Category Archives: Food

Hutchins BBQ Media Dinner featuring Grapevine Brewery

BBQ and BYOB; Two acronyms Dallasites get pretty dang excited about.

With a plethora of BBQ heavy hitters in Dallas proper, I’m here to implore you not to forget about a seriously solid purveyor of pig that has been serving Collin County (and wise visitors from beyond) since 1978: Hutchins BBQ. The senior location is located in historic downtown McKinney, and the Hutchins family opened up a secondary Preston Road location in Frisco just last year. And here’s the marvelous thing about the McKinney location: it is, in fact, BYOB.  Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I was lucky enough to attend a media dinner at the McKinney location earlier this month. (Thanks, Susie … I’m not trying to squeeze into a wedding dress or anything). Tim Hutchins (GM and son of original owner Roy Hutchins) and co-owner Dustin Blackwell were our gracious hosts for the evening, and their passion for the fine art of smoking copious amounts of meat was evident with every (frequently excessive) bite.

Their BBQ process really is a labor of love. As we stuffed our happy faces, Tim described the 15-17 hour smoking process executed on a daily basis in order to produce the perfectly moist, tender slab of Heaven that is Hutchins’ brisket. The flawlessly executed smoke ring speaks for itself and seemingly doesn’t warrant an explanation, but Tim explained the importance of the wood selection in the smoking process; the Hutchins family uses a one-two punch of oak, followed by pecan. Hutchins uses predominantly Prime grade beef (subject to availability) that is free from hormones or antibiotics.

Chef Tim and his smoker
Chef Tim and his smoker

Let’s talk sausage. Hutchins makes theirs in small batches, using a 50/50 ratio of pork and brisket. Their jalapeño cheese sausage is made with jalapeños procured from a local market. (And for the record, the portion I sampled on this particular evening packed a serious punch of heat.) The ribs, which fell off the bone, were perfectly charred, with a lightly sweet brown sugar glaze. I was surprised that one of the most enjoyable things I sampled all night ended up being the fried catfish. I usually don’t even like catfish, but I felt it was my duty to take at least one bite, for science. Dang, ya’ll! Perfectly crisp, not remotely greasy, with a beautiful cornmeal breading- and most importantly, no trace of that all too familiar “earthy” taste to be found. So, I guess I like catfish now?

If you’re like me, you might suffer from ordering induced anxiety when you first visit an establishment such as Hutchins. (Ya know, one where everything looks, smells, and sounds amazing, and you’re terrified you’re going to miss out on a special snowflake and then see a Foursquare tip after your order that has an off-menu gem that gives you serious FOMO?) Hutchins solves that delicious problem for you, by offering an All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE- hey look, another acronym!) option for just $18.99. As if you might actually have extra space in your abdominal region after you get done sampling allllll tha meatz, that price includes sides (pinto beans, potato salad, green beans, corn, coleslaw, mac n’ cheese, and potato casserole), AND dessert (peach cobbler, banana pudding, soft serve and toppings)! Here’s hoping your post-meal itinerary includes one stop: bed. But, don’t worry: if you aren’t feeling brave (or if you need someone to set limits for you because you are well aware that you are incapable of exercising self-control … not that I can relate to that scenario or anything …) you can certainly order off of the traditional menu (meat plates, et al.).

Meat Fiesta
Meat Fiesta

Since this event was BYOB, Grapevine Brewery was kind enough to B some B for us. I was excited to try two Grapevine craft beer varieties that were new to me: Sir Williams English Brown Ale and NightWatch Oatmeal Stout. The Sir Williams English Brown Ale (4.9% ABV), as it so happens, was the recipient of the Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal in the English Brown Ale category. One sip, and I understood why. Sir Williams, you are a gentleman and a scholar, with your lovely, roasty malt and your smooth finish. The Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (6.3%) is on the lighter end of the stout spectrum, with a subtly malty chocolate note that feels like it is giving you permission to drink it year round. I’m a fan.

Hutchins BBQ – McKinney
1301 North Tennessee Street, McKinney, TX 75069
(972) 548-2629

Sun-Thurs: 11am to 9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 9:30pm

Hutchins BBQ –  Frisco
9225 Preston Road, Frisco TX
Store: 972-377-2046 | Catering: 972-540-1920
Email: catering @ hutchinsbbq.com

Wed-Sun: 11am to 3pm (or til sold out)

Kenny’s Burger Joint – DIY

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.

2 Apps

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.

9 Chocolate Grasshopper

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.)

4 Sapphire 75
Sapphire 75

Sapphire 75
2 oz Bombay Sapphire
Splash lemon juice
Splash simple syrup
Splash Prosecco

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
Slash Prosecco

Shake and pour, then top with a splash of Prosecco.

Frenchie
Frenchie

Frenchie
2 oz Grey Goose (consider using orange, for extra flavor)
½ oz Chambord
1/2 oz Pineapple juice
Splash Prosecco

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
Splash Prosecco

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.

8 Silent Nyquil7 Bartender

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
20 toothpicks

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.

5 Kenny1 Jalapeno Poppers and Tots

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:

11 El Jefe GrandeAn 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
· Chili
· Queso
· 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.

Happy Hour | Monday-Friday, 2:00-7:00
$1 off draft beer
$2 PBR
$3 premium wells
$4 hour wine
$2 Carboard-o (that’s boxed wine, y’all!)

Kenny’s Burger Joint
PLANO: 5809 Preston Rd, Ste 588 | (972) 378-0999
FRICSO: 1377 Legacy Drive, Suite 120 | (214)-618-8001

HOURS:
Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am – 11pm

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Frisco

Perrys Bar 79

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.

Perrys Wine Wall

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:

Pineapple Ginger MojitoThe 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
Oolong Whiskey Spice

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.

Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare
Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare

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.

Fried Asparagus with Crab
Fried Asparagus with Crab

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).

Perry’s Famous Pork Chop
Perry’s Famous Pork Chop

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.

Chateaubriand
Chateaubriand

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!)

Polish Sausage
Polish Sausage

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.

 Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille
2440 Parkwood Blvd, Frisco, TX 75034
214-494-4645
Reservations, Menus, and Hours of Operation: Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Frisco

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.

Scotch & Sausage

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.

IMG_9047IMG_9052 IMG_9051 IMG_9056 IMG_9057 IMG_9060 IMG_9064 IMG_9068IMG_9073 IMG_9074 IMG_9075IMG_9069

SCOTCH & SAUSAGE
2808 Oak Lawn Ave
(469) 802-6753
scotchandsausage.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Cook Hall Fall Menu Tasting

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.

Garden Smash

 

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.

Autumn Giant

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.

Oktoberfest and Butternut Squash Soup

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.

TagliatelleSeaBassScallopsShrimp

Also sampled:

  • 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.

Tenderloin

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).

Cheesecake

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.

Additional Info:

Cook Hall Dallas at the W DALLAS – VICTORY
cookhalldallas.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas (Victory Park)
214.397.4111

Mon – Thurs. 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Fri/ Sat. 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Sun. 11:30 AM – 9:00 PM
Reservations available online at Cook Hall Dallas, or via Opentable

 

TGI Happy Hour!

So, us Dallasites seem to forget about the West End from time to time.  Luckily, a friend was in town for work and we decided to take a little jaunt into the historic district to enjoy a couple cocktails and Endless Appetizers at TGI Friday’s with a third buddy.  Parking was easy at the meters, which is usually what us non-Downtowners see as the turn off for venturing into the one-way-street nightmare that can be navigating Downtown Dallas.  (Just make sure to set your phone’s timer so you don’t get a ticket!  That $25 slip of death can really ruin a happy hour.)

During the happy hour (which got even happier after each drink), we got into some Jackberry Smashes, Peach Honey Smashes, Hendrick’s Coolers, regular ole’ Captain and Cokes, and more.  (Way more.)  Since it was happy hour and Endless Apps were still in full effect, I decided to treat.  Three+ cocktails each, appetizers, and the epic Oreo Madness later “baller” status was achieved that evening for just $67.  (You’re welcome, Cody and Ben.)

Word on the street is that they’re doing a rib special (stay tuned for the delicious details on that).

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Pegaso Mexican Diner- Fort Worth

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

Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday: 11am- 9pm
Friday- Saturday: 11am- 11pm
Sunday: 11am- 9pm
CLOSED MONDAY

Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday 4-6:30 ($1 off all alcoholic drinks)

*TCU students receive a 10% discount with ID.

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