The beginning of fall marks the start of many exciting events–the long-awaited return of college football (and tailgating) season, the State Fair, baseball playoffs–and for the German beer fan in all of us, we have Oktoberfest. While I wasn’t lucky enough to make it to the original celebration in Munich, I was able to pop over to Gordon Biersch for their house brewed beers.
Despite a vaguely German-sounding name, Gordon Biersch has a modern and diverse gastropub-inspired menu that spans from flatbreads and fresh fish to revamped pub standards. Their brewing philosophy is based off of the Reinheitsgebot (a purity law that was created in Germany all the way back in 1516). Gordon Biersch’s beers are brewed according to these ancient rules-using only malted barley, hops, yeast and water.
A fan of darker beers, I decided on the Schwarzbier, a brown ale with a smooth, rich caramel flavor. My wife had the Hefeweizen which is a traditional style of unfiltered, wheat beer. The hints of fruit and spice make it a great beer to sip with or without food. The crew was nice enough to bring over samples of their other three beers: Marzen, Czech Pilsner and Golden Export. The Golden was an easy drinking beer with crisp, subtle hops while the Marzen had a sweet, malty taste.
What’s really nice is that the menu gives suggested food pairings to make the most of your experience. The Ahi Tuna Wonton Nachos are fresh tuna tossed in a savory teriyaki and topped a mountain of crunchy wonton chips. Add grilled pineapple, pickled ginger, green onions, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and drizzled with a cucumber wasabi sauce and Sriracha cream. And the Blue Crab Spinach Artichoke Dip is served bubbling hot with grilled crostini and herb flatbread. Rich and decadent, it may require putting in some extra cardio time, but it was a great pair to our beers.
The Woodford Reserve Bourbon Salmon is served with quinoa and kale salad and asparagus–it’s one of a number of a “lighter” dishes available that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for calories. We couldn’t skip dessert, so we shared a warm apple crostata with ice cream.
While the real Oktoberfest is over, but Gordon Biersch is keeping the spirit alive with well-crafted beers and food offerings. Consider swinging by for happy hour (Monday-Sunday 3-7pm & 9-11pm or all day Wednesday) for $4-21 ounce GB beers.
By Wednesday, after a long few days at work, I was ready for an adult beverage. (I had just started a new job and getting the lay of the land in a new place is always stressful.) Fortunately for me, Del Frisco’s Grille is celebrating summer by introducing a new happy hour–Monday to Friday, 4-6:30pm. So I headed over to the Dallas location on McKinney Avenue to check it out.
You guys … they have a Sip and Share menu with $6 cocktails, wine, craft beer ($5) and food. The menu includes some of their top signature drinks like the VIP and Tennessee Peach and new and old favorites in the food department.
First thing’s first: food. One of the classics and my favorite is their classic Cheesesteak Eggrolls. These things are amazing. Other items include Deviled Eggs, Pulled Pork Nachos, French Onion and Parmesan Spinach Dips, flatbreads, and the best corndogs you’ll ever have, the Wagyu Corndogs.
Now let’s get to the real reason I was there. First, if you have never had one of Del Frisco’s signature cocktails, head over ASAP. I am a whiskey drinker, so, my personal favorite is the Tennessee Peach (Jack Daniel’s, Fresh Peaches, Local Honey, Fresh Lime Juice, and Peach Bitters). This whiskey cocktail is perfect for summer; it’s refreshing and light, but it’s definitely on the sweet side.
I also tried the Grille Margarita. I asked the difference between the Grille Margarita and its Hand Crafted Cocktail counterparts; I was told it’s the Margarita 160 (skinny margarita: Sauza Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, Agave Nectar, Fresh Lime Juice) without the “skinny.” It was not too sweet, and just an excellent, classic margarita.
In addition to these, they also include their Red and White Sangrias on the Sip & Share. Red: Malbec, Stoli Razberi, Cointreau, Sweet & Sour, White Peach Purée, Fresh Lime Juice. White: Pinot Grigio, White Peach Purée, Peach Schnapps, Strawberry-Peach Popsicle.
If you’re in the mood for the classics, they included premium spirits on the happy hour menu, including Tito’s Vodka, Bulleit Bourbon, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Bacardi Rum and Milagro Silver Tequila.
Needless to say, the summer happy hour Sip & Share at Del Frisco’s Grille will be one of my new go-to happy hours. The best part? The new HH is available at all locations! Head on over and take advantage of this $6 Sip & Share (with $5 craft beer) happy hour menu while it lasts!
During a recent staycation at the Hilton Anatole, I was delighted to try their steakhouse, SĒR Steak + Spirits, on the 27th floor. This is one button I enjoyed pushing entirely too much. But I pushed it … and I pushed it good. My girl Tiffany joined me for dinner and we were absolutely blown away by each and every one of the courses presented by Executive Chef Kevin Spencer and every drink by Colin Silva.
The drinks kept us on our toes (and put us on our asses) thanks to the unique flavor profiles and the unexpected extras. This is one of the places I’d suggest handing the reigns to the bar team; they’ll make you something intriguing and unique. The scotch cocktail we were treated to (below) was delightfully smoky thanks to the peatiness of the spirit, but was still surprisingly light. The preparation for the cocktails was involved and completely worth the short wait.
SĒR’s kitchen offers reimagined versions of some basic options and quite a few all-new dishes. The perfect example is their Steak Tar Tar that closely resembles a deviled egg but brings so much more to the table. Be ready for a rich mouthful here.
The Caesar Salad was such a stand-out that I ended up visiting a second time in just one weekend to have it again. It’s perhaps the coolest salad … ever. This thing is a slab of leafy greens with “deconstructed croutons”, flowers, and even Pop Rock-like crystals that keep your mouth more than entertained. The best part of this salad was the dressing. Through some sciencey process, Chef Kevin creates egg yolk-like pods of dressing so you control your dressing to lettuce ratio. I like being in control.
The entrees were just as enticing. The seafood was fresh (the fish was light and flaky) and the steak was as tender as it could be. The Texas Caviar accompanying the steak we were served gave it a delightful, spicy snap.
Dessert was just as unique as the preceding dishes. One dessert (not yet on the menu) boasted grapes prepared three different ways accompanying ice cream and a buttery crumble. The Millionaire Pie was also a delight with the perfect balance between the tartness of the raspberry sorbet and the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream.
I went through a vintage phase in college. So where did I shop? My first stop on a shopping trip was always Ahab Bowen, a little vintage shop tucked inside a historical house smack dab in the middle of Uptown with a smattering of clothes with that have already lived a full life, but still had more to give. While I was sad when I heard the news that it closed years later, I was also excited about the potential of the establishment taking over the quaint, little house–a serious craft cocktail bar, Bowen House.
The space was completely reinvented with a bar spanning the facade and a handful of intimate white marble tables. The chandelier above the bar gives the space a decidedly haute feeling, but the atmosphere is anything but stuffy. Oh … and this is a perfect date spot. (They even joke that they host Tinder Tuesdays because so many blind dates show up.)
Thanks to owner, Pasha Heidari, Bowen House put together a killer lineup of some of the best in Dallas’s food and drink talent. The food menu was created by Chef Graham Dodds and he has a team of incredible mixmasters behind the bar. Some of said talent (ahem, the badass Reid Lewis … she’s a lady) was just recognized as one of the seven best mixologists in the city by “Modern Luxury Dallas”.
As drinks go, previously you were meant to simply chat with the bartender and he (slash she) would whip up a perfect cocktail crafted to your specifications. As of late, they’ve rolled out menus to make things a bit easier on those of us who have a paralyzing fear of making decisions when put on the spot. That’s right … leisurely peruse the menu … or you can still chat with the bartenders if you’re into that. (Which I am. Like, really into.) The menu offers classics, and then classics with a twist … each drink has also been reimagined by one of the bartenders.
Another new addition to their offerings to keep up cool on these 100º days–popsicle cocktails. The popsicle menu totes four options that’ll sweeten you up and cool you down while packing a punch.
The food here is also surprisingly good. The Fried Brie is a ta-reat with seasonal compote accompanying the melty, cheesy, crunchy goodness. Oh, and the chicken salad–dubbed Mom’s Chicken Salad because it’s actually his grandma’s recipe–was somewhat addicting. (And unfortunately it’s frowned upon to ask for seconds at a media tasting … whatever.) Also, (I’ve been told) the potato chips are even pretty epic. They have bleu cheese which is a no-no for this girl.
If you’ve never stopped in, make it a priority. Get all the drinks … and all the food … (That doesn’t really narrow it down for you, does it?)
Houlihan’s is bringing craft cocktails to the chain restaurant scene with their new 10-drink menu. (At least as much as a chain of its caliber can.) Houlihan’s introduced new drinks for our tasting pleasure at the Prestonwood location in Addison over a week in May. Using unusual techniques and unique spirits, Houlihan’s new drink menu looks more like something out of a hipster speakeasy than a suburban chain restaurant.
Take, for example, their Oak Aged Manhattan. This cocktail is aged on-site, using a mix of orange peels and oak staves for a barrel-less aging process. Houlihan’s mixologists claim this technique gives a smooth, subtly nuanced spirit in less time. When I tasted it, there were undertones of maple and vanilla. It is a simple but well-balanced cocktail–just as it should be. Mine came served with a salty, fatty, perfectly candied bacon.
My second drink, the Houdini, took a decidedly sweeter, fruity direction despite the high-proof spirit used. Henry McKenna Single-Barrel Kentucky Bourbon mingles with maple syrup and homemade ginger-peach syrup. This is refreshing cocktail is a perfect patio drink.
The rest of the new drink menu really has something to suit all tastes. One of the more classic additions is a slightly remixed DirtyMartini, shaken up with the addition of huge olives stuffed with pungent gorgonzola cheese and some delicious candied bacon. They even offer a tiki drink–the Blue Taboo. It looks like a sugar rush in a glass, but it’s more than just that; the drink is undeniably sweet, but it is well-balanced by the addition of Owl’s Brew Coco-Lada, which is a handcrafted black tea brewed in coconut water with chai spices and pineapple juice. Now I didn’t sample it, but the Bleeding Rose is definitely one of the more original creations offered on the new drink list. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, Absolut Hibiskus and fresh sour mix create the base of this cocktail which is poured over an Aperol-tea ice cube. The melting Aperol, a blazing orange-colored bitter Italian aperitif, will change the flavor profile of the Bleeding Rose over the course of the drink. And on another positive note even the ice is made of alcohol –so it’s the drink that keeps on giving!
Let’s not forget the food, because drinking on an empty stomach rarely ends well. I tried out the avocado toast with burrata. This summer special has a ton of fresh avocado smeared on top of toasted rustic bread and is seasoned with jalapeño, cilantro and garlic, to give it a bit of kick. A sweet, creamy burrata cooled the heat and added to the overall decadence of the dish. The portion size was generous enough to make for a light summer dinner. And not letting an opportunity get away to try something else from the limited time menu, I went with the Mahi-Mahi salad, complete with jumbo lump crab and a sweet and tangy citrus and pineapple salad.
The 10 new cocktails are only available at the Prestonwood location, but eventually they will roll out to Houlihan’s restaurants around the country.
… I guess, for now, we are the lucky ones. Cheers!
Loyal readers of Susie Drinks Dallas are well aware of our coverage of happy hours specials all around Dallas, but with so many options at your disposal, how can you possibly narrow down which places to grab a couple of beverages at after a long day at the office?
Bars and lounges usually have different specials every night, which does make our lives a little easier. Although if you’re the adventurous type and don’t mind mixing things up a bit, heres a little bingo game that you can play with your fellow happy hour going friends.
A game of chance is exactly what we need for a little spontaneity in our nightlife habits, and as much as bingo takes a lot of heat for being a pastime for grandmothers, the games recent comeback has shown a surprising turnout among millennials growing more fond of all things vintage. Along with knitting, bowling, and other pursuits, the Wall Street Journal explains that bingo is one of the latest old-school pastimes experiencing a resurgence among young people, giving rise to the number of players in brick and mortar bingo halls as well as online portals. Keeping with the steady growth in bingo gamers, companies such as Gala Bingo have even started offering a weeks worth of free bingo games for new users, and who doesn’t love anything that’s free? Additionally, they have run various promotions like Tone Up to keep users fit while playing, and partnered with various celebrities to tap into the millennial demographic. Players can now play American bingo anywhere they go with online sites letting them play 24/7. That means they can play from their homes, whilst traveling or when they’re bored in a waiting room, meaning that they could win big jackpots with their spare time. There are different variations of online games all over the world. From bingo to European roulette, and slot machines. Most of these games can be played for free, or demoed on the online gaming website, with a variety of jackpots to take home.
From there, the game has since lent itself to a number of themes, essentially giving bingo a number of lifestyle applications. For the fashion bloggers, there was Wardrobe Bingo, and for gym rats, there was Fitness Bingo, and for those obsessed with 2 for 1 cocktail and beer promos, along with bottomless mimosas, there is Dallas Happy Hour Bingo. Perhaps looking for something a little more different, like Crystal Crush bingo, is more to others tastes.
To play, you’ll need to pick 25 different establishments that you’ve never been to (or at least places whose happy hour specials you haven’t tried). Once you’ve got those, you can either randomize your card through Print Bingo or create your own and attach images with each for some visual appeal. Each time you need to figure out where to go for drinks, randomly select an item on your card and cross it out once you’ve had their happy hour beverages. Play it with a group of friends, and whoever gets a pattern gets treated the next time you’re all out.
By now, it’s no secret that some of the best seafood in the Metroplex (as told by D Mag, the Observer, The Dallas Morning News, blah blah blah) is at Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill, tucked away in Plano’s LakeSide Market just south of Preston & Spring Creek. Sea Breeze is already a neighborhood favorite; that said … Dallasites: If you haven’t been here yet, I would highly suggest working a Plano date night (or girl’s night, or an “I feel like eating good seafood” night, or a random Tuesday dinner) into the rotation … like now. With the introduction new menu items including a brand new craft cocktail program (SusieDrinksDallas readers: rejoice), there’s never been a better time to give Sea Breeze a try.
Speaking of that cocktail program…
The new cocktail lineup was carefully selected by manager, Ryan Oruch and features premium spirits and fresh ingredients, with an emphasis on crafting beautiful drinks worthy of Instagram. Or Snapchat … whatever. Current offerings include:
Lakeside Mule – Stoli vodka, Velvet Falernum, fresh lime juice topped with ginger beer
Honey Badger – Maker’s Mark, Barenjäger Honey Liquor, fresh lemon juice and a dash of habañero bitters
West Plano Punch – Olmeca Reposado, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, pomegranate juice, shaken with fresh mint
Texas Margarita – Silver Z tequila, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, shaken with a jalapeño slice
Vanilla Old Fashioned – Bulleit rye, vanilla infused simple syrup with a dash of Angostura bitters
Sunset Lemonade – Bombay Sapphire, Lillet Blanc, shaken with fresh raspberries and topped with lemonade
I tried the Texas Margarita, and I loved the tartness of the fresh-squeezed lime juice in this citrus-forward cocktail. It had a subtle spice to make it interesting without melting my face. I also sampled the Honey Badger, and the sweetness of the honey was the perfect complement for the slow burn from the habañero pepper.
All cocktail offerings are available for $9, but, during their DAILY happy hour (read: including weekends) 4-7pm, they can be enjoyed for $6. Boom.
In addition to their new cocktail lineup, Sea Breeze has an interesting and well-appointed wine list reflecting a variety of guest favorites available by the glass and bottle. Each month, featured wines are available by the bottle for a special price. (Call for more info.)
While the cocktails I sampled were delicious, Seabreeze is, in fact, a fish market (and restaurant); so, let’s talk seafood. I spent some time chatting with owner Rick Oruch, and I am here to tell you … the man is passionate about seafood. “I always invite people to give our fish the ‘sniff test’,” Rick explained. “Good seafood shouldn’t smell”.
Rick flies in fresh, seasonal varieties direct from the source; be it Alaskan snow crab or Gulf snapper, you will only find it at Seabreeze if it’s fresh and in season. Rick explained he only buys whole fish, which they fileted on-site for maximum freshness. All seafood is hand-sorted and inspected, meaning only hand-picked selections ever make their way to the seafood counter, or onto your plate. After sampling a variety of items, Rick has me convinced; you can taste the difference.
We started out with the Sautéed Snow Crab Claws, nestled in a decadent lemon, garlic butter and accompanied by a buttery, grilled baguette ($16). The tender crab melts in your mouths and has a sweet, delicate flavor … an exercise in self-control was required to keep from sopping up every last drop of garlic butter with the toast. We also tried the new Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, accompanied by arugula and a sriracha mayo ($7); the smokiness of the salmon and the spice of the sriracha played perfectly together. Rick brought us a cup of Seabreeze’s New England Clam Chowder ($4), proclaiming, “It’s something we are really proud of.” And I can see why; fresh clam flavor is the star of the show in this rich and hearty chowder, with a notable lack of distracting ingredients (read: bacon) frequently incorporated in other chowder recipes to mask inferior clams.
For our entrees (because we needed more food … ) we sampled the Cioppino ($25) and the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese ( $22). Cioppino is a San Francisco-style seafood stew. I am going to be completely honest; at seafood restaurants, I usually shy away from any dish with “seafood” in the title. I always assume this is where leftover odds and ends find their final resting place. Not in their kitchen. The Cioppino quickly bucked that notion as every bite of clam, mussel, shrimp, calamari, and fish tasted fresh and vibrant. The tomato broth base was spicy and begged to be sopped up with the delicious house bread. As for the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese … simply stated, Seabreeze does it right. Gruyere and white cheddar are the cheeses of choice in this dish, and nearly every bite I took was loaded with an impressively sized chunk of sweet, decadent lobster.
Speaking of lobster, one of the most popular menu items at Seabreeze is the New England Style Lobster Roll, served on a split-top bun filled with tender lobster salad ($16). The lobster roll is a perfect warmer weather lunch (and those days are rapidly approaching), and I can absolutely vouch for the deliciousness of this dish from past experiences.
Worth mentioning: Rick also shared with me Seabreeze is now offering an off-menu Surf and Turf Burger, featuring fresh ground chuck from Hirsch’s Meats crowned with lobster salad and arugula. Oh. Hell. Yes. Call ahead before visiting to see whether the burger is available; Rick will only make the burger when he has fresh beef on-hand from Hirsch’s. (Just another testament to his insistence on quality.)
Here’s one more thing you may not know about Seabreeze: They offer bi-weekly “demo-style” cooking classes, where guests will learn to prepare 3 or 4 recipes and then taste those creations with wine pairings. Classes are $50 per person, class size is very limited and reservations are required. Reservations can be made by calling 972-473-2722.
Primo’s is a Dallas institution in it’s own right. It would be harder to find a cheesier enchilada or a frostier happy hour margarita than the familiar offerings at this beloved industry favorite.
In case you missed it, Primo’s closed its doors in 2013 and reopened them again in early 2015 under new ownership. The new owners attempted to update Primo’s tried and true menu, much to the chagrin of many once-loyal fans. It wasn’t working. I have wonderful news for Primo’s loyalists and Tex Mex enthusiasts alike: Primo’s is, once again, under new ownership; and this time, new owners Dirk and Mark Kelcher (of Ron’s Place and now Cedar’s Social) intend to restore Primo’s to its former glory. Primo’s fans can expect to see the majority of the original menu, with a few thoughtful additions that don’t take away from what Primo’s should be.
Some welcomed additions to Primo’s menu include a variety of new specialty cocktails, as well as a collection of aptly dangerous tequila flights. While Primo’s Tex Mex menu is full of old favorites, their re-vamped cocktail menu is creative and playful- in a good way. If you’re feeling indecisive, throw caution to the wind and consider allowing the bartender to craft you an off-menu libation based on your personal preferences. I was lucky enough to sample several off-menu creations, such as the delightfully zippy Basil Jalapeño Margarita and the cleverly crafted Moscow-Rita, prepared with ginger beer in place of triple sec. While all of the specialty cocktails I sampled were interesting and delicious, I would be remiss not to remind everyone how comforting and satisfying Primo’s house marg so happens to be. Not too sweet, not too tart, and nice and smooth; simple and darn near perfect.
I can happily confirm the Kelchers are delivering on their promise to stay true to Primo’s old school Tex Mex roots. The chips are crispy and hot, the salsa spicy, the queso decadently thick and cheesy, and the guac is fresh and chunky. Primo’s beef tacos cause grease to dribble down your chin in the best way possible. Meanwhile, the chicken tacos are quite possibly the ultimate soul-warming comfort food … apart from, of course, the enchiladas. Fajitas are served sizzling, decorated with sexy little char marks that cause one to salivate in anticipation.
Ongoing specials include Margarita Tuesdays, including $3 margs and $7 taco plates, along with Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., including $3 domestic drafts, house wines, house margs, and well. $7.99 lunch specials are available Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.