You down with O.E.P.?

Let’s just start with this:  they have a penguin mascot costume that anyone can wear.  Does this bar not already sound like the best place ever?

Hidden a couple doors down from City Tavern and above Dr. Bell’s, all you can see from the street is the door and a sign that reads, “NO COVER, PENGUIN FREE”.  Simply navigate the needless ropes that govern the nonexistent line, ascend the stairs, and you’ve arrived.  The walls are “industrial chic” and the bar is commandingly large for the space with corrugated steel paneling on the front and nets on the ceiling strewn with bras and starfish.  There is just enough patio to sit comfortably with a few friends and watch the madness of downtown below.  There is a pool table, plenty of flatscreen TVs, video games, and a basketball hoop above the bar.

Tim, the “Emperor” as dubbed by his business card, lives up to the name; he’s badass!  This guy knows how to make a bar fun and keep it real (yes, cliche, but it fits here) – he even played “one eyed basketball” with us … and provided the eye patch!  Just don’t ask him where he got the bar’s name.

Their bar specials are the things fun nights are made of: a shot and a big boy for $10.  We had an Irish whiskey that was pretty darn smooth followed up with a Shiner for me and then my usual poison, a vodka water.

Still to come is a full menu of what Tim promises to be great food – I can’t wait to try it!  This bar has so much potential and I’m greatly looking forward to spending more time at the penguin.

Drink strength: 4 Overall: 4.5

O.E. Penguin 
@oepengiun
1404 1/2 Main St. 
(214)744-1393

Specials: 
Monday-Saturday (until 11 p.m.) & Sunday (all day) | $3 wells, domestic bottles, and select drafts

ALWAYS AVAILABLE:  $10 waddles: a tall boy (25 oz. draft beer – all but Blue Moon) and shot (Crown and down) – pictured on right with Cody from Surf’s Up, the bar’s alcoholic of a stuffed animal

oui oui, lee harvey!

This is one place that I would happily drive through a rough neighborhood to get to.  Smack dab in the middle of nowhere south of Dallas, Lee Harvey’s is a neighborhood bar that everyone wants to call his own.  You can smell the fires blazing from three blocks away – it’s definitely one of my favorite smells so I let the wafting scent beam me in.

Picnic tables are spread all over the front yard of the bar guaranteeing that you will never have to stand around at Lee Harvey’s – and it’s a darn good thing because you can’t eat a burger and drink a beer while standing up!  The crowd is SO varied; South Dallas residents, Deep Ellum dwellers, older gentlemen who you can tell have been regulars for years, and the young Dallasites are peppered throughout the bar or outside enjoying the crackling fire and live music.

We were there for birthday drinks on a Tuesday and were delighted to find that there were half price burgers and happy hour drinks all night.  The kitchen closed at 10 so we all placed our orders and grabbed a drink to wait in suspense for our viictuals.  I almost had a heart attack each time I saw a server walk out with a mitt-full of burgers and fries hoping it was my plate of a medium plus burger with jack cheese and 1/2 and 1/2 fries and onion rings.  Long story short: the burger was excellent and the basil aioli was superbly refreshing teamed with my vodka waters.  Take your own smore stuff, though – they are trying to charge $15 for a bag of fixins!

The bar itself has some serious character.  Old beer backlit ads hang around reminding you of every dive bar you’ve seen in movies.  The bartenders are very friendly and eager to serve you or provide you with a suggestion for what to drink.  Don’t bet on a seat inside; there aren’t many booths or barstools and the ones that are there are all but duct taped together.

Take a group of friends and spend some time getting to know South Dallas with the locals – you’ll be glad you’ve found a new watering hole despite the long (and somewhat scary) drive there.

Lee Harvey’s
www.leeharveys.com
1807 Gould Street | (214) 428-1555

Specials:
Monday | all day | $1 tacos
Tuesday | all day | happy hour prices and 1/2 off burgers and fries
Sunday | all day | happy hour

Monday-Friday | 3-7 p.m. | $2.50 wells and domestic bottles

kudos!

If you read my review of Vickery Park last week, you undoubtably can tell that customer service is incredibly important to me when reviewing a bar.  That being said, I have to give props to the owner of Vickery Park for his stellar follow-up.

He contacted me soon after I posted my review to see what he could do to “make up for” my experience.    Not only did he offer to take care of the drinks upon my next visit, but he assured me that he spoke with his staff to make sure they were educated in how to handle the situation more appropriately if it arose again.  While I don’t think I’ll collect on the free drink offer on my next visit to his establishment, I greatly appreciate his olive branch!

Nice work, guy!  🙂

vickery park

Alas, the time has come to write another less-than-positive review – but this one is still nowhere close to as bad as Elbow Room.  I will try to be fair.

Each and every time I drive down Henderson, the patio of Vickery Park calls my name; it’s spacious and usually boasts a decent crowd.  The patio has to be one of the best in Dallas.  While I’ve had drinks here on weekends, this is the first time I’ve really hung out in the bar and spent an evening taking it in.

Our waitress was friendly, sweet, and prompt with our food and drink.  The food was really good and was a little bit too fancy for it to be classified as typical bar food.  It just so happened that Mondays are buy one sandwich, get one free – what a deal!  The atmosphere is incredibly laid back and the music is great.  The owner (who works behind the bar, also) loads her iPod up with her favorites and presses play.

However, they apparently do not go by, nor teach their staff, the familiar adage, “The customer is always right.”  At the end of our meal and after a couple rounds of birthday shots, our checks came and we were nearly positive that we had less drinks than were billed.  We asked our waitress and she was incredibly defensive while we were quite calm – whether we were wrong or right, the proper response for someone in the service industry would be, “I apologize for the confusion, let me look into it at the bar.”

She got the owner/bartender involved and she wasn’t any more helpful than the waitress.  At least appease the customer by being nice and not by listing your credentials or telling them they shouldn’t argue two drinks because they already got something else for free (mind you: it was buy one, get one free sandwich night).

Once again, whether I was wrong or right, there is no need to be nasty to a customer.  I paid for the extra drinks mainly because I didn’t want to fight with the staff anymore … but let’s just say, if we had all the drinks we were billed for, we may have at least gotten a buzz.

Even with the bad taste the small tiff left in my mouth, I will be back to Vickery Park to try the all you can eat mussels and relax on their porch (the mussels are meant to be some of the best in the city!).

Drink strength: 2.5 
Overall: 3.7 (I give them this many merely for the food and atmosphere)

Vickery Park
www.vickeryparkbar.com
Dallas location: 2810 North Henderson Avenue | (214) 827-1433 
Plano location: 1011 East 15th Street | (972) 423-6205

Specials:
Monday | buy one sandwich, get one free
Tuesday | all you can eat mussels for $15
Wednesday | 1/2 price bottles of wine when you order a cheese plate or a large order of mussels

Monday-Friday | 4-7 p.m. | $1 off domestics, wells, and drafts
Saturday & Sunday | 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | $10 carafes of mimosas, bloody marys, and sangria

research this

Incredibly hungover, I slung myself out of bed to vacate my house for a showing that was to arrive within the hour (p.s. shameless plug: if you’re looking for a townhouse in University Park – I have one for sale!).  Luckily, I had a brunch at R+D Cafe to occupy my mind and motivate me to get dressed despite my pounding headache (I had forgotten to take The Hangover Cure again … you’d think I’d learn).

Upon arrival, we had a reservation and actually had to wait (that’s a good sign – follow the crowd to the good food, right?).  Looking around, I was reminded of the incredible meals I’d had in this restaurant on previous occasions and my stomach grumbled, begging for the gastronomic orgasm that it knew was imminent.  Any restaurant by the developers of Houston’s is worth it’s weight (in drinks).

Sitting down, drinks were ordered to serve as the hair of the dog – we were delighted that there were drink specials for brunch.  I ordered a bloody mary and sat back in anticipation.  When the drinks came … well, to say the least it was an expectation hangover.  Their bloody mary tasted like cocktail sauce with a touch of clam and was pretty thin and had big chunks of peppercorn.  Usually, a little clam juice is fine, but this just wasn’t right.  The waitress told us that they make their own BM mix … and that answered my question.  I ordered a screwdriver and the waitress was nice enough to take the offending drink off the bill.

All of the other drinks we ordered were delightful and strong enough to make a difference.  The food was fantastic as was expected.  Definitely try some of their mango sushi and the dips – the meals are large so be prepared to roll yourself to your car after a meal.  Watch how much you order, it adds up quickly.

The atmosphere is very older Park Cities mixed with the more laid-back and obviously hungover young Dallasites.  The decore of Cafe R+D is delightful – modern and clean and has just the right amount of pretension.

Sadly there isn’t a happy hour here, but they are “researching” a new strategy: any alcoholic drink that comes in a regular glass is $8 and anything in a martini glass is $9.  I can’t decide how I feel about that but … it is what it is.

Drink strength: 3
Overall: 4

R+D Kitchen (or Cafe R+D)
www.hillstone.com
8314 Preston Center Plaza Drive | 214-890-7900

Specials:

ALL DAY EVERY DAY | $8 all drinks, $9 martinis
Saturday & Sunday | til 4 p.m. | $4 bloody mary, mimosa, greyhounds, and screwdrivers

Susie knows all things boozy …