Category Archives: Cedar Springs

ORNO—No Ordinary Wine Bar

I promise you, I had every intention of ordering wine when I arrived at ORNO last night. It is a wine bar, after all. As I walked through the front door, I saw the matte black wall of wine—individual bottles stood on floating shelves with their respective names and origins neatly written out in white chalk. Beneath this display sits a long, cushy leather banquette, the majority of which was already occupied by what I observed to be a big, happy group of friends who were enjoying the company and their meal.

Courtesy of Orno


The restaurant has a cozy, neighborhood vibe with good music, perfectly low lighting, and a quirky live aquarium display on a large flat-screen TV set right in the middle of the back bar.


… now we come to one of the reasons why I never ordered the wine. I perused the cocktail list that the server presented, and quickly spotted a spirit that I didn’t even know I was craving: mezcal. As if on cue, the bartender walked over from behind the bar to say hello and ask if we wanted to order some drinks. My date ordered a sangria while I ordered an El Viejo.


Once I tasted the mezcal, I never turned back. Every cocktail I subsequently ordered centered around the smoky, agave spirit, and I only requested that each new mezcal drink be different from the last.

Turns out, the friendly bartender was Nael Rodriguez, the owner of this fine establishment. He was also a food runner, server, greeter, gracious host, and seeming jack of all trades. During the meal, he informed me that, during ORNO’s design phase, he made sure that everything in the build-out facilitated the ability to jump from one position to the other with as much ease as possible. From the bar, he could still an eye on the food coming out of the kitchen as well as on the front door to welcome guests. It’s actually brilliant.

Speaking of food coming out of the kitchen … ORNO’s cuisine offerings are top notch New American bites, and by “New American”, I mean it highlights aspects of many cultures that make up the fabric of our wonderful country. For example, I requested that he surprise my date and me with a three-course dinner of his choosing, no dietary restrictions or food allergies to worry about. Nael smiled and disappeared, promising that our first course would arrive within an hour (he’s a funny guy, that Nael!).

Within a few minutes, a dish of  sweet and spice lacquered pork belly bites arrived at our table, with earthy and sweet aromas wafted my way and made my mouth water. The meat melted in my mouth, and the fresh slaw of julienne veggies in the center offered an appropriate balance to the depth and unctuousness of the fatty pork.


Not a bad start, Mr. Rodriguez.

Nael then took us from Asian-inspired fare to more Italian flavor with the Pig & Fig flatbread.  The crispy, thin crust held a light layer of Alouette Brie cheese that was topped with delicate slices of prosciutto, dollops of fig preserves, and bits of candied cayenne walnuts. Simple. Delicious. No one item overpowering the rest, each playing off one another so well that before I knew it, the whole flatbread disappeared. Oops!


So far, Nael is two for two. Where was he going to take us next?
To the Caribbean!

For our last course, Nael presented us with the Voodoo Shrimp—a half pound of jumbo (and I mean JUMBO) shrimp dressed in a Caribbean-inspired BBQ sauce that intrigued us to the point that we tried to identify as many spices in the sauce as we could. There was such complexity and depth of flavor that eventually Nael had to come by and reveal that there were no less than 18 spices that make up the sauce and that the sauce had to be made a few days prior to serving so all of the flavors could deepen.

It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? As consumers, we go eat out at restaurants and the dishes we enjoy take mere minutes for us to consume and enjoy. We usually don’t think about the time and work that goes into composing our meals, but in the moments when we do stop to really consider it, it’s usually when some part of us recognizes that the food was made with thought, care, and love.

… and that’s ORNO.

I truly love it when a meal inspires me to wax romantic about the dining experience, and the best part about this meal is just how comfortable the setting was. The space housed around 24 seats in the dining room, and no more than maybe 8 seats at the bar. If I lived in the Cedar Springs area, I could see myself stopping in there at least once a day, even if just to say hi to the staff or to grab a cocktail.

ORNO is a neighborhood gem that’s bursting at the seams with soul. And, in a tricky restaurant city like Dallas where every week is a laundry list of flashy openings and abrupt closings, I hope that ORNO’s quiet charm and culinary approachability ensure that it’s here to stay a while.


ORNO Restaurant
facebook.com/ornodallas
3908 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas (Cedar Springs)
(469) 726-2004

Closed Mondays, Open Tues/Wed: 11AM-10PM, Thurs-Sat: 11AM-11PM, Sun: 11AM-4PM

Street’s Fine Chicken Now Offers Brunch

Brunch goers: loosen your belt buckles. Street’s Fine Chicken now offers BRUNCH.

Known for their high quality, southern-style fried chicken, Street’s Fine Chicken is THE place to go for all of your fried chicken cravings. Since opening their second location in North Dallas at Forest & Inwood, they’ve moved on to releasing new, seasonal cocktails and … more importantly … brunch!

Their new brunch menu is only available at their Cedar Springs location (North Dallas location to hopefully follow soon) and can be enjoyed from 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

You can expect items like the Fried Chicken Sandwich topped with a fried egg (talk about a “which came first” joke!), Chicken Fried Bacon, served with jalapeño gravy, and Berry French Toast. My favorite was the Breakfast Burrito, which has both fried chicken and egg in it, and is served with brunch potatoes.

All of the items on the brunch menu are $10. (There’s something beautiful about that … and that’ll make big brunch parties easier to split checks!) Oh, and mimosas are just $3 and Blood Marys are $5. (Now you know why you need to loosen your belt buckles … but not really your purse strings.) Not into brunch cocktails? They’ve still got you … their signature cocktail list offers drinks named after famous Southerners like Dolly’s Pardon, Reba’s Red and Shania’s Twang. … oh, and craft beer and wine on tap.

One thing I truly appreciate about Street’s Fine chicken is that even though you’re eating brunch, they still think it’s acceptable to order dessert.

 


STREET’S FINE CHICKEN
StreetsFineChicken.com
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Dallas: 3857 Cedar Springs Road
469-917-7140

North Dallas: 5211 Forest Lane, #108
972-803-5181

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!

 

 

The Ivy Tavern’s “Ivy Divey Brunch” Buffet

We’ve all seen brunch gimmicks from bloody mary bars to full meals as the garnish on a giant mason jars, but this one’s new to me (outside of Indian restaurants).  The Ivy Tavern, a neighborhood hangout on Lemmon, now offers an all you can eat brunch buffet.

For $15, you can mix and match all your brunch favorites as many times as your little heart desires … and your stomach can handle.  The best part is, all of the elements are actually good.  The eggs don’t have the usual styrofoamy texture that so many buffet eggs seem to have, the bacon is well seasoned and perfectly cooked (to me, at least), and the bread is perfectly toasted.

They’ve also rolled out a brunch cocktail menu with some rather … interesting … options.  You’ve got your standards–a bloody Mary and mimosas by the carafe (for $10)–and then you have your stranger options.  Think cocktails like a smoky Maria (a bloody with jalapeño tequila instead of vodka), sangria with Skittles (yuck … Common Table’s is gross and so is this one), a bizarre combination of Crown Royal Apple (eesh) with lemonade and cranberry, and what they’re calling the “Brunch of Champions”–it’s a shot of Crown Royal Maple (double eesh) served with a slice of bacon and a shot of oj.  Whether you’re meant to shoot them separately or mix them together is apparently your choice.

If you’re asking me, their brunch is a damn good deal.  Order yourself a carafe of mimosas (for yourself, obvi), then hit the buffet and get creative.  Make the most of that $15.  Then use the money you saved for an Uber home.

THE IVY TAVERN
5334 Lemmon Avenue (Dallas
(214) 559-4424
theivytavern.net

Cedar Grove

New Cedar Springs hotspot, Cedar Grove, opened in the former DISH space back in June after transforming the space into a whimsical fabricated forest … that just happens to have a restaurant in it.  With food by Executive Chef Taylor Kearney and drinks by Beverage Director mixologist Trevor Landry, this bizarrely decorated restaurant was still a “wow”.

The drinks, we were warned, are all on the sweeter side as that is “what the clientele prefers”.  While I enjoy my cocktails spirit forward (if not drinking straight liquor on ice), so I had to prepare my palate accordingly.  Trevor let us try quite a few of their options and I didn’t have a single thing I didn’t enjoy, though I was glad to have someone to share with since my sweet tooth had been more than sated by the second drink.  (The entire drink menu was also very inexpensive with most drinks ringing in around $6.  They also offer punches for sharing!)

The drinks on the whole were playful (flavor or garnish … or both) and their unique offering (you know, the drink that everyone is going to Instagram?) is adult snow cones.  The Crushed Caipirinha Snowcone was sweet and enjoyable, but I preferred the Lemondrop Snowcone because … Sour Patch Kids.

If you’re not into sweet drinks, your brunch options on-menu are limited.  (I’d suggest ordering off-menu or asking for a dinner cocktail menu.  The Shrubbery (Old Forester, peach shrub, lemon, house made grenadine, Angostura Bitters) is quite refreshing yet spirit forward and very flavorful.

Along with scrumptiously sweet drinks, the food was surprisingly delicious.  The brunch selections we tried made for a great start to the day, especially the Chicken & Waffle Sliders.  Tiffany and I shared one and it was plenty since it’s quite rich thanks to the runny, fried egg.  I’d suggest ordering a few items to share since all of their options are quite good … why choose?  (No one should have to deal with a Sophie’s Choice-type decision at brunch.)

 

 

CEDAR GROVE
cedargrove-dallas.com
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4123 Cedar Springs Road (Dallas)
214.522.3474

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
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3211 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas,TX 75219
972-925-0006

East Hampton Sandwich Company

So I hate sandwiches.  I hate the slimy cold cuts are sliced so thin that you can nearly see through them, the way that they make the bread soggy, and the detestable iceberg lettuce.  At least I thought I hated sandwiches.  I avoided sandwich shops and was conflicted when East Hampton Sandwich Company invited me in.

Let me just say that they convinced me that I shouldn’t be a sandwich-ist.  (Is that a thing?)

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Here were my highlights from EHSC and your Pro Tips:

  • Get the Lobster Roll.  If you’ve ever heard of EHSC, you’ve heard about their Lobster Roll, a butter toasted roll overflowing with knuckle and claw crab meat and herbs in a light dressing.
  • Their Homemade Potato Chips are ridiculous.  They’re crispy, but not too thick.
  • Go ahead and request all four of their dips.  I mean, to hell with conventions … go dip crazy.  Their Sweet Onion dip was my favorite and I made the mistake of dipping into the Buffalo Bleu Cheese dip … which I’m allergic to.  (It made me wish that I wasn’t allergic to Bleu Cheese.)
  • Don’t skimp on dessert.  Hampton’s Donut Bag is filled with little pillows of heaven rolled in cinnamon sugar.
  • They close at 9pm.  Get there no later than 8:45pm if you’re taking to-go and 8:30pm if you’re sticking with them.  (It’s just good sense.)
  • Have a drink with your sandwich–they offer wines by the glass, cocktails by the glass or carafe (get into their sangria business), and some draft & canned beers to help wash down the delicious bready goodness.

EAST HAMPTON SANDWICH COMPANY
www.ehsandwich.com
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3888 Oak Lawn Suite 100
(214) 443-7925
10:30am-9pm

Dish

Each time I try a new place, I walk in with a flurry of excitement and my taste buds standing at attention.  My expectations are usually a little high, but with DISH they were matched.

On my first visit here, I was with a group of nine taking advantage of the Yelp! Eats deal ($25 for three courses à la KERA Restaurant Week – and yes, this was quite a while ago) and DISH was our restaurant of choice.  Dinner was at 6 p.m., Wicked was at 8 p.m. … and that apparently wasn’t a great plan.  After reminding our waitress multiple times and urging her to quicken her step, we still missed the first scene.  Despite the somewhat slow service, our waitress was very nice and suggested some great cocktails and food choices.

We all agreed on some flatbread for the table and that was the best choice we made all night!  The mushroom flatbread was to-die AND was half off – it doesn’t get better than that.  As for the salads, they are fresh and nicely presented but watch out for the juicy tomatoes … they may squirt and ruin your neighbor’s new, white shirt (sorry, Brando!).  The food menu has a wide range of options from pasta to short ribs that fall apart and will haunt your dreams they are so good.  It is their take on comfort food.

As for drinks, they have very inventive drinks that they have dubbed “culinary inspired drinks”.  If you’re looking for a sweet drink, try the Prairie Pomegranate Mojito, the Kiss & Tell, or the Strawberry Basil Margarita.  For more masculine options, go for a Manhattan becase the whole bar menu is skewed sweet.

The restaurant itself is very edgy.  The decore is quite innovative and, be prepared, the bathrooms are coed.  Most everyone there is interested in men anyway, so it doesn’t get awkward.  The wait staff is, on the whole, incredibly hospitable.  On my second visit, which was for a friend’s birthday, they brought a round of champagne for the table and a complimentary dessert.  Not too shabby.

Extra tip:  Parking is really difficult around the restaurant so definitely have a couple bucks so you can valet.

Go in with deep pockets and an appetite, you’ll need both.  Save room for dessert.

Drink strength: 4
Overall: 4.3

DISH
www.dish-dallas.com | @dish4123
4123 Cedar Springs Road | (214) 522-3474
8611 Hillcrest Avenue, Suite 100 | (214)363-3474

Specials:
Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. & Thursday, 9-11 p.m.
$2 off specialty cocktails, $4 calls, 1/2 price flatbread