Category Archives: New Menu

Let’s Get (Pepper) Smashed

I’m a big fan of the “fancy” cocktail. Don’t get me wrong … there is a time and a place for a good ol’ plain Jane vodka soda. (Usually that time is whenever I am on a diet, and that place is wallowing in a pool of sadness…just kidding! …kind of.)  But, if I really want to savor what I’m drinking, I enjoy seeing what happens when bartenders are allowed to flex their mixology muscles and craft drinks that stretch beyond the realm of classic cocktail offerings. If you’ve never been to Pepper Smash at The Shops at Legacy in Plano, believe me when I say that “creative” is their thing. I am still trying to figure out whether their cocktails are more aptly described as “art,” or “science,”- but whatever the case may be- they are mixing up some mighty delicious libations.

Pepper Smash graciously invited me in to check out a few of their new menu offerings, and of course to reacquaint myself with a few of their delicious signature cocktails.

We kicked off the evening with one of Pepper Smash’s most popular cocktails: the Fire Smoked Dr. Pepper ($11). As the name suggests, this cocktail is quite literally smoked before your very eyes, infusing Maker’s Mark with a smoldering oak essence created with a nifty apparatus apparently designed for this very purpose (though it vaguely looks like something Walter White would have stashed in his RV). Imperial sugar Dr. Pepper is add to the mix, giving the cocktail a delightfully familiar sweet-smokiness.

Smoked wood chips are impressive, to be sure, but you aren’t really winning at craft cocktails until you throw a cotton candy machine into the mix. That’s right, Pepper Smash keeps a cotton candy machine behind the bar for the sole purpose of crafting one drink: the Cotton Candy Martini ($10 — Absolut, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, champagne, and you guessed it: cotton candy). I had a hard time conceptualizing how this cocktail would “work”, so I had to order it to see for myself. A familiar fluffy cloud of pink cotton candy is served in a martini glass, and the liquid ingredients are then poured over the cotton candy, which dissolves amidst a fleeting instant of melancholy. But, you can still taste it. Not shockingly, this cocktail is on the saccharine side and reminded me vaguely of a boozy Orange Crush. Definitely an interesting selection.

Because cotton candy machines and booze smoking apparatuses apparently aren’t enough, Pepper Smash offers two cocktails that are frozen with liquid nitrogen: the Pineapple Express ($11 — Bacardi Pineapple, ginger, pineapple juice, champagne) and the Triple M’s Explosion ($12 — pineapple and strawberry infused vodka). The presentation of this duo is dramatic to say the least, as wisps of “smoke” dance atop your cocktail glass  when it is placed in front of you.

Liquid Nitrogen

“But, what is a Pepper Smash,” you may wonder? I’m glad you asked, because I simply can’t visit without ordering one. The cocktail kitchen’s namesake, the Pepper Smash ($10), incorporates a bold blend of Tito’s vodka, red bell pepper, jalapeno, onions marinated in 100 proof vodka agave, and lime juice. Spicy and robust with just a hint of sweetness, this unique savory cocktail is probably my favorite one on the menu. (I recommended it to the guy seated next to me at the bar, and he ended up drinking three.)  I say the Pepper Smash is “probably” my favorite, because I have a hard time dismissing Eden’s Garden ($12 — Plymouth gin, elderflower, cucumber, basil, mint, jalapeno, lime juice- as a close second).

Pepper Smash Signature Cocktail
Pepper Smash Signature Cocktail

With so many creative, tasty cocktails to focus on, it would be easy to overlook the food at Pepper Smash. Don’t. Everything I have ever sampled from their kitchen has been seriously delicious. Sometimes, I find myself day dreaming about their Smokey Mac & Cheese ($9 — cavatappi pasta, sharp cheddar, gruyere, smoke). Everything I sampled on this visit was equally as tempting.

We started out with the Pimento Cheese ($8), which was topped with bacon jam, and accompanied by buttery grilled sourdough and blistered shishito peppers. Holy new favorite appetizer. If there is something in this world that cannot be improved upon by bacon jam, I want to hear about it.

Pimento Cheese
Pimento Cheese

Pepper Smash always hits it out of the park with their flatbreads, and this visit was no exception. We sampled the Al Pastor ($12 — cider braised pulled pork, sweet onion puree, pineapple, jalapeño, and lime). The toppings were generously portioned, with a little taste of every ingredient in every bite. If you are a fiend for spicy dishes, this flatbread is definitely for you; loaded with fresh jalapeños, this dish definitely woke up my palate.

El Pastor Flat Bread
El Pastor Flatbread

When it comes time for dessert and the manager asks, “Wanna try something weird?” there’s clearly only one correct response. We were presented with a liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream concoction- incorporating Licor 43, vanilla ice cream base, basil, and fresh strawberries. I love unexpected flavors in desserts, and the basil was an awesome addition. This was an off-menu delight, but I feel confident it can be snagged upon request.

TLDR: the next time you feel inclined to treat yo’self to an incredibly unique, seriously indulgent cocktail experience (yes, it really is an experience), + some killer eats, head on over to Pepper Smash at the Shops at Legacy. (And probably plan on Ubering it because the urge to try all of the cocktails on the menu is pretty overwhelming.)

 


PEPPER SMASH
www.peppersmash.com
Twitter | Facebook
7200 Bishop Rd, Plano, TX 75024
(972) 943-0499

Happy Hour: 3-6pm Daily
$3 beer | $3 wells | $6 domestic wines

HOURS OF OPERATION:
MON – THU 3 PM – 11 PM
FRI – SAT 11 AM – 1 AM
SUN 11 AM – 11 PM

 

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

Asador’s New Menu

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I was delighted to get a sneak peek of Asador’s new menu that debuted this week.  We were able to meet some of the local vendors that make Asador’s food as incredibly fresh and incredible as it is such as Tassione Farms, Louisiana Seafoods, Dallas Mozzarella Company, and Hudspeth Farms.

New features include Roast Quail with butternut square stuffing (OMG), Grilled Wild-Caught Tilapia with crawfish and farro fried rice, Braised Beef Cheek Sliders with housemade pickled onions, and Field Green Salad with watermelon radish, brulee goat cheese (get you some of this goodness), and walnuts.  Don’t expect to see them for long, though, because Asador changes their menu on a regular basis so they only use ingredients that are at the peak of freshness and flavor.

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Not to be forgotten, Asador’s charcuterie and cheese board and char bar are top notch.  The pate is some of my favorite in Dallas thanks to its brûléed shell.

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ASADOR RESTAURANT
2222 North Stemmons Freeway (in the Renaissance Hotel)
asadorrestaurant.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Happy Hour | Monday-Friday from 4pm to 7pm
$4 Draft Beer & $6 House Wine
$6 Select Specialty Cocktails
$1 Appetizers