Category Archives: Reviews

A Good Friend to Have

Again, I traveled outside of my bubble.  And again, I was glad I did.  I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about Goodfriend, the new beer and burger house over on Peavy and Garland Road one of the Vickery Park owners and a former Vick bartender, Matt and Josh, respectively.  I’ll start by saying this, don’t wait to go until after reading this — get off your ass and go NOW.

My boyfriend and I prepared for our adventure with a full tank of gas, water bottles, and granola bars stocked … you know, just in case.  The drive there wasn’t bad at all.  Take Mockingbird east and just keep onnnnnnnnn going until you see white lights strung across a huge patio on your left that will beam you in.  Parking was an issue, but I found a spot that my car hardly fit in, but fit nonetheless.  (I didn’t take the time to figure out where alternate parking was – sorry).

Give yourself plenty of time for this dinner because you’re probably going to wait.  So many make the trip for the delicious food and drink at Goodfriend that we were told that there was an hour wait.  We ordered a drink and found a seat without a grumble because the place smelled so good that we didn’t want to risk being kicked out for being bratty patrons.  The staff was so friendly that that probably wouldn’t be an issue even if we were rude.

 

Time to set the scene: a giant horseshoe-shaped bar is the center of the restaurant with bar seating on the left and restaurant seating on the right and stained glass above the bar.  The decor is a hodge-podge of rustic engineering-type paraphernalia with an industrial touch including a giant table with a HUUUUGE fan inside.  Sports fans: there are big TVs in the bar seating area and behind the bar and for commercials breaks you can enjoy the two dart boards in the corner.

The drinks were delicious.  The cocktail menu is whiskey heavy with their list of whiskey cocktails dubbed the Magnificent Seven — and they are (magnificent, that is).  I started with a Manhattan, the likes of which would have given my Manhattan-loving uncle a run for his money.  After drinking the Manhattan, I felt like I could box a kangaroo – true story.  The drinks were strong and I look forward to making a second trip to try some of the other M7s like John the Baptist, Bobby Burns, and the Goodfriend itself.

The offerings at GF include an American craft beer menu which will feature standard craft beers, seasonal beers, and special release brews.  Get bored with beers easily?  They post their “rotator” beers on a huge piece of paper inside the bar (and on Facebook) that are switched out quite often.  In addition to their beers they have a fully (and I mean FULLY) stocked bar.

Goodfriend Burger

The food was ah-mazing.  We made our way to our hard-earned table and when Matt handed us our menus, deciding which burger to order was one of the more difficult decisions I’ve faced in a month (I live a charmed life).  They offer grass fed burgers and some more exotic options as well as a veggie burger (if you must).  I landed on the Lolita lamb burger, the Boy had a turkey burger, and of course we got cheese fries to share.  The burgers were delectable and I finished every bite of mine along with a good portion of the cheese fries (the ranch is mind blowing).  The stomach ache was well worth it!

Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House
facebook | @goodfriendbgbh
1154 Peavy Rd., Dallas, TX 75218
(214) 324-3335

Asador at the Renaissance Hotel

Never heard of it?  Understandable, but now you know better.  Asador is the high-end-but-casual restaurant inside the Renaissance Hotel over on I-35 — you know, the brown one that’s a gigantic oval?  There ya go.

I was very excited to try Asador and was even more excited when I sat down at the bar and began looking through the delicious victuals that they offer.  Grab a tissue, because your mouth is about to water — smoked duck sliders, candied bacon lollipops, grilled Texas quail … and those are only a few of the bar snacks!  They offer a full chef-driven menu of delightfully-prepared foods made with fresh ingredients, all from within 100 miles of Dallas (except for the fish … but that’s because we’re pretty landlocked).  Fresh isn’t an understatement here, so much so that they print new menus almost everyday.  Steaks that are cooked to perfection and fish that cuts like butta’ using nothing but a fork.

I think one of the best parts of the experience was dessert (duh).  Asador makes their ice cream in-house.  OMG – I never wanted the sweet potato ice cream to end but while attempting to make it last, a bit melted.  BLAST.  Their pumpkin crème brulee was also one of the highlights of the pumpkin season this year (right up there with the pumpkin souffles I made for Thanksgiving!).

Their cocktails are made with the same fresh ingredients as the food and are mixed thoughtfully with a flare for the unique.  They have the usuals but add a twist to each.  To give their cocktails depth, they infuse liquors with some unexpected items.  For your consideration: bacon bourbon, grilled jalapeño tequila, maple-Belgium waffle vodka (believe it), pomegranate gin, and more.  Changed often, creative, and tempting, they’ll serve you a shot of one of their seasonal infusions for only $5.

My absolute favorite item of the evening was the harvest margarita – a margarita made with pumpkin puree and apple cider and finished off with a brown sugar spice rim.  It.was.amazing.  Being one who doesn’t like margaritas, I have never in my life had a margarita that I didn’t want to end … except for this one.

My other favorite cocktails from the evening were the Blossom Margatini, the Orange Twist, and the Posh Cosmo (pictured above in the same order).  The Blossom Margatini is tequila, rose nectar, St. Germain, citrus juices, and an edible flower (I wish I’d known that sooner b/c I would have eaten it).  It reminded me of some of my favorite drinks from Paris; light and sweet but quite potent.  The Orange Twist was pomegranate juice, port, orange juice, and rum — talk about a refreshing drink, I could have downed three.  Lastly, the Posh Cosmo was what you’d expect from any Cosmopolitan with some interesting additions, they added Gran Marnier jam (yes, like jelly) and Pimms —- heavvvven.

In addition to their specialty cocktails, they have 100+ tequilas arranged on a wall (complete with ladder, pictured above) that you can try individually or in a flight.  The bartenders really know their stuff and are very friendly and helpful so you can just ask and they’ll serve you up something you’ll love.  Ask for Tyler (girl) or James – they’re both fantastic.

The bottom line: Specialty cocktails are $7-10, bar snacks are $4-9, entrees are $4-38.  They have a full bar, exotic beers, a great wine list, steaks, seafood, and some more slightly casual bites.  If you’re bored, you can watch your game on one of the flat screens or play pool in the back room — but with food this good, why would you be bored?

Asador
asadorrestaurant.com | @asador_dallas
2222 N Stemmons Fwy (in the Renaissance Hotel)
(214)631-2222

Specials:
Happy Hour | Monday-Friday 4-7 p.m.
$4 draft beer / $6 house wine and specialty cocktails
$1 appetizers and 1/2 price all snacks

Reverse Happy Hour | Monday 9-11 p.m.
$4 draft beer / $6 house wine and specialty cocktails
1/2 price all snacks

Hospitality Night | Wednesday 5pm-10 p.m.
$4 draft beer / $6 house wine and specialty cocktails
1/2 price all snacks and garden items

… 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

The Second Floor Bistro

After a couple meals at 2nd Floor sans drinks, I was happy to finally get over to 2FB for an alcoholic libation.  My coworkers and I decided to take a quick break and grab a drink last night while waiting for Fashion’s Night Out festivities to commence at the Galleria, and we we had a nice assortment of drinks.  There were glasses of wine, straight-up Jack, martinis, mojitos, and Moscow Miles, OH MY!

I always ask my waiter for his/her suggestion and this time, it worked.  I was told to get the ginger gimlet with vodka … and it turns out, it was a Moscow Mule.  That girl knows what she’s doing.  I could tell that they didn’t use Rose’s lime juice and the ginger beer was just bitter enough to keep me from downing the entire glass in one gulp.

The coworkers in my immediate vicinity had:
– 2 mojitos: not too sweet and incredibly refreshing, mint leaves large enough not to be sucked into the straw
– Jack OTR: 3-1/2 fingers, a generous helping
– a Ruby Red: even though I don’t like grapefruit, it was tolerable and I was fine with having two small sips

All were good.  Their drink list looked well thought-out with a nice selection of different liquors, flavors, and sweetness levels.  Signature cocktails will run you a whopping $12 and martinis $13, the wine list starts at $8/glass, and the scotch list is $7-140.  The drink prices may be steep but they’re somewhat worth it since they’re decently strong, well-made, and generous portions.

The decore is modern and luxurious, all “leather” seating at the tables, the bar, the lounge (complete with awkward fireplace – pictured on right), and the back room.  The staff is (REALLY) friendly and provide snappy, efficient, and CORRECT service.

The food …oh, the food.  Try the roasted corn soup, the French Dip, and just about anything else – including brunch.  (Hint: they do trivia each Wednesday at 11am for a $25 gift card … you can try to beat me.)

In short, The Second Floor Bistro is second to none.  Go for happy hour, but only shop after if you have a DP (designated purchaser).

Strength: 3.75
Overall: 4

The Second Floor Bistro
www.thesecondfloorrestaurant.com | @2ndFloorBistro
13340 Dallas Parkway (in the Galleria – Westin entrance)
(972) 450-2978

Specials:
Thursday & Friday | 4-7 p.m. | $2 off martinis and beers
Friday nights | 1/2 price appetizers
Saturday nights | 1/2 price desserts

Wild Salsa

I’m always stoked to try new places and the new taco joint (if you can call it a joint) on Main was a pleasure.  Upon walking up to the front door, I was worried that the entire place would take the lead of the awkward sign in front, but it certainly didn’t.

The decor was complete with backlit Patron bottle columns (top right), authentic Día de los Muertos art from Mexico City, and a curtain separating the walkway from the bar seating area with rose designs on them.  It was quite a festive atmosphere and I look forward to heading back to explore the concrete bar further – it spanned half the restaurant!

The patio was lit by large string lights and was complete with tables and one in particular with a fire pit smack dab in the middle.  I look forward to heading back to enjoy the patio when it dips below triple-digit temperatures to watch the beautiful people frequenting the adjacent Mercantile pool.

Once at our table, our waitress recommended the Wild Rita … the Wild Rita was no slouch.   It was spicy, fragrant, rimmed with chili-lime salt, and it was BIG.  I’d give the drink a AAA rating – and I don’t even like tequila!  They also have Negra Modelo, Dos Equis, and Bud light on tap, a drink list with five interesting margaritas and six cocktails to choose from.

The only thing better than the margarita was the food.  The chips were just about average, but the avocado salsa was to die for; it’s no wonder that this place is called Wild Salsa (I went through two bowls myself before our food came).  They offer other salsas for a cost and sadly my dinner guest didn’t feel the need to try them … bummer.  I partook in the three-taco platter with rice and beans and tried three different ones … including a “lengua”, or beef tongue, and it was delicious!  They use local ingredients and they are listed on a chalkboard at the front of the shop.

Bottom line: I like a swanky place that can still keep its focus on the food and drink, and Wild Salsa does just that.  Definitely put a night aside to jump in here and enjoy the unique fare and strong drinks.

Extra info: they have a great wait staff, everyone is very friendly.  Food is served late on Fridays and Saturdays (but I don’t know how late).  ALSO, they may be opening for some serious late-night drunk taco action because they have what looks like a to-go window on Main.

Drink strength: 4.5
Overall: 4

Wild Salsa 
www.wildsalsarestaurant.com
1800 Main St (Downtown) | 214-741-WILD

Specials:
Monay-Friday | 4-7 p.m. | $3.50 beers, $4 house margaritas, $4 wells

Bailey’s Prime (Closed)

Bailey’s, the Cedar Hill transplant that opened a couple years ago in the brand new Shops at Park Lane, is HANDS DOWN one of my new favorite fancy happy hour spots.  I’d say it’s right up there with Perry’s, only trumping it with its longer hours.

After visiting Bailey’s for a “working” lunch and Mother’s Day brunch, I was eager to try their famed all-night happy hour.  I was glad I finally made it in because my time there was one of the more fun nights I’ve had in a while.  (I’ll attribute that a little to the company and a little to the location.)

The whole staff seems to be there to make your experience amazing.  Perfect example: my mom invited me to meet her when I was walking out of the grocery with items that needed refrigeration.  On the way to the resto, I called and asked if they could free up some fridge space for my groceries and they gladly obliged.  The bartenders (Pedro and Kelly) will get you anything you want and will even take you for a swing on the dance floor if you so desire; on that note, Kelly is one of the better bartenders I’ve seen in Dallas from a service standpoint.

The drinks are delicious and STRONG.  Try some of their signature cocktails offered on the happy hour menu like the Cosmotini, Pomegranate Martini, or the bourbon-based, Forty Apples.  I enjoyed the VERY cucumber-y Cucumber Martini and would have died to try the French Seventy Five Martini – I didn’t want to venture into champagne on a school night.

The food is equally as good (and equally as discounted).  We got an order of their homemade chips and they were delicious as was their fresh-baked bread.  You know a restaurant is good when you see Kent Rathbun stop in for a bite!

Last word: Make sure you check in on Foursquare because they have one of the most generous check-ins specials I’ve seen – a free glass of their house Malbec, no strings attached.

Drink strength: 4
Overall: 4.5

Bailey’s Prime Plus
www.baileysprimeplus.com
8160 Park Lane #130 (Shops at Park Lane) | (214) 750-8100

Specials:
Monday-Thursday (4-7 p.m.) and Friday (4-11 p.m.)
$5 house wines, $6 signature cocktails, $2 domestic beer, $4 well drinks

Live bands:  Friday and Saturday nights

Product Review: Last Round

I gave up alcohol for Lent … hard to believe, I know.  It seemed like a great idea until I realized that I would be in Vegas on Easter weekend (for the less religiously inclined of you out there —- Lent ends ON Easter).  I forsaw two issues:
1. I couldn’t NOT drink in Vegas so I sadly bent my morals and started a few days early.
2. I didn’t think about how low my tolerance would be after not drinking for so long.

The latter was going to severely hinder my early morning pool lounging … so I thought.  When packing, I made sure to lug my samples of Last Round with me.  The first night I was schnockered, but somehow managed to down a bottle before fading into sweet passed-out bliss.  When I woke on Friday morning, I felt like I’d slept for 12 hours and hadn’t had a drink.  What a miracle!

The taste was a little tough to take, especially on an already weak, alcohol-soaked stomach, but I made it through the whole thing in one belt and chased it with water.  (Unlike most hangover remedies, you don’t have to drink water after Last Round.)  Last Round is even made with mostly recognizable ingredients – see their ingredient information on the left.

A bottle (2.4 oz) goes for about $3 and can be purchased on their website, www.last-round.com.  They even sell a “party pack” of 48 bottles.  You know what they say … SHARE THE WEALTH!

Their website reads, “Last Round cannot cure bad decisions, questionable hook-ups, senseless ramblings or excessive friend hugging…. However, Last Round will have you feeling so good the next day, it’s like last night never happened.”

All I can says is, “Amen … and thanks!”

www.last-round.com@last_round

24

Beefeater recently began distributing its newest bottle of heaven in the United States – Dallas being only the 10th U.S. city in which it debuted.  Previously, only the lucky travelers that ventured to Canada could snag bottles and bring them back to wave them under the jealous noses of those who didn’t make it up to the Great White North to get their own bottle.  Sadly, I missed the launch party, but since I’m such a lucky little lady and people at Beefeater have heard of my little site, a bottle of the ambrosia arrived on my doorstep.

I couldn’t wait to unscrew the cap … but I did.  But I only waited for my friendsand the proper mixers to come together so I wouldn’t be tempted to empty the bottle all by my lonesome.  Soon enough, friends arrived and drinks were mixed.  We made at least one of each of their signature 24 cocktails and I can’t think of a single one of which I wouldn’t want a few more.

The gin itself is quite tasty.  They say it’s made with botanicals and teas, and by some of the brightest minds (read: biggest lushes) in the industry … but what I know it that is doesn’t make me shudder when I take a swig of a strongly-mixed G&T.  It delivers hints of grapefruit with each sip and it’s de-lightful.  Not a single complaint could be heard in Chez O the night we so diligently explored the intricacies of 24.

Since a bottle of 24 is only $28.99 for a 750 mL, it’s not a budget-breaker and will occupy the top shelf of my bar from now on.  So grab a bottle for yourself and try out a recipe or two below for yourself.  Guarantee … you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

St. Henderson’s 24 | Signature Cocktail Created by Scott Melton of Bar Celine, Dallas, TX
1 Part Beefeater 24™
½ Part Aperol
½ Part St. Germain
½ Part Lemon Juice
Shaken, topped with soda and served over ice with a lemon peel to garnish

Shifting Sands | Adapted from a recipe by Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey, New York
1 & ½ Parts Beefeater 24™
1 & ½ Parts fresh grapefruit juice
¼ Part fresh lemon juice
2 Bar Spoons of Maraschino Liqueur
Club soda
1 grapefruit wedge, as garnish

24 Martini | Created by Dan Warner
5 Parts Beefeater 24™
1 Part Lillet Blanc
2 Dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters
Stirred and served up with a grapefruit twist.

Triple Citrus 24&T
2 Parts Beefeater 24™
1 Part Fever-Tree Tonic