Category Archives: pairing dinner

Zio Cecio Celebrates Six Years

Lovers Lane’s Zio Cecio recently celebrated their 6th anniversary, and while resident Sardinian Chef, Francesco Farris, doesn’t like to fix what isn’t broken, they’ve decided to add some new items to their menu to celebrate this milestone. We got to test out the new dishes along with wine pairings from Eroz Spinozzi Selections.

If you’ve never been, Zio Cecio is known for their upscale rustic Italian cuisine with Sardinian touches to each plate.

After some light finger food and a glass of prosecco, we sat down for the antipasti in true Italian fashion. First up: Carpaccio Di Manzo ai Copperi, which for non-Italian-speaking-folk is thinly sliced beef tenderloin turned in citrus and topped with parmigiano and capers.

Then, a Carpaccio Di Tonno Con Bottarga, which is fresh thinly sliced tuna served with shaves of bottarga. To finish this first course, we then had various cheese and meats paired with Simone Capecci Ciprea Pecorino, a light, crisp white wine.

New on the pasta and risotto menu, and beautifully paired with Picus, Rosso Piceno Superiore (an Italian red made up of 60% Montepulciano, 40% Sangiovese):
Gnochetti Sardi al Cinghiale, a Sardinian “tear drop” pasta made with a wild boar ragu.
Bucatini del Gennargentu, hollow pasta made with smoked pancetta, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes in a zesty tomato sauce.

As for the meat and fish course, you can now find Mailetto Ai Mirto, a Sardinian style suckling pig roasted in their wood burning oven on myrtle leaves, on their menu. The meat from this is absolutely the most tender and juiciest meat you’ll ever find and you’d be a fool not to try it!

Su Kostale, a bone-in aged ribeye marinated and garnished with Italian herbs and oven roasted to perfection. Filleto di Pagnello Alla Bottarga, which is fresh red snapper fillet pan seared and served with shaved Bottarga from Porto Cervo. You can easily pair any of these dished with these wines: Le Muraie, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Recchia (personal favorite of the evening!) or Ca’Bertoldi, Amarone Della Valpolicella, Recchia.

If you’ve made it this far and still want more, you’re in luck. For desert, you have the choice of:  tiramisu, limoncello cake, and Sa Carapinna, which is the chef’s homemade creation of the day. Pair with Mirto to finish the evening.

No matter what you order at Zio Cecio, you know it’ll be delicious because Chef Farris creates each dish with his home country of Sardinia in mind. And, with a famiglia mind-set, he’ll tailor each dish to your specific needs.

 

ZIO CECIO
ziocecio.com
4615 W Lovers Lane (West Dallas)
214.351.1100

Pictures and copy by Peyton Meersman

Antonio Ristorante – Tasting Tuesdays

If you’re looking for a new date night idea, or if you’re  constantly on the hunt for authentic Italian food (the Northern states have all the luck with that), boy do we have a treat for you.

Antonio Ristorante, nestled away in Addison Circle, will transport you to the Italian countryside with its food, wine, and atmosphere. Classically trained Chef Antonio hails from Calabria, Italy and brings a hint of French cuisine to his tables for their $20 Tasting Tuesdays. Guests are served three lightly-portioned courses and wine pairings for each course. Even better, they’ll send you home with a simple and authentic recipe to try out the dishes in your own kitchen.

Chef Antonio prepares the main dish in front of restaurant goers and explains the recipe over a microphone; a waiter then explains the wine pairing with the notes that are to be experienced. Reservations for upcoming Tasting Tuesdays can be made here.

All of Antonio Ristorante’s food is ordered often to ensure freshness. If a customer especially likes a certain dish, the Chef will take note of their email and phone number to let them know the next time they have that dish. They also offer a few wild game options for the adventurous. Wine bottle prices are 30% cheaper than at other Italian restaurants with bottles starting at $27 – which we all know means you can spend that extra money on more wine.

A new food special will be available soon, and it’s a doozy. Their #LateNightDateNight offers a free pizza with any wine bottle purchase. Coming next week (the week of 5/4) for your date night needs, Thursday through Sunday after 9pm!

Antonio Ristorante
Website
Facebook 
4985 Addison Circle (Addison)
(972)458-1010

Lunch Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-4pm
Dinner Hours:
Mon-Thurs 4pm-10pm
Fri 4pm-11pm
Sat 5pm-11pm
Sun 4pm-10pm

Savor to Partner with Angel’s Envy Whiskey for Pairing Dinner

Savor Gastropub will be teaming up with Angel’s Envy Whiskey later this month to offer a five-course pairing dinner.  Lucky for us, it lands on Fat Tuesday, just in time for us to spoil ourselves one last time before the masochism that is Lent.

The pairings were brilliantly and thoughtfully developed by Angel’s Envy and the chefs at Savor with some original plates and some currently offered by Savor.  Angel’s Envy out of Louisville, Kentucky offers several expressions including a bourbon, rye, port finish, rum finish, and cask strength.  These pairings include cocktails featuring their bourbon and rye expressions, each prepared creatively and well-matched to each course.

First Course: Savor Wedge Salad, Truffle Maple Glazed Bacon, Chicken Fried Pickle Red Onion with A Creamy Buttermilk Dressing
Paired Cocktail: “Parkside Angelito”, Angel’s Envy Bourbon, lemon, maple syrup, ginger, rosemary

Second Course: Rabbit And Pork Dumplings, Sesame Soy Broth, Scallions
Paired Cocktail: “Social Currency” (Angel’s Envy Bourbon, China China liqueur, Curacao, cherry shrub, pickled cherry)

Third Course: Crispy Pork Belly Fennel, Green Apple, Miso Caramel
Paired Cocktail: “A Different Kind of Sazerac” (Angel’s Envy Rye, barrel aged Peychauds, absinthe)

Fourth Course: Beef Tenderloin, Cast Iron Seared Beef Tenderloin, Ragout Of Wild Mushrooms, Creamy Grits, Port Wine Jus
Paired Cocktail: “The Path of Envy” (Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Ruby Port, Amaro Nonino, pink peppercorn, thyme)

Dessert: Nutella Torte, Red Beet and Mascarpone Cremeux, Orange, Candied Hazelnut Nougat
Paired Spirit: Angel’s Envy Rye, neat

The dinner will take place on Tuesday, February 28 at 6:30pm.  To reserve a spot, call Savor (214.740.7228) soon as seating is limited.  $80 will get attendees five incredible dishes and five chances to taste the versatility of Angel’s Envy.

Savor Gastropub
savorgastropub.com
2000 Woodall Rodgers
214.740.7228

Complimentary valet for diners.

CiboDivino Dinner ft. Puleo Wines

“I love this place.” That’s the text I sent to Susie as soon as I finished my first dinner experience at CiboDivino Marketplace.

As this was my first event as a Susie Drinks Dallas contributor, I went into it with the belief that there was no such thing as being too prepared, so I brought along a fellow foodie friend (so I could pick his brain) as well as a brand new notebook in which I could take many a note about the dinner. (I was tempted to bring a voice recorder just in case there was a guided tour of the space (which there was), but I decided against alienating strangers with that level of intensity. Yes … I was that kid in school.) Furious writing in my composition book would just have to do. Since the evening was relaxed and enjoyable with great company and delicious food and wine, the note taking was downgraded from excessive to thorough.

The special five-course dinner was hosted by CiboDivino owners, Daniele and Christina Puleo, as well as Executive Chef, Ryan Olmos.  I was enthralled by the passion and knowledge that the team has for all aspects of the meal: a fervent dedication to responsibly-sourced ingredients, simple, yet articulate preparation of the food, a thoughtful selection of Italian and Californian wines that are hand-picked by Daniele himself, and the crafting of a space that promotes breaking bread with friends and family. By the time we were done with Daniele’s tour of each unique part of the marketplace and cafe, my appetite was ready to tackle whatever delicious goodies he and Ryan had to offer.

Before food, of course, there was wine (as it should be), and Daniele and Christina were very excited to introduce their new private label Puleo wines, currently available in Pinot Grigio and Chianti varietals. The Pinot Grigio is quite surprising–not as watery as I’m used to with most Pinot Grigios. Puleo’s expression is quite flavorful on the nose with stone fruit notes that round out into flavors of green tea and chamomile. As I would find out, this white wine paired very well with the first three courses of the meal. As for the Puleo Chianti, the wine was ripe with cherry flavors and dark fruits, and had a depth of flavor indicative of a Chianti without veering into a residual bitterness. I enjoyed this red with the meat course as well as with dessert. FUN FACT: all wines at CiboDivino are available for purchase at retail prices and can be opened and enjoyed on-premises at no additional charge. Personally, the option to enjoy a high-quality wine at a restaurant without the usual restaurant markup makes the wine taste that much better.

Wine

The appetizer course included a variety of Neopolitan-style pizzas fresh from the wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven (flown in from Italy), quite possibly the most impressive charcuterie board that I have ever seen, and a smoked Tasmanian salmon appetizer bite that I swear encapsulates everything that CiboDivino stands for, which is “divine food.” I sampled two of the flatbread pizzas, one with a classic Margherita preparation and another with fig, arugula, and Gorgonzola cheese.  Neopolitan-style is my favorite kind of pizza, and the crust was perfectly crispy on the outside with just the right amount of chew on the inside.  While both were delicious, I was partial to the Margherita. (Pretty sure that I could eat a whole pizza in one sitting … I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.)

Can we just take a moment and appreciate this charcuterie board? Have you ever seen one so beautiful? It has three kinds of house cured meats, all smoked in-house: lamb pancetta, brown sugar and Serrano ham, and beef bacon (that’s right, you heard me, BEEF BACON). The lamb pancetta, which was aged for a whopping 70 days, had a soft gaminess to it that I loved, and the beef bacon was something I’ve never experienced before. To call it delicious would be a disservice, and apparently I’m not the only to think so. Ryan told us that it’s hard to keep the beef bacon in the display case because it sells out so fast. It was perfectly savory with a familiar unctuousness that I love about bacon, except it was unmistakably beefy and very satisfying.

charcuterie

The highlight of the appetizer course for me, however, was the smoked Tasmanian salmon bite with cucumber cream, caper berry, and a dusting of espresso. The salmon, also cured and smoked in-house, was a tender and salty punch that was balanced by the cool cucumber cream with a kick of briny freshness from the caper berry, and the espresso dust on top added an earthy note that rounded out all of the flavors. I easily ate five or six, since I clearly don’t understand the concept of an appetizer course. (Whatever.)

salmon

Pasta was the star of the second course was the Caserecci alla Norma, served with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and eggplant two ways on pea puree. The dish was light and flavorful, with the pea puree serving as a fresh, delicate sauce that complemented the natural flavors of the fresh vegetables beautifully.

rustica

The third course highlighted a different kind of pasta, Fettuccine al Limone. This was my favorite of the two pasta courses; the perfectly al dente ribbons were enveloped in an ethereally light and creamy marscapone cheese with fresh zucchini, leeks, fresh mint, and fragrant lemon zest. The flavors were full and satisfying without being overly filling. (I’m also a huge supporter of lemon on everything, so I loved every bite of this dish.)

linguine

Then came the fourth course, the crown jewel, which was brought out on a large wooden meat board.  CiboDivino proudly serves 44 FARMS meats, and our group was lucky enough to sample the perfectly seasoned coulotte cuts served alongside caramelized onions and arugula. The marketplace is the only spot in town where you can go in and buy raw cuts of renowned 44 FARMS beef, and they will even grill it for you (free of charge) if you decide you’d like to enjoy your steak at one of the many communal tables inside or on the spacious dog-friendly patio.

beef

Needless to say, by the end of the fourth course, I was stuffed. At this point, I was chastising myself for going HAM on the appetizers. That didn’t stop me from partaking in something sweet, though.  For dessert, Daniele and Christina served bite-sized dessert offerings from their cafe. I, close to a food coma, still managed to snag a Raspberry Lavender Truffle, because no matter how full I am, a meal does not feel like it has concluded until I’ve had something sweet. This two-bite flavor bomb was a wonderful ending to an unbelievably delicious meal. The truffle was deeply chocolate with lavender lending an assertive floral note that cut through the richness beautifully.

Picture courtesy of CiboDivino Marketplace

Everything about dinner at CiboDivino was delightful.  The marketplace offers so many unique goods, some of which are available exclusively there.  Daniele and Christina, as well as Ryan, were all gracious hosts with evident love and passion for what they’ve created together.  It’s rare to meet people who are doing exactly what they love to do, and then for them to do it well, and humbly. It was an honor to be a part of the entire experience. I personally cannot wait to visit again soon.

  • CiboDivino also has a wrap-around indoor/outdoor bar with 11 local beers and one Italian import beer on draft.
  • Paciugo gelato is also available at the cafe, along with Lavazza coffee.
  • Food menus are generally not published on the website, as dishes are determined by the freshest produce available at the farmer’s market on any given day.
  • The marketplace is open 7 days a week, from 8AM – 10PM daily.
  • They also host occasional wine and beer dinners and are currently prepping for their one-year anniversary party next month.


CiboDivino Marketplace
www.cibodivinomkt.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
1868 Sylvan Ave., Suite #D-100 (West Dallas in the Sylvan 30 Complex)
(214)653-2426

Highland Park Draft & Dram

“I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…” This Ron Burgundy quote definitely embodied the day leading up to the delicious #DramAndDraft pairing event at the Meddlesome Moth presented by Highland Park. Some argue that scotch must be served neat … others would argue that scotch should be served on the rocks. But after this wonderful evening, I would suggest pairing it with a great craft beer.

RICOstudios-SDD_HighlandPark-5644

Garrett Youngbloog and US National Highland Park Ambassador, Steph Ridgway made it loud and clear that Highland Park Scotch Whisky goes great with craft beer. I have to say that it’s more than just a fancy boiler maker. The great craft beers they paired with the great scotch whiskies opened up flavors in both beverages that are perfectly complimented by other.

We greeted with a cocktail by Austin Gurley of High and Tight, the Lady of Shalot (Highland Park 12, Four Corners Local Buzz Honey Rye Ale, citrus bitters, Cardamaro). Then the tasting began …

Imagine drinking your favorite drink, then having someone offer you the same drink, but better. That’s what happened.

I definitely urge you scotch fans out there to pick up some craft beer the next time you pick up your favorite bottle of scotch. Not only should it compliment your scotch … but you might even find yourself not wanting one without the other!

RICOstudios-SDD_HighlandPark-5639

 

Cantina Laredo Tequila Dinner Series ft. Herradura

Whether it is warranted or not, very few spirits get the same bad wrap that poor old tequila does. Most of us know exactly why, too. Flashback to college … ahh, the good ole college days. To make a long (and messy) story short, there was usually tequila involved. Unfortunately, my buddies and I didn’t always go for the good stuff … we were drinking the bargain basement stuff like Montezuma and whatever else we could get our hands on (cheaply). Do I even need to go on and say that many a night ended badly? More than once, we learned the hard way that drinking the cheap stuff never was a good idea.

Good thing those days are over.

I was fortunate to be invited to one of Cantina Laredo’s new high-end tequila dinners via Susie. This 4-course dinner was at the Addison location and featured drink pairings that featured Tequila Herradura. Founded in 1870 in Amatitán, Jalisco, the brand has consistently produced high quality tequilas from the beginning. They insist on using traditional methods and 100% agave. The brand controls 30% of the tequila market in Mexico … so they must be doing something right.

There were three glasses of tequila to welcome us at our place settings. (That’s the way to start things off on the right foot!) We took things slow and sipped these over the course of the dinner, as one should with fine tequilas. Our first course was a Sope de Brisket, a delicious and tender beef brisket served in a flaky pie-like crust. The appetizer was accompanied by a Paloma cocktail. This was a simple but refreshing combination of Herradura Blanco tequila and Fresca soda. (OMG how I’ve missed Fresca!)

This was followed by a Mango Salad. While I am not normally a fan of fruit in salads, I actually didn’t mind this. The mango melded well with the dressing and queso fresco, and the jicama added in a nice crunch. It was fresh, light and colorful.  The Santiago Cocktail comprised of Herradura Blanco shaken with Midori, grapefruit juice, grenadine and sweet and sour mix. It was enjoyed by others, but it was simply too sweet for my taste.

We had a choice between two main dishes … the Seabass Oscar with Chili de Arbol Sauce was excellent. The fish was perfectly cooked–tender, flaky and not overdone–and the sauce that accompanied it was the perfect mixture of spicy and sweet. This was definitely the better of the two options, but you couldn’t have gone wrong with the filet either.  Here we enjoyed a classic Margarita with Herradura’s Reposado Tequila. You can’t beat a margarita made with top-shelf tequila, that’s all I will say… the Dia y Noche Flan was a nice finale to the dinner and was served with an Old 43 Cocktail. The Old 43 is a dangerously delicious mix of Añejo Tequila, Licor 43, Kahlua, half & half and fresh brewed coffee topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  An awesome alcoholic, cinnamon-y hot chocolate drink.

 

This was the first of Cantina Laredo’s series of tequila dinners in the the DFW area.  Check out  the the list of the locations and brands of tequila they will feature in the coming weeks. For $49.99 per person, these dinners are an excellent deal. (I think that just the assortment of tequila and cocktails alone are worth that price!) Add in the delicious food and you definitely get more than your money’s worth. If you missed the Addison event, I’ll include the recipes for Herradura tequila-based cocktails for a Mexican night of your own.

City Tequila Date Phone
Addison Herradurra 5/21/2015 (972) 458-0962
Grapevine Don Julio 5/23/2015 (817) 358-0505
Fort Worth Cabo Wabo 5/29/2015 (817) 810-0773
Lewisville Gran Centenario 6/4/2015 (972) 315-8100
Frisco Herradura 6/4/2015 (214) 618-9860
Dallas Casa Noble 6/13/2015 (214) 265-1610

Thank you to Chef/Manager Rambo Saucedo for treating us to this great dinner.

Cantina Laredo – Addison
Website | Facebook | Twitter
4546 Beltline Road
Addison, Texas 7544
(972) 458-0962

 

Tequila Recipes

Paloma
Ice glass, add:
1½ oz. Herradura Blanco Tequila
Garnish: grapefruit slice

Mix all ingredients. Top with Fresca.

Santiago
1½ oz. Herradura Blanco Tequila
½ oz. Midori
1 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1 oz. Grenadine
½ oz. Sweet & Sour Mix
Garnish: Grapefruit Slice

Shake with ice until chilled and strain into Martini Glass

Classic Margarita
1½ oz. Herradura Reposado Tequila
½ oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz. Fresh Orange Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
Garnish: Lime  Wheel

Shake with ice until chilled and strain into salt rimmed Martini Glass

Old 43
1 oz. Herradura Añejo Tequila
½ oz. Licor 43
½ oz. Kahlua
½ oz.Half & Half
Garnish: Whipped topping, Cherry

Combine ingredients in Irish Coffee mug. Fill with fresh, hot coffee to ½ from rim.

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.*

Urban Rio Fall Cocktail Dinner

If you’ve ever paid a visit to Plano’s increasingly popular Historic District, chances are you are already familiar with the deliciousness that is Urban Rio. Hopefully, this also  means you are well-acquainted with Urban Rio’s breezy, rooftop watering hole, On the Rocks Cantina. In case you’ve been missing out:  This “Next-Mex” eatery features inventive menu items influenced by Mexican and Spanish flavors and ingredients from the Rio Grande Valley. Urban Rio places a heavy emphasis on fresh, creative menu items, with scratch-made ingredients (they grind their own corn for their tortillas). On the Rocks Cantina features 14 beer taps (10 of which are craft, including local selections), 8 frozen liquor taps, a creative variety of handcrafted cocktails, and assorted vino.

Even if Urban Rio is heavy in your rotation (as it should be), here is a little tidbit you may not know: Each month, Urban Rio features a  five course cocktail pairing dinner, and it’s only $34.90 per person. Let that sink in for a minute.  The average price tag of a craft cocktail in Dallas is in the double digits. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further on what a ridiculous deal this is.

I happily attended Urban Rio’s November Fall Cocktail Dinner. The menu was both festive and creative, with some delightfully unexpected offerings thrown in.

5 Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Soup

The first course paired a decadent Pumpkin Martini with a velvety Butternut Squash Soup.  The Pumpkin Martini (spiced rum, pumpkin spice syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, crowned with house-made pumpkin whipped cream) made me feel like I was abusing my grown-up powers and indulging in dessert before dinner; this baby was sinfully creamy and delicious. The Butternut Squash Soup was prepared with a puree of onion and celery, which gave the soup a lovely, smooth texture without being overly rich. This gourd-centric pairing slapped us in the face with autumn-y goodness.

Our second course featured the Berry Breeze cocktail, paired with Berry Jalapeño Shrimp. The Berry Breeze (pear vodka, apple juice, and cranberry juice) was lightly sweet with a lovely pop cranberry. The sweetness of the cocktail was offset by the garlicky shrimp, accompanied by  a zesty berry-jalapeño sauce and a strawberry pico.

Berry Breeze

For the third course, we were treated to a Maple Old Fashioned, paired with Roasted Ham. The Maple Old Fashioned (maple rye whiskey, cranberry bitters) was surprisingly sweet and decadent for a spirit forward cocktail with only two ingredients. The sweet maple flavor paired beautifully with the smokiness of the ham, which was crowned with a zesty maple mustard sauce, served atop creamy leek mashed potatoes.

Maple Old Fashioned4 Ham

“Why stop at just one entree?” asked Urban Rio. The fourth course featured the  Pecan Dream cocktail, paired with Pecan Crusted Salmon. This pairing was my favorite, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. I heard all kinds of praise songs being sung for the Pecan Dream (house-infused toasted pecan rum, banana, vanilla vodka, walnut liqueur, and sugar). This one-of-a-kind cocktail was reminiscent of delicious banana nut bread. It paired beautifully with the flaky, pecan-crusted salmon, which was prepared with mustard in the crust for just the right amount of contrasting bite to offset the sweetness of the cocktail. Bravo.

8 Pecan Dream7 Pecan Salmon

Finally, our fifth and final course paired the Chocolate Covered Raspberry, a beer creation, with an indulgent Chocolate Mousse. So, the Chocolate Covered Raspberry (Grapevine Brewery’s Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout with Lindemans Framboise) was technically not a cocktail … but, I am totally OK with this, because it was freaking delicious. Aptly named, the sweet, jammy, raspberry goodness paired perfectly with the rich, creamy chocolate mousse. I don’t usually consider beer when pondering after-dinner libations, but I definitely will going forward. Yum.

9 Chocolate Raspberry & Mousse

To tide you over ’til Urban Rio’s next amazing cocktail dinner in December (scheduled for December 16, at 6:30), the kind folks at the On the Rocks Cantina were kind enough to share a duo of festive holiday drink recipes you can create for yourself, at home.

Cranberry MuleCranberry Mule
2 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
Fresh mint
Ginger beer

Fill copper mug with ice. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with fresh mint. Strain into mug and top with ginger beer (we prefer Gosling’s!). Garnish with fresh cranberry skewer, lime wedge and sprig of fresh mint.

Winter VixenWinter Vixen Cocktail
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1.5 oz POM pomegranate juice
Champagne
Fresh pomegranate seeds

Fill the bottom of the champagne flute with pomegranate seeds (about ten). Layer St. Germain and pomegranate juice in the champagne flute and top with champagne.

Urban Rio Cocktail Dinners are hosted on a monthly basis, typically on the third Tuesday of every month (check out their events calendar to confirm future dates and times). Once again, the cost is just $34.90 per person (tax and gratuities not included)- such an amazing deal! Space is always limited, so make your reservation ASAP! For reservations, call 972-543-8911 or email elana@urbanrio.com.

Here are some other noteworthy Urban Rio happenings:

Check out On the Rocks Cantina’s 7 Deals for 7 Days specials, featuring:

  • Monday- $1 off all beer
  • Tuesday- $2 off cocktails on the rocks
  • Wednesday- $3 off Crown and Down
  • Thursday- $4 frozen drinks
  • Friday- $5 glasses of wine
  • Saturday- $6 beer-ritas
  • Sunday- $7 off bottles of wine

Be sure to check out their events calendar for additional drink specials and live music offerings.

logoSister restaurant Urban Crust is pairing with Urban Rio to throw a festive NYE bash at Urban Crust’s Rooftop Event Spot The “Cocktails and Confetti” NYE party  will feature live music from the Josh Goode Band, small bites from  Urban Crust, and a cash bar with signature drinks from Urban Rio  (credit cards also accepted).  Tickets are $50 and will go on sale on December 2. Tickets can be purchased here

I hear that Urban Rio will be offering a new series of quarterly beer dinners, launching in 2015. Just like the cocktail dinners, the five-course beer dinner will be offered for only $34.90 per person! The inaugural event, featuring Texas beers, take place on March 17, so make your reservations and mark your calendars!

URBAN RIO
1000 E. 14th St. Ste. 100, Plano, TX 75074
972-422-4466

Hours of Operation: Open Daily: 11 AM – 2 AM
Brunch Menu offered Sat. & Sun. from 11AM – 3PM