Category Archives: Media Preview

Zio Cecio Celebrates Six Years

Lovers Lane’s Zio Cecio recently celebrated their 6th anniversary, and while resident Sardinian Chef, Francesco Farris, doesn’t like to fix what isn’t broken, they’ve decided to add some new items to their menu to celebrate this milestone. We got to test out the new dishes along with wine pairings from Eroz Spinozzi Selections.

If you’ve never been, Zio Cecio is known for their upscale rustic Italian cuisine with Sardinian touches to each plate.

After some light finger food and a glass of prosecco, we sat down for the antipasti in true Italian fashion. First up: Carpaccio Di Manzo ai Copperi, which for non-Italian-speaking-folk is thinly sliced beef tenderloin turned in citrus and topped with parmigiano and capers.

Then, a Carpaccio Di Tonno Con Bottarga, which is fresh thinly sliced tuna served with shaves of bottarga. To finish this first course, we then had various cheese and meats paired with Simone Capecci Ciprea Pecorino, a light, crisp white wine.

New on the pasta and risotto menu, and beautifully paired with Picus, Rosso Piceno Superiore (an Italian red made up of 60% Montepulciano, 40% Sangiovese):
Gnochetti Sardi al Cinghiale, a Sardinian “tear drop” pasta made with a wild boar ragu.
Bucatini del Gennargentu, hollow pasta made with smoked pancetta, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes in a zesty tomato sauce.

As for the meat and fish course, you can now find Mailetto Ai Mirto, a Sardinian style suckling pig roasted in their wood burning oven on myrtle leaves, on their menu. The meat from this is absolutely the most tender and juiciest meat you’ll ever find and you’d be a fool not to try it!

Su Kostale, a bone-in aged ribeye marinated and garnished with Italian herbs and oven roasted to perfection. Filleto di Pagnello Alla Bottarga, which is fresh red snapper fillet pan seared and served with shaved Bottarga from Porto Cervo. You can easily pair any of these dished with these wines: Le Muraie, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Recchia (personal favorite of the evening!) or Ca’Bertoldi, Amarone Della Valpolicella, Recchia.

If you’ve made it this far and still want more, you’re in luck. For desert, you have the choice of:  tiramisu, limoncello cake, and Sa Carapinna, which is the chef’s homemade creation of the day. Pair with Mirto to finish the evening.

No matter what you order at Zio Cecio, you know it’ll be delicious because Chef Farris creates each dish with his home country of Sardinia in mind. And, with a famiglia mind-set, he’ll tailor each dish to your specific needs.

 

ZIO CECIO
ziocecio.com
4615 W Lovers Lane (West Dallas)
214.351.1100

Pictures and copy by Peyton Meersman

Haystack Hits w/ New Dallas Location

We all know there’s no shortage of burger joints in the Dallas area, but Haystack Burgers and Barley is quickly making a name for itself.  With the opening of their second location in Oak Lawn’s recently renovated Turtle Creek shopping center, Kevin and Jenny Galvan are shooting to recreate the success of the original Haystack in Richardson.  From what I’ve experienced, they are well on their way to creating another cult following.

Among the many things to like about Haystack (from its friendly staff, great parking to the inviting ambiance) is that Haystack’s menu offers the right amount of variety for a place with “burger” in its name, including plenty of choices for salads and sandwiches.

Among the ridiculous parade of items I was able to try at the last media event, there were a few notable things that I had to share::::
The ranchero chicken-stuffed jalapeños are an old family recipe that was passed down to Kevin, and for good reason. Served with ranch these hit the spot.  Not a fan of spicy things?  The friend pickles and homemade mozzarella sticks are solid options.

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a place stand out, or in this case, the large ones. Haystack’s burgers are a steal given the size and price and of course the taste.  I don’t think you can really ever go wrong going with a restaurant’s signature item(s), and the Haystack Burger is no exception.  With fried onions, BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon, it’s their signature for a reason.My personal favorite, however, was the Escabeche Burger.   A burger with a bit of a kick thanks to the pickled jalapeños and chipotle mayo mingling with melted pepper jack plus bacon and Haystack onions.

Want to try something a bit different? Haystack has you covered with the Chicken Fried Burger-just like it sounds and topped with jalapeno-bacon cream gravy.  On a lighter note, the Portabella salad is a stand-out.  Topped with a generous portion of grilled portabella, gorgonzola cheese and homemade balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a nice alternative for those wanting something less heavy.

For those with a sweet tooth, there is a solid variety of shakes and the banana pudding.  Oh yes, the ‘Nana pudding.  Go ahead and splurge … it’s worth it.  Creamy, decadent, full of flavor… and nostalgic, for sure!

Now, I can’t forget the alcoholic side of things, can I ? Of course, not … Haystack offers a great beer selection featuring draft pours from local Dallas breweries, numerous American craft beers, and, not to be missed, the Haymaker.  The Haymaker is Haystack’s frozen signature drink, made with orange juice, ice tea, lemonade and Maker’s Mark served in a mason jar, and is a concoction that will appeal to everyone with a refreshing, light, citrus taste, yet plenty boozy. (As I learned the hard fun way.)

It’s nearly baseball season, and nothing seems more appropriate than enjoying Haystack’s massive burgers and a huge selection of craft beers while watching a game. The new location of Haystack Burgers and Barley really hit the mark … again.  Well done!

Haystack Burgers & Barley – Turtle Creek
Facebook | Menu 
3838 Oak Lawn Avenue,  Suite 175
Dallas, TX  75219
(214) 377 – 7802

Thanks to Kevin and Jenny for inviting me to check out the new location and sample the menu!

 

 

Firestone & Robertson Debuts a Bourbon

While most people know Firestone and Robertson Distillery (F&R) for their TX Blended Whiskey, their original plan of creating a bourbon is FINALLY hitting store shelves. (Actually, it probably didn’t hit many shelves because of the high demand for the product … and it was sold out within 15 minutes on those shelves!) The first bottles of TX Bourbon were released at the distillery on December 10. People started lining up around 7am the morning of to make sure they were able to get their hands on a bottle. (F&R was only planning on selling to about three hundred bottles, yet they ended up having to cut the line at 750.) Leaving a few hundred people without as well as leaving few bottles for liquor store shelves. I personally know that a Spec’s store in Fort Worth had a line waiting for the shipment. (… leaving those of us with 9 to 5s to revert to signing up for a wait list and hoping for our phones to ring.)

Now to Fort Worth’s newest shinning star–the bourbon. F&R prides itself on using local everything. They use Texas corn, Texas soft red winter wheat, Texas water, and Texas yeast. (The yeast strain they use was cultivated from a pecan tree in Somervell County.) Even the DNA analysis of the yeast took place in Fort Worth inside a TCU lab. (Go frogs.)

Courtesy of F&R

F&R is truly cultivating a Texas product. Once the mash is distilled, it goes into charred oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years. (Bourbon must be aged for 2 years by law). The oak barrels are what give the bourbon its color and flavor. The product that comes off the still is essentially moonshine, a clear corn whiskey. As temperatures fluctuate throughout the year, the whiskey interacts with the oak barrels, taking on some of its flavor notes. When hot, the oak barrel’s pores open up and the whiskey permeates into the oak. When cold, the oak barrel’s pores shrink and force the whiskey back into the barrel. This interaction is the key to making great bourbon. Without that interaction, the bourbon would not get the color and flavor from the oak. F&R barreled their first bourbon in March 2012. A long four and a half years later, they bottled that first batch.

I was honored to be one of the first people to sneak a taste of the bourbon. The first smell provides a soft hint of the oak barrel, and the first sip provided a hint of vanilla and a short, smooth finish. (The sweetness is what we’ve come to expect from F&R products, so we’re good with it.) As someone who enjoys bourbon, I was hooked from the first sip. It didn’t have a sting that I get from some other brands.

Courtesy of F&R

Now that we’ve gotten the fun out of the way, I’ll clear a little something up that may be lurking in the back of your mind … yes, it can be called “bourbon”. Some think that a spirit has to be made in Kentucky to be called “bourbon”, but not so. “The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5) state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be: produced in the United States, made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak containers, distilled to no more than 160 proof, entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof, [and] bottled at 80+ proof.” (Thanks Wikipedia!) So there.

For those of you lucky enough to get a bottle of this first release, congratulations (I’m jealous). For everyone else, wait a few months and then you’ll get your turn … it’s truly worth the wait.

 

Firestone and Robertson Distillery – Bourbon
frdistilling.com
Instagram | Facebook
901 W. Vickery Boulevard (Fort Worth)

Nose: oak, honey
Flavor: vanilla, honey
Finish: smooth, short
Aged: 4+ years
Proof: 82 (41% ABV)

They offer distillery tours on select Saturdays.

 

Asador Fall Dinner Preview

Each season, Asador, the restaurant in Dallas’s Renaissance Hotel serving farm-to-table food, presents a delicious dinner featuring fresh, flavorful seasonal selections.  The Fall Harvest Dinner tomorrow,  September 28, will be no exception thanks to Chef Brad Phillips’s creations.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of some of the items at this season’s three-course family-style dinner, and attendees are in for a treat.  With selections like the Local Kale Salad with pumpkin seeds and apple vinaigrette, Gulf Snapper Crudo, and Mesquite Grilled Texas Raised Beef, you can’t really go wrong.

The dinner will be $90 per person and includes beverage pairings, parking, tax, and tip.  Reserve one of the few seats left for Wednesday’s dinner by emailing reservations@asadordallas.com or calling 214-267-4815.  


ASADOR

asadorrestaurant.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2222 N Stemmons Fwy (in the Renaissance Hotel), Dallas
(214)631-2222

Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine

Northern suburbanites, rejoice! Chef Tre Wilcox (of Top Chef fame) and Darcy Dudley of Trendine Restaurant group have brought southern cooking to Plano.

Conveniently located at Central Expressway and West Park Boulevard in the former Allen Wickers Pub location, Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine open their doors for dinner earlier this month. Darcy Dudley described Julia Pearl (named after the family matriarchs, grannies Julia and Pearl) as his life-long dream, finally realized. Darcy wanted to bring classic southern traditions of food, family, and friends to the Plano area. His vision was a menu featuring scratch-cooked southern specialties with modern twists and surprises. To help accomplish this, in addition to Culinary Director Tre Wilcox, Chef Jermaine Brown (formerly of Abacus; Brennan’s of Houston) was brought on board as Executive Chef. I like to think Grannies Julia and Pearl would be proud as a pair of peacocks.

Julia Pearl’s menu is small but thoughtfully constructed, featuring a variety of expected southern fare, with the occasional vaguely Cajun twist. Shareable starters include Julia and Pearl’s Chicken Wings (served three ways: BBQ sauce, Hot Sauce, & Lemon Pepper) ($11)Deviled Eggs ($6)crowned with crispy chicken skin (yes, you read that right), and a crowd-pleasing Black-Eye Pea Hummus ($7), served on crostini. My personal favorite was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($10), served atop a delicate lemon mustard sauce, dotted with parsley oil. The crab was tender and moist, and the sauce provided a perfectly tangy compliment. Julia Pearl boasts a house-made Gumbo ($9), prepared with shrimp, crab, and andouille sausage, served with fried okra. The gumbo, which I found to be brothier than average, received high marks from my fellow diners. I am not a Native Texan, and not a gumbo aficionado  but I have noticed you Texans take your gumbo very seriously…and therefore, color me impressed. 

Julia Pearl’s featured entrees include Cornmeal Crusted Catfish, served with whipped potatoes, green beans, and a caper lemon butter sauce ($15), Marinated Jumbo Texas Shrimp with Spicy Cheese Grits, served with broccoli saluted and a smoked red pepper sauce ($20), and a Grilled Bone-In Pork Chop  served with bacon cheddar grits, collard greens, and a ham hock maple glaze ($18). My preferred dish of the evening was Julia Pearl’s Southern Fried Chicken, served with a homemade biscuit (whole cut-up bird $21/ half bird $11). The breading was thin and crispy, with a notable lack of grease, and the chicken was moist and meaty.

Julia Pearl’s cozy bar area features a cocktail menu with eight southern-inspired cocktails. To name a few: the mild-mannered Pearl’s Old Fashioned- Jacob’s Ghost (Jim Beam) White Bourbon, Bitters, Orange; the sweet and fruity  Jazzy Belle- Strawberry, Pineapple, & Tito’s; and my personal favorite, the particularly potent Julia’s Berry Mint Julep- Blackberry, Old Smoky Moonshine, and Fresh Mint (all cocktails $10). Julia Pearl features seven local drafts on tap, in addition to a carefully appointed wine list.

Reservations are encouraged; stretchy pants strongly suggested.


Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine
www.juliapearlsoutherncuisine.com
Facebook | Twitter: @jpsouthernfood | Instagram: @jpsouthernfood
(972) 422-1519
2301 N. Central Expressway, Ste 195, Plano, TX 75070
Reservations

***A huge thank you to Julia Pearl for having me in to enjoy a delightful media sneak peak, and a subsequent food coma.***

Bite by Eddy T – Dallas

Bite by Eddy T recently opened in the former Cyclone Anaya Kin Kin Urban Thai space on Oak Lawn.  Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin (affectionately known as Eddy T … because, who can say that name?!), brought his concept over from Fort Worth in December offering American cuisine with an Asian influence.  The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner, an extensive wine list, teas, and a full bar complete with a menu of rather interesting cocktails.

I was intrigued by the cocktails which use some local spirits and infusions made in-house.  My favorite, which is also my Fort Worth contributor, Amanda’s favorite drink at Bite, was the smoked bourbon, sweet tea, limoncello, and St. Germain business.  When delivered, the mason jar is capped to keep the smoke chambered.  Hot damn.  (Literally and metaphorically.)

Dinner was fantastic and my favorite was the Parmesan Soufflé.  I was so pissed that I hadn’t ordered that myself and had to settle for just two bites of it.  The Braised Short Rib (not pictured, also not ordered by me) will be what I return to eat.  Dessert was a different story … it was delicious–every.damn.thing was delicious.

The food and drink satisfied all of us at the media event, which was capped off beautifully by their homemade lollipops.  The staff was incredibly friendly, the restaurant lovely (if a bit dark… always tough to get decent pictures of the food!), and the atmosphere charged.

Check out Eddy’s newest restaurant in Dallas soon … and make sure to have a smokey drink and lollipop for me!


BITE by EDDY T

bitebyeddyt.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
3211 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas,TX 75219
972-925-0006

The 2nd Floor Spring Menu

The 2nd Floor Bistro is constantly reinventing itself thanks to its incredible culinary team.  The latest change comes to us in the form of their new spring menu boasting bold, inventive dishes.  SDD Contributor Rico and I were lucky enough to get the chance to preview the new menu items a couple weeks back and were blown away.

The new dinner menu includes items like Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras (I’ll be back to get this … believe), Grilled Block-cut Akasushi NY Strip, and Crispy Confit Salad and the lunch menu offers a few Rustic Pizzas.

The evening started with some of their new cocktails thanks to their mixologist Seth Brammer.  They passed some of their new options around and one of my favorites was the House Tonic & Gin–a classic made amazing thanks to their house tonic.  We also enjoyed the Cucumber Sip (Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, elderflower, strawberry, and soda) which was perfectly refreshing after experiencing humidity that you could cut with a knife that day.

Other new cocktails include: Muzzle of Bees (Rittenhouse Rye, lemon-infused honey, lemon bitters, and fresh black pepper), Meet Me in Rome (Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, Cappelletti, Cocchi Americano, and bubbles), and the Quick Pittance (Four Roses Bourbon, Giffard Apricot Liqueur, lemon, mint, and ginger ale).

The meal began and we were delighted by item after item.  The appetizers that I died for were the Quail Wings, Deviled Eggs (WITH LOBSTER!) and the Potato, Leek, & Kale Soup.  (I can tell that the soup is one of those dishes that will pop into my mind at some point and I won’t be able to sleep until I get my mouth on some.)

Chef Scott Gottlich and his team joined us before each entree to tell us about the amazing new items they dreamt up in excruciating detail. (I mean that in a good way … we couldn’t wait to sink our teeth into them once we’d been teased with the explanation!)  Of this group, the Pork & Seeds was the dish that really made a strong impression.  It was Executive Chef Andrea Maricich’s take on the dish she had as a child complete with housemade mustard to give some kick to the perfectly crispy pork belly.

The dishes kept coming and our bellies started to grow weary … but our palates didn’t.  Each dish had such unique flavors that each bite let us discover the depth of each ingredient.  I’m not usually a Shrimp & Grits fan, but they added Grilled Kaffir Lime to the giant Gulf Prawns which completely revolutionized the dish.  (And don’t get me started on the accompanying saffron cauliflower grits.)

Dessert, as always, comes too late in the meal.  Your stomach realizes by this point what you’ve decided to it with the previous courses and it’s usually too difficult to give it your full attention and appreciate it for how brilliant it really is.  We were given bites of the 2nd Floor’s take on Carrot Cake which was actually a cake filled with cream cheese accompanied by a pine nut cookie.  Take that, cupcakes!  My favorite of the two items was the Bananas Foster Pudding.  While not a huge bananas Foster fan, I thought the silkiness of the pudding really lent itself nicely to the taste.  I’d order the crap out of it again.

As usual, The Second Floor Bistro didn’t disappoint and intrigued me to the point that I’ll need duck back in to try out some of the new dishes for the spring.

To find full menus, visit their website.


The Second Floor Bistro

thesecondfloorrestaurant.com | @2ndFloorBistro
13340 Dallas Parkway (in the Galleria – Westin entrance)
(972) 450-2978

Blaze Pizza Grand Opening Event

Let’s get serious for a hot minute … Is there anything better in life than indulging in a piping hot, cheesy, made-to-order pizza? Well, maybe one thing: if that pizza happens to be FREE. Listen up, folks. You’re going to want to hear this.

Blaze Pizza, Frisco’s latest purveyor of pies, will host their grand opening celebration on Friday, May 22, from 10:30 AM-11 PM. Simply follow Blaze Pizza on InstagramTwitter, or  Facebook, and receive a FREE custom-built, artisanal pizza (one per guest) any time that day. It’s that simple!

And let me tell you, this pizza … it’s good. I had the opportunity to sneak a peek (and a bite) this evening, and I promise you, you won’t want to miss this.

A little 411 on Blaze Pizza: they make their own dough (from scratch) and offer 30+ fresh, artisanal ingredients to choose from on their signature pizza assembly line. As you mosey on down the line, your dedicated “pizzasmith” will customize your pie. You can choose from 8 compelling Blaze signature pizzas or opt to craft your own masterpiece. With unlimited toppings at your disposal, the build your own option (which is a generously proportioned 6-slice pie) is a steal at $7.95. Your selection is then fast-fired in a blazing hot oven for 180 seconds, resulting in a perfectly crisp crust with just the right fold-ability factor (yeah, that’s a word).

Also available are a variety of beautiful salads (the Tomato, Basil, and Ovalini is not to be missed and is just $3.95). I’m told the S’more Pie is a must, so save room for dessert. Blaze will offer beer and wine, featuring Community and 512 for your sipping pleasure.

Blaze Pizza
blazepizza.comFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
3311 Preston Rd., Frisco, TX 75034
(972) 468-9700

Open Daily:
Sunday: 11am – 9pm
Monday – Thursday: 10:30am – 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:30am – 11pm