The Harwood District has given Dallas some of (my) favorite new restaurants and spaces in the last few years—Mercat Bistro, Marie Gabrielle, Magnolias: Sous Le Pont, etc.—so it was surprise to me when I realized I hadn’t yet visited Dolce Riviera when I was invited to a wine pairing dinner there. I couldn’t say no. If it was anything compared to the other restaurants in the district, I was in for a treat. Bottom line: the food, the wine, and the “show” were all incredible.
The wine dinner featuredJackson Family Wines and was led by none other than Julia Jackson herself, daughter of the famed winemaker, Jess Jackson who began the brand in 1974. Each course got an introduction from someone from the restaurant, an overview of the paired wine and a colorful anecdote from Julia, and a step-by-step demonstration by Executive Chef Michele Scarpa.
Jackson Family Wines is a family-owned and operated wine company that owns vineyards, wineries, and brands throughout the world with brands spanning price ranges and various winemaking techniques. They continue to product incredibly wines and push teh envelope when it comes to innovation—both in winemaking and in eco-friendly practices. Well-known US brands include Freemark Abbey, Kendall-Jackson, and La Crema.
The.meal.was.amazing. Each course was beautifully prepared and the paired Jackson Family Wines were exquisite and paired flawlessly. The risotto and Valodorna Supertuscan pairing was, by far, my absolute favorite. I’ve never been much of a risotto fan, but Chef Scarpa’s was life changing. Not kidding. The Supertuscan pairing was perfect as its bold notes of black cherry and spices cut the creaminess and richness of the risotto.
The food at Dolce Riviera is inspired by Chef Scarpa’s roots in southern Italy and dishes are authentic, but with a slight French slant. Everything is made with fresh ingredients from scratch to finish and is beautifully and intricately crafted to not only taste authentic, but to be presented beautifully as well. Dolce Riviera aims for simple, yet elegant.
ANTIPASTO: Half Crispy Quail over Green Asparagus with Quail Eggs and Sauce Mornaise Paired with Cambria Clone 4 Chardonnay (Santa Maria Valley, USA)
CRUDO: Venison Carpaccio with Wild Herbs, Late Radicchio Salad with Dried Apricot and Fresh Red Currant in White Balsamic Dressing Paired with Yangarra Grenache (McLaren Vale, Australia)
PRIMO: Risotto Carnaroli with Pomegranate Paired with Valodorna Supertuscan (Tuscany, Italy)
SECONDO: Veal Tenderloin Rollatino with Truffle Heart, Mix Wild Mushroom Sauce Paired with Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, USA)
Harwood District gives diners incredible opportunities to dine delightfully with various events like these wine dinners, DJ Brunches, and more. Make sure to watch the Harwood District events page and their social channels to be up on all of the offerings coming from the district.
If you’re looking for a new date night idea, or if you’re constantly on the hunt for authentic Italian food (the Northern states have all the luck with that), boy do we have a treat for you.
Antonio Ristorante, nestled away in Addison Circle, will transport you to the Italian countryside with its food, wine, and atmosphere. Classically trained Chef Antonio hails from Calabria, Italy and brings a hint of French cuisine to his tables for their $20 Tasting Tuesdays. Guests are served three lightly-portioned courses and wine pairings for each course. Even better, they’ll send you home with a simple and authentic recipe to try out the dishes in your own kitchen.
Chef Antonio prepares the main dish in front of restaurant goers and explains the recipe over a microphone; a waiter then explains the wine pairing with the notes that are to be experienced. Reservations for upcoming Tasting Tuesdays can be made here.
All of Antonio Ristorante’s food is ordered often to ensure freshness. If a customer especially likes a certain dish, the Chef will take note of their email and phone number to let them know the next time they have that dish. They also offer a few wild game options for the adventurous. Wine bottle prices are 30% cheaper than at other Italian restaurants with bottles starting at $27 – which we all know means you can spend that extra money on more wine.
A new food special will be available soon, and it’s a doozy. Their #LateNightDateNight offers a free pizza with any wine bottle purchase. Coming next week (the week of 5/4) for your date night needs, Thursday through Sunday after 9pm!
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
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.
“I love this place.” That’s the text I sent to Susie as soon as I finished my first dinner experience at CiboDivino Marketplace.
As this was my first event as a Susie Drinks Dallas contributor, I went into it with the belief that there was no such thing as being too prepared, so I brought along a fellow foodie friend (so I could pick his brain) as well as a brand new notebook in which I could take many a note about the dinner. (I was tempted to bring a voice recorder just in case there was a guided tour of the space (which there was), but I decided against alienating strangers with that level of intensity. Yes … I was that kid in school.) Furious writing in my composition book would just have to do. Since the evening was relaxed and enjoyable with great company and delicious food and wine, the note taking was downgraded from excessive to thorough.
The special five-course dinner was hosted by CiboDivino owners, Daniele and Christina Puleo, as well as Executive Chef, Ryan Olmos. I was enthralled by the passion and knowledge that the team has for all aspects of the meal: a fervent dedication to responsibly-sourced ingredients, simple, yet articulate preparation of the food, a thoughtful selection of Italian and Californian wines that are hand-picked by Daniele himself, and the crafting of a space that promotes breaking bread with friends and family. By the time we were done with Daniele’s tour of each unique part of the marketplace and cafe, my appetite was ready to tackle whatever delicious goodies he and Ryan had to offer.
Before food, of course, there was wine (as it should be), and Daniele and Christina were very excited to introduce their new private label Puleo wines, currently available in Pinot Grigio and Chianti varietals. The Pinot Grigio is quite surprising–not as watery as I’m used to with most Pinot Grigios. Puleo’s expression is quite flavorful on the nose with stone fruit notes that round out into flavors of green tea and chamomile. As I would find out, this white wine paired very well with the first three courses of the meal. As for the Puleo Chianti, the wine was ripe with cherry flavors and dark fruits, and had a depth of flavor indicative of a Chianti without veering into a residual bitterness. I enjoyed this red with the meat course as well as with dessert. FUN FACT: all wines at CiboDivino are available for purchase at retail prices and can be opened and enjoyed on-premises at no additional charge. Personally, the option to enjoy a high-quality wine at a restaurant without the usual restaurant markup makes the wine taste that much better.
The appetizer course included a variety of Neopolitan-style pizzas fresh from the wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven (flown in from Italy), quite possibly the most impressive charcuterie board that I have ever seen, and a smoked Tasmanian salmon appetizer bite that I swear encapsulates everything that CiboDivino stands for, which is “divine food.” I sampled two of the flatbread pizzas, one with a classic Margherita preparation and another with fig, arugula, and Gorgonzola cheese. Neopolitan-style is my favorite kind of pizza, and the crust was perfectly crispy on the outside with just the right amount of chew on the inside. While both were delicious, I was partial to the Margherita. (Pretty sure that I could eat a whole pizza in one sitting … I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.)
Can we just take a moment and appreciate this charcuterie board? Have you ever seen one so beautiful? It has three kinds of house cured meats, all smoked in-house: lamb pancetta, brown sugar and Serrano ham, and beef bacon (that’s right, you heard me, BEEF BACON). The lamb pancetta, which was aged for a whopping 70 days, had a soft gaminess to it that I loved, and the beef bacon was something I’ve never experienced before. To call it delicious would be a disservice, and apparently I’m not the only to think so. Ryan told us that it’s hard to keep the beef bacon in the display case because it sells out so fast. It was perfectly savory with a familiar unctuousness that I love about bacon, except it was unmistakably beefy and very satisfying.
The highlight of the appetizer course for me, however, was the smoked Tasmanian salmon bite with cucumber cream, caper berry, and a dusting of espresso. The salmon, also cured and smoked in-house, was a tender and salty punch that was balanced by the cool cucumber cream with a kick of briny freshness from the caper berry, and the espresso dust on top added an earthy note that rounded out all of the flavors. I easily ate five or six, since I clearly don’t understand the concept of an appetizer course. (Whatever.)
Pasta was the star of the second course was the Caserecci alla Norma, served with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and eggplant two ways on pea puree. The dish was light and flavorful, with the pea puree serving as a fresh, delicate sauce that complemented the natural flavors of the fresh vegetables beautifully.
The third course highlighted a different kind of pasta, Fettuccine al Limone. This was my favorite of the two pasta courses; the perfectly al dente ribbons were enveloped in an ethereally light and creamy marscapone cheese with fresh zucchini, leeks, fresh mint, and fragrant lemon zest. The flavors were full and satisfying without being overly filling. (I’m also a huge supporter of lemon on everything, so I loved every bite of this dish.)
Then came the fourth course, the crown jewel, which was brought out on a large wooden meat board. CiboDivino proudly serves 44 FARMS meats, and our group was lucky enough to sample the perfectly seasoned coulotte cuts served alongside caramelized onions and arugula. The marketplace is the only spot in town where you can go in and buy raw cuts of renowned 44 FARMS beef, and they will even grill it for you (free of charge) if you decide you’d like to enjoy your steak at one of the many communal tables inside or on the spacious dog-friendly patio.
Needless to say, by the end of the fourth course, I was stuffed. At this point, I was chastising myself for going HAM on the appetizers. That didn’t stop me from partaking in something sweet, though. For dessert, Daniele and Christina served bite-sized dessert offerings from their cafe. I, close to a food coma, still managed to snag a Raspberry Lavender Truffle, because no matter how full I am, a meal does not feel like it has concluded until I’ve had something sweet. This two-bite flavor bomb was a wonderful ending to an unbelievably delicious meal. The truffle was deeply chocolate with lavender lending an assertive floral note that cut through the richness beautifully.
Everything about dinner at CiboDivino was delightful. The marketplace offers so many unique goods, some of which are available exclusively there. Daniele and Christina, as well as Ryan, were all gracious hosts with evident love and passion for what they’ve created together. It’s rare to meet people who are doing exactly what they love to do, and then for them to do it well, and humbly. It was an honor to be a part of the entire experience. I personally cannot wait to visit again soon.
CiboDivino also has a wrap-around indoor/outdoor bar with 11 local beers and one Italian import beer on draft.
Paciugo gelato is also available at the cafe, along with Lavazza coffee.
Food menus are generally not published on the website, as dishes are determined by the freshest produce available at the farmer’s market on any given day.
The marketplace is open 7 days a week, from 8AM – 10PM daily.
They also host occasional wine and beer dinners and are currently prepping for their one-year anniversary party next month.
Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin (most just call him Chef Eddy), of Bite City Grill, has done it again. He has recently opened Kin Kin Urban Thai in the West 7th development in Fort Worth. The space, previously MK Sushi, has been completely transformed into a modern, clean, comfortable restaurant.
Kin Kin means “eat, eat” or “let’s eat”. Chef Eddy has created a menu of traditional Thai dishes along with American favorites with a Thai twist. Kin Kin has been a way for Chef Eddy to pay homage to his mother as well as the country of Thailand. His mother, Pat, helped create many of the menu items … she used to cook for the Thai royal family and Eddy began his culinary career by learning from her. He spent a month traveling Thailand to help shape the menu at Kin Kin. He says, “Bangkok is one of the most vibrant culinary cities.” So thankfully, he is sharing that with Fort Worth (and soon Dallas).
It was very difficult to choose what to order first because of the great selection, so my strategy was … what would be a great bar snack? (I know you are reading this to find out about the drinks – duh.) If you’re coming to Kin Kin in to hang out and have a drink, order the shrimp chip for a snack. They are this glorious, airy chip that remind me of Cheetos. Who wouldn’t like upscale Cheetos? The pork and shrimp dumplings were delicious, and are served in a traditional bamboo basket with green cabbage and soy sauce. I’m pretty sure I will have this as my meal next time I am there. My other favorite bar snack was the Bangkok shrimp (crispy shrimp, garlic, cilantro, sweet plum sauce). I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on the menu and I give everything I sampled two thumbs up.
Chef Eddy’s brother, Chris, is the mastermind behind the drink menu. The difference between the drinks at Bite City Grill and Kin Kin is the complexity. If you go back and read about the Bite drinks, you will see that they are on the elaborate side and you’re given bitters to control taste. The drinks at Kin Kin are simple and to the point. My favorite cocktail was the Lychee Margarita (tequila, Soho Lychee, fresh lime). Crisp and refreshing, I have admit that my glass was empty before I knew it. If you have never had lychee before, it has a similar taste to a pear or grape and it’s a great combination with the lime of the margarita. I’d say that this is a go-to “summer tasting” drink. The Tom Yum Bloody Mary (lemongrass infused vodka, bloody mary mix, Sriracha) is flavor roller coaster. It’s a fusion of Tom Yum soup and a Bloody Mary.
Kin Kin also did a great job of choosing their beer and whiskey options. The two categories are “Far East” (imported Pacific Asian options) and “Down the Road” (local Texas options) for each list. (P.S. Did you know that Japan is doing some seriously awesome things with whiskey? Yeah … it’s happening.)
The service was amazing from the moment I walked into the front door; everyone was very hospitable and the service was prompt. Parking is easy and convenient and Kin Kin Urban Thai is located right next to the garage entrance (which has free parking – just don’t forget to get your ticket validated before you leave).
Opening Summer 2015: 11661 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75230 Opening April 2015: 3211 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219
Unfortunately, Kin Kin does not have any happy hour specials yet. As the restaurant takes root, that might be an addition for the future. Currently, the only special is for take out ($1 off the price of each item in your order).
BBQ and BYOB; Two acronyms Dallasites get pretty dang excited about.
With a plethora of BBQ heavy hitters in Dallas proper, I’m here to implore you not to forget about a seriously solid purveyor of pig that has been serving Collin County (and wise visitors from beyond) since 1978: Hutchins BBQ. The senior location is located in historic downtown McKinney, and the Hutchins family opened up a secondary Preston Road location in Frisco just last year. And here’s the marvelous thing about the McKinney location: it is, in fact, BYOB. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
I was lucky enough to attend a media dinner at the McKinney location earlier this month. (Thanks, Susie … I’m not trying to squeeze into a wedding dress or anything). Tim Hutchins (GM and son of original owner Roy Hutchins) and co-owner Dustin Blackwell were our gracious hosts for the evening, and their passion for the fine art of smoking copious amounts of meat was evident with every (frequently excessive) bite.
Their BBQ process really is a labor of love. As we stuffed our happy faces, Tim described the 15-17 hour smoking process executed on a daily basis in order to produce the perfectly moist, tender slab of Heaven that is Hutchins’ brisket. The flawlessly executed smoke ring speaks for itself and seemingly doesn’t warrant an explanation, but Tim explained the importance of the wood selection in the smoking process; the Hutchins family uses a one-two punch of oak, followed by pecan. Hutchins uses predominantly Prime grade beef (subject to availability) that is free from hormones or antibiotics.
Let’s talk sausage. Hutchins makes theirs in small batches, using a 50/50 ratio of pork and brisket. Their jalapeño cheese sausage is made with jalapeños procured from a local market. (And for the record, the portion I sampled on this particular evening packed a serious punch of heat.) The ribs, which fell off the bone, were perfectly charred, with a lightly sweet brown sugar glaze. I was surprised that one of the most enjoyable things I sampled all night ended up being the fried catfish. I usually don’t even like catfish, but I felt it was my duty to take at least one bite, for science. Dang, ya’ll! Perfectly crisp, not remotely greasy, with a beautiful cornmeal breading- and most importantly, no trace of that all too familiar “earthy” taste to be found. So, I guess I like catfish now?
If you’re like me, you might suffer from ordering induced anxiety when you first visit an establishment such as Hutchins. (Ya know, one where everything looks, smells, and sounds amazing, and you’re terrified you’re going to miss out on a special snowflake and then see a Foursquare tip after your order that has an off-menu gem that gives you serious FOMO?) Hutchins solves that delicious problem for you, by offering an All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE- hey look, another acronym!) option for just $18.99. As if you might actually have extra space in your abdominal region after you get done sampling allllll tha meatz, that price includes sides (pinto beans, potato salad, green beans, corn, coleslaw, mac n’ cheese, and potato casserole), AND dessert (peach cobbler, banana pudding, soft serve and toppings)! Here’s hoping your post-meal itinerary includes one stop: bed. But, don’t worry: if you aren’t feeling brave (or if you need someone to set limits for you because you are well aware that you are incapable of exercising self-control … not that I can relate to that scenario or anything …) you can certainly order off of the traditional menu (meat plates, et al.).
Since this event was BYOB, Grapevine Brewerywas kind enough to B some B for us. I was excited to try two Grapevine craft beer varieties that were new to me: Sir Williams English Brown Ale and NightWatch Oatmeal Stout. The Sir Williams English Brown Ale (4.9% ABV), as it so happens, was the recipient of the Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal in the English Brown Ale category. One sip, and I understood why. Sir Williams, you are a gentleman and a scholar, with your lovely, roasty malt and your smooth finish. The Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (6.3%) is on the lighter end of the stout spectrum, with a subtly malty chocolate note that feels like it is giving you permission to drink it year round. I’m a fan.
If you’ve ever paid a visit to Plano’s increasingly popular Historic District, chances are you are already familiar with the deliciousness that is Urban Rio. Hopefully, this also means you are well-acquainted with Urban Rio’s breezy, rooftop watering hole, On the Rocks Cantina. In case you’ve been missing out: This “Next-Mex” eatery features inventive menu items influenced by Mexican and Spanish flavors and ingredients from the Rio Grande Valley. Urban Rio places a heavy emphasis on fresh, creative menu items, with scratch-made ingredients (they grind their own corn for their tortillas). On the Rocks Cantina features 14 beer taps (10 of which are craft, including local selections), 8 frozen liquor taps, a creative variety of handcrafted cocktails, and assorted vino.
Even if Urban Rio is heavy in your rotation (as it should be), here is a little tidbit you may not know: Each month, Urban Rio features a five course cocktail pairing dinner, and it’s only $34.90 per person. Let that sink in for a minute. The average price tag of a craft cocktail in Dallas is in the double digits. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further on what a ridiculous deal this is.
I happily attended Urban Rio’s November Fall Cocktail Dinner. The menu was both festive and creative, with some delightfully unexpected offerings thrown in.
The first course paired a decadent Pumpkin Martini with a velvety Butternut Squash Soup. The Pumpkin Martini (spiced rum, pumpkin spice syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, crowned with house-made pumpkin whipped cream) made me feel like I was abusing my grown-up powers and indulging in dessert before dinner; this baby was sinfully creamy and delicious. The Butternut Squash Soup was prepared with a puree of onion and celery, which gave the soup a lovely, smooth texture without being overly rich. This gourd-centric pairing slapped us in the face with autumn-y goodness.
Our second course featured the Berry Breeze cocktail, paired with Berry Jalapeño Shrimp. The Berry Breeze (pear vodka, apple juice, and cranberry juice) was lightly sweet with a lovely pop cranberry. The sweetness of the cocktail was offset by the garlicky shrimp, accompanied by a zesty berry-jalapeño sauce and a strawberry pico.
For the third course, we were treated to a Maple Old Fashioned, paired with Roasted Ham. The Maple Old Fashioned (maple rye whiskey, cranberry bitters) was surprisingly sweet and decadent for a spirit forward cocktail with only two ingredients. The sweet maple flavor paired beautifully with the smokiness of the ham, which was crowned with a zesty maple mustard sauce, served atop creamy leek mashed potatoes.
“Why stop at just one entree?” asked Urban Rio. The fourth course featured the Pecan Dream cocktail, paired with Pecan Crusted Salmon. This pairing was my favorite, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. I heard all kinds of praise songs being sung for the Pecan Dream (house-infused toasted pecan rum, banana, vanilla vodka, walnut liqueur, and sugar). This one-of-a-kind cocktail was reminiscent of delicious banana nut bread. It paired beautifully with the flaky, pecan-crusted salmon, which was prepared with mustard in the crust for just the right amount of contrasting bite to offset the sweetness of the cocktail. Bravo.
Finally, our fifth and final course paired the Chocolate Covered Raspberry, abeer creation, with an indulgent Chocolate Mousse. So, the Chocolate Covered Raspberry (Grapevine Brewery’s Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout with Lindemans Framboise) was technically not a cocktail … but, I am totally OK with this, because it was freaking delicious. Aptly named, the sweet, jammy, raspberry goodness paired perfectly with the rich, creamy chocolate mousse. I don’t usually consider beer when pondering after-dinner libations, but I definitely will going forward. Yum.
To tide you over ’til Urban Rio’s next amazing cocktail dinner in December (scheduled for December 16, at 6:30), the kind folks at the On the Rocks Cantina were kind enough to share a duo of festive holiday drink recipes you can create for yourself, at home.
Cranberry Mule 2 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
Fill copper mug with ice. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with fresh mint. Strain into mug and top with ginger beer (we prefer Gosling’s!). Garnish with fresh cranberry skewer, lime wedge and sprig of fresh mint.
Winter Vixen Cocktail 1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1.5 oz POM pomegranate juice
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Fill the bottom of the champagne flute with pomegranate seeds (about ten). Layer St. Germain and pomegranate juice in the champagne flute and top with champagne.
Urban Rio Cocktail Dinners are hosted on a monthly basis, typically on the third Tuesday of every month (check out their events calendar to confirm future dates and times). Once again, the cost is just $34.90 per person (tax and gratuities not included)- such an amazing deal! Space is always limited, so make your reservation ASAP! For reservations, call 972-543-8911 or email [email protected].
Here are some other noteworthy Urban Rio happenings:
Check out On the Rocks Cantina’s 7 Deals for 7 Days specials, featuring:
Monday- $1 off all beer
Tuesday- $2 off cocktails on the rocks
Wednesday- $3 off Crown and Down
Thursday- $4 frozen drinks
Friday- $5 glasses of wine
Saturday- $6 beer-ritas
Sunday- $7 off bottles of wine
Be sure to check out their events calendar for additional drink specials and live music offerings.
Sister restaurant Urban Crust is pairing with Urban Rio to throw a festive NYE bash at Urban Crust’s Rooftop Event Spot. The “Cocktails and Confetti” NYE party will feature live music from the Josh Goode Band, small bites from Urban Crust, and a cash bar with signature drinks from Urban Rio (credit cards also accepted). Tickets are $50 and will go on sale on December 2. Tickets can be purchased here.
I hear that Urban Rio will be offering a new series of quarterly beer dinners, launching in 2015. Just like the cocktail dinners, the five-course beer dinner will be offered for only $34.90 per person! The inaugural event, featuring Texas beers, take place on March 17, so make your reservations and mark your calendars!
URBAN RIO 1000 E. 14th St. Ste. 100, Plano, TX 75074
Hours of Operation: Open Daily: 11 AM – 2 AM Brunch Menu offered Sat. & Sun. from 11AM – 3PM
I recently had the opportunity to check out Cook Hall’s new fall menu (read about it here). It was basically bomb.com (side note: I was kind of shocked to find that this URL doesn’t seem to be registered…hmm). That being said, I was SUPER excited when Cook Hall generously extended an invitation to check out one of their signature beer dinners! Cook Hall hosts a bi-monthly 5-course beer pairing dinner, with themes ranging from the creative (whiskey versus beer throwdown!), to the educational (i.e., brewery or variety specific pairings). October featured a Spaten Brewing beer dinner. Jackpot.
First, a little about Spaten Brewing Company: They have been around the block a time or two. This Bavarian brewery has been one of the leading exporters of German beer for over a century. Spaten is pretty much committed to kickin’ it old school when it comes to their brewing philosophy; they continue to brew in the tradition of the German Purity Law, circa 1516 (!), decreeing that beer should only be brewed using malt, hops, and water. Shocking revelation that a historic German brewery would do things by the book, I know.
Cook Hall prepared a five-course menu featuring thoughtful and creative beer and food pairings throughout the evening.
We started out sampling Spaten’s Premium Lager (Munich Helles Lager/5.2%). This crisp, balanced lager was notably drinkable, and paved the way for our delicate yet delicious starter, Roasted Beet Salad, served with blue cheese, dried fruits, and nuts. The tender, sweet beets paired nicely with the maltiness of the Lager.
2nd Course brought us Spaten’s Oktoberfest (Marzen/Oktoberfest/5.9%)- one of the sanctioned beers of Oktoberfest Munich (i.e. “THE” Oktoberfest…sorry, Addision/Lake Highlands/McKinney!). This smooth, full-bodied Marzen, with its malty aroma, was slightly bitter yet balanced with hints of caramel. Paired with the creamy, decadent, Butternut Squash Soup with oyster mushrooms, this duo could not have been a more perfect way to welcome fall (Seriously…this soup is everything. Please come try it before it goes away).
3rd Course featured Spaten Franziskaner (Hefeweizen/5.0%), the brewery’s Bavarian wheat beer. Spaten’s hefe is lightly malty with a creamy finish, bringing lovely notes of banana and clove to the table. The Franziskaner paired nicely with our next dish, Gulf Shrimp & Smoked Bacon, with papaya mustard and avocado. The smooth, wheaty finish of the hefe was a match made in Heaven for tangy notes of chili and cumin in the papaya mustard.
4th Course, they brought out the big guns; Spaten Optimator (Doppelbock/7.6%). I love a good doppelbock, and Optimator is about as good as it gets. This sweet, malty offering is heavy-bodied, and features notes of caramel and licorice. It was a rich, indulgent accompaniment for our main course, the Braised Short Rib with ginger and chive spaetzle. Oh man, this was the good stuff. The short rib was fork tender, and the ginger and chive were a lovely, surprising twist on this traditional German noodle dish.
The 5th and final offering was Spaten’s Dunkel (Munich Dunkel Lager/5.5%). This medium-bodied dunkel is lightly sweet and moderately, complex, with caramel and toffee flavors. If you have never enjoyed a thoughtfully selected beer with dessert, you have been missing out, my friends. The Dunkel paired beautifully with Caramel Roasted Pairs, served with brown butter ice cream. Lighter caramel notes from the beer intensified the richer caramel flavors in this dessert dish, and it really worked.
Bravo, Cook Hall. Bravo, Spaten.
Cook Hall beer dinners are hosted on a bi-monthly basis. Each 5 course meal includes one full-sized beer, and tasting sizes of four subsequent beers. The cost is $55 per person (tax & gratuities not included)- a great deal! Presently, the next beer dinner is planned for early December (firm date and menu TBD- check back here for updates). Space is limited, so make your reservation ASAP!