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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beer Review - Arrogant Bastard Ale

Arrogant Bastard Ale - 7.2% ABV

The first time I tasted this ale I was so overwhelmed that I just sat and stared at the glass, slowly blinking, waiting for death.  'Surely' I thought, 'I have just sipped from a vat of left over chemicals, meant to destroy jungle in Vietnam'.  I survived, but was never to be the same person again.

This is one of the most in your face beers I have ever tried.  The Stone brewing company call it "an aggressive beer".  Yeah, aggressive like a Grizzly Bear, crossbred with a rabid Wolverine, and trained by Michael Vick. 

The ale is clear brown with with a persistant head, medium carbonation and has a lightly floral smell, with no hint at all of the explosion of flavor to come.  Every part of this beer is over the top; huge hops, massive malts and an underlying dryness .... juniper?  The most unexpected part of all is that the ale is quite balanced, with the hops winning out and after you recover from that first sip, you realize that it is quite delicious and quite drinkable.  Casual beer drinkers will not be able to finish a pint of ABA, but if you are serious about your suds, this one is a very special treat.

Stone Brewing Company
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beer Review - Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Peroni Nastro Azzurro - ABV 5.1%

Nastro Azzurro must be Italian for Nasty Ass....because that is what this swill reminds me of.  Gaaaackkk..this skunky swamp water will never cross my lips again.  Nuff said.

Birra Peroni Industriale S.p.A.
via R. Birolli, 8
Roma, 00155

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beer Review - Belhaven Scottish Ale

Belhaven Scottish Ale - 3.9% & 5.2% ABV

The Belhaven Brewery began brewing ales for commercial purposes in Dunbar, Scotland in 1719.  That, my friends, means that they have had nearly 300 years to perfect their recipe, and perfect it they have.  Family owned and operated until 1972 when it was finally taken into the corporate world, changed ownership a few times and finally ended up in the hands of Greene King, out of England, which has been brewing for a paultry 200 years or so themselves.  Thankfully Greene King also produces some fine beers and their best known brand sold in the U.S. is probably Old Speckled Hen.
The first thing that you will notice when you are having a pint drawn for you is that much like Guinness, it looks as if you are being poured a glass of milk.  This is due to the fact that the beer is nitrogen infused instead of carbonated and gives the ale a smooth, creamy texture.  The nitrogen rapidly disapates leaving a clear, ruby tinted, brown ale with a persistent, off-white, creamy head.  Malts and hops are perfectly balanced and you will notice a slightly earthy undertone, not unlike that of scotch whisky, along with a hint of sweetness.

Let me assure you that you will not find a more drinkable ale on the market today.  The incredibly balanced flavor and smooth texture make this the finest day-to-day ale you will likley ever try and is perfect for every season.  It is the brew of choice stocked in my refrigerator and is quite likely to remain that way for a very long time.

The Belhaven Group
Spott Road
Dunbar, East Lothian
EH42 1RS

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Restaurant Review - Mike Anderson's BBQ

Mike Anderson's BBQ

A true Barbeque aficionado will travel great distances for great Barbeque.  Swallow at the Hollow in Roswell, GA, Dreamland Bar-b-que in Tuscaloosa, AL, Interstate Barbeque in Memphis Tennessee, McClard's Bar-B-Q Restaurant in Hot Springs, Ar, Ball's BBQ in McAlester, OK......none are too distant for those who dream of tearing apart smoky, savory meat in a carnivorous rampage.  We don't care if it is BBQ, Bar-B-Que or Barbeque...we don't care if it is beef, pork or even turkey, we love it all!  Of course, here in Texas you will always find a goober who will poo-poo anything but brisket, but they are poor, misguided souls who have fallen for the propoganda of the 'real' Texas mystique.

It has always confounded me that Dallas, the face of Texas worldwide, has such crappy barbeque, the national food of Texas.  Now don't get you panties in a bunch just yet, let me finish.  Regardless of what the windbags tell you, the barbeque experience is not just about the is the meat, the sauce, the sides and even the restaurant itself.  You will find shining examples of each of those in different locations around the city, but until now, I had never experienced it all in one location.

Now typically, I cannot stand to repeat dining experiences.  One day here, another day there, across town the next, but I have eaten at Mike Anderson's 3 times in 2 weeks...a record I think.  And I have gorged on almost everything on the menu and have found few faults.  Once you have navigated the line and memorized the menu posted on the wall, you will finally arrive at the serving station, where the first person you will see will be Mike, carving up either brisket, pulled pork, turkey, hot links, or.....and asking you if you want a potato with your meat (or meats) or if you would like to cruise the sides.  Trust me, cruise the sides.  Those wonderful, flavorful, fattening sides. 

The brisket is tender and lean and has just enough fat left on to keep it from being dry.  Big, meaty ribs are perfect for rib fans.  The pulled pork is as tender and moist as any you will get in the southeast.  The sausages were probably the weakest items of the meat portion the menu, but still pretty good.  Of couse you will want to try the 2 or 3 meat plate of your first try which comes with 2 sides and a slice of toast.  The sauce is served on the side, as it should be.  *Hint - try the Jalepeno sauce located on the pickle bar at the end of the line for added stomach lining damage.

I strongly suggest the Sloppy Mike which is a version of  a Sloppy Joe that will have you singing Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire.  Or perhaps you are not so hungry and just want a potato?  Holy Mutant Spud Batman!  The Monster BBQ Baked Potato comes with the meat of your choice as well as all of the normal evil...butter, cheese, sour cream, etc, and it is as big as the frigging plate!  There is a version with double the meat that is just too much to comprehend.

The sides are the boost that lifts Mike Anderson's up above the rest.  There are several types of beans for you to enjoy as well as several potato styles...the Garlic and Cheddar Smashed Potatos are the best of the lot.  The 'most likely to cause a coronary' of the sides is an artery clogger called Cheezy Cornbake.  Cornbread with sweet corn, grilled sweet onion & poblano peppers. To that they add sour cream and bake it on a mound of cheddar cheese.  Good thing they are next to a hospital.

Mike Anderson's BBQ is located on Harry Hines between Inwood Road and Medical District Drive with the big, shiny hospitals on one side and the barrio on the other.  You can be sure that you have found it by the line of salivating patrons stretching out of the front door and through the parking lot.

Mike Anderson's BBQ
5410 Harry Hines Boulevard
Dallas, Texas 75235
Tel. (214) 630-0735

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beer Review - Pike Naughty Nellie

Naugthy Nellie Golden Ale - 4.7% ABV

If you have not made the trip to the Northwest I would suggest a the winter.  "Do what now?"  you ask, "Don't they have really sucky weather in Seattle in the winter".  Exactly.  There are 71 active breweries in Washington and more than 50 of those are in Seattle. That's right Beavis, more twice the number of breweries in Seattle than in the state of Texas.  You can stagger from brewery to brewery, sampling and enjoying so much beer that you will not remember a thing about your I did.  Of course you are going to want to visit some of the touristy areas while you are there, like the Pikes Place Market (you know, the place where they fling the fish).  And lo and behold, there is a great little brewery there named The Pike Brewing Company with several fine brews that is the perfect spot to imbibe and b.s. and will easily take up most of your day.  Dandy place with a great view of the harbor, located in the former quarters of the infamous LaSalle Hotel, a house of ill repute that was run by Nellie Curtis, for which the Naughty Nellie Golden Ale was named.  There is a joke in there somewhere that I will let you make.
It is a fact that west coast brews are hoppy.  Some are really, really hoppy and some not so much, but typically more so than the rest of the nations brews.  This one is one of the latter beers.  As a matter of fact, this is one of the finest english style golden ales that you will try.  It is beautiful, clear with a gold color and a mildy flower nose.  Crisp and refresting with soft malts (organic malts in fact) and just enough hops to make it interesting.  Still wasting your time drinking Stella?  You really should try this as an option, it actually has flavor.  Perfect for summer.....or a day spent in a pub on a rainy day in Seattle.

The Pike Brewing Company
1415 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98105-2017
Telephone (206) 622-6044

Monday, August 2, 2010

Restaurant Review - Smoke (brunch)

Smoke - Brunch

I have to admit that I am not overly fond of breakfast food.  The way eggs look, smell, feel and taste literally puts my gag reflex in overdrive and, in case you haven't noticed, eggs are an integral part of your typical breakfast.  So, I travel where I must to find a breakfast/brunch with a menu selection that does not initiate a technicolor yawn. 
Smoke, my latest attempt at avoiding embryo, is located in Oak Cliff in the hip Belmont Hotel.  As the name hints, the hook is that all the foods are smoked, or smoke flavored, added to mostly locally sourced, fresh ingredients.  The menu has several options that look promising.

The Smoked Brisket Cornbread Hash has brisket, cornbread and potatoes along with poached egg, green chili rajas and pearl onions...wait...poached egg?  Damn.  My dining companion raved about how delicious it was however, and devoured it with much gusto.

Handmade Biscuits and Spicy Sausage Gravy & Fresh Fruit contained no eggs and coincidentally, the biscuits contained no moisture.  Luckily, the delicious gravy was there to make these hocky pucks consumable.  Never had BBQ sauce in gravy before....not sure I will again, but it was interesting to say the least.  You have the option of adding a sausage side, either chicken patty, pork andouille or beef paprika/fennel seed.  At the servers suggestion I chose the chicken patty which had a satisfying spicy kick, but oddly, almost no flavor other than the spicyness.

Vegetarians may (and did on this occasion) chose the Heavy Handed Blueberry & House Made Ricotta Cheese Pancakes with Vanilla Poached Apricots and Cream.  You have to give it to the creators of the menu for smoke, the food is named what it is and I don't have to guess what a Rooty Tooty Fresh N' Fruity is.  The pancakes were really like cakes, 4" x 1.5" of tasty goodness.  Dense, creamy and filling....and containing a piece of wire.  The staff was completely stumped by that one and then asked if we wanted a replacement.  No genius, I was hoping find what is attached to the other end of the wire.
All in all not a bad meal but I don't think that I will make a special trip to brunch again.  Maybe if I happen to be cruising around the Cliff......

901 Ft.Worth Avenue
Dallas, TX 75208