Category Archives: Reviews

Kimpton Hotel Monaco (Denver, CO)

I’ve always been a fan of Kimpton Hotels. To start, they just smell so damn good, and don’t get me started on the kitschy, Jonathan Adler lamp-filled decor.  Kimpton hotels have a distinct feel, and the Hotel Monaco Denver is no exception.

In the heart of Downtown Denver, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is a respite from the hustle of the city. (Or at least what was hustle before weed became legal.) The staff at the hotel made me feel welcome and important, and I cannot think of a better customer service experience I’ve had in recent years. To round out the stellar customer service experience, the doormen are extremely courteous and nearly make your day anytime you enter or leave the hotel. (I may have forgotten something in my room and, after remembering, intentionally walked outside before turning around so they’d chat to me  briefly.)

Possibly the best part of my last stay at the Hotel Monaco was the discovery of their daily happy hour in the lobby. (Oh, did I mention that it’s a FREE happy hour?) They offer snacks along with featured wine for a couple hours each afternoon to spoil guests.  The second best part was learning that they have hotel bicycles that guests can borrow … also for free.

The hotel’s decidedly western-inspired yet contemporary decor feels comfortable yet haute thanks to little touches and rich textures. Then the real comfort is realized when you first sink into their soft-as-they-could-be beds and fluffy pillows. The beds are comfortable enough that you may even forget to close the curtains, only to be woken up by the light streaming in, then refusing to get out of bed to close the curtains because you’re too cocooned-in to move.

If you can make it out of bed, this Hotel Monaco’s on-site restaurant, Panzano, is sure to please. From thoughtfully crafted cocktails to some of the best Italian-inspired food I’ve had in a while, it’s a great stop for lunch or dinner. (Just make sure to arrive in stretchy pants.)

As Kimpton hotels go, the entire experience was delightful from the aforementioned comfy bed to the plush, animal print robes. I’ve decided that it’s my new jumping off point for all Colorado ski trips going forward … and maybe a random night or two when Denver sounds like a nice getaway.

HOTEL MONACO – DENVER
monaco-denver.com
Facebook: /monaco.denver
Instagram: @monacodenver
1717 Champa Street, Denver, CO
Reservations: (800)990-1303, hotel: (303)296-1717

Amenities: pet-friendly, robes, on-site salon and spa, 24-hour fitness center, free bicycle rentals, yoga mats in every room

Ancho Reyes Verde

Who couldn’t use an extra spice in their life … or at least in their cocktail? In Texas, it is completely acceptable to add salsa or peppers to most any dish, so why shouldn’t we do the same to our cocktails?

I recently had the privilege to try a liqueur made from poblano peppers, Ancho Reyes Verde, that just became available in Texas. For those of you who are already a fan of the original Ancho Reyes, this is its new, “fresher” counterpart.

Ancho Reyes Verde is made from the same poblano chile as the Ancho Reyes, but the peppers used are green chiles harvested a bit early, then roasted. The original uses the late-harvest, sun-dried peppers . The heat that comes from Ancho Reyes Verde seriously tastes like a freshly picked poblano pepper–it even smells fresh and earthy.  Surprisingly, the liqueur has notes of ginger along with fruits like pineapple and a slight tomato flavor.

Both Original and Verde Ancho Reyes liqueurs are quite versatile, which makes it a perfect element for cocktails. Original mixes well with brown spirits, whereas the Ancho Reyes Verde seems to mix better with clear spirits. I personally loved the Verde in a cocktail, but the flavors when sipped alone were quite pronounced.

Ancho Verde Margarita
1 part Milagro Silver Tequila
1 part Ancho Reyes Verde
1 part fresh lime juice
⅓ part agave nectar

Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake hard and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass with half its rim salted. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Verde Chelada
1.5 part Ancho Verde
0.5 part lime juice
Big pinch of salt
12 oz Mexican lager beer
Salt for rim

Rim a cold beer glass with kosher salt. Add salt, lime, ancho verde to the cold beer glass and stir to mix. Add ice and beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

 


Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano Liqueur
AnchoReyes.com
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80 Proof/40% ABV
Retail price: ~$33/750mL

Ancho Reyes Verde was launched in New York in 2016 as a limited edition spirit, and it is now available in the lucky states of Texas, California, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, and Florida.

(Recipes and select cocktail images above provided by Ancho Reyes)

Chicken In The Front, Party In The Back

If you’re a fan of the Truck Yard atmosphere and grandma’s quality southern fare, then you’re in luck.

Quincy’s Chicken Shack is the newest family style, neighborhood picnic-esque restaurant to pop up in Coppell. Now, all you Dallas folk are thinking, “Coppell? That’s way too far just for some chicken…” but I assure you, it is well worth the drive. This fresh, family-friendly place will have you fed and on the way to your fried chicken coma in just 11 minutes. 

First, let’s talk atmosphere. Located right near Coppell Old Town Pavillion, the restaurant features an outdoor patio that’ll make your heart sing. Full bar, truck-turned-stage for live music, and string lights to make all your pictures Instagram gold. 

Speaking of the bar, Quincy has come up with some outstanding cocktails to go with your meal, and the southern theme is strong. Our favorites in our group were:

Mint Julep: bourbon, home grown mint syrup, soda water

Grandma’s Secret (personal favorite): sweet tea vodka, taverna, lemon, black tea

Shoofly Punch: Enchanted Rock peach vodka, peach puree, ginger liqueur, lemon, champagne, topped with a peach ring! This one is a southern spin on the French 75

Backyard Party: frozen lemonade spiked with your choice of citrus vodka/blueberry vodka/sweet tea vodka/ whiskey with mint

Dee’s Lunchbox: beer cocktail with white rum, orgeat, lemon, topped with IPA

Bottled Manhattan: a perfect manhattan made with Herman Marshall whiskey, vermouth, bitters, luxardo cherry

Tequila Mockingbird: Blanco Tequila, lemon, triple sec, watermelon juice

Now, let’s get to the food. The restaurant serves its offerings family style, so come prepared to share … or prepared for a fork fight.

First up is some black-eyed pea hummus to keep things light and fun. Then you have a choice of a fried chicken or a rotisserie chicken dinner basket for the table. Each one comes with cornbread, rotisserie potatoes and loaded potato dip, southern beans, and a seasonal side. What makes this chicken so darn good is that all of it’s cooked in the rotisserie, and then either served like that or flash fried for 3 and half minutes. 

Luckily, their lunch options aren’t all family style. Some lunch options they offer are a BBQ Chicken Sandwich, which is pulled chicken with Quincy’s root beer BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and rotisserie potatoes, and the Fried Chicken Sandwich, which is fried chicken tenders (available regular or Nashville Spicy) with garlic aioli, bread & butter pickles, coleslaw, and rotisserie potatoes. They also have a lunch salad, which features pulled rotisserie chicken on mixed greens topped with cowboy vinaigrette, green apple, corn, black-eyed pea hummus, and cornbread croutons. Lunch options will be available starting today, March 11th. 

If you’re still hungry after all that, they’ve got you covered. Desert is a bowl full of egg-free cookie dough (not today, salmonella!) and a seasonal handpie served with vanilla bean ice cream. 

Quincy’s Chicken Shack
QuincysChickenShack.com
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505 Houston Street (Coppell)
(469) 251-9080

  • Tues– Sat: Dinner only ; Sun & Mon: Closed
  • Tues – Thurs: 5pm–9pm, Bar open at 4
  • Fri – Sat: 5pm–10pm, Bar open at 4

Montes Wines – It’s a Family Thing

If ever you’ve felt like your wine needed a heartfelt backstory, Montes Alpha and Kaiken Ultra wineries have one for you.

Aurelio Montes Sr. and Aurelio Montes Jr. are the father and son of the century with their love for good wine as well as their heritage. The chilean duo not only have a namesake winery with a special commitment to the Chilean community, most notably a study scholarship given to the winery workers and their children alongside complimentary health and life insurance, but also like father, like son, Aurelio Montes Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps and opened up his own winery, Kaiken, in order to experiment with new terroirs and other winemaking practices such as biodynamics.
Fun fact: the Kaiken Ultra Winery was the second winery in the world to be awarded the Sustainable Certificate. Good for the community AND good for the earth? I don’t know what more you could want but they probably have it.

At Salum, a group of wine enthusiasts were treated to a tasting of wines from both wineries, as well as a paired luncheon. As we tasted the wines, Montes Sr. and Montes Jr. explained the back story of each wine and how they vary between the two wineries. 

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2014
Alcohol – 13.9%
SRP – $19.90
Tasting notes: Shy in node expression.

Kaiken Ultra Chardonnay 2014
Alcohol – 14%
SRP – $20
Tasting notes: Bigger and deeper expression of oak and fruit.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Alcohol – 14%
SRP – $19.90
Tasting notes: Fruity expression with red berries, blackberries, chocolate, and mint.

Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Alcohol – 14.8%
SRP – $20
Tasting notes: Tastes of strawberries with a round mouth and soft tannins.

Montes Alpha Malbec 2014
Alcohol – 14.5%
SRP – $19.90
Tasting notes: Leaner, spicier, edgier, rougher.

Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2014
Alcohol – 14.5%
SRP – $20
Tasting notes: Riper with a wide mouth, gentle tannins, and tastes of dark fruit.

Montes Outer Limits CGM 2015
Alcohol – 14.5%
SRP – $24.90
Tasting notes: Velvety texture. Montes Sr. described this as “a wine for the younger generations who want to drink something different than their parents.”

Kaiken Obertura Cabernet Franc 2014
Alcohol – 14.7%
SRP – $35
Tasting notes: Best paired with light meals, salads, cheese.

Montes Alpha M Red Wine 2012
Alcohol – 14.7%
SRP – $98
Tasting notes: A Bordeaux blend with a bouquet that comes along elegantly.

Kaiken Mai Malbec 2013
Alcohol – 14.8%
SRP – $70
Tasting notes: considered a real taste of Argentina.

Montes Taita Cabernet Sauvignon 2007/2009/2010
Alcohol – 15%
SRP – $249
Tasting notes: “Taita” describes the emotion of speaking of your father with devotion and admiration and he gives back his wisdom with loving care. This wine spends 18 months in barrels and then 4 years in bottles before being released.

Salmon and scallop crudo with Texas grapefruit, orange blossom oil, pea shoots, and parmesan crisps
Paired with the Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and the Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes 2016

Braised lamb, rosemary puree with plum gastrique
Paired with the Montes Purple Angel 2013 and the Kaiken Obertura 2014

Bittersweet chocolate and sticky date pudding with stewed red fruits and Mexican vanilla chantilly
Paired with the Montes Alpha M 2012

 
Montes Wines
monteswines.com
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Salum Restaurant
salumrestaurant.com
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4152 Cole Avenue (Uptown)

Super Chix in North Dallas

Move over, Chick-fil-A, there’s a new chick in town!

Super Chix is bringing flavor back to the traditional chicken sandwich. With the idea that simple is better, Super Chix marinates and hand-breads their chicken in-house daily. With locations in Dallas and Richardson (and soon to be Frisco location!), there’s no excuse to eat a sub-par chicken sandwich ever again. (Not that Chick-fil-A is sub-par … just in case the powers that be see this.  You NEVER want to piss off the CFA wizards.) 

The Super Chix menu features standard fried or grilled chicken sandwiches, as well as some new-to-the-scene, more creative plates … and yes, even salads.  Not to be missed is their extensive sauce selection. You can choose from six sauces–Mississippi Comeback, Alabama White, Nashville Hot, Cucumber Dill Ranch, Signature, and Honey Mustard … all delicious, 

Cordon Bleu Sandwich: swiss cheese, honey mustard, ham, and fried chicken. Served on a buttered potato roll.

Crispy Avocado Sandwich: Avocado half stuffed with Gouda cheese, breaded and fried, then topped with seasoning, garlic mayonnaise, lettuce leaf, and tomato. Served on a buttered potato roll. 

Blackened Cajun Chicken Sandwich: grilled chicken filet tossed in blackened seasoning, topped with garlic mayo, bacon, lettuce lead, tomato, and fried pickles. Served on a buttered potato roll. 

Fear not health-nuts, they also have delicious salads, such as the Southwest Chicken Salad, which features lettuce, tomato, avocado, grilled chicken, and tortilla strips.

As for drinks and desert? Well not only do they offer a bunch of craft sodas on tap, they also have a full custard bar with rotating weekly custard flavors. Find their custard menu here.

Super Chix
superchix.com
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Dallas Location: 14999 Preston Road, Suite 226 | 972-788-0660
Richardson Location: 1551 East Renner Road, Suite 830 | 469-466-1500

Open 11am to 10pm daily

The Cookery Dallas

As a young child, I took cooking classes with my sister and a few friends, then fancied myself the next Sarah Lee.  There’s nothing like ruining a béchamel, letting pasta water boil over, and adding noodles to a soup too early (effectively making it stew with really fat, gross noodles) to show you that you know a hell of a lot less than you thought.  Needless to say, we could all use a little schooling in the kitchen.

Lucky for Dallas, we have an alternative to the stuffy cooking classes that are BYOB (woof) thanks to The Cookery.  The little school in the Design District offers public and private classes on topics from sushi to tapas and will soon be offering a cocktail class.  Owner, Kelly Huddleston, makes cooking approachable.  And thanks to her experience working as a cooking instructor all around the world, she has mastered many different types of cuisines.

Kelly and her sous chef explain each step of the process from learnings how to pick the best produce, cuts, and ingredients to the correct way to debeard mussels.  (Ew.)  They even add a bit of color commentary as the class progresses … a much more casual approach than other cooking classes.  Adding to the fun of the class, they pair wine, beer, or a cocktail with each course of the meal.  The highlight of this experience, though?  You don’t have to clean up.

In our class we were walked through “An Evening in Paris” where we made Garlic and White Wine Steamed Mussels with Gougères, Steak au Poivre with a Brandy Cream Reduction, and a Dark Chocolate Soufflé.  Everyone seemed surprised how easy each dish was thanks to the tips and tricks from Kelly, and every dish turned out incredibly well.  (We didn’t ruin a single thing!)

Peruse the classes available on their website, all ringing in around $95.  Since they keep classes to 14 or less students, make sure to plan ahead and make reservations in advance.  Since the school offers private parties, check with Kelly if you have an occasion coming up and she’ll organize something just for your group.

¡Bon appétit!

THE COOKERY
thecookerydallas.com
1130 Dragon St #180 (Design District)

True Food Kitchen – Truly Good Food

Eating healthy is hard. There are so many unhealthy options that are way easier (and let’s face it, way tastier) to fit into our busy schedules. Have no fear, friend! True Food Kitchen is making it easy and delicious to eat good-for-you food. This anti-inflammatory diet based restaurant has tons of options to help keep you on that health track … deliciously. The chef graciously explained to me that processed foods cause inflammation, which prevents the body from absorbing all the good nutrients it needs. This can lead to a plethora of unwanted things such as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Because of this, True Food Kitchen doesn’t focus on calories. Instead, they focus on pure, simple, and delicious food that is hormone-free and antibiotic-free to help the body process nutrients better.

After a complimentary Corepower Yoga class, I tasted some of their brunch options, which are sure to give you the perfect kickstart to your day.

Garden Scramble: Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, organic eggs, and smoked gouda

Quinoa Johnny Cakes: banana and quinoa (these taste nothing like quinoa and everything like normal pancakes)

They also have Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins, Banana Espresso Muffins & Vegetable Salad on deck for you to nosh on.  They also offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options, all of which are on their regular menu!

True Food Kitchen also serves booze including beer, cider, wine, and cocktails.  Most cocktails are around $10. Because it’s always best to detox and retox at the same time …

True Food Kitchen

truefoodkitchen.com
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8383 Preston Center Plaza #100
214-377-3333

EDGE Bar at the Four Seasons (Denver, Colorado)

FACT: The hotel bar is coming back.  Some of the most iconic and groundbreaking bartenders that not only participated in the craft cocktail movement but started it, were found in hotel bars, and we are glad to say that the trend is swinging back around.  My fellow Dallasites have seen this exemplified in Midnight Rambler, Knife, and Dragonfly, but on my last visit to Denver I was delighted to visit EDGE Bar at the Four Seasons and found that it had some of the bartenders upping the cocktail game behind the bar … in a hotel.

While cocktail menus are fantastic, I’ve always enjoyed having conversations with bartenders and having them make me something off the menu.  (When it’s not busy, of course.  Don’t be that jerk that takes up five minutes on a busy Saturday night.)  I was delighted when both of the resulting cocktails were extraordinary.

Their program is innovative thanks to options like a monthly barrel-aged cocktail feature, the use of unique liqueurs and spirits, and knowledgable bar staff.  With leadership from their brand new bar manager, James Menkal, we’re sure to see more unique and innovative options from EDGE Bar.  Menkal was named one of Eater’s Best Bartenders in Denver last year and one of Zagat Denver’s 30 under 30 in 2014, so we can expect some exciting things from him.

Beyond a fantastic cocktails program, EDGE offers plenty of local beers along with more than 50 wines by the glass.  The bar itself is spacious and is a perfect spot for anything from a drink to shake off the work day or to shake it out before heading out.  There is plenty of lounge and bar seating and the bar is complete with televisions … if that’s your thing.

After a couple drinks, we were escorted to the dining room for dinner.  We started with the Beets and Goat Cheese and they were absolutely on point–a bit earthy and balanced with the light tang of the goat cheese.  The highlight of the menu was, without a doubt, the steaks.  EDGE smokes their meats with pecan wood and is one of the only places in Colorado using pecan wood.  The result was a deliciously smoked meat with a deep flavor that left us wanting more.

To complete the meal, we ordered the Roasted Cauliflower and the Lobster Mac & Cheese.  The Roasted Cauliflower was incredible and the entire table agree that we’d all order again; the texture was perfect and the light curry dusting added the perfect zing.  The Lobster Mac & Cheese was surprisingly delicate and the cheese was very light.

While we were too full after our meal to have dessert, we were treated to a milk chocolate lollipop in the shape of a cow with a couple drops of white chocolate.  It was an incredibly simple but perfect end to a delectable meal.

Overall, the EDGE Bar and Restaurant offered a perfect night without a single misstep.  I’ll be back on my next trip to Denver without a doubt to see what Menkal had done with the bar and to have another cut of their pecan-smoked steak.

EDGE Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver
fourseasons.com/denver/dining
1111 14th Street, Denver, Colorado
(303) 389-3000