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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beer Review - Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival 2010

For the Beer Snob, there is a no greater thrill than a beer festival.  The ability to bounce from beer to beer, smelling, tasting, enjoying all of the differences that water, yeast, hops and malt can give.  At the GABF, the biggest beer festival in the world,  there were over 2,200 different beers to sample.  Did you get that?  Over 2,200 different beers! 

The festival has 4 sessions spread over 3 days beginning on Thursday and ending on Saturday evening and because of a loaded work schedule, we were only able to attend the last session on the last evening.  That means we had 5 hours to find the perfect beer.  Beer snobs take our beer sampling seriously, observing color, clarity, smell, taste...these things take time.  So, you have to be selective, choosing a few of your favorite types, medal winners, interesting sounding or rare beers one ounce at a time. 

UNFORTUNATELY, by the last session, the Saturday evening session, many of those are gone...RATS!  We also found that Saturday evening is when the idiots appear.  Lots and lots of idiots, wearing matching 'drinking team' shirts, swilling everything that they can get their hands on with no regard whatsoever of quality or type.  Pushing, shoving, yelling, flatulent idiots, all between me and liquid joy. 

I hope that I have not made is sound as if there were no great beers left.  No, no my friends, there were plenty, just many of those that I was really looking forward to sampling were long gone.  So here is a synopsis of the suds that I tried before I tired of stupidity and bailed.

Sprecker Brewery - This Glendale, Wisconsin  brewery was the only booth where I loved every beer that I sampled.  The Abbey Triple, Black Bavarian and Smoked Ale were all world class brews and worthy of road trip.

Barrel Aged TempT - Red Eye Brewing, Wausau, Wisconsin.  A golden belgian style ale.... yummy.

Wee Heavy scottish style ale and the O'Fallon Smoke ale were two fine entries from the O'Fallon Brewery in O'Fallon, Missouri.  Where?  Yeah, me too.

Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale - Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  High Octane, peaty, smokey goodness.

The Capital Brewing Company in Washington D.C. had a Weizen Dopplebock that would make a German brewer proud.

The Black Lager from the Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish, Montana was more like a porter in flavor.  Call it what you will, I call it delicious.

The Grand Lake Brewing Company from Grand Lake, Colorado brews only small batches of artisan beers.  The Plaid Bastard strong scotch ale was full bodied, potent and magnificent.

Funkwerks may be the dumbest frigging name for a brewery I have ever heard.  Started by an award winning homebrewer in Fort Collins, Colorado, Funkwerks will be producing their Belgian style Saison for the general public in December.  It is as good a saison as I have ever tasted, and I have tasted a lot.

Horseheads Brewing in Horseheads, NY produced our biggest surprise of the evening.  Surprised by the ingredients and surprised that we liked it.  Hot-Jala-Heim uses Jalepeno and Anaheim peppers.  Smells like peppers, tastes like beer...with a kick.  Good wintertime treat.

Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid, NY is part of the Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood Company.  If their food is as good as their Abbey Ale I will happily visit on our next trip to upstate.

I love bourbon...I love Stout....Bourbon Barrel Stout by the Green Flash Brewing Company in Vista California gave me wood.

By this time, we had samped beer from about 60% of the breweries on the floor in about 3 hours.  Perfect timing.  But the moron meter had reached 11 and we were forced to leave.  But much like the Pilgrams crawling on their hands and knees to the shrine at Lourdes in an attempt to be healed, we will come crawling back to Denver on September 29, 2011 to find our perfect beer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heart Attack of the Month - Huarache


I have been to many restaurants on the suggestion of friends who will rave about a dish or item that they tried that has them singing the praises of the restaurant.  I have found that in many cases, the dish tried by these friends was indeed worthy of a raised eyebrow, but that almost everything else on the menu is absolute crap.  Conversely, most of these dishes are artery and colon blockers that are sure to cause you gastrointestinal distress in the very near future.  So I have decided to reveal a few of these offerings to the god of flatulence so that you may decide if you would like to risk the wrath of your doctor when he sees how high your cholesterol count has gotten.

A Huarache (pronounced hwa-rah-cha) is the ubiquitous leather sandal that you see literally everywhere, worn by almost everyone, in Mexico.  It is also a common street food in Mexico City and shaped roughly like the sandal for which it is named.  Imagine if you will a half inch thick, shoe shaped, mass of masa (the corn based dough used to make tamales, tortillas, etc.) fried so that it has a crispy crust and a firm, spongy interior.  Add a smear of refried beans so that whatever you add next won't fall to the wayside (some versions will have red or green sauce).  My next chosen layer was Tinga Chicken (chicken slow cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic and chipotle pepper) but you may have pork, beef, tongue or whatever floats your boat.  Next comes the greens; lettuce, cilantro, salsa, etc. then the queso blanco.  Add cream and avocados and there you have a coronary on a plate.  Expect the heartburn and your satisfaction to last late into the night. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Restaurant Review - Restaurant Week

Dallas Restaurant Week 2010

Those of us not blessed with trust fund money must be strategic in our dining options.  Our ultra high end dining choices are made cautiously, after dilegent research, because nothing is more crushing to a foodie as just having spent $200.00+ dollars on an average meal in a popular restaurant that has been hyped by the beautiful people.
Dallas Restaurant Week is the perfect chance for John Q. Public to sample several potential high enders and see if the quality is equal to the hype AND your karma gets a boost for the donation to the North Texas Food Bank made by the restaurants. 
There have been rumors of grumblings by many of the restauranteurs of the difficulties created by the unwashed masses decending upon their demenses like a plague of locusts.  The bumkins are hogging tables usually filled with patrons paying full price.  Then their is the tip issue.  Serves make smaller tips due to the fact that the cost of the Restaurant Week specials is typically much lower than the average meal served.  And of course, the barbarians from the 'burbs don't really tip well, do they?  So are the restauranteurs serving an inferior product to those partaking in the festivities?  Let's find out.....

Fearings at the Ritz Carlton, Dallas
Dean Fearing has become the darling of the Dallas press.  His innovative food preparations and masses of well trained servers make for a delightful evening.  The decor and casual easiness of the staff takes what could be an intimidating experience down a notch and makes the dining as comfortable as the seats. 
The dining options on the Restaurant Week menu were virtually identical to the options offered on the normal dinner menu with no perceived loss of quality.  In direct opposition to the rumors, the servers tended a bit toward over enthusiastic at times, hovering over us and refilling our water glasses seemingly after every sip.  All in all a very good experience with the realily equalling the hype.

Jean-Marie Cadot, a Paris native, another shining star in a family that has been in the restaurant business since the 1700's.  His extensive experience includes cooking and baking degrees from the Ferrandi Cooking School and the Grands Moulins de Paris Baking and Pastry school.  He apprenticed and worked in several Michelin starred restaurants in France and New York and finally, somehow, ended up in Dallas.  Man o' man am I happy that he did.  The decor and ambience are so relaxed that there is no intimidation factor (like you often feel while dining in a fine French restaurant) whatsoever.
As with Fearings, the items on the Restaurant Week menu are the same as those on the normal dinner menu.  It was surprising to find that the items on the regular dinner menu were so modestly priced that some of our group ordered from it instead of the Restaurant Week selections and paid virtually the same amount.  Our server was quite personable and friendly and knew when not to intrude on the conversation.  Mm. Cadot stopped by our table and chatted for a bit, which was well received by the gang.  He is thrilled to be a part of Restaurant Week and wanted to be sure that the meal met our expectations.  Hell yes.  I will return here often and highly recommend that you try it as well.

Pappas Brothers Steakhouse
Steak.  Wonderful, tender aged steak.  We Texans love steak.  It is our birthright, our passion, and no one does it better than Pappas Brothers.  Forget that the mediocre chain restaurants next door are owned by the same group, this is everything that a high end steak restaurant needs to be.  It seems to be a given that in Dallas steak houses ignore the time of your reservation and Pappas Bros is no different, expect to wait.  The ambience is casual, yet formal at the same time and the maze of tables, busting servers and connected rooms can be confusing when you are attemting to find the restroom after a few glasses of wine.
Typically, Pappas Brothers steaks are served ala carte.  Thus your sides and deserts would normally cost you quite a bit more than your already fairly expensive steaks.  The Restaurant Week menu allowed us to eat quite a bit more than you would normally get for a fraction of the price.  As with the 2 others reviewed, the steak you get on the Restaurant Menu is identical to the regular menu.  Service was attentive and efficient.  Of the 3, Pappas turned out to be the greatest value, with portions so large that we were forced to take some home.  Having eaten in most of the other high end steakeries in town, I believe that this is the finest steak restaurant in Dallas.

It may be true that some of the restauranteurs are having a problem with the Restaurant Week experience, but neither I nor anyone that I spoke to had evidence to back the claims.  So the decision is:
Rumors - 0, Fine Dining Experiences - 3

Fearing Restaurant
2121 McKinney Avenue
Dallas, TX 75201-1873
(214) 922-4848

Cadot Restaurant
18111 Preston Rd # 120
Dallas, Tx 75252
(972) 267-5700

Pappas Brothers Steakhouse
10477 Lombardy Ln
Dallas , TX 75220
(214) 366-2000