Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.

We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Beer Review - Ommegang Witte

Ommegang Witte - abv 5.1%

Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown N.Y. is, in my humble opinion, the finest craft brewery in the U.S.  I have not had a single beer from there that I have not absolutley adored. 

Ommegang began as a Belgian style brewery in 1997 and attracted so much attention with the fine ales it produced that it was purchased in 2003 by Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat.  Brouwerij Duvel, which produces Duvel Golden Ale and now, because sales of Ommegang have increased more that Ommegang is able to produce, some of Ommegangs Belgian style ales.  Irony = Belgian style ales originally produced in the U.S. that are produced in Belgium because they are better than many Belgium produced ales.

Ommegang Witte is a wheat ale that produced year around but is particularly suited to summertime quaffing.  It is light on the tongue has more citrus flavor than most, notes of orange, lemon and a background of coriander and a bit sweet.  The hops are distant in the background and give only a hint of bitternes.  The Ommegang website compares the taste of Witte to 'Lemon Chiffon Cake'.  I hate Lemon Chiffon Cake, but I like the beer. 

Try it...try anything that Ommegang makes, you won't be dissappointed.

Brewery Ommegang

656 County Highway 33
Cooperstown NY 13326-9248

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beer Review - Hopfen Weiss

Hopfen Weiss - abv 8.2%

I must admit that my favorite summer brew list is topped by the weisse beers.  Filtered, unfiltered, hefe, weiss, wit, wheat, white, German, Belgian, American....any kind, I don't care.  Their malted barley and lightly carbonnated deliciousness can easily be my main course for a meal on a hot summer day.  My favorite of them all is Schneider Weiss from the G. Schneider and Sons brewery in Munich.  So one day, while munching brats at my favorite german restaurant, I spied a Schneider that I have not seen before....the yellow and blue label standing out among my old standards.  Gotta have it, gimme. 
This bastard son of a bizarre collaboration between Schneider and the Brooklyn Brewery has produced a superb hybrid of Weiss and Bock beers.  The unfiltered yeast bits floating around in the lightly carbonnated brew add to its meatyness, making it a meal in a bottle.It is very rich, very complex and will keep your taste buds interested from beginning to end and covers the high alcohol content so well that I was surprised at my buzz.  The only downside is that it is a bit sweet and leads to a quick case of 'beer mouth'.  Enjoy it while you can.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pub Review - The Libertine Bar

The Libertine Bar

Did you ever go into the Corner Tap on Lower Greenville.  Awful, awful place with awful staff and awful customers, the kind of place you only go once, unless you are an awful person.  So when a friend invited us to join him there to watch a world cup match and have lunch I was hesitant to say the least.  Mother Goose!  Can you say 'transformation'?  Hell, I can!
The Bar is quite linear with a few tables along one wall and a decent sized bar along the other.  The tap selection is quite limited with only 8 selections, but fine selections they are.  (Except for Stella, but at least they didn't have Bud right next to the Stella, which would have been redundant, right?)  Maredsous 8, Old Chub, Brother Thelonious....amazing.  Their bottle selection is also quite impressive with an outstanding selection of Belgians.  By the middle of the second half I was already wondering how I was going to get home, so I decided to order something to eat to try to soak up some of my sinning.  Hallelujah and amen I am so happy I did!  I am not typically a fan up pub grub, which is usually fried stuff that the cooks prepare from giant bags of frozen crap from Sam's.  The sandwiches (good for soaking up quantities of beer) were superb.  Pulled pork with cole slaw served on a panini and a side of golden brown onion rings were just what the doctor ordered.  The barbeque sauce, served on the side, was best left in the container it was brought in however.  The sliced beef sandwich with sliced hanger steak, melted Gruyere and caramelized onions, au jus and horseradish mayo was served with thin, hot, crispy fries, yummmm.  Grilled Cheese with cheddar, american and muenster on farm house style bread, oh my!  Chicken pot pie with a biscuit crust that was so hot that it scorched the tongue.  I was like a hummingbird flitting from plate to plate, wielding my fork like Jack the Ripper on a Saturday night on Harry Hines, my friends shooing me away...begone pest...but I could not stop until I had sobered enough to notice that the match was long over...and Germany had won. 
Damn, missed the ending, but I didn't care.

The Libertine Bar
2101 Greenville Ave

Dallas, TX 75206

Restaurant Review - Caribbean Cafe

Caribbean Cafe

I stumbled across this gem of a restaurant completely by accident, and am so very happy that I did.  The funny thing is that when I saw the sign I thought to myself "mmmmmm.....Jamaican" and whipped in for some jerk chicken.  It is odd that I only associate Caribbean cuisine with Jamaican, because Cuba is also in the Caribbean and with it's own unique cuisine that is every bit delightful but very different from what we think of as Caribbean. 

The restaurant is located in a small, slightly tattered strip mall at the corner of Webb Chapel and Beltline in Carrollton.  However once you enter, you find yourself in a tasteful small cafe that is inviting and clean.  There are only a dozen or so tables along with seating at the full service bar and when filled, creates quite a ruckus.  Service is polite, friendly and efficient, but be aware that this is not a rush, rush, turn the table kind of a place, it is latin style, with latin owners, who believe in leisurely meals that normally take hours so that you may enjoy your meal and conversation.  If you are in a hurry you may be frustrated.

The appetizer selection includes latin staples such as Empenadas (meat stuffed patries), Croquetas (fried rolls of meat and mashed potatoes), Yucca Frita (kind of like a potato, but quite unlike a potato also), Ceviche and my favorite Papa Relleno (a fried, meat filled potato ball) which is a meal in its own right.

The Ropa Vieja (which translates as old clothes....odd) is a shredded, slow cooked beef with onions, green and red peppers in a tomatoe sauce and is served with black beans and rice, which can be had pre-mixed or separate.  Also included are fried plantains that you may have as sweet or maduros style, which reminds me of fried banana chips.  The tomato and slice of avocado served on the side are almost an afterthought and would not be missed if left off.
I would also suggest the Picadillo, which is ground beef, potatoes, olives and onions in a cuban style tomato sauce.  Yummmmmm.

Bistec de Puerco Empanizado is hunks of cooked pork which is then breaded and fried.  Sounds like a chicken fried steak?  No my friends, it is not.  The sauce in an uber garlic mojo sauce that will cause your loved one to cringe for days.  Heck, I needed some alone time anyway.  The dish comes with the ubiquitous black beans and rice, fried yucca and fried plantains. 

The deserts look yummy, but frankly I was so stuffed after the meal that I could not even get down a wafer thin mint.  Perhaps some day......

Having lived near one of the Cuban enclaves in Florida where English is rarely spoken, I can tell you that this restaurant serves authentic, marvellous Cuban dishes that would compare favorably to any in the country.  If you have not tried Cuban cuisine you should go, now, and feast.  Just be ready for some quality alone time.

Caribbean Cafe
1000 Webb Chapel Rd
Carrollton, TX 75006
(972) 418-7071

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Restaurant Review - The Porch

The Porch

"You have to go to the porch!  You have to go to the porch!  You have to go to the porch!" 
I heard it over and over again.  "It is amazing!" they said.
They are idiots.
First of all, the owners of the Porch have decided that reservations are not necessary.  So they give you a buzzer and send you away to wait.....forever.  You can sit at the bar with all of the Park Cities twits, posing and sipping their frou frou drinks and Stella....yech.  Or you can sit outside in the Dallas heat and sweat while you wait..and nothing helps you enjoy a good meal like sweat soaked underoos.  Strike 1.
When you finally get seated, you will find that it is almost impossible to carry on a conversation due to awful acoustics that are only outmatched by the echo chamber called the Macaroni Grill.  Of couse you could sit outside with the flies, uneven floor and clouds of auto exhaust if that is your thing.  It is not mine.
Having been told that the Smoked Ham Mac & Cheese Casserole is the best macaroni and cheese in town, we decided to order it as the appetizer for the table to share.  I must admit, that it was superb.  Large chunks of ham floated in a creamy cheese sauce made with white and yellow cheddar cheese along with cream cheese.  They also add some green tobasco sauce to give it a bit of a kick.  It was delicious, but it was too bad that we were not able to finish it, because just as we finished doling out the goodies our entrees arrived.  My number one pet peave when dining is being rushed through a meal so that the restaurant can turn the table.  So I will repeat, our entrees arrived almost immediately after our appetizer.  Strike 2.

The majority of the table ordered the Flat Iron Steak which was well appreciated as a decent steak and was served with mashed potatoes with jalapeƱo gravy.  The steak sauce was served on the side that looked and tasted much like Heinz 57. 

Always the oddball, I ordered the Braised Short Rib Stroganoff which was panned by the server as "pretty much the signature dish".  When asked if the short ribs were served bone in, our served stated that the meat was hand pulled off the bone and resembled a shredded beef.  Let me describe for you what you will really be served.  Flavorless egg noodles floating in 1/2" of grease.  Cubes of gelatinous meat with no texture that resemble real beef every bit as much as the McRib resembles real ribs.  The dish was one of the worse meals I have ever attempted to eat, and after a few bites I gave up on the attempt.  The server surely noticed that I was not eating this concoction but did not ever ask me, or anyone else at the table, how our meals were(or weren't).  Stike 3.
Terrible meal, awful service.  I will not return.

The Porch
2912 N. Henderson Avenue

Dallas, TX 75206