Category Archives: Neighborhood

… Like an Alcoholic Loves Whiskey Cake

As some of my more loyal readers know, I have a certain radius that I remain inside.  However, my friend Liz (some of you may know her as @ohheydallas) requested my company out to PLANO, (yes, Plano), to try out Whiskey Cake.  Bribed with a chauffeur and a $50 gift card, I obliged.

When we walked into the large, rustic building, the hostess semi-greeted us and took a phone number at which to text us from her iPad when our table was ready (how sci-fi) … which was meant to be a mere 45 minutes later (ON A WEDNESDAY, YOU MUST BE KIDDING!?).  We pushed our way through the middle-aged Plano-ites and families and found a spot at the crowded bar beside a guy who was very obviously there to find date.  (Yikes.)

The bartender handed us a comically large menu and we perused the alcoholic concoctions available to us.  Their choices are all very clever–some are classic cocktails and they also have a few newbies.  My first drink was a Texas Bluebonnet (a delightful mix of açaí blueberry vodka, prosecco, and egg white).  It danced on my tongue and made me wonder why I don’t eat blueberries more often, but it wasn’t very strong.  Liz got the French 75 which was quite good, but it’s tough to mess up a French 75.  (I got some shit for writing that … and as classic cocktails go, it’s one of the less difficult ones if you have half of idea of what you’re doing.)

What seemed like less than 30 minutes later, we got our text message and made our way to the hostess box (yes, box), were seated, and greeted by a bubbly young lady.  She was one of the best waitresses I can ever remember having–friendly, quick, and very amenable to any request.

Dinner begged another round of drinks and I had the Guava Gimlet and Liz partook in the basil version.  Both were good and very refreshing, but seemed out of place with the cooler weather.  (Perhaps they should move to a fall menu?)  Overall, I think the drinks are well made, but nothing groundbreaking … and the only have three kinds of ice.  (Totally sarcastic – I love a good variety of ice.) … I ordered a scotch to go with the Whiskey Cake just so our waitress would make an ice ball at our table.

The food was delicious.  The only thing I could have hoped for in the food department was that my stomach was larger so that I could have eaten more.  To get the full run-down of our experience, check out OhHeyDallas’s review of the food we ate here: Whiskey Cake – OhHeyDallas.com.

The Whiskey Cake
www.whiskey-cake.com | @thewhiskeycake
3601 Dallas Parkway, Plano, TX | (972)993-CAKE

Wild Salsa

I’m always stoked to try new places and the new taco joint (if you can call it a joint) on Main was a pleasure.  Upon walking up to the front door, I was worried that the entire place would take the lead of the awkward sign in front, but it certainly didn’t.

The decor was complete with backlit Patron bottle columns (top right), authentic Día de los Muertos art from Mexico City, and a curtain separating the walkway from the bar seating area with rose designs on them.  It was quite a festive atmosphere and I look forward to heading back to explore the concrete bar further – it spanned half the restaurant!

The patio was lit by large string lights and was complete with tables and one in particular with a fire pit smack dab in the middle.  I look forward to heading back to enjoy the patio when it dips below triple-digit temperatures to watch the beautiful people frequenting the adjacent Mercantile pool.

Once at our table, our waitress recommended the Wild Rita … the Wild Rita was no slouch.   It was spicy, fragrant, rimmed with chili-lime salt, and it was BIG.  I’d give the drink a AAA rating – and I don’t even like tequila!  They also have Negra Modelo, Dos Equis, and Bud light on tap, a drink list with five interesting margaritas and six cocktails to choose from.

The only thing better than the margarita was the food.  The chips were just about average, but the avocado salsa was to die for; it’s no wonder that this place is called Wild Salsa (I went through two bowls myself before our food came).  They offer other salsas for a cost and sadly my dinner guest didn’t feel the need to try them … bummer.  I partook in the three-taco platter with rice and beans and tried three different ones … including a “lengua”, or beef tongue, and it was delicious!  They use local ingredients and they are listed on a chalkboard at the front of the shop.

Bottom line: I like a swanky place that can still keep its focus on the food and drink, and Wild Salsa does just that.  Definitely put a night aside to jump in here and enjoy the unique fare and strong drinks.

Extra info: they have a great wait staff, everyone is very friendly.  Food is served late on Fridays and Saturdays (but I don’t know how late).  ALSO, they may be opening for some serious late-night drunk taco action because they have what looks like a to-go window on Main.

Drink strength: 4.5
Overall: 4

Wild Salsa 
www.wildsalsarestaurant.com
1800 Main St (Downtown) | 214-741-WILD

Specials:
Monay-Friday | 4-7 p.m. | $3.50 beers, $4 house margaritas, $4 wells

Bailey’s Prime (Closed)

Bailey’s, the Cedar Hill transplant that opened a couple years ago in the brand new Shops at Park Lane, is HANDS DOWN one of my new favorite fancy happy hour spots.  I’d say it’s right up there with Perry’s, only trumping it with its longer hours.

After visiting Bailey’s for a “working” lunch and Mother’s Day brunch, I was eager to try their famed all-night happy hour.  I was glad I finally made it in because my time there was one of the more fun nights I’ve had in a while.  (I’ll attribute that a little to the company and a little to the location.)

The whole staff seems to be there to make your experience amazing.  Perfect example: my mom invited me to meet her when I was walking out of the grocery with items that needed refrigeration.  On the way to the resto, I called and asked if they could free up some fridge space for my groceries and they gladly obliged.  The bartenders (Pedro and Kelly) will get you anything you want and will even take you for a swing on the dance floor if you so desire; on that note, Kelly is one of the better bartenders I’ve seen in Dallas from a service standpoint.

The drinks are delicious and STRONG.  Try some of their signature cocktails offered on the happy hour menu like the Cosmotini, Pomegranate Martini, or the bourbon-based, Forty Apples.  I enjoyed the VERY cucumber-y Cucumber Martini and would have died to try the French Seventy Five Martini – I didn’t want to venture into champagne on a school night.

The food is equally as good (and equally as discounted).  We got an order of their homemade chips and they were delicious as was their fresh-baked bread.  You know a restaurant is good when you see Kent Rathbun stop in for a bite!

Last word: Make sure you check in on Foursquare because they have one of the most generous check-ins specials I’ve seen – a free glass of their house Malbec, no strings attached.

Drink strength: 4
Overall: 4.5

Bailey’s Prime Plus
www.baileysprimeplus.com
8160 Park Lane #130 (Shops at Park Lane) | (214) 750-8100

Specials:
Monday-Thursday (4-7 p.m.) and Friday (4-11 p.m.)
$5 house wines, $6 signature cocktails, $2 domestic beer, $4 well drinks

Live bands:  Friday and Saturday nights

The One Year Itch

Last year, when Sala closed, I was a little crushed because I only had two chances to enjoy the delightful drinks they offered. So I waited and waited … and waited some more to find out what would replace it. There was a glimmer of hope when construction activity started in the former Sala space. What arrived wasn’t worth the year of waiting, but I’d have waited six months.

My first venture to Cedars Social resulted in them turning my coworkers and me away for happy hour and asked to come back an hour later; we felt dejected (ok, we were pissed). When we finally made it inside a week later, we sat at five two-tops pushed together and commenced ordering. (If you can, avoid the booths because the cushions are deceptively fluffy and firmer padding is necessary to avoid feeling like a midget.) I started with one of the weekly specials, a Green with Ginvy; with only one exception, the rest of my nine coworkers ordered Moscow Mules. My first sip was so strong and flavorful that it sent me flying – literally. I put the drink down and did a crazy combination of a shimmy and whinny (yes, it was a bit embarrassing). After finishing my first drink, I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered the drink of the evening, the Moscow Mule … and it was incredible. The owner of our company, a savvy lady with a discerning palate, said (verbatim), “This is the best thing I’ve ever had in my entire life!” That’s quite a testimonial if I’ve ever heard one.

They claim to make only “classic” cocktails (more on that later), so if you want a list of liquid concoctions you’d never dream of trying, check out one of their menus that look straight out of a 1930s schoolhouse. You’ll find a list of delightful concoctions that are “tributes” to original cocktails and seasonal fresh fruit, “hand -crafted” cocktails to satiate even the most sophisticated booze hound’s palate. That being said, I’m a little peeved at them because they refused to make me a dirty martini (twice). Seriously? In my book, that’s as classic as a cocktail can get.

The drinks are great – I’ll give them that, but some weren’t of a portion that I’d call generous. The “pint” glasses seemed to be a bit smaller than a full pint and the cocktail glasses looked like they were made for smurfs (yes, it’s smurfs and not smurves; I looked it up).

Our waitress recommended cheese plates for the table which were a delight (go heavy on the cheese and light on the “salumi” – yes, C.S. serves “salumi” and not “salami”). Since my dad was joining me after my happy hour for dinner, I was eager to try the rest of their fare. After my dad arrived, my experience turned south.

If you’re looking to have conversation with someone, you’ll need to take chalkboards and a few sticks because the music is too loud to have a decent conversation … so it’s totally a great first date place (ha?). We even asked them to turn the music down a smidge – call me crazy, but somehow it almost seemed louder after.

The place as a whole has a warm feel and is anchored by a long bar, a small library for intimate groups, and a large, round fire pit. As a whole, the place has a decidedly 1960s bachelor pad vibe – I secretly wanted to clap to see if the lights would dim and a disco ball would drop from the ceiling. The patio has another fire pit that lights up a view of the Dallas skyline that is to die for – a definite must for the great Dallas spring weather we’re experiencing now.

So, I guess you’ll want to know about the food. I am not a food critic and I don’t fancy myself as one. The food, though, was bland. I had the chicken and waffles and the chicken was tasteless. I’ll go for the Victor Tango dish over C.S.’s take on it any day of the week. We also had meatloaf and potatoes, which unfortunately followed the chicken and waffle’s example. After conveying my indifference toward the food to friends, they said their experiences were much different. We realized that they all had eaten there on weekends and I ate there during the week. Call me crazy, but maybe the chef took a few days off. To read an opinion from someone who enjoyed their meal, check out this review from The Dallas Diva.

In short, this place is good for a couple drinks and a cheese plate, but don’t dedicate dinner to it unless you are sure the resident chef and not the sous chef is running the game.

Drink strength: 4.3
Overall: 3.4

The Cedars Social
www.thecedarssocial.com
1326 S Lamar St | South Lamar
(214) 928-7700

La Grange (Closed)

Being one who writes about bars is fun really fun. However, there is a slight occupational hazard that comes with the territory – forgetting to take notes and having to make multiple visits to a bar to remember enough to write about it… hence the title.

La Grange is one of the newer bars-slash-restaurants in Deep Ellum that has grabbed quite a bit of attention out of the gate (it was voted 2010’s Best Bar in Dallas by the Dallas Observer). The lucite, illuminated deer heads give you a preview of the attitude of La Grange upon walking in – cheeky and a little hipster. The owner, Stephanie Schumake said right, “It’s not uber cool, it’s cool enough.”

Created to be a live music venue, the acoustics are amazing. Since they have live music almost every night, the custom-designed stage and sound system give The House of Blues a run for its money. I have enjoyed what I’ve heard so far but couldn’t tell you what the heck their names are. So, take a gander at their lineup here.

Among the randomness, there is a little cafe connected with a yummy-sounding menu (sadly, I only had a chance to try the queso — so good!), adorable restrooms (the women’s, of course), and a patio that is to-die-for. Couches, benches, and other assorted chairs make for a great atmosphere and could be one of the best patios in Dallas (for a small group).

The clientele is very Deep Ellum and the bartender that served me all three times was a tall drink of water and had a cheeky ‘tude on him. I’ve never been on a weekend (the one time I tried there was a band and cover and, well… I don’t pay cover!) but the happy hour crowd is thin so take your own fun with you.

Now, let’s get down to the fun part … the drinks. I started off two of my visits to La Grange with a 32°, their adult snowcones that are de-lish. Have them freshly shave one of them and douse them with their syrup and stick a test tube of fun in it. See mine on the left complete with rum shooter.

Their drinks are strong enough to get your night movin’ and the conversation flowing. The last time I was in, I learned a little more than I wanted to about my coworkers (and vice-versa), and my second visit was on a 2nd date – since I’m still seeing him, I guess that means the drinks helped break the ice. Get what you want because the drinks are quite reasonably-priced and well made. The bartender even put forth the extra effort to make my friend a vodka gimlet with FRESH lime – lots of lime and squeezing required.

I’m going to wrap it up because, for me, this is a verbose review. So, in short: make La Grange a must-try.

Drink strength: 4
Overall: 4.2 (if you’re inside), 4.6 (if you’re on the patio on a nice night)

Last word of advice: they have movie nights and, if you go, make sure they don’t have the two loudmouths doing their commentary because there aren’t strong enough drinks in this world to make that bearable.

La Grange
www.lagrangedallas.com | Facebook
2704 Elm Street | (214) 741-2008

Specials:
Happy Hour | Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m. | $3 wells and domestics
Brunch | Sunday, ‘til 3 p.m. | happy hour prices and a brunch buffet

Occasionally they want to spoil their patrons and will do 1/2 price food and all-night happy hour on a Wednesday!

St. John’s Wood (Closed)

The newest bar on McKinney has a lot to offer – low prices, good food, and fantastic service.  I ventured in thanks to my hard-working friends over at UrbanDaddy and I’m very glad I did, and I have plans to head back in within a week.  Saint John’s Wood is a great place to dodge the usual McKinney crowd and have a chill drink – though you do have to share a valet line with the Aura-goers (not that there’s anything wrong with them at all … just a different mind-set).  The atmosphere is laid back and there is PLENTY of seating – both upstairs, downstairs, and on the I’m-stoked-for-the-weather-to-warm-up-so-I-can-sit-on-it patio.

Our waitress, Luisa, was attentive and very thorough.  I used a different straw in my first drink and, upon bringing my second, she brought the same straw – I like that attention to detail.  The whole staff was just as amenable; they chatted to the customers, changed the channel so everyone could watch their team, and were just darn friendly.

Now back to the prices – if you take a good look at the receipt to the right, you’ll see that we had a soda, 5 drinks, and a snack for just over $20.  Granted, this is happy hour, but it’s pretty impressive.  They also gave us a last call for happy hour drinks – a couple bucks won’t make much of a dent, but I still like that.  The title is actually a quote from the owner when talking about his drink prices; he wants to have the lowest prices on McKinney.

As for the food, we had sweet potato fries and they were de-lic.  I can’t wait to come back to try the burger, which they say is the best in Dallas (we’ll see about that).  If it tastes as good as it smells, I may have to agree with them.

****side note: since SJW just opened, their prices were still being adjusted

Drink strength: 3.5
Overall: 4.2

St. John’s Wood
2908 McKinney Ave | Dallas, TX 75204
214-880-1700

Specials:
Daily | 3-8 p.m. | $3.75 wells, $4.50 calls, $4.75 wine by the glass, $3 domestic drafts, $4 import drafts, $3.50 domestic bottles, $4.75 import bottles

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

Perry’s Steakhouse | Uptown Dallas

Let’s start with some education: the restaurant on Routh many Dallasites know of as Perry’s has changed its name to The Place at Perry’s.  Don’t be confused because they are both steakhouses – however, I am giving my thoughts only about the newly opened Perry’s on McKinney.  That being said, here we go!

My visit to Perry’s was one of the most enjoyable happy hours I’ve had in quite a while.  I have been back since my initial visit and loved it as much as I did the first time around – maybe even more actually.

Picture courtesy of Perry’s Steakhouse

From now on, you will be able to find me here most Fridays starting around 3:30 p.m. partaking in their Friday lunch special of Perry’s Famous Pork Chop served with whipped potatoes and homemade applesauce for only $13.95 before 4 p.m.  If a pork chop doesn’t tickle your fancy, take part in one (hell, two, three, or even four) of the Social Hour appetizer options.  My favorites were the fried asparagus with lump crab meat*, homemade Polish sausage, and the Kobe burger.  My friend Casey made the following comment after eating the Kobe burger: “THIS burger for is on happy hour?”*  Glances at girlfriend and says emphatically, “We’re comin’ back!”

After eating your fill, stay for a couple hours and enjoy the cocktail offerings they have for Bar 79 Social Hour.  There is a cocktail for everyone here.  If you can’t decide, try the flight of cocktails which includes three inventive concoctions in sippable sizes.  Their mojitos are the perfect drink for summer, hands down.  In addition they have a drink that is Perry’s take on a Manhattan that the men at the table thoroughly enjoyed (a few times over).  Their fruit is incredible and is prepared fresh daily; head chef Danny does fruit quality control daily to ensure it’s at its best.

Aside from the fantastic discounted food and drinks, the atmosphere is relaxing and inviting with live music to lighten the mood in the bar and entertain.  There is an air of sophisticated relaxation in the bar area and the patio boasts a giant inverted umbrella with plenty of seating.  If you want to catch a game without spending time at a dive bar, they have a TV behind the hand-etched glass bar (with hilarious quotes about drinking) so you can nosh on their brilliant food while watching.  If you can, try to get the middle table, though, you’ll feel like you’re in the VIP section!

The wait staff at Perry’s is unmatched; they offer VERY helpful suggestions, crack jokes, and are incredibly attentive.  Between Mark, Howard, Rich the bartender, Kennan, and Martin, our waiter, we were never in want for another drink or a even a napkin.

I’ll see all of you there on Friday!


Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille

www.perryssteakhouse.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
2000 McKinney Ave., Suite 100 | 214-855-5151

PERRY’S NOW HAS A LOCATION IN FRISCO, TX ALSO. CHECK OUT RACHEL’S REVIEW OF THE NEW SPOT!

Drink strength: 3.8
Overall: 4.4

Specials:

Social Hour | Monday-Friday, 4-6:30 p.m.
discounted seasonal cocktails, wines, and appetizers

Live Music | Monday-Thursday, 6-10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday | 6-11 p.m.

*Initial post written quite a while ago.  Pricing has been updated to reflect changes!