Category Archives: Reviews

Wine & Magic

Didn’t think wine night could get any more fun? Think again.

Checkered Past Winery, located in the Southside on Lamar building, is making sure your wine night is never boring. Their $20/person Wine & Magic nights happen once a month, and let me tell you, this isn’t your ordinary magic show.

I’m glad Susie sent me (because magic makes her uncomfortable), and I’m glad she did.  The magic host, Trigg Watson, puts on a modern and entertaining (dare I say frustrating?) magic show. His tricks kept us on the edge of our seats and scratching our heads in awe.

While our team has been longtime fans of Checkered Past, we were excited to visit in a new capacity.

With over 60 wines and 20 local craft beers, the last thing you’ll be worried about is running out of options. To compliment the wine, Checkered Past offers an array of spreads (all made in house), charcuterie, and pizzas. Don’t forget to end your evening with one of their delicious desserts!

Upcoming Wine & Magic nights are March 10 and April 14. Stay tuned to Checkered Past’s website or wineandmagicdallas.com for other events and future Wine & Magic nights.


CHECKERED PAST WINERY
Checkered Past Winery
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TGI Friday’s Releases Its New Fire-Grilled Meats and Two New Cocktails

With their competition reinventing their menus with less items, there’s a new fire under TGIF’s behind. Their answer: do what they do, just better and for less cost to the consumer.

Friday’s is overhauling their entire menu, meaning new apps, entrees, sides, drinks, and more. TGI Friday’s new Choose Two menu dropped today and it’s all about fire-grilled meats … and good ones, at that. There are 15 different combinations for you to try, each for just $14.99.

First up: Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls and the Philly Cheesesteak Burger. We have yet to find someone who doesn’t love egg rolls (we held a poll in the tasting to prove ourselves right), so it only makes sense to American-ize them into a Philly Cheese-take (pun intended) appetizer.  The burger’s patty is juicy and topped with a cheesy pepper concoction that you’ll fork off the plate after it falls off the burger. Don’t worry – if you order the burger, you get an egg roll on top. (Because burgers are better with an appetizer on top.)

As for the new Grilled Meats menu … all of Friday’s meats are grilled fresh on the fire and never frozen, and they’re moving to higher quality cuts that give the guest a nicer amount of meat with less effort cutting around the less desirable bits. We won’t go through all the different meat and side combinations you can get—they’re all pretty damn good, so just pick your favorite(s). We will, however, tell you about all the juicy, fire-grilled meats you can now get …

Premium Center Cut Sirloin: 6oz seasoned with hickory smoked sea salt, topped with parmesan butter.
Dragon Glazed Salmon: Atlantic salmon fillet brushed with sweet and spicy Korean BBQ sauce, topped with mango pico de gallo.
Big Ribs: 30% meatier, bolder, tastier premium pork back ribs, cooked low and slow in house. (The new ribs launched in October and have been a hit.)
Parmesan Crusted Chicken: topped with a white poblano queso and toasted with crispy parmesan bread crumbs.
Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Shrimp: two skewers of three large jumbo shrimp, wrapped in hardwood smoked bacon and brushed with parmesan butter sauce.
14-ounce Bone-In New York Strip: this cut is ridiculously juicy and flavorful … not to be missed. It’ll give some steakhouses a run for their money.

New sides were also recently introduced to accompany these delicious meats—crispy Brussel sprouts, baked mac & cheese and giant onion rings. All of which were equally “souped-up” recently. Their standard mashed potatoes aren’t anything to shy away from, though … they fold in cheese to make them rich and they’re nearly impossible to hold yourself back from eating the whole pile.

The important thing to remember here is your eyes may be hungrier than your stomach, but that’s okay because they have to-go boxes for you to take things home.

Along with the new entree options, they’ve released two new cocktails, the Magic Lemon Drop Martini and their take on a Hurricane. They’ve been making efforts to move their bar to a “clean bar” concept—no fake colors or ingredients, just good, clean, quality ingredients.

The Magic Lemon Drop is cool on many fronts—visually, because of it’s greatly contrasting purple and yellow colors; experientially, because you get to be your own mixologist with the garnish by dropping it in and watching the color change; and Boomerang-worthy, because they use butterfly pea tea extract. The BPT extract is a new, trendy cocktail ingredient that makes a cocktail blue, and then changes color when some ingredients are added—purple with acidic ingredients, pink with a high pH ingredient. Less new, but still a stunner, their take on the traditional hurricane is fresh and delicious, made so partly because of the fresh passion fruit puree they use.

TGIF’s is stepping up it’s game again, y’all.


TGI FRIDAY’S
tgifridays.com
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Moviehouse & Eatery

Long gone are the days of “dinner and a movie”. There’s now a slew of dinner-movie combo experiences available, but my new favorite is Moviehouse & Eatery. It’s one of the newer movie/meal concepts and has locations in Flower Mound, McKinney, and Keller. Here’s why it’s awesome …

For starters, when you walk in, you’re greeting not by the ticket counter, but instead by a full sized bar. (Because that’s the best way to start just about any experience.) IMO, almost anything is made better with a great cocktail. Of the tipples I tried on my last visit to MHE’s McKinney location, the Stormy Weather (Bacardi 8 rum, Malibu rum, lime juice, bitters, ginger ale), was the stand out.

After sipping on your drink, you can head back to your theater and take your reserved seat in their special, fully reclining (oh yes), luxury leather chairs. (In fact, they’re so comfy that, if you weren’t there to watch a movie, I’d say you should take a nap in those bad boys.) Shortly after you sit down, a waiter appears to give you the run down and take your order. The whole menu is delicious (AND they have a brunch M-F 11am-12pm and weekends 11am-2pm!) and much better than one could expect from a movie/eatery. A couple of my favorites are the Big Jake Burger and the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza.

The Big Jake Burger is a fresh-ground steak patty topped with pepper jack cheese, house-made bacon (yus), horseradish aioli, red pepper relish, and bourbon bbq sauce. They serve this bad boy with fries, topped with creamy queso blanco, and a whole pickled jalapeño.

The Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza is house-made ranch dressing with grilled chicken breast and house-made bacon. Then, it’s topped with mozzarella cheese and fresh green onions. I’ll say it … it’s surprisingly good for a pizza with so many qualifiers.

Even if you don’t have any problems eating wheat (like my butthead of a stomach does), you should always end your visit with the warm Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. I promise you won’t even notice there’s no wheat, and they might end up being your favorite cookies ever. I’ve honestly never tasted such delicious cookies before and I’m quite picky about my cookies. So take that GF business and run with it.

People always love seeing movies with family around the holidays, so here’s a list of what’s playing after December 14th so you can plan your ultimate dinner-and-a-show experience:
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Pitch Perfect 3
Father Figures
Downsizing
Ferdinand
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
The Greatest Showman

Moviehouse & Eatery
themoviehouse.com

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
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Truly Spiked and Sparkling

I, like the rest of the world, seemed to be on a La Croix kick this summer. Light, sparkling water with a subtle flavor—sound like the perfect drink for hot weather, right? (And since our fall has been so warm, I’m still guzzling away.) Well, I might have found something even better than La Croix. (For real.)

Truly is not only a really delicious tasting sparkling water … it has an added bonus: alcohol. That’s right, booze. When I first tried, it I knew I wanted to use it as a mixer in my pool and tailgating cocktails, but I tried it on its own to start because, science. (Or something.) I had no idea that I was drinking spiked sparkling water. And this can be a good and bad thing—each Truly is 5% ABV, so be careful!

I am a Moscow Mule lover.
Reason one: they’re easy to make.
Reason two: they’re super refreshing.
I thought this would be the perfect cocktail to make with Truly Colima Lime. And after going through Truly’s website, I found that they had the same idea. I used their recipe to make my cocktail. It turned out really nice—not too sweet and just the right amount of fizz.

6 oz Truly Colima Lime
1 oz Vodka (I used Deep Eddy)
2 oz Ginger Beer (I used Reed’s)
Fresh squeezed lime
Lime slices for garnish

Visit their website for quite a few more Truly cocktail recipes (including ones that will take you into the cooler months).

All flavors of Truly have just 100 calories, 1 gram of sugar, and are naturally gluten-free. Flavors include: Colima Lima, Grapefruit and Pomelo, Pomegranate, Sicilian Blood Orange, Lemon and Yuzu.

 


Truly Spiked and Sparkling
trulyspikedsparkling.com
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#LiveTruly
Find Truly at Target, select grocers, gas stations, and liquor stores, or use their product locator

Disclaimer: I was given samples of Truly Spiked and Sparkling for editorial purposes.

Hennessy Paradis Impérial + Josh Henderson | Made of Precision

Discerning drinkers, rejoice. Well known cognac label Hennessy recently released a new expression, Hennessy Paradis Impérial, an exquisite, ridiculously smooth, and beautifully  balanced liquid in an almost-as-perfectly-crafted vessel.

Hennessy has one of the most extensive collections of eaux de vies (a brandy made from fruits other than grapes) in the world. In 2011, Hennessy 7th Generation Master Blender, Yann Fillioux dipped into the library to craft this recently-released expression, giving only 10 of their 10,000 eaux de vies the chance to be in this beautiful spirit. The ultra-precise selection of eaux de vies along with a unique maturation and blending makes this one of the most beautifully crafted liquids I’ve ever had the chance to try.

Hennessy Paradis Impérial has notes of jasmine and orange blossom with a delicate smokiness. It’s smooth, rich texture makes it almost too easy to sip. And that’s exactly how you’re meant to drink it—sipped neat.

The liquor itself is a work of precision, but the bottle holding it is also a work of art. They commissioned Baccarat designer, Stephanie Balini, to create a unique crystal decanter that’s a take on the traditional Hennessy shape and is finished with an 18-carat gold and silver piece adorning the collar. Since limited bottles were created, each is numbered.

Thanks to the amazing flavor and smoothness, it was easily enjoyed, and so good that we asked for a second (and third) dram.

Hennessy teamed up with Josh Henderson of “The Arrangement” and “Dallas” for the brand’s first global campaign, Made of Precision. To launch the campaign, he joined some lucky media representatives (one of which I was lucky enough to be) at NOBU for a private dinner pairing their amazing sushi and fresh fish with Hennessy Paradis Impérial. Henderson and Hennessy ambassadors spoke about the precision of the spirit and joined us for a delightful dinner.


HENNESSY PARADIS IMÉRIAL
Nose: floral freshness of jasmine and orange blossom blended with the subtle herbal notes of freshly cut grass
Flavor: a fine, light structure. The floral notes of the bouquet are also present in the flavor, tinged with a smoky, spicy accent that leads into a subtle persistence
Color: light amber
Price: ~$2,800/750mL

Images by Clark Cabus Photography

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

Terra Mediterranean Grill

Who loves Mediterranean food? If your hand is up, head to Terra for dinner and drinks. Their food menu is extensive and covers all the basics.

Terra Mediterranean Grill has two great options—a lunch buffet for those of you who aren’t ready to commit to a single dish (or just want to stuff your face) and a traditional dinner menu for those who don’t have a fear of commitment or a binge eating disorder. I personally was not well-versed in Mediterranean food, so I first went to Terra for lunch to try all the things. Once I found my go-to lunch order, I knew I needed to head back for dinner.

I fell in love with on the of the most basic items on the menu—the gyro. I’m telling you, this meat is out of this world good. (Don’t judge me, but I have thought about it more than one time this week. Whatever.) The roasted lamb is cooked to perfection; tender, juicy, and full of flavor. If the meat isn’t enough, the gyro comes with saffron rice and perfectly grilled vegetables.

My favorite appetizer was the Haloumi Cheese. The cheese is grilled and has a salty flavor that compliments the pita bread nicely. It is so buttery-delicious. You can’t go to Terra (or any Mediterranean restaurant, really) and not order the hummus, it’s a must. Their hummus is delicious, light, and creamy, and it goes great with their baked-fresh-daily pita bread. The bread is fluffy and perfectly cooked … and they won’t judge if you ask for more. (I know, because I asked.)

Ok, ok, ok … food food food … now let’s talk drinks. Terra has a full bar and a damn decent wine selection. I tried a few of the cocktails and was not disappointed by any of them. My favorite has to be the house red sangria. Even though it seems simple enough, there are good sangrias and not so good sangrias. I also enjoyed the pineapple mojito. Even better news, both of these drinks are on the happy hour menu (see below). Because drinking and spending less makes them taste that much better. The bartenders are super friendly and know how to make great cocktails.

TERRA MEDITERRANEAN
2973 Crockett Street (Fort Worth)
5910 N. Macarthur Blvd. #121 (Irving)
The Shops at Willow Bend (Plano) – COMING SOON

terramediterranean.com
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Happy Hour
Monday- Thursday 5-7pm
$1 off all beers
$4 off all house wines
$2 off Sangrias
$5 House Margaritas and Mojitos

 

Chef Point Cafe

What would you say if someone asks you to go to a gas station for dinner? Well, Susie asked me to go dinner at a gas station … in Watauga … that Guy Fieri visited … and write about it. (Are you f**king serious? I really thought it was a joke.) But I went.

Chef Point Cafe, located in Watauga at a legit gas station. And I’ll tell you … this restaurant puts the tacos at Fuel City and the BBQ at Buccees to shame. (Hate mail for that comment can be directed to Susie.) It’s a sit-down restaurant about 20 minutes from Fort Worth and 40 minutes from Dallas, and it needs to be on all DFW resident’s bucket list. Drive up and you notice the working gas pumps, walk in and you notice the glass door beverage coolers. Yes, everything still resembles a gas station, until you look around and see the kitchen, the bar, and all the diners enjoying great food and drinks. To top it off, they have a huge, pet-friendly patio.

For starters, you must try the Lobster Mac n Cheese. While it’s on the appetizer menu, I could’ve handled it solo—not because it was small, but because it was that good. It is creamy with the right amount of lobster to compliment the gooey cheesy goodness.

For dinner, I highly recommend the Chicken Pesto Pasta. The chicken is tender and juicy, with just the right amount of seasoning. The pesto sauce was rich and decadent, and complimented the bow tie pasta perfectly. Be warned, the bowl of pasta could’ve fed a family of 4 … but I wasn’t complaining the next day when I ate the leftovers, they were just as good. I also got to try the Better than Sex Fried Chicken. The chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the outside, and full of flavor. (I will withhold my comments about the name.) It was served with a side of country gravy that was perfect for dipping. And, if the appetizer and main course isn’t enough, make sure to try the Bread Pudding. It was like a giant roll soaked in delicious syrup.

If the food isn’t enough, the drinks are literally out of this world— they even have a Northern Lights Margarita to prove it. It’s a frozen margarita layered with a rocks margarita in the colors of the Aurora Borealis. One special touch at Chef Point is the bartender comes to each table to see if you have any questions about their drinks. I also enjoyed the Blackberry Smash which is TX Whiskey, Cointreau, and wildberry syrup. It was a refreshing, summer cocktail that goes down a little too easy! Chef Point has a full bar with a great cocktail menu.

The pièce de résistance that you may just have heard about is their “Bloody Best” Bloody Mary. It includes a double order of their spicy Bloody Mary and accompanied by a 16oz domestic beer and … well, a lot of things. Y’all … this thing has a slider, waffle fries, shrimp, fried chicken, and a hell of a lot of other things on it.

Picture courtesy of Chef Point Cafe

Another fun bit about that sprawling aforementioned dog-friendly patio? You can order something your furry friend from their Doggie Menu featuring things like the Hot Diggity Dog (a hot dog) and the Rover Easy (two scrambled eggs)—all served with brown rice.


Chef Point Cafe
ChefPointCafe.org
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5901 Watauga Road (Watauga)

Daily Drink Specials:
Monday- 4-6pm $4 wells
Tuesday- all day 1/2 price bottles
Wednesday- 4-6pm $3.50 drafts
Thursday- 4-6pm $1 off featured cocktail

Monday – Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm
Friday 11:00am – 10:00pm
Saturday Breakfast 7:00am-11:00am
Saturday 11:00am- 10:00pm
Sunday 10:00am-9:00pm