wasp (Dulce Vida Reposado tequila, red pepper puree, mint, lemon juice, jalapeño honey) and the Perfect Storm (Zaya Rum, vanilla bean syrup, apple cider, ginger beer). The Little Red Wasp had a fruity taste with a nice “sting” from the jalapeno. I can now say that my all time favorite cocktail is the perfect storm. It is definitely on the sweeter side, but it is a must try. Not only does it taste amazing, I loved the presentation in the copper mug.
I am excited to go back for one of Little Red Wasp’s beer pairing dinners. On the first Wednesday of every month, they hold a five course pairing that highlights a particular brewery. In February it was Oscar Blues and March will be Panther Island Brewing.
All in all, it was a great night in two amazing places. Go for happy hour and you won’t be sorry. (Tip: try the homemade ranch and chips at LRW)
777 Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Dining Room Hours: 7 Days a Week- 5:30-9:30
Bar Hours: 7 Days a Week- 4:00-10:00 (Full Menu available.)
Happy Hour: Half Price Bubbles (by the bottle, half-bottle, or glass) 4:00-6:00 daily Women and Wine: Wednesday nights 4:00-7:00 ($10 gets you three glasses paired with light bites)
LITTLE RED WASP
808 Main Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
I am a huge fan of Chef Kenny Bowers and his growing family of seriously delicious restaurant concepts, otherwise known as Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill (Addison), Kenny’s Italian Kitchen (Addison), Kenny’s Smokehouse (Shops at Legacy), and Kenny’s Burger Joint (Frisco and a NEW Plano location!). That said, I was super excited when I received an invitation to check out the aforementioned, brand spankin’ new Kenny’s Burger Joint location in Lakeside Market in Plano. Kenny and his awesome team hosted a holiday-centric event highlighting some fun and festive appetizers, and some seriously tasty cocktails.
If you’ve visited Kenny’s Burger Joint before, it’s no secret Kenny Bowers serves up a mean burger; quite honestly, probably my favorite burger. Kenny perfected his juicy, 8 oz. patties over a natural hickory wood-burning grill, and the availability of delicious topping combinations to follow said grilling extravaganza offers something for everyone. If you aren’t feeling a burger (excuse me, what?), Kenny’s menu features a variety of other tasty options, ranging from the black angus Big Dog, and the Steak Bomb (Kenny’s take on the classic Philly cheesesteak), to lighter options, like the fresh and delicious Ahi Tuna and Asian Chicken Salads.
Hopefully, if you’re a Kenny’s Burger Joint fan, you’re already aware of the greatness that is Kenny’s cocktail menu. Kenny’s well-rounded drink menu is thoughtful and creative, and includes indulgent additions such as the famed “Adult” milkshakes (I got to try the Chocolate Grasshopper (Crème de Menthe, White, Crème de Cocoa, and Oreos) and OhMyLanta, it was good. Additionally, Kenny’s Burger Joint offers a reasonable wine list and a respectable craft beer selection. Oh, and they offer Grey Goose on tap. So, there’s that.
I got to sample a variety of particularly delicious cocktails on this occasion, and today, you are in luck: Kenny’s talented bartenders were kind of enough to share some of their delicious cocktail recipes, so you can try your hand at recreating some of these beauties at home!
**Here’s a tip before you get started: Kenny’s standard for mixing cocktails demands no fewer than 25 “shakes” when mixing cocktail ingredients in a shaker. This results in bruising of the alcohol, which in turn creates a nifty sheet of ice atop the drink when you pour. (The more you know.)
Sapphire 75 2 oz Bombay Sapphire
Splash lemon juice
Splash simple syrup
Shake first three ingredients. Top with splash of Prosecco.
Under the Mistletoe 1 1/2 oz. Stoli Blueberry
3/4 oz. PAMA Liquor
1/2 oz Pineapple juice
Shake and pour, then top with a splash of Prosecco.
Frenchie 2 oz Grey Goose (consider using orange, for extra flavor)
½ oz Chambord
1/2 oz Pineapple juice
Shake first three ingredients and top with splash of Prosecco.
Silent Nyquil (heh) 2 oz Stoli Vanilla
Small shot of whipped cream
½ oz peppermint Schnapps
½ oz simple syrup
Splash crème de Menthe
Splash Blue Curacao
Shake first four ingredients and pour into martini glass. Drop crème de Menthe and Blue Curacao gently along side of glass (they will sink) and splash with Prosecco.
You’re likely to work up an appetite after all of that cocktail shakin’. So, it’s a good thing Kenny shared a variety of recipes for you to try at home- and just in time for your upcoming Christmas festivities, or fleet of non-negotiable house guests!
Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos 10 fresh Jalapenos, whole
1 c. pepper jack cheese, shredded
10 strips of bacon, raw
Cut a ¼” divot in each pepper from just below the stem to just below the toe. Set the divot aside. Gently scoop out as much of the seed and white membrane as possible, and discard. Be careful not to break or tear the jalapeño.
Form enough cheese in your hand to fit in the interior of the pepper and gently stuff (approximately 3 Tbsp). Replace the divot over the cheese. Gently squeeze the pepper in your hand, and compress to close.
Place bacon on a cutting board. Place the jalapeño on the bacon, just above the toe where the divot begins. Wrap bacon at an angle, overlapping on each wrap to make sure the divot is completely covered. Gently squeeze to help bacon adhere. Secure each end of the bacon with a toothpick. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking. Cook either using grill method or skillet/oven method:
GRILL PROCEDURE: Place cold jalapenos on medium heat grill, and close lid. Cook until bacon is slightly crispy and cheese begins to ooze. Carefully remove toothpicks. Serve with ranch and BBQ sauce for dipping.
SKILLET/OVER PROCEDURE: Preheat oven to 400 degree. Place cold jalapeños in a lightly oiled hot skillet over medium high heat. Lightly brown on all sides. Move skillet to oven, and finish at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.
Bud’s White Queso
1 ¼ lb. White American cheese, shredded 1 c. Whole milk
1 c. Yellow onion, sliced in paper thin strips
½ c. Cilantro, chopped
¼ c. Pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
2 tsp. Cumin
Can be prepared in microwave or crockpot, as described below:
MICROWAVE: Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until hot, stirring occasionally.
CROCKPOT: Place all ingredients in crockpot, stirring occasionally, until everything is incorporated and queso is hot.
Juicy Lucy Sliders 8- 2 oz. Burger patties 4 slices American cheese, folded into 2” squares
4 King’s Hawaiian Mini Hamburger Buns
4 tsp. Ketchup
4 tsp. Yellow Mustard
4 Tbsp. Onion, raw and chopped ¼”
4 Tbsp. Pickles, chopped ¼”
Place on square of cheese in the center of one of the burger patties, folding the corners of the cheese so there is a ½” gap between the cheese and the edge of the meat. Place a second patty on top, and crimp the edges together (like making a ravioli), making sure there are no holes. Repeat with remaining patties. Put patties in refrigerator to firm.
Season both sides of burger patties with salt and pepper. Gently place burger patties on an oiled, flat grill or standard grill.
Cook approximately 3 minutes per side over medium high heat until browned on each side or cooked through. When you flip the burgers, do so gently to prevent cheese from oozing out.
Place ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onion evenly on each bottom bun. Place finished burgers on top. Cover with top bun, and enjoy!
Note: Be very careful when biting into the sliders as the cheese can be very hot!
Kenny shared one more thing with us that certainly bears mentioning, and that would be the infamous EL JEFE GRANDE CHALLENGE. This slightly larger than average burger, priced at $50, features:
An impressive 3 lb. patty of the finest beef stacked on two ENORMOUS pieces of Texas Toast (made especially for this sandwich) topped with: · 10 oz. of French fries
· Sliced jalapeños
· ½ lb. of bacon
· Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and your choice of 1 c. of mustard or mayonnaise
It is a sight to behold. Guests who complete El Jefe Grande in less than one hour will receive the burger for free, plus a $100 dining certificate for a future meal, and their picture displayed on a special wall of honor in the restaurant. Plan on signing a waiver before tackling this Big Boss. (Not kidding, actually.)
If you haven’t checked out Kenny’s Burger Joint yet (or, if you have!), I would strongly suggest paying them a visit on a Monday. Why, you might ask? Martini Mondays, my friends. Kenny’s Burger Joint features a collection of speciality martinis and cocktails for just $5, all day long, every Monday. Yes.
If you’ve ever paid a visit to Plano’s increasingly popular Historic District, chances are you are already familiar with the deliciousness that is Urban Rio. Hopefully, this also means you are well-acquainted with Urban Rio’s breezy, rooftop watering hole, On the Rocks Cantina. In case you’ve been missing out: This “Next-Mex” eatery features inventive menu items influenced by Mexican and Spanish flavors and ingredients from the Rio Grande Valley. Urban Rio places a heavy emphasis on fresh, creative menu items, with scratch-made ingredients (they grind their own corn for their tortillas). On the Rocks Cantina features 14 beer taps (10 of which are craft, including local selections), 8 frozen liquor taps, a creative variety of handcrafted cocktails, and assorted vino.
Even if Urban Rio is heavy in your rotation (as it should be), here is a little tidbit you may not know: Each month, Urban Rio features a five course cocktail pairing dinner, and it’s only $34.90 per person. Let that sink in for a minute. The average price tag of a craft cocktail in Dallas is in the double digits. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further on what a ridiculous deal this is.
I happily attended Urban Rio’s November Fall Cocktail Dinner. The menu was both festive and creative, with some delightfully unexpected offerings thrown in.
The first course paired a decadent Pumpkin Martini with a velvety Butternut Squash Soup. The Pumpkin Martini (spiced rum, pumpkin spice syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, crowned with house-made pumpkin whipped cream) made me feel like I was abusing my grown-up powers and indulging in dessert before dinner; this baby was sinfully creamy and delicious. The Butternut Squash Soup was prepared with a puree of onion and celery, which gave the soup a lovely, smooth texture without being overly rich. This gourd-centric pairing slapped us in the face with autumn-y goodness.
Our second course featured the Berry Breeze cocktail, paired with Berry Jalapeño Shrimp. The Berry Breeze (pear vodka, apple juice, and cranberry juice) was lightly sweet with a lovely pop cranberry. The sweetness of the cocktail was offset by the garlicky shrimp, accompanied by a zesty berry-jalapeño sauce and a strawberry pico.
For the third course, we were treated to a Maple Old Fashioned, paired with Roasted Ham. The Maple Old Fashioned (maple rye whiskey, cranberry bitters) was surprisingly sweet and decadent for a spirit forward cocktail with only two ingredients. The sweet maple flavor paired beautifully with the smokiness of the ham, which was crowned with a zesty maple mustard sauce, served atop creamy leek mashed potatoes.
“Why stop at just one entree?” asked Urban Rio. The fourth course featured the Pecan Dream cocktail, paired with Pecan Crusted Salmon. This pairing was my favorite, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. I heard all kinds of praise songs being sung for the Pecan Dream (house-infused toasted pecan rum, banana, vanilla vodka, walnut liqueur, and sugar). This one-of-a-kind cocktail was reminiscent of delicious banana nut bread. It paired beautifully with the flaky, pecan-crusted salmon, which was prepared with mustard in the crust for just the right amount of contrasting bite to offset the sweetness of the cocktail. Bravo.
Finally, our fifth and final course paired the Chocolate Covered Raspberry, abeer creation, with an indulgent Chocolate Mousse. So, the Chocolate Covered Raspberry (Grapevine Brewery’s Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout with Lindemans Framboise) was technically not a cocktail … but, I am totally OK with this, because it was freaking delicious. Aptly named, the sweet, jammy, raspberry goodness paired perfectly with the rich, creamy chocolate mousse. I don’t usually consider beer when pondering after-dinner libations, but I definitely will going forward. Yum.
To tide you over ’til Urban Rio’s next amazing cocktail dinner in December (scheduled for December 16, at 6:30), the kind folks at the On the Rocks Cantina were kind enough to share a duo of festive holiday drink recipes you can create for yourself, at home.
Cranberry Mule 2 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
Fill copper mug with ice. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with fresh mint. Strain into mug and top with ginger beer (we prefer Gosling’s!). Garnish with fresh cranberry skewer, lime wedge and sprig of fresh mint.
Winter Vixen Cocktail 1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1.5 oz POM pomegranate juice
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Fill the bottom of the champagne flute with pomegranate seeds (about ten). Layer St. Germain and pomegranate juice in the champagne flute and top with champagne.
Urban Rio Cocktail Dinners are hosted on a monthly basis, typically on the third Tuesday of every month (check out their events calendar to confirm future dates and times). Once again, the cost is just $34.90 per person (tax and gratuities not included)- such an amazing deal! Space is always limited, so make your reservation ASAP! For reservations, call 972-543-8911 or email email@example.com.
Here are some other noteworthy Urban Rio happenings:
Check out On the Rocks Cantina’s 7 Deals for 7 Days specials, featuring:
Monday- $1 off all beer
Tuesday- $2 off cocktails on the rocks
Wednesday- $3 off Crown and Down
Thursday- $4 frozen drinks
Friday- $5 glasses of wine
Saturday- $6 beer-ritas
Sunday- $7 off bottles of wine
Be sure to check out their events calendar for additional drink specials and live music offerings.
Sister restaurant Urban Crust is pairing with Urban Rio to throw a festive NYE bash at Urban Crust’s Rooftop Event Spot. The “Cocktails and Confetti” NYE party will feature live music from the Josh Goode Band, small bites from Urban Crust, and a cash bar with signature drinks from Urban Rio (credit cards also accepted). Tickets are $50 and will go on sale on December 2. Tickets can be purchased here.
I hear that Urban Rio will be offering a new series of quarterly beer dinners, launching in 2015. Just like the cocktail dinners, the five-course beer dinner will be offered for only $34.90 per person! The inaugural event, featuring Texas beers, take place on March 17, so make your reservations and mark your calendars!
URBAN RIO 1000 E. 14th St. Ste. 100, Plano, TX 75074
Hours of Operation: Open Daily: 11 AM – 2 AM Brunch Menu offered Sat. & Sun. from 11AM – 3PM
I consider myself a huge Perry’s fan. That said, when I learned their second DFW location was opening in my neck of the woods–located at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco–I was slightly (ok, ridiculously) excited. I had an opportunity to attend a “sneak peak” event at the new Perry’s location this past week … which was kind of the second best thing that happened to me last week.* (For the record, I’m pretty sure Susie actually shed a little tear when she realized she was unable to personally attend.**) Ohmylanta, folks. Consider my Perry’s fervor renewed and stoked. Wowsers.
This brand spankin’ new location (they opened their doors on 11/17) features some shiny, new bells and whistles in addition to signature features Perry’s fans will happily recognize. The dining room, capable of accommodating 350 guests, boasts Perry’s familiar towering wine wall. Features unique to this DFW location include a beautiful open kitchen concept, four private dining rooms, and an island bar. The restaurant has a decidedly open, airy feel … perfect for special occasions. The spacious and sumptuous Bar 79 (named in honor of the year the first Perry’s location opened their doors in Houston) provides a perfect space for a lively happy hour or pre-dinner cocktail. Like the Dallas location, an exterior patio is available for al fresco dining.
The fact remains that the gorgeous aesthetics of the Perry’s Frisco location are basically a nifty bonus, because I’m pretty sure I would enjoy the food and drinks they serve here if I had to eat/drink them in a barn. Bar 79 presented us with an impressive array of creative and delicious beverage offerings at the preview event. I’m going to go ahead and say that it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite, so in no particular order, I delighted in:
The Pineapple Ginger Mojito – sweet pineapple paired with fresh mint, muddled with lime and shaken with Captain Morgan White Rum and just the right hint of ginger. I love unique mojitos, and this one was creative and refreshing.
Manhattan 46 – this classic cocktail is crafted with Maker’s 46, vermouth, and a dash of bitters, garnished with Luxardo cherries. If you aren’t familiar with Maker’s 46, this bourbon is finished in the barrel with specially seared oak staves, giving it a distinctive, oaky vanilla flavor. This cocktail was smooth as silk.
Classic Sidecar – this pre-prohibition era cocktail combines Hennessy VS, Grand Marnier, Caravella Limoncello, and fresh lemon juice. Just lovely.
Oolong Whiskey Spice – this one is new to the club, and I found it to be a most welcomed addition. Dickel #8 Bourbon, fresh mint, a hint of peach, fresh lemon juice, and yes, Oolong orange spice tea, give this cocktail a delightfully unique flavor. The flavor of the tea really shines through, but isn’t overpowering.
All mixology cocktails are $12
In addition to Perry’s stellar cocktail offerings, I had the opportunity to sample Perry’s Private Label Chardonnay ($13/glass, $52/bottle). This Sonoma County 2012 Chardonnay is a guest favorite, and I can see why. Pleasing notes of green apple, pear, and vanilla result in a lovely balance of sweet and crisp, with a long, lovely finish.
I had the opportunity to sample five eyes-roll-back-in-your-head-amazing dishes at the preview event (which was a good thing, since they were not stingy with the cocktails).
For starters, we enjoyed the Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare ($15.95). This was my first time to sample this lighter dish, and I can assure you it will not be my last. The tuna was remarkably fresh and delicate, crowned with a black sesame and teriyaki glaze. Crisp wontons accompanied this appetizer. I am generally not a big tuna fan, but I found myself wanting seconds of this dish.
Next, I was reacquainted with one of my favorite appetizers in DFW, Perry’s Signature Fried Asparagus ($16.95). As the name suggests, delicately breaded asparagus spears are fried, and then topped with tender jumbo lump crab meat. Holy smokes, I love this dish. So. Decadent.
If you are not familiar with THE Perry’s Famous Pork Chop ($36.95), you’d best acquaint yourself, ASAP. I love a good steak, as any good honorary Texan should, but Perry’s is a place where I really struggle with what to order thanks to this bad boy. SEVEN FINGERS HIGH, this hand-selected prime chop is cured, roasted, slow-smoked, and caramelized, then topped with Perry’s signature herb-garlic butter, and served with a side of apple sauce. Whew. In a glorious opening ceremony, the pork chop is carved tableside, while you look on salivating like one of Pavlov’s hounds. This might be the most tender, moist, decadent pork I have ever put in my mouth (sorry, every BBQ place ever).
I was so glad I had the opportunity to try the Chateaubriand, which is an off-menu item, available upon request (but I’m telling you about it now, so you win!). This beautiful tenderloin filet was presented with three sauces: truffle merlot, béarnaise, and roasted peppercorn; all three were spectacular accompaniments. The filet was melt-in-your-mouth good; velvety with a perfect crust. I see more of this in my future.
Finally, I was able to sample Perry’s Homemade Polish Sausage, a nod to Perry’s humble beginnings as a family-owned meat market in Houston. I am, admittedly, not much of a sausage fan- making me a decidedly bad honorary Texan. (Look, I am a native Floridian … and Floridian’s don’t know what sausage is, and there are some things we just can’t help about ourselves. But, I digress.) All of this was to say: I was so pleasantly surprised by this dish. The sausage, which was 85% lean, actually had quite a delicate flavor and texture. It was not remotely oily or greasy, but really tender and lovely, and I enjoyed it in spite of myself. The house-made BBQ sauce that accompanied it was tangy and flavorful. (And don’t forget the mustard!)
Perry’s has a variety of tempting specials throughout the week, for your eating and drinking enjoyment.
First, allow me to fill you in on one of the best lunch specials in DFW: Every Friday, from 11am-4pm***, you can enjoy Perry’s Famous Pork Chop with a side of whipped potatoes and apple sauce for $12.95. It basically costs me like $10 to eat at Chipotle on any given day (not that there’s anything wrong with Chipotle), so this is a NO BRAINER. In fact, I just got angry at myself that I haven’t had the opportunity to take advantage of this deal more often. Now that we have a Perry’s location in the great white north, that is fixin’ to change.
Perry’s popular Social Hour is a steal! Social Hour features a variety of mixology cocktails for just $6, wine by the glass starting at just $5, and a selection of tasty appetizers starting at just $5.95! Social hour takes place Monday-Friday, 4-6:30pm, and Sunday, 4-9pm. Check out the Social Hour.
Perry’s Bar 79 features live entertainment, ranging from classic lounge piano to lively jazz trios. Enjoy classy live music Monday-Thursday, 6-10pm or Friday-Saturday, 6-11pm.
Notes from Susie:
*Rachel got engaged this past weekend, y’all! Congratulations to Champ and best wishes to her. 🙂
**I’ll admit that it was more than a solitary tear …
***If you show up at 3:45pm, you can enjoy the pork chop special (order immediately when you sit down) and then get right into Social Hour.
We’ve all heard of this deliciousness that plopped down on Oak Lawn earlier this year to much expectation. I know that, personally, it seemed to offer two of my favorite things … scotch and sausage (obvi.), and I was game to get down on some serious high end hot doggage.
Rico and I ventured in a couple weeks ago to try some of the new menu items popping up, and were far from disappointed. We each had a couple drinks mixed by badass bartenders Jesse and Erick and enjoyed every minute of our evening.
P.S. They have live music that is amazing. There’s serious talent in there.
Cook Hall, located at the W’s Dallas-Victory hotel- has rolled out a new menu for the fall, and I was lucky enough to attend a tasting to see what they have in store for the season. In case you are unfamiliar, Cook Hall is an American gastropub, with a heavy emphasis on craft cocktails, craft beers (including some nice local offerings), and thoughtful wine selections. Their menu places a heavy emphasis on both small plates and family style dining options that encourage sharing and socializing.
I had the opportunity to try two of their craft cocktail offerings. Holy. Moly. Sooooo, so Good. It was really difficult to pick a favorite, but they really weren’t playing fair with their first offering, the Garden Smash (Nolet’s gin, cilantro, Fresno chili, and lime, $12). I’m pretty sure they must’ve known I was coming, because this drink was RIGHT up my alley. The Garden Smash was delightfully fresh tasting, and so interesting, with a bevy of strong, distinctive flavors playing off of each other in this zippy little cocktail. Apparently I do not stand alone in my enthusiasm for this drink, as I was informed the Garden Smash is their #1 seller.
Next up was the Autumn Giant (Plymouth gin, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain, Lemon Juice, & Simple Syrup, $12). I really love gin drinks, so again, this was not a tough sell for me. The flavors in this cocktail were so unique, words don’t come easy to describe it. Sweet, but not too sweet, with an interesting kick. Totally refreshing, and would definitely order it again.
I was way sad our super-tasty cocktail hour was over, that is, until they began parading out our starters (“snacks,” per the Cook Hall menu). We sampled a small plate featuring Pecorino, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Pistachios ($9) which consisted of sourdough toasts accompanied by herbed goat cheese, Asian pears, and crushed pistachios; this tasty plate would be a great, light dish for sharing. Next was the Chicken Liver Mousse, and … my fellow diners thought this was great – I mean, they were really blown away by it … and moreover, I am apparently a 6 year old child at heart because I just can’t, y’all. I just can’t.
Moving on…to maybe one of my very favorite dishes I sampled all night … the Butternut Squash Soup with Oyster Mushrooms ($8). So-stinking-good, y’all. This soup was incredibly decadent and creamy, drizzled with a fresh pesto garnish, and chock full of delicate oyster mushrooms that added a seriously tasty element of surprise to this rich fall favorite. Basically, this soup alone is reason enough for me to come back.
On to the entrees (“Plates”!). First, let me tell you about my very fav, the Crispy Sea Bass, served with roasted Brussels sprouts, heirloom carrots, and spiced apple jus (heh) ($28). This was one of those dishes that made me want to reenact the whole When Harry Met Sally Katz’s deli scene. My eyes rolled back in my head with every bite. Chef Nicholas Jimenez’s creative spin on this fish dish incorporates bold, surprising flavors, like horseradish and mint- which were perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the apple. I loved this unexpected dish.
Honorable mentions are rewarded to the ridiculously delicious Fresh Tagliatelle,with smoked bacon, tomato, jalapeño, and arugula ($19). I have to admit that I’m generally not a big bacon fan (I know, I’m barely human), but the smoky-spicy-bitter trifecta (aka bacon-japs-arugula) really rang my bell. 10/10, would get again.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich – served on a ciabatta roll (baked by the delicious Empire Baking Company in Dallas) with spiced fig jam, goat cheese, and arugula ($13); the sweet fig spread and delicious, fresh bread made this sandwich just special.
Seared Shrimp – served atop warm lentils, with Linguica sausage ($24); holy crap, this was buttery and decadent. I PROMISE YOU, you have never had lentils this good.
Caramelized Beef Tenderloin – with a red wine miso glaze & potato gratin ($38); tender and flavorful tenderloin, with creamy, cheesy, potato-y goodness.
Seared Scallops – in a soy yuzu broth, served top spaghetti squash ($26); surprising ingredients in the broth (burnt popcorn and Thai chiles) gave this dish a uniquely interesting kick.
PSA: If you don’t save room for dessert at Cook Hall, you’re doing it wrong. My favorite offering of the evening was the Autumn Cheesecake, decked out in a Riesling gelee and a crown of poached figs ($8); decadent ricotta cheese and a moist, cinnamon graham cracker crust set this cheesecake apart from the ordinary, and, the Riesling gelee … I mean, really? Need I say more? Also delicious were the S’mores with Graham Cracker Ice Cream ($8); house-made marshmallows? Yes please. And finally, the Warm Spiced Pear Crumble,paired with cinnamon ice cream ($7), which is basically like autumn in your mouth. I also want to go ahead and say that they serve up an amazing cappuccino ($5).
Cook Hall features a multitude of very nice happy hour specials and signature events. For your consideration:
Check out Cook Hall’s 5@5 menu, featuring 5 cocktails and 5 snacks available for $5, at, you guessed it, 5 PM.
Live music and $5 draft beers are featured from 9:00-12:00 on Thursday evenings. Check out the live music schedule, here
Cook Hall features a bi-monthly beer dinner; I can attest that October’s was amazing (and you’ll get to hear all about it, soon! Stay tuned…).Their next beer dinner is scheduled for early December. Check back here for more details, at a later date.
Pro tip: You know how parking is like, really, really expensive for Mavs games/Stars games/concerts at the AAC? All you have to do is purchase one (delicious!) entree, and Cook Hall will hook you up with FREE PARKING during events, friends. Don’t forget to have your ticket validated- and don’t forget to tip your valet 😉
Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00-3:00.
Are you having a Halloween party? A Christmas party? Any other kind of party, in life, at any point in the future? Do you like booze? Do you like candy? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, listen up: you’re going to want to hear this*. Candy Cocktails, people. That’s right … cocktails that taste like candy. Cocktails that are MADE USING CANDY. Enter: “Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist“.
(*If you did not answer, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, do not read on. Go here, instead.)
I received “Candy Cocktails” just in time for Halloween, but this cocktail recipe book by the Good sisters (curators of Fashionably Bombed) is chock full of fun and inventive cocktails for every holiday (Candy Cane Martini, anyone?). Holiday-themed libations represent only a small segment of this gorgeous little recipe book, however; in its pages, you will also find cocktail recipes highlight just about any kind of candy you can think of. Forget everything you think you know about dessert drinks … until you have sampled a Liquid Candy Bar, a Candy Fishbowl (yes, it has Swedish Fish “swimming” in it. Shut. Up.), or a Pop Shot (yup, that would be a shooter integrating Pop Rocks), you know nothing. Just imagine preparing a custom cocktail for your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/bestie/grandma/mailman based on his or her favorite candy. How much do I love this idea? (A lot.)
Candy Cocktails is going to have you “mixing outside the box,” if you will. I can attest to this because I found myself preparing candy corn infused vodka early this week. One of the really awesome things about this book is the fact that it gives you directions on how to create variety of sweet liquor infusions using at little as 1/2 cup of booze. Gone are the days of having to spend $17 a pop on multiple, giant bottles of random flavored vodkas that you know are probably only going to use once or twice to make that one cocktail you just had to have, on a whim (I mean, I don’t know many people whose “go-to” drink features marshmallow vodka, do you?). This section of the book is really quite practical and useful (as candy infused alcohol goes).
I prepared two Halloween inspired “Candy Cocktails” in the Plano branch of the Susie Drinks Dallas test kitchen.
First, the Candy Corn Cocktail,- hence the candy corn infused vodka. This drink was so pretty and festive, and just BEGGING you to serve it at your Halloween bash. It was not sickeningly sweet, and really, it was incredibly reminiscent of a lemon drop, with a subtle hint of something different. (You guessed it, genius … CANDY CORN!!!)
Next, the Peanut Butter Cup Cocktail, which was every bit as rich and decadent as it sounds. Interestingly (and only mildly disappointingly), this cocktail does not contain actual peanut butter cups (aside from the garnish). As the sisters point out in their book, sometimes the point is for the drink to taste LIKE the candy, as opposed to actually containing the candy. This blended concoction was comprised of vodka, crunchy peanut butter, crème de cacao, and whole milk (omg). This was 100% dessert, and they really nailed the peanut butter cup flavor. Nom.
If you are looking for a collection of really fun, unique cocktail recipes, getchoself a copy of Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist, today!
Available at Barnes and Noble (check out their nifty in-store pickup feature!), or on Amazon, for just $13.68.
Last week I was privileged to attend a media dinner at a new Tex-Mex restaurant in Bluebonnet Circle, Pegaso Mexican Diner. The circle has made a huge turn around since the days of the Qui and Tiff and Andi’s. Now the circle is full of great restaurants and retail, and Pegaso is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.
Pegaso is set up like Freebirds or Chipotle where you go through a line to build your plate. They also offer a few platters were everything is already chosen for you want a quick decision. The basics of the menu are: enchilada plates, burritos, burrito bowls, salad bowls, and street tacos. With almost everything, you pick your filling, sauce, and sides. My first experience was awesome because I was able to try a lot of the menu in small portions. I kept thinking about how good the food during the rest of my week that I went back a few days later for my weekend Mexican food fix. Going through the line for the first time was somewhat overwhelming with all of the choices. It was safe to say that I’m pretty sure I would not have been disappointed with anything I would have chosen. The simple things like the rice and refried beans are amazing. The food is such high quality (this is nothing like Taco Bell fast food).
Eventually they will be offering late night on weekends as well as breakfast.
I’ll admit it … I’m a queso fanatic. For that reason, I deem myself qualified to say that their queso blanco was amazing. My other top recommendations are the enchilada platter with chicken tinga, chipotle crema, vegan cilantro rice, and pinto refried beans. One of the best sides I have tried is the Spicy Mexican Elote (a corn dish with chipotle crema, mayonnaise, and queso fresco). This dish has a great mix of sweet and spicy flavors.
So awesome food, now what about the drinks? Yes, this is considered “fast casual”, but the margaritas are hand shaken using 100% agave Tequila (your choice of Silver, Reposado, or Anejo). I was a big fan of the skinny margarita on the rocks ($8.50). The cucumber margarita on the rocks ($10.00) was a refreshing twist on a traditional margarita and the cucumber mellowed out the sweetness.
Pegaso also offers a selection of domestic ($2.95), imported ($3.75), and local ($4.25) bottles. (I feel that I shouldn’t have to say that you can’t get the drinks to go … but I’ll err on the side of safety.)
All of the items at Pegaso are made with high quality ingredients and sustainable harvested produce when possible. They use healthy fats such as Canola oil in their fryer as well as accommodate any vegan request that is possible. This is a family-friendly restaurant with a very reasonably priced kids menu ($3.75).
PEGASO MEXICAN DINER
3516 Bluebonnet Circle
Fort Worth, Texas 76109 Website | Facebook