Category Archives: Restaurants

RA Sushi’s New Menu Items

The thing I love about RA Sushi is the imaginative and often unexpected twist they seem to gravitate toward when dreaming up their delectable menu items. Take my current favorite RA cocktail offering, for instance- the Emperor’s Cucumber Margarita ($9; Patron Silver, Combier Liqueur d’Orange, lime juice, Japanese yuzu, agave nectar, cucumber). The last place in the world you would expect to find a legit marg might be a sushi restaurant, but trust me, this interesting spin on a traditional ‘rita is uniquely delicious.

Channeling that same creativity and use of thoughtful and surprising ingredients, RA Sushi has dreamed up nine new menu items, which will be available for a limited time (through August). I had the 10 Drink Sampleropportunity to sample some of the new menu offerings, and they did not disappoint.

RA has added three new cocktails to the roster, and my favorite of the bunch had to be the Pear and Lemon Blossom ($8.50), a pear-infused lemonade, made with Absolute Pears, St. Germain, lemon sour, and a pear puree. The pear flavor in this fruity cocktail was not shy, and it mingled nicely with the tart lemon;  oh-so-sippable and refreshing for spring. Also new are the Hot Tropics Margarita ($8.50): Tanteo Tropical Tequila, Combier Liqueur d’Orange, shaken with mango purée, lime juice and agave nectar, served with a chili-salted rim; and the Peach Basil Sour ($8.50): Bacardi Peach Red, St. Germain, fresh basil and lemon sour.

RA also has some new limited time sake offerings, including TY KU Coconut Nigori Sake ($8/$16 *330ML Bottle): premium nigori sake infused with the refreshing taste of coconut and aromatic hints of vanilla; and,  the enticing Discovery Sake Flight ($9): which includes three 2 oz. pours: MIO Sparkling, Kizakura Pure and Saturi “Little Lily” Nigori.

Two new appetizers have been introduced, each featuring seabream. I found myself wondering “What’s a seabream?”, and soon learned it is in fact a mild white fish with a taste and texture  similar to sea bass.  We sampled Red Seabream Carpaccio ($11): finely sliced red seabream and lemon topped with a spicy yuzu dressing, organic micro greens, truffle salt and touch of lemon zest; this light dish was full of fresh, delicate flavor, and it was a favorite at our table. Also available is Red Seabream Nigiri ($4.50): red seabream over rice, topped with spicy yuzu dressing and truffle salt.

We sample two new entree offerings, and I particularly enjoyed the Tuna California Roll ($9), a classic California Roll topped with a mix of tuna, avocado, cucumber, bell pepper and cilantro, finished with togarashi, garlic chips and black pepper soy sauce. Garlic lovers, this roll is for you. The toasted garlic chips were bursting with flavor, and I loved the extra crunch they provided for added texture. We also tried the Langostino Strawberry Salad ($12): langostino, strawberries, cucumber and avocado over arugula, tossed in citrus vinaigrette, served with a tangy kiwi wasabi sauce and truffle salt. This salad was very light and fresh, making it a perfect warmer weather dish.

Whether you’re thinking about checking out these tempting new menu items, or if it’s high time you stopped in for some of your old favorites, a great time to visit RA Sushi would be between Monday, May 25, and Sunday, May 31. During “Nicky’s Week,” RA Sushi will donate 100% of sales from a variety of menu items to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in order to benefit kids battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases. So, go and eat sushi for charity!

RA Sushi- Shops at Legacy
rasushi.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
7501 Lone Star Dr. Suite B-130, Plano, TX 75024
469.467.7400

Happy Hour
Monday – Saturday 3 PM- 7 PM & 10-11 PM
Sunday 8 PM- 11 PM

Select  beer, wine, & cocktails, $3.75-$8
Select sushi and appetizers, $3.49-$8.49

 

 

Blaze Pizza Grand Opening Event

Let’s get serious for a hot minute … Is there anything better in life than indulging in a piping hot, cheesy, made-to-order pizza? Well, maybe one thing: if that pizza happens to be FREE. Listen up, folks. You’re going to want to hear this.

Blaze Pizza, Frisco’s latest purveyor of pies, will host their grand opening celebration on Friday, May 22, from 10:30 AM-11 PM. Simply follow Blaze Pizza on InstagramTwitter, or  Facebook, and receive a FREE custom-built, artisanal pizza (one per guest) any time that day. It’s that simple!

And let me tell you, this pizza … it’s good. I had the opportunity to sneak a peek (and a bite) this evening, and I promise you, you won’t want to miss this.

A little 411 on Blaze Pizza: they make their own dough (from scratch) and offer 30+ fresh, artisanal ingredients to choose from on their signature pizza assembly line. As you mosey on down the line, your dedicated “pizzasmith” will customize your pie. You can choose from 8 compelling Blaze signature pizzas or opt to craft your own masterpiece. With unlimited toppings at your disposal, the build your own option (which is a generously proportioned 6-slice pie) is a steal at $7.95. Your selection is then fast-fired in a blazing hot oven for 180 seconds, resulting in a perfectly crisp crust with just the right fold-ability factor (yeah, that’s a word).

Also available are a variety of beautiful salads (the Tomato, Basil, and Ovalini is not to be missed and is just $3.95). I’m told the S’more Pie is a must, so save room for dessert. Blaze will offer beer and wine, featuring Community and 512 for your sipping pleasure.

Blaze Pizza
blazepizza.comFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
3311 Preston Rd., Frisco, TX 75034
(972) 468-9700

Open Daily:
Sunday: 11am – 9pm
Monday – Thursday: 10:30am – 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:30am – 11pm

C’Viche

There’s a new chico in town … and his name is C’Viche.  Get your ass into this play ASAP, because it’s f**king delicious.

Their cocktails pack a punch and are a perfect complement to their Mexican and South American food.  They have an extensive full bar with some more exotic options, so you can get traditional margaritas or get a little crazy with Pisco drinks.  Check out some details of my visit below.

IMGP3160

We started with their complimentary chips & salsa while we poured over their menu.  Their food options are limited in the most perfect way–they don’t do all that much, but what they do, they do really damn well.  Their menu is literally five simple sections … ceviches (obvi.)and crudos, specialties, quesadillas, “snacks”, and tacos.

In the meantime, we ordered a couple drinks with the help of the owner and chef, Randall–Jackie* went with their mojito and I opted for a Pisco Sour … because Pisco.  Jackie hadn’t tried Pisco, so we were given small tastes to sip.  If you want to know more about Pisco, check out #SDDContributor Brian’s review or mine from ages ago!

Their bar is pretty extensive, offering “100% agave Mexican tequilas & mezcal, Caribbean rums, Brazilian cachaça and Argentinian Pisco”. You can also opt for their local or Mexican & South American beers on tap or some wine.  But, when in C’Viche …

Their food is unexpectedly good.   Though, they’re owned by the same guy as Clark Food & Wine Company, so I should have known better … because that place is legit.)  The food is inspired by Mexican and South American cuisine and makes the food its own in a special and delicious way.

My absolute favorite food item we tried was the Tuna Crudo “Poke Style” (tuna crudo, tamari, ginger, and scallions).  Jackie and I had a little fork fight over who got the last piece … I kid you not.  We also got into some serious queso business along with their Street Style Corn and Avocado Fries.  Not to be missed is their fresh fish, which you can choose which fish you prefer, chopped (ceviche) or sashimi style (crudo), which style you’d like (Baja, Peruvian, island, or Asian), and you can even have them make it into a salad for just $2.

The atmosphere is decided casual thanks to the nice natural light it lets in, red metal bar stools, industrial lights, and cement floors.  The music keeps it light and the staff lights to kid around … which just makes things a little more fun.

Stop into C’Viche soon and get you some of their tuna crudo to accompany their new happy hour specials.
C’VICHE & TEQUILA BAR
www.cvicheandtequila.com
1922 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206
(214) 238-3509

*Jackie is my new friend who happens to be a fellow blogger … check her our at Pretty Petals! You’ll hear about her again.

I Dugg it.

Lakewood is a neighborhood with chain restaurants here and there (and here), so it’s always nice to see a new concept pop up in the area.  Dugg Burger opened recently thanks to four brilliant dudes (one is from Dallas and the rest are from California).

The concept is brilliant … they had a completely custom tool created to give their burgers a unique edge (or hole, as it were).  The tool hulls out the bun top to make room for their 13 amazing toppings and then they’re lovingly placed on the grill on one of the (also custom) stainless steel magnetic domes to get it all nice and toasty.  (Toasted buns … I mean … the best.)  The process is below in a neat sketch they had made …

When you walk in, you order your burger (and fries … because fries) and they’ll bring it to your table.  You choose from their 12 standard toppings and one “Lucky 13” topping which are always suggestions from customers.  (They allow customers to submit their topping ideas online or on the brick wall in the shop, and if one is popular enough, they’ll add it to the lineup!)  They like to keep their ingredients as local as possible–they get their meat from Freedman’s, their buns from Village Baking Company, and they have local beers stocked.  (No local wines just yet.)

Man cannot live on burgers and beer alone (even really good ones), so they’ve sweetened the deal with their homemade Bread Pudding, which is made from a recipe from one of the owner’s moms.  (She even checks in from time to time to make sure it’s the right recipe.  Now that’s what I call quality control!)

Bread Pudding
Bread Pudding

 

DUGG BURGER BAR
www.duggburger.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
9540 Garland Rd, #407, Dallas, TX 75218
(214) 584-6261

 

In Vivo (53) Veritas

I made the trek to Fort Worth, y’all.  I don’t do it often, so you must know it was because I knew something special (read: delicious) was waiting for me.  In this case, it was worth the drive.  #SDDContributor Amanda (covering Fort Worth) and I stopped into Vivo 53 in Downtown Fort Worth accompanied by a delightful representative from their PR company.  I threw my hands up and let the experts decide what to feed me, and that was a great decision.

We started with Chicken Meatballs (free range, served with tomato sauce, rucola, and red onion) and they were hard to find in all of the greenery, but worth the search.  To go with our appetizers, the bartender brought us a round of their best selling drink, the Vesuvius (serrano pepper, 360 organic vodka, blood orange juice, strawberries, ginger beer, and organic agave).  It really had a kick to it, enough so that I was regretting that I’d forgotten my heartburn medication!  The flavor was strong and delicious, so I’d order this one again … but I’d try to be more prepared next time.  Their version of Bruschetta featured three crostini–corona fagioli (beans) with herbs, chilies, and sea salt, a smoked albacore tuna with peppers and chives, and a chicken liver pate with capers, prosciutto and lemon.  I really loved all three (and especially the pate), but the table seemed to like the tuna one best.  (Babies.)  You can order them by flavor or a trio of the three.

Drinks kept flowing and the table ordered  the North Texas Breeze, Italian Mule, and Aquila Artiglio.  The North Texas Breeze (Deep Eddy Vodka, St. Germain , Thai basil, lime, pineapple juice, honey, and prosecco) is their second best seller behind the Vesuvius, and for a good reason.  It was perfectly light and sweet, but with good body.  The Italian Mule (raspberries, 360 organic vodka, lime, balsamic vinegar, and ginger beer) was an interesting take on the traditional Moscow Mule and the balsamic vinegar gave it a bit of extra complexity.  (Oh, and they’d run out of raspberries, and when my friend ordered this drink, they had someone run out to get more. That’s service.)

I’m not even sure how to start my description of the dinner we had.  Suffice it to say that everything was delicious and the pasta dish haunts my dreams.  We enjoyed the Brussels Sprouts that were roasted just so with a nice bit of oil … and it’s too bad that I ate them all and didn’t leave any for my fellow diners.  Do yourself a favor and order their Vivo Truffle Fettuccine cause OMG.  I mean … I like truffles, but this stuff was beyond.  The flavor was just strong enough to be intriguing, but definitely wasn’t overpowering.

The 53 in their name refers to the number of recipes they attempted to get to the perfect pizza crust.  I’ll just say … it was definitely lucky number 53!  The crust on their “pizze” is perfectly crispy and has a nice mix of delicate herbs that give it a kick of flavor.  We tried the Bianca Pizza (mozzarella, sottocenere*, fontina cheese, parmesan, and sage) and the Burrata Pizza (bur rata, prosciutto, tomato, rucola, and grana padano).  I’d order the Bianca again in a second, but the Burrata pizza, while good, wasn’t what I’d expected.  The burrata is simple plopped on top of a cheeseless pizza with a pile of rucola on top.  (I’m just preparing you because I was surprised.  Friends look out for friends, ya know.)

Dessert, while difficult to find space in my completely full and satisfied stomach, was worth it.  The Torta Fritta (fresh donuts rolled in sugar) were ah-mazing.  The chocolate dipping sauce it’s served with was rich and warm.  I had to stop myself from eating them all … stupid half marathon training.  (Blame my sister.)  We also tried out their Dolce Crema Bruciata (vanilla custard with brûlées sugar crust and fresh berries) was good … but I’d suggest ordering a second Torta Fritta if you have the room!  Oh, and their bartender was nice enough to make me an off-menu espresso martini.  It was just the nightcap I needed and kept me alert enough not to call it a night and head home to put on my comfy pants.

Vivo 53’s feel welcoming, yet clean and modern.  The high ceilings make it feel much larger than it is.  The seating area is actually somewhat limited, which keeps it intimate.  A set of tables toward the back are separated by large walls, making each feel private.  There are TVs in the bar to catch a game or two, and seats around the oven so you can watch the magic happen.

They JUST released that they’ll be offering happy hour … both regular and REVERSE!  Stop in for the items below from 3-6pm and after 9pm EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK … that means Fridays and Saturdays.  Eccellente, miei amici.

  • $3 wells
  • $4 select wines
  • $3 American beers
  • discounted pizzas
  • 1/2 off small plates

VIVO 53
www.vivo53.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
525 Taylor St., Ft. Worth, TX 76102
855.202.1370

Hours of Operation:
Sun-Thurs 11am-9.30pm
Fri-Sat 11am-12am

 

*”Sottocenere al tartufo is a very pale yellow to off-white cheese with truffles that has a grey-brown ash rind” – Wiki

Hutchins BBQ Media Dinner featuring Grapevine Brewery

BBQ and BYOB; Two acronyms Dallasites get pretty dang excited about.

With a plethora of BBQ heavy hitters in Dallas proper, I’m here to implore you not to forget about a seriously solid purveyor of pig that has been serving Collin County (and wise visitors from beyond) since 1978: Hutchins BBQ. The senior location is located in historic downtown McKinney, and the Hutchins family opened up a secondary Preston Road location in Frisco just last year. And here’s the marvelous thing about the McKinney location: it is, in fact, BYOB.  Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I was lucky enough to attend a media dinner at the McKinney location earlier this month. (Thanks, Susie … I’m not trying to squeeze into a wedding dress or anything). Tim Hutchins (GM and son of original owner Roy Hutchins) and co-owner Dustin Blackwell were our gracious hosts for the evening, and their passion for the fine art of smoking copious amounts of meat was evident with every (frequently excessive) bite.

Their BBQ process really is a labor of love. As we stuffed our happy faces, Tim described the 15-17 hour smoking process executed on a daily basis in order to produce the perfectly moist, tender slab of Heaven that is Hutchins’ brisket. The flawlessly executed smoke ring speaks for itself and seemingly doesn’t warrant an explanation, but Tim explained the importance of the wood selection in the smoking process; the Hutchins family uses a one-two punch of oak, followed by pecan. Hutchins uses predominantly Prime grade beef (subject to availability) that is free from hormones or antibiotics.

Chef Tim and his smoker
Chef Tim and his smoker

Let’s talk sausage. Hutchins makes theirs in small batches, using a 50/50 ratio of pork and brisket. Their jalapeño cheese sausage is made with jalapeños procured from a local market. (And for the record, the portion I sampled on this particular evening packed a serious punch of heat.) The ribs, which fell off the bone, were perfectly charred, with a lightly sweet brown sugar glaze. I was surprised that one of the most enjoyable things I sampled all night ended up being the fried catfish. I usually don’t even like catfish, but I felt it was my duty to take at least one bite, for science. Dang, ya’ll! Perfectly crisp, not remotely greasy, with a beautiful cornmeal breading- and most importantly, no trace of that all too familiar “earthy” taste to be found. So, I guess I like catfish now?

If you’re like me, you might suffer from ordering induced anxiety when you first visit an establishment such as Hutchins. (Ya know, one where everything looks, smells, and sounds amazing, and you’re terrified you’re going to miss out on a special snowflake and then see a Foursquare tip after your order that has an off-menu gem that gives you serious FOMO?) Hutchins solves that delicious problem for you, by offering an All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE- hey look, another acronym!) option for just $18.99. As if you might actually have extra space in your abdominal region after you get done sampling allllll tha meatz, that price includes sides (pinto beans, potato salad, green beans, corn, coleslaw, mac n’ cheese, and potato casserole), AND dessert (peach cobbler, banana pudding, soft serve and toppings)! Here’s hoping your post-meal itinerary includes one stop: bed. But, don’t worry: if you aren’t feeling brave (or if you need someone to set limits for you because you are well aware that you are incapable of exercising self-control … not that I can relate to that scenario or anything …) you can certainly order off of the traditional menu (meat plates, et al.).

Meat Fiesta
Meat Fiesta

Since this event was BYOB, Grapevine Brewery was kind enough to B some B for us. I was excited to try two Grapevine craft beer varieties that were new to me: Sir Williams English Brown Ale and NightWatch Oatmeal Stout. The Sir Williams English Brown Ale (4.9% ABV), as it so happens, was the recipient of the Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal in the English Brown Ale category. One sip, and I understood why. Sir Williams, you are a gentleman and a scholar, with your lovely, roasty malt and your smooth finish. The Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (6.3%) is on the lighter end of the stout spectrum, with a subtly malty chocolate note that feels like it is giving you permission to drink it year round. I’m a fan.

Hutchins BBQ – McKinney
1301 North Tennessee Street, McKinney, TX 75069
(972) 548-2629

Sun-Thurs: 11am to 9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am to 9:30pm

Hutchins BBQ –  Frisco
9225 Preston Road, Frisco TX
Store: 972-377-2046 | Catering: 972-540-1920
Email: catering @ hutchinsbbq.com

Wed-Sun: 11am to 3pm (or til sold out)

Oyster Pairings at Ocean Prime

Oysters are delicious.  Well handled, well shucked, fresh oysters are delicious.  (Obvi.)  While we’re a bit landlocked here in Dallas, there are some places that have fresh oysters and a decent shucker.  Ocean Prime is one of them, and is upping their oyster game with some new offerings.  And shuck me* … they’ve thought up some amazing pairings.

Not only are they offering $1 St. James Virginia oysters for $1 until 7pm daily, but they’re also featuring other oyster options (which vary by season and availability) and are pairing them with their four sauces–cucumber, champagne, and red wine mignonettes and a green apple granita.  (Yes, they made a flaky, frozen granita to pair with their oysters!  It’s amazing how the sweetness balances out the salinity of the oysters.)

Their fresh oysters on a half shell are irresistible, to be sure, but they’ve also come up with four baked and broiled oyster options in flavors like Bacon & Blue, Rockefeller (huh-um), their traditional parmesan, and BBQ.  While they’re a tiny bit harder to eat, they’re delicious and worth the awkwardness that comes with trying to tackle a huge oyster with a tiny fork.  ($7 for two, $13 for four, or a sampler of two of each for $24)

Ask Heather or one of the other knowledgable members of the Ocean Prime staff what they recommend pairing with each oyster, because they have really done an incredible job choosing pairings that cut the saltiness of some and really bring out the flavors of the baked/broiled options.  We enjoyed a glass of crisp chardonnay with our basic oysters, and anything from a Goose Island India Pale Ale to a Whiskey Clover with our baked/broiled oysters.

Suggested Pairings:
Rockefeller – Saint Arnold Amber
Bacon & Blue – Astoria Prosecco
BBQ – Whiskey Clover cocktail
Parmesan – Goose Island IPA

Needless to say … I had a shell of a time** trying all of these delicious oysters!  Get your butt in there any enjoy some of these options … because a dozen St. James oysters for just $12 mean you can afford a few happy hour drinks (and an Uber home).


*I had to make at least one shellfish pun.
** … or two.

Mercat Bistro

If you haven’t discovered the small, French bistro in the Harwood District, Mercat Bistro, you’re missing out, mon amie.  Exquisite coffees, delicious food, and a (very) small and well-done cocktail list allow a brief respite from the craziness of Metropolitan Dallas.

Pull up a bar stool, order a macaron and a latte, and get some work done thanks to their free WiFi … and stay for dinner.

Manhattan cocktail (Texas whiskey, vermouth, bitters)
Manhattan cocktail (Texas whiskey, vermouth, bitters)
Butcher’s Cut Steak (greens, peppercorn sauce), served with French fries
Butcher’s Cut Steak (greens, peppercorn sauce), served with French fries
Bread & Strawberry Butter
Bread & Fresh Strawberry Butter
The Gentleman
The Gentleman
Cold Poached Salmon (cucumber & sherry tomatoes salad, dill mayo GF)
Cold Poached Salmon (cucumber & sherry tomatoes salad, dill mayo GF)
Ricotta & Honey, Plateau de Fromages, Manhattan cocktail, Shishito Peppers
Ricotta & Honey, Plateau de Fromages, Manhattan cocktail, Shishito Peppers

Latte

1416448018.540728.11

Pommes Frites
Pommes Frites
French Macarons & Latte
French Macarons & Latte

MERCAT BISTRO
mercatbistro.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2501 N. Harwood St.
(214) 953-0917

Specials:
Monday-Thursday, 5-7pm | 1/2 price glasses of wine
Saturday | $10 carafes with the purchase of an entree

Mon – Fri: 7:30 am – 10:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
CLOSED SUNDAY