Table 13

IMG_1669_Fotor_CollageI’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan.  Like … huge.  While it’s just a coincidence that his drink of choice (three fingers of Jack Daniels, 4 ice cubes, and a splash of water) is one of my favorites, I prefer some of the other classic cocktails that Frank and the rest of the Rat Pack enjoyed … which is exactly what Table 13 in Addison offers.

My girl Oh Hey Dallas was invited out to Table 13 to try out some of their food offerings, and she was nice enough to let me tag along.  I am so glad that I was able to do so, because I’ve found a new date spot.

Table 13 is named after the number of members of the Rat Pack* (including the ladies), and offers some of the trappings of the time, from a crooner at the piano to throwback desserts to some of the best service I’ve experienced in a while.  We started our evening with a cocktail (obviously) and it was a struggle to choose which as they had so many that appealed to me.  I let our waiter choose my first drink (as I enjoy seeing what they decide to serve) and he chose very well.  The Ryes Up was a nice take on an Old Fashioned without being too traditional. I’ll be ordering this baby again.

We dined (but didn’t wine) on some of the most gorgeous deviled eggs I’ve laid eyes on, escargot (yes … snails) with fluffy pastry nestled on top like a little hat, and a buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad that knocked my sandals off. (Fried capers are a revelation.)  These delicious appetizers were accompanied by Bartender Dave’s award-winning Manhattan.  Dave’s Manhattan was anything but the classic recipe and had the perfect touch of cherry flavor (Woodford Reserve, sweet & dry vermouths, Pechauds, Laphroig, cherry juice, and Frangelico).  Don’t try to make this yourself … just visit Dave.

Dinner for me was a 6oz Filet au poivre and a custom drink made by Dave and sides of mushroom bucatini and onion rings.  While many may not have the same appreciation as he and I do for huckleberry, the drink he whipped up can be enjoyed by all.  Not too sweet and pretty damn potent, the huckleberry vodka used is the only think like it in Dallas (that I’ve found at least).

Some highlights:

  • The perfect ambiance for a date night — make sure you dress appropriately and are prepared for it to be a bit loud
  • Potent and flavorful drinks, just like the Rat Pack would have liked
  • Incredibly nightly entertainment that isn’t too loud or disruptive (some nights they bring in acts like Hunter Sullivan, Ricki Derek, and Goga)
  • One of the owners, Mike McRae, is a restaurant pro and a flat out friendly guy that will charm your socks off
  • Impeccable and friendly service from a staff who knows exactly what they’re doing
  • Art of naked ladies allllll around the restaurant
  • A bathroom that smells better than any bathroom I’ve ever smelled (seriously … buy one of the candles they sell at the hostess stand)
  • Martinis are $3 during lunch (11am-4pm weekdays)
  • Plastic drink ornaments that have a great story behind them (Mike told us that he remembers visiting his uncle and they’d go to the country club where he would order drinks that had monkeys on them)
  • A vast and well thought-out wine selection (bottles $30-375, selections from California, Texas, and beyond)
  • Dave behind the bar is not only a sommelier, but also a cicerone

TABLE 13 | Table13Addison
4812 Belt Line Rd, Addison
(972) 789-9558

HAPPY HOUR ~ 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
LIQUID LUNCH ~ $3 Martinis 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays

***This delicious meal was on the house.***

LYFT Energy Stir Sticks

written by William Merkel

I drink a lot of energy drinks. (Like … a lot. I may or may not have written this review with a Monster in front of me and a Monster box on my head.) So I was the natural choice to review LYFT Energy Stir Sticks.

The idea behind LYFT is simple. Put powdered caffeine in a stick that can be stirred into any drink imaginable to give it an extra little kick of energy. But this isn’t just your regular “run-of-the-mill” caffeine that can be found in sodas, no sir. This is “clean caffeine”. It has zero calories, and is made from green coffee bean extract with vitamins A and B complex.

Depending on what drink you stir LYFT in to, the taste will vary. Their website gives some examples such as orange juice, water, soda (which already has caffeine save for a few root beers, caffeine free, etc), mixed drinks, or how I personally tried it, on the rocks.

Now, I may have chosen a bit of a strong drink to put it in … I used Mount Gay Barbados Rum and followed the directions on the stick: remove label, stir for 10 seconds. The claim is caffeine equivalent to one tall coffee, but not being a coffee drinker, I cannot attest to that fact. It did, however, give the rum a subtle, slightly sweeter taste which was unexpected. As for an energy boost, I did not feel anything. (Again, I drink multiple energy drinks each day, so I wasn’t surprised.)

Since there were two sticks in the package I decided to have another go. I used the second stick in a bottle of Seven Water and, in this, it did have a noticeably different taste. It was sweater, and a bit cleaner aftertaste. A lot different that my experience with rum, and it did give a little caffeine buzz, but still nothing too drastic.

Personally I think LYFT would be best enjoyed in water or a juice, something other than an alcoholic beverage which would overpower the the amount of caffeine in the stick. I can definitely see myself buying a couple more of these to put in juices or maybe coconut water to mix up my morning routine.

Instagram: purelyft
Twitter: purelyft | #purelyft  #cleancaffeine

Product Review: Savino

Life’s a bitch sometimes, from work angst to sleep deprivation to general stress.  Which means … sometimes you just need a glass of wine at the end of the day.  (Read: a glass, not a bottle … I’m not an alcoholic. (Promise.))  You get home, pop the cork of your favorite house wine (a couple of my favorites that I try to have on-hand are Ménage à Trois red blend and Francis Coppola Claret), have a glass, and then you’re faced with the conundrum: do I keep drinking and therefore ruin any chances I have of working out in the morning and perpetuate the fat-girl cycle, or do I put a cork in it and have a less-delicious glass tomorrow?

Here’s your solution: Savino.  This handy little lifesaver will keep your wine decently fresh for (as I tasted) about 6 days.  Which means: no more bottle waste guilt keeping you from your morning run.


Savino is a decanter with a seal and floater with 15 years of research behind it.  The floater remains in the  decanter (even while pouring), and I’m not sure why, but it seems to work … so I won’t ask questions.  They suggest keeping the Savino in the fridge, which, for some, might be a turn off.  (Cold reds aren’t my favorite, but I let it sit for a few minutes before drinking it and it wasn’t too off-putting.)

It comes in glass or plastic, made from high quality Flint Glass and BPA FreeTritan (respectively).  The plastic version even offers a locking lid.  Both hold a standard bottle of wine (750ml), are dishwasher safe, and fit in most refrigerators.  (For you outdoor concert-goers, the plastic one is the perfect solution to keeping bugs out of your wine!)  Oh, and it’s pretty sexy-looking.

Generally, the product is a great solution to wasted wine.  For $29.95 for the plastic “Enthusiast” version, or $59.95 for the glass “Connoisseur” version, it’ll help cut your wine costs … and the cost of buying a new wardrobe to fit your muffin top in.

Order online
$29.95 or $59.95 (free shipping)

Rock and Roll

So … we all remember the old Hard Rock Cafe on McKinney Avenue.  Whether it was for a work party or a frat party, we all have a memory (albeit a blurry one) of the glory days.  You can either visit the cracked stars that remain on McKinney’s sidewalk and stare at the empty lot, or you can get your happy ass  to Victory Park to relive some of those memories (without the Sharpie Xs on your hands) at the new location.  The Hard Rock is alive and kicking … and it’s kicking hard.  From a refreshed food menu (28 of their items were modified and 30 new ones added) to creative cocktails, they’ve revamped some things (and not just on the menu).

Lest you think the life of a blogger is easy, I’ll tell you that we were served samples of 4 appetizers, 8 entrees, 3 desserts, and 7 different drinks.  (Yeah … life is tough.  Try finding an outfit that allows for the gluttony.)  We were given some of their revamped offerings, from steaks to salads, and then some old standards like nachos and (ermegerd) spicy hot wings.

Obviously, I was most concerned with the (ahem, 7) drinks we were given.  (Can you believe that?)  They all have interesting names, from the Big Kablue-na to the Air Mexico and the Magical Mystery Tour.  Most names are rock-and-roll colloquialisms, but then there’s the hurricane … oh, the hurricane.  Their flavors are just about as rock-and-roll as the names.  (Let’s just say that they make a rock concert in your mouth.)  Most were quite sweet, and I would have loved more whiskey all up in there, but of the ones we tried, here were my favorites:

– Magical Mystery Tour | this is a delicious gin situation which will be the first I order upon my return

– Twist and Shout | three words: ice cream, alcohol, bacon.  Need I say more?

– Air Mexico | I really don’t like margaritas, but I enjoyed that I was able to pick from six flavors of margaritas, including blueberry, pomegranate, and watermelon, and that they serve it with a little snack of chips and salsa.  (Because I don’t know what it is, but alcohol has something in it that makes me want to eat all the things.)

The cafe offers a full bar, 12 draft beers (including Franconia & St. Arnold), and wines by the glass and bottle.  Drinks are surprisingly well priced with some of the 24oz signature drinks ringing in at just $14.99 (including souvenir cup).  They offer live music on Wednesdays, along with monthly themed drag brunches (you read that right).

t/i: @hardrockdallas | | #thisishardrock
2211 N Houston St. (Victory Park) | (469) 341-7625

Happy Hour Specials: Monday through Friday, 3-7pm

***I was invited in to try some of their refreshed offerings.***

Cliff’s Landing

It’s a sad day for Dallas … The Loon is closing after 22 years of incredibly successful business in Uptown.

The crowd today is huge, with Loon owner, Cliff’s, regulars to young’s with the goal of getting drunk and no idea why today is important. Cliff, of course, is holding court at his regular table.

I have the only remaining Loon gear sitting in front of me as some food items are sold out. Who thought we’d ever see the day?

Don’t Be a Square, Check out Full Circle Tavern

Last night I attended Full Circle Tavern’s cleverly named “360° One-Year Anniversary” party down in the Cedars area. Owners and winners of Food Network’s “Food Court Wars”, Lara Whittington and Jennifer Bonner, celebrated with an 80s cover band, prize giveaways and 360° drink and food specials, including $3.60 Stoli drinks, $3.60 Brooklyn Lager beers and $3.60 Full Circle sliders.

I arrived right after 5pm when the festivities were scheduled to kick off. They were still setting up the band and I couldn’t really tell if the event had started yet. Nevertheless, I grabbed a seat outside on their patio, which was very pleasant on a beautiful spring day.

I had a great server, Tamara, who was friendly and attentive. Even though I don’t normally drink vodka before sundown, I ordered one of my favorite vodka cocktails—Stoli Blueberry with soda and a splash of cranberry. I also ordered the Cheese Curds, a first for me. While I waited, Tamara brought me a bowl of their homemade chips, which was a nice touch. My cocktail was nice and strong and was delivered quickly, which was appreciated as I was parched. The cheese curds were, as promised, very tasty but I’m not a huge fried foodie, so I only had few. I was intrigued by their menu, which is pretty extensive and includes several gluten-free substitutions/options, (which I greatly appreciate since my husband has a gluten allergy).

In my opinion, Full Circle Tavern just makes sense. It’s located in South Side/the Cedars in the same complex as Bill’s Records and is next door to the NYLO hotel and down the street from Gilley’s.

Full Circle Tavern is comfortable, friendly neighborhood spot with what I found to be great people watching. It seems like a perfect spot for NYLO guests and South Side on Lamar or The Beat residents to kick back and enjoy happy hour or a lazy Sunday. Since it’s not close to my neighborhood, I might not necessarily go out of my way to return unless I have something going on down in that area, but when I do, what better place to grab a cocktail and fill up on some carbs before a concert than Full Circle Tavern?

Full Circle Tavern
1319 South Lamar Street
Dallas, Texas 75215

Happy Hours (as of 5/20/14)

  • Tuesday – Thursday (11:00 am – 10:00 pm)
  • Friday – Saturday (11:00 am – 12:00 am)
  • Sundays (11:00 am – 4:00 pm)

Kitchen closes 1 hour prior to closing times

TGI Friday’s

Last Monday, the bf and I made the trek to Allen to visit every hunter’s Mecca (Cabela’s, of course), and were faced with the nearly unsurmountable decision of deciding where to eat on the way back.  We agreed on TGI Friday’s on 75 at Park, bedded down at the bar, and ordered a couple of drinks.

TGI Friday’s debuted a new menu on May 14. Some new food items (of course), but some great new cocktail offerings make new menu.  I had the chance to try the new offerings at Little Fridays during my brand immersion last month, and there some good stuff there.

I started with the Grey Goose Cooler (Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, cane sugar, peach purée, fresh basil, lime, and Sprite), and it was the perfect drink to enjoy on a balmy summer night.  I’ll be using the recipe myself if I can only summon the energy to put as much effort into it as the TGIF bartenders!  For the most part, their drinks aren’t too strong, but they are well balanced and the ingredients really shine.

We ordered a couple appetizers and dinner (yes, we left full and with plenty of leftovers), which had to include their newly revamped Broccoli Cheese Soup.  I had the Spice Craft Beer-Cheese Burger, which was pretty damn delicious, from the perfect pink center to the drippy beer-cheese sauce and fried jalapeños.

My second drink (that, quite honestly, packed enough punch that it was my last) was the Peach Honey Smash (Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, fresh mint, peach purée, citrus juices, and a peach slice).  It’s on the new menu, and teeeeechnically wasn’t available yet, but I convinced our bartender, Nick, to make it for me.  It was … delicious.  I do love my bourbon, and this was delightfully full of it.  They serve some of their drinks over pellet ice, which any Texan simply calls “Sonic Ice”, and I kind of love that.

We were treated to a few of Nick’s bottle tricks (aka “flair”), which weren’t too shabby.  (Stay tuned for a peek at my tricks soon!)  If you want to see some serious bartending skills, TGI Friday’s holds the World Bartending Championship competition each year around February, which starts on the store level.  Check your local TGIF to see when theirs will be held.  (The store at Park & 75’s event is on June 12.)

***This is a sponsored post and part of my TGI Fridays Embassadors program.****

So about six years ago, I published a list of happy hours around Dallas for my friends to use … and I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts on local watering holes and general cocktail lifestyle ephemera since.  It has been a (really) fun hobby that occupies some nights and gives me something constructive to do with my free time.  Recently, I was invited to be a Brand Ambassador for TGI Fridays and happily accepted the new challenge.  Last week, the ambassadors were brought to DFW from across the US for our brand immersion.  Other bloggers in attendance write about everything from general “mommy” lifestyle to DIY projects.  Also, I was surprised to learn that, of the eight bloggers, I am the only one who doesn’t blog full-time. (Must be nice!)

We arrived at the NYLO Plano for our overnight and were immediately taken to the Park & Preston Fridays to try some current menu items. (Have you tried the Potato Skins lately? Uhhh yum.)  TGIF is updating its recipes and doing away with preservatives and nasty stuff, so look forward to some cleaner eating when you visit.  The drinks ranged from cotton candy martinis to bourbon cocktails, and there was really something for everyone.  (But mostly everything for me.)

TGI Fridays actually holds a special place in my heart.  When I was very young, my dad worked in NOLA during the weeks and flew home for the weekends.  On Fridays, my mom would take me and my sister to have a cup of Broccoli Cheese Soup, and when we got home, our dad would be waiting.  I had a cup of soup, and while the recipe has been updated a bit (for the better), it took me back.

After our all-too-large meal, we went to see Emerald City at Cool Thursdays at the Arboretum.  (Cool Thursdays just happens to be one of my favorite events in Dallas!)  Everyone else went to bed when we returned from the concert, but, being who I am, decided to haunt the hotel bar for just one drink. (Really, it was just one.)

Day Two of our brand immersion started entirely too early, but I I did my best to be upbeat since I’m not much of a morning person.  We were taken to TGI Fridays corporate headquarters in Carrollton, which, just like the brand, is going through a slight refresh.  We heard all about the new brand inspiration and got a tour of the facility, ended with a visit to Little Fridays, the small test-restaurant in their offices.  (Did you know that Fridays hosted the first official “happy hour” at one of their restaurants in NYC?  Even more reason to love them.)

Our visit to Little Fridays was a blast.  We met the company’s head chefs (and bartenders) who are leading their menu refresh, and they seemed so proud of what they’ve done to update their offerings.  We were given the chance to try many (many) new items that will launch May 14, from their new and improved chicken fingers to steak, and of course, a whole bunch of delicious new drinks.  As previously mentioned, Fridays is ensuring higher quality in all of its products, with less preservatives and more … well deliciousness.  (When the Double Berry Mojito debuts … make sure you try it.  It’s just good.)

Perhaps the highlight of the Little Fridays experience was learning some bottle tricks from Katie Livezey, one of the finalists in Fridays’ World Bartending Championship, held every year since 1987 to find the best Fridays bartender throughout the world.  Katie not only mixed our drinks that day, but was patient and taught me a few beginner tricks.  (I was alright, but do need some serious practice.)

So, stay tuned for updates on new offerings from Fridays over the next year, and feel free to ask any questions about my new association!