Category Archives: Plano

TGI Friday’s

Last Monday, the bf and I made the trek to Allen to visit every hunter’s Mecca (Cabela’s, of course), and were faced with the nearly unsurmountable decision of deciding where to eat on the way back.  We agreed on TGI Friday’s on 75 at Park, bedded down at the bar, and ordered a couple of drinks.

TGI Friday’s debuted a new menu on May 14. Some new food items (of course), but some great new cocktail offerings make new menu.  I had the chance to try the new offerings at Little Fridays during my brand immersion last month, and there some good stuff there.

I started with the Grey Goose Cooler (Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, cane sugar, peach purée, fresh basil, lime, and Sprite), and it was the perfect drink to enjoy on a balmy summer night.  I’ll be using the recipe myself if I can only summon the energy to put as much effort into it as the TGIF bartenders!  For the most part, their drinks aren’t too strong, but they are well balanced and the ingredients really shine.

We ordered a couple appetizers and dinner (yes, we left full and with plenty of leftovers), which had to include their newly revamped Broccoli Cheese Soup.  I had the Spice Craft Beer-Cheese Burger, which was pretty damn delicious, from the perfect pink center to the drippy beer-cheese sauce and fried jalapeños.

My second drink (that, quite honestly, packed enough punch that it was my last) was the Peach Honey Smash (Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, fresh mint, peach purée, citrus juices, and a peach slice).  It’s on the new menu, and teeeeechnically wasn’t available yet, but I convinced our bartender, Nick, to make it for me.  It was … delicious.  I do love my bourbon, and this was delightfully full of it.  They serve some of their drinks over pellet ice, which any Texan simply calls “Sonic Ice”, and I kind of love that.

We were treated to a few of Nick’s bottle tricks (aka “flair”), which weren’t too shabby.  (Stay tuned for a peek at my tricks soon!)  If you want to see some serious bartending skills, TGI Friday’s holds the World Bartending Championship competition each year around February, which starts on the store level.  Check your local TGIF to see when theirs will be held.  (The store at Park & 75’s event is on June 12.)

***This is a sponsored post and part of my TGI Fridays Embassadors program.****

Top Golf in The Colony Sunk This One (In a Good Way)

We’ve all been part of the group outing where quality drinks and food are thrown to the wayside in exchange for the convenience of buckets of domestic beer and reheated frozen chicken tenders. Bowling, movie/food combos and miniature golf generally end with food regret, a half-drunk pitcher of Miller Lite approaching room temperature and a bill that does not come close to matching my level of enjoyment. With this bias admittedly in mind, I recently had the opportunity to check out the newest TopGolf location in The Colony and sample what was the beginning of an ever-changing, chef-inspired food and beverage menu.

When I arrived, I was greeted by Corporate Executive, Chef Seve Delgado, who had saved us a seat at the bar to sample their specialty cocktail menu and were later joined by Director of Food and Beverage, Mark Boyton, who was kind enough to join us straight from a flight home from a corporate F&B shoot earlier the same day. Their drink menu features craft cocktails, a house-made Sangria, a bloody mary bar and local beers specific to each location (for example, The Colony had Franconia on tap while the Dallas location features Four Corners Brewery.) They also allow bartenders throughout the company to bring new ideas based on current drink trends, which meant our first round featured Dark ‘n Stormy and a Texas Mule (because odds are even your college-aged little brother now has a copper mug and a four-pack of Fever Tree—which we’re completely cool with).

Seve told us they have to walk the line between making good drinks and being able to produce in volume, as their sales numbers are staggering*. The drinks themselves were fresh and the ingredients were strong (Tito’s vodka, Gosling’s rum, and quality ginger beer – not the mailed-in kind or coke/ginger ale sub that has ruined many a drink in other bars). Delgado told us that Top Golf’s goal is to make food and drinks as good as the game.  (Success.)

She also told me this menu was just the beginning (the location has been open less than two months), and we will soon see bourbon/whiskey (please hurry on this one), tequila and barrel-aged spirit-driven cocktails. They are working on other bar items such as house-made habanero syrup and other homespun ideas. The menu will rotate every six months and will be based on trend-watching more anything else. (We were told to expect more margaritas, more flavors of vodka and other options to arrive soon.) They are also in the process of building out a defined wine selection and have been focused on finding interesting options that pair well with their current food selections. A big bold cab may not be the best fit for trying to hit the ball cart when it cruises by (come on, admit you do it), but a focus on blends will give more options to find a good wine that matches both the person ordering it and the flavor profile of the dish.

We also tried a few of the sweeter drink offerings: the Orange Dream (a creamsicle-tasting drink that is their most popular specialty cocktail and comes in a 60oz souvenir golf bag fish bowl called the Rum-Runner Up). The sweet drinks are not my wheelhouse, but my drinking companion has experience bartending at a well-known chain restaurant and could vouch for them much better than I could. My take – they were good punch-type drinks, perfect for an outdoor setting, that don’t overwhelm with the sugar taste like so many similar options do.

In fact, despite the fact that we were only there to try the drinks, we heard about flavor profiles and the food so much, they told us they had just a few dishes we had to try – which turned into one heck of a feast. Delgado told us they “don’t want to be known for common food” and they take a similar approach to their menu as they do their specialty drinks. They allow chefs at each location to introduce concepts and ideas, and then identify the best of the best when the menu rotates March of each year. We tried the Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Brisket Chili, which was surprisingly good and admittedly way beyond what we expected. (That’ll teach us to judge a book by its cover.) We also enjoyed their take on a grilled cheese (remarkably rich and hearty with a nice tomato addition), a club sandwich that went beyond the usual chain restaurant feel and chicken and waffle sliders we learned should only be eaten with gravy added to the chicken and then syrup poured over the top. Delgado stressed they make the majority of the menu from scratch in-house and the difference showed.

 We spent the last part of the night talking and it was apparent that Delgado and Boyton are just getting started. Both have been with the company for about five years and were almost bashful about their impressive resumes. Both have catered for high end clients, with Boyton casually mentioning his experiences back home in the UK catering ho-hum events like the Beckham wedding as well as special events for Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Weber. They intend to keep building a chef-driven (I should have kept a counter on how often we used the term) powerhouse and The Colony location is off to a great start.

If you’re like me and have only been to the Dallas location, you need to head up north to see the three-story, wide-open building and course (which serves as the company’s new prototype). There is a large patio still under construction and we were told the existing locations will be remodeled in the coming months to match.

Drink strength: 3.2
Overall: 4.2

Written by Brian Bianco

Top Golf, The Colony
www.topgolf.com/thecolony
Twitter: @topgolfcolony | Facebook: /TopGolfTheColony
3760 Blair Oaks Dr, The Colony, TX 75056
(469) 213-5204

 *Last year in DFW alone, they outsold Cowboys Stadium. They are also the largest beer account in Collin County and have similar success in other locations (we were told the Houston location also outsold Reliant Stadium, although this doesn’t factor in what it must take to get through a Texans game this season.

… 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