Category Archives: Victory Park

The Henry: Chic new spot for cocktails and caffeine

The Henry just opened by Victory Plaza and I’m calling it now: It’s going to be THE place to be when the weather is nice or before and after concerts/sporting events or when you need a caffeine fix or when you just want to go somewhere for killer food and cocktails (and an amazing view) … ok, so, like, anytime.

I had the opportunity to go to the grand opening of The Henry and since doing so, I’ve told at least 12 different people that they must go ASAP and that I would be happy to go with them. (No shame here.) It’s an impressive 15,000 SQ FT space in the Union Dallas (think right where Uptown and Victory Park come together) and comes from the Fox Restaurant Group we love for giving us other great concepts like North Italia and Flower Child.

This spot isn’t just limiting itself to dinner and drinks.; they have a super cute coffee bar, a delicious brunch menu with a tableside bloody mary and mimosa cart on Saturdays and Sundays, and a happy hour with the aforementioned views that features $6 cocktails like their amazing mint cucumber mule, $6 wine on tap and $4 draft beer.

We worked our way upstairs where they have an indoor bar that opens to their outdoor rooftop lounge area. The night of the event was a chilly night in Dallas, but they had heaters going in full-force along with fire pits all around the edge of the lounge area, so it was comfortable to hang out and sip on their delicious cocktails and admire the views. In the summer, they have fans that will regulate the temperature accordingly! Thank GOD!

For the grand opening, they were passing around appetizers and I honestly don’t know if I can pick a favorite. The sliders were honestly some of the best sliders that I’ve ever eaten. I feel like it’s super easy for a slider to be a little overcooked and slightly dry, but these sliders were perfect with a little bit of pink in the middle and tons of flavor. The other stand-out was the Short Rib Potstickers with toasted sesame and yuzo ponzu. I grabbed the last one off of a tray and literally stalked the staff to hunt down more so that my husband could experience the joy that I just did … and obviously so I could have a second one. 💁🏼‍♀️ I’ll admit that I have been back a couple times already to satisfy my craving for them.

As far as cocktails go, you really can’t go wrong. The mint cucumber mule was my favorite, and I’ll definitely be back for more of their specialty cocktails like the Go North (espresso, cocoa and cream. shaken and served neat). I’m also dying to try their Italian Mezcal Sour made with Banhez Mezcal, anejo tequila, spiced Curaçao, lemon, lime and a splash of Lambrusco. GUYYYYYYYS.

So no matter what time of day it is, it’s a good time to go check out the newest neighborhood restaurant in Dallas. Henry will be your new best friend … just wait.


THE HENRY
2301 Akard Street, Dallas (Uptown/Victory Park)
thehenryrestaurant.com

The HERO Victory Plaza Needed

Victory Plaza has seen many restaurant and bar concepts come and go, but none seemed to succeed. They were convenient, but not worth braving the crowds during events one wasn’t attending to patronize. …….. until a new HERO came to save the day.

The newest concept from Matt Ragan and 8020 Concepts, the people behind HG Sply Co., Gung Ho, and more, give us all something to love. Sports fans have giant televisions to watch their events with fellow fans and proximity to AAC. Foodies have a thoughtful menu with scratch items just like Mom used to make. And the boozehounds have a menu of unexpectedly thoughtful cocktails—some takes on classics and some originals.

Bottom line: it’s a huge place.
With a capacity of 1,100 and 610 seats with six bars and up to 20 bartenders working at a time, you’d expect a churn-and-burn, high volume restaurant/bar cutting corners and cutting costs—but that’s not so with HERO. Ragan and his team have ensured that everything is done quickly and efficiently but without lowering quality … at all. Think scratch food, fresh and local ingredients when possible, zero additives, and juices squeezed fresh daily.

The staff in HERO is stacked with all-stars. You’ll see familiar faces from concepts past and others that you thought gave up the stick. One of my favorites you’ll see is our favorite bartender past from Vickery Park, Chris Young, running around making sure everything is done right behind the six bars, but always with a smile.

While the popularity of this new spot has made it a destination and caused a bit of a wait from time to time, there’s plenty of space to go around. They host a full dining room, the aforementioned SIX BARS, a large patio, and even more standing room for watching games on their GINORMOUS SCREEN … and a small 90s-themed arcade.

The dedication to making everything just that much better extends event to the simplest parts of their cocktails. Ragan’s goal was to give is bartenders the ability to make a craft cocktail in under 45 seconds, and he sure as shit did it. He standardized four cocktail bases and put them on draft, cutting prep time and the opportunity for inconsistency, and ultimately price for both HERO and the guest, all while maintaining the integrity of his menu and the ingredients used. They employ one employee whose entire job is to prepare the fruit and juices for their cocktails. 

A perfect example of Ragan’s desire for consistency and quality is their house-made tonic. And if you know anything about making tonic, then you know it can be a dangerous game. It’s made with cinchona bark, which can help medicinally, if used responsibly, and it can do damage if not. He wanted to ensure it was done right, so he did it.

Their frozen drinks are even made with the most care and consideration of ingredients. Their Miami Vice, a strawberry daiquiri and piña colada swirl, happens to be a new favorite cocktail in Dallas … because 100º days are real and it’s f**king delicious. What makes it so good? They make their own coconut rum, strawberry cordial, AND coconut cream. The coconut cream in itself is culinary science at its best—they use Ticaloid 210 S, a natural stabilizer made from seaweed, to keep it emulsified. Why this? Why no shortcuts? Because they don’t do that. Ragan needed to find something that would emulsify fat in alcohol (coconut is a “fat”), but also work in cold temperatures and with alcohol, and the T210s is the only element that does all three. See? NO SHORTCUTS.

As with many of Dallas’s restaurants, the menu can be slightly daunting. So, I asked Matt what his “Go-To” items were, and he didn’t disappoint. He gave us his ideal days—both “healthy” and “cheat”. So here we go:

HEALTHY
– Salty Dawg ($11, vodka, Aperol, grapefruit juice, simple, lemon, candied citrus salt rim) & Cucumber Collins ($11, vodka, cucumber, lime mint cordial, soda)
– Smoky Carrot Hummus ($14, fresh veggies & grilled pita bread) & roasted Chicken Wings ($14, tossed in chimichurri, pecorino, fresno chiles)

CHEAT
– 14oz Miami Vice ($14, strawberry daiquiri + piña colada swirl)
– Calamari Lettuce Wraps
($14, pickled ginger, herbs, bibb lettuce), Crab Rangoon Dip ($14, served with wonton chips), & Parmesan Kale Dip

Here’s the bottom line: don’t write this place off. Yes, it’s huge and crowded when there’s a game, but it’s WORTH IT. It’s even more worth the effort of braving Victory Park when there’s not a game or concert. It’s the HERO we wanted, and really, it’s the one we all needed. 


HERO
herobyhg.com
3090 Olive Street, #b110 (Victory Park)
469-300-4199

Su-Th: 11am to midnight
F: 11am to LATE
Sa: 11am to LATE

Cook Hall Beer Dinner featuring Deschutes Brewery

Earlier this year, I attended Cook Hall’s Beer vs. Whiskey Dinner, which was an experience to remember. (Though that’s tougher to do than you’d think … I refer you to the title.)  So when I was invited to March’s beer dinner featuring Deschutes Brewery, I couldn’t resist. March’s beer dinner featuring Deschutes Brewery, teamed with dishes from local chef Nicholas Jimenez, was a match made in heaven.

Much like the craft brew scene is growing here in Texas, in Oregon craft beer is growing exponentially. In fact, Oregon is home to the most breweries per capita in the U.S. and Oregonians spending more money on craft beer than any other state.

Chef Nicholas Jimenez used his ingenuity to evoke the wild, adventurous spirit of Oregon in our meal. Our first course was a roasted fennel and sun choke soup garnished with crispy artichoke chips and topped with an orange oil. The flavorful and hearty soup was paired with Deschutes’ River Ale Golden Ale, and it was a great way to shake off the chill of early spring evening. To offset the heavier soup, this ale was crisp, light, and slightly hoppy with hints of fruit.

Deschutes River Ale GoldenAle from Deschutes Brewery Beer Dinner at Cook Hall Dallas
Deschutes River Ale GoldenAle

For our second course, Chef Jimenez created a beet-horseradish cured salmon gravlax served with a watercress salad, pickled radish and coriander. Colorful and a bit wild, everything in this dish came together to work really well.   The beer of choice with this dish was the Fresh Squeezed IPA which has earned both national and international prizes … and for good reason. This IPA has a strong, crisp citrus smell with hints of malt which were perfectly paired with the dish.  I can easily see smooth brew  being a summer crowd pleaser.

beet horseradish cured salmon gravlax from Deschutes Brewery Beer Dinner at Cook Hall Dallas
Beet & Horseradish Cured Salmon Gravlax

The third course, and my personal favorite, was an espresso crusted lamb loin. The lamb was tender and juicy and cooked to absolute perfection. The espresso was an interesting (read: perfect) complement to the meat and was not overpowering as I thought it might have been with a delicate meat like lamb.  Served with braised Belgian endive, English peas and a barley risotto, all were nice additions in both taste and texture, but the meat is really what wowed me.  To wash it all down, Cook Hall introduced the only dark beer of the evening–Deschutes’ Obsidian Stout.  I enjoyed the full bodied stout’s roasted coffee and chocolate notes which were echoed by the hint of espresso in the lamb. Considering how dark and heavy some stouts can be, Obsidian drinks easily and, unlike other stouts, doesn’t fill you up too much.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the dessert.  Damn peanut, almond, etc. allergy … so an almond cake dessert was not exactly in the cards for me.  Our dessert was served with an eclectic variety including grilled pineapple, ginger ice cream, pineapple sorbet and extra virgin olive oil. My source (a.k.a. my beautiful wife) said it was a nice way to cap off the meal–sweet and refreshing without being too rich.

I did not, however, pass on the Zarabanda Farmhouse Saison, the brainchild of Deschutes and Chef José Andrés, who we can all thank for introducing America to the concept of tapas. (Bless you for bringing tiny dishes into my life, my friend.) This spiced pale ale has a dry, sweet taste with hints of lemon verbena, sumac and dried lime.  Did you get all that? If not, just know this beer packs in a range of flavors, all notable from first sip.  It was a great compliment to the tropical flavors of the dessert … so says my wife.

Whether your intrigued by the concept of beer dinners, looking to grab a meal before a Dallas Maverick or Stars game or just needing a drink, Cook Hall has you covered. (BONUS: they validate the W’s parking.)

Check out Cook Hall’s website for updates and information on their monthly beer dinners.  (DOUBLE BONUS: Sign up for their newsletter while you’re there and get a free snack.)


Cook Hall Dallas 

www.cookhalldallas.com |  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
In the W Dallas Victory | 2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas, TX 75219
(214)-397-4111

Happy Hour  (5pm to 7pm |  Monday – Friday): 5 cocktails and 5 small plates each for $5
Check out their menu for more information.

Deschutes Brewery
www.deschutesbrewery.com | YouTube | Pinterest | Tumblr
901 SW Simpson Ave, Bend, OR 97702
(541)-382-9242

 

*Cook Hall was kind enough to pick up my tab for the evening.*

Rock and Roll

So … we all remember the old Hard Rock Cafe on McKinney Avenue.  Whether it was for a work party or a frat party, we all have a memory (albeit a blurry one) of the glory days.  You can either visit the cracked stars that remain on McKinney’s sidewalk and stare at the empty lot, or you can get your happy ass  to Victory Park to relive some of those memories (without the Sharpie Xs on your hands) at the new location.  The Hard Rock is alive and kicking … and it’s kicking hard.  From a refreshed food menu (28 of their items were modified and 30 new ones added) to creative cocktails, they’ve revamped some things (and not just on the menu).

Lest you think the life of a blogger is easy, I’ll tell you that we were served samples of 4 appetizers, 8 entrees, 3 desserts, and 7 different drinks.  (Yeah … life is tough.  Try finding an outfit that allows for the gluttony.)  We were given some of their revamped offerings, from steaks to salads, and then some old standards like nachos and (ermegerd) spicy hot wings.

Obviously, I was most concerned with the (ahem, 7) drinks we were given.  (Can you believe that?)  They all have interesting names, from the Big Kablue-na to the Air Mexico and the Magical Mystery Tour.  Most names are rock-and-roll colloquialisms, but then there’s the hurricane … oh, the hurricane.  Their flavors are just about as rock-and-roll as the names.  (Let’s just say that they make a rock concert in your mouth.)  Most were quite sweet, and I would have loved more whiskey all up in there, but of the ones we tried, here were my favorites:

– Magical Mystery Tour | this is a delicious gin situation which will be the first I order upon my return

– Twist and Shout | three words: ice cream, alcohol, bacon.  Need I say more?

– Air Mexico | I really don’t like margaritas, but I enjoyed that I was able to pick from six flavors of margaritas, including blueberry, pomegranate, and watermelon, and that they serve it with a little snack of chips and salsa.  (Because I don’t know what it is, but alcohol has something in it that makes me want to eat all the things.)

The cafe offers a full bar, 12 draft beers (including Franconia & St. Arnold), and wines by the glass and bottle.  Drinks are surprisingly well priced with some of the 24oz signature drinks ringing in at just $14.99 (including souvenir cup).  They offer live music on Wednesdays, along with monthly themed drag brunches (you read that right).

HARD ROCK CAFE
www.hardrock.com/cafes/dallas/
t/i: @hardrockdallas | facebook.com/hardrockcafedallas | #thisishardrock
2211 N Houston St. (Victory Park) | (469) 341-7625

Happy Hour Specials: Monday through Friday, 3-7pm

***I was invited in to try some of their refreshed offerings.***