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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Brouwerij Van Steenberge Piraat - 10.5% ABV
What did Piraats (pirates) drink?  Beer.  Why?  Because water doesn't store well on a long cruise and beer does just fine (not to mention beer's nutritional value).  Why does Brouwerij Van Steenberge call this beer Piraat?  I have no frigging clue but I am sure that there is a connection somewhere.  Or, they just like pirates.

In days of yore most beer was brewed for personal consumption (homebrewers take note) in farmhouses scattered around Europe.  Brouwerij Van Steenberge began this way near the village of St. Kruis Winkel in what is now the Flemmish area of Belgium (north, dutch speaking side).  There is no way to know exactly when, but the farm is mentioned in documents as Brouwerij De Peer in 1784.  That means, my mathematically gifted friends, that for over 225 year the same family has been producing wonderful beers on the same site.  Can I get an Amen?
You are going to see Piraat called a Belgian Pale Ale on some websites, an IPA on other websites (which it is in the purest sense) or a Belgian Triple.  The brewer uses three times the normal amount of barley malt which produces more starches which gives you more sugars after cooking and more alcohol after a long fermentation. The Piraat is re-fermented in the bottle or in the keg.  My vote is triple.

You know what else it is?  MAGNIFICENT!  The dark gold, slightly cloudy brew's nose is quite subtle with a few hints of yeast and sweetness.  The aggressively poured ale created quite a head; thick, rich foam like you get when you make a rootbeer float and boy did it persist, sticking to the sides of the glass creating a white coating reminiscent of sea foam.  Creamy and smooth (like buttuh) with malts, carmel and wheat coming through at the fore followed by the grassy, yeasty notes.  The satisying end was slightly sweet with the bitterness from the hops (which they grow themselves) finishing the quaff nicely.  Superbly balanced and rich, the intense flavors completely hide the fact that there is lots o' alcohol included.  This is a perfect example of a Belgian triple and I highly recommend that you try one, or several just long a you have a DD with you (designated driver you pervert).  Enjoy.

Brouwerij Van Steenberge
Lindenlaan 25 - B-9940 Ertvelde

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beer Review - Choc

Choc Brewery - Krebs, Oklahoma

I have heard quite a lot of chatter from my brethren living north of the Red River of superior beer being produced by the Choc Brewery in Krebs, Oklahoma.  Krebs?  Sounds like a tiny critter that lives in your underbritches.  So we make the trip to this mythical place hidden in a land known for watery, crappy beer.

The experience was surrealistic and strange, but in some ways was appropriate when you take into consideration where the brewery is located.  The brewery is attached to and part of a locally famous restaurant called Pete's Place.  As that the only way to get beer from the brewery on site is to eat at the restaurant we ended up getting a lot more than we came for.  A separate review for the restaurant is below.

The beer was originally brewed by an Italian immigrant named Pete Prichard (changed from Pietro Piegari years before) and was said to be from a local Indian recipe.  I was not aware that native American culture included the making of beer... color me enlightened.  The 18th amendement outlawed (but did not stop) brewing at Pete's until the Prichard family started again in 1995 when Oklahoma liquor laws finally relaxed enough to make brewing worth their while.

We entered the brewery through the front door of the restaurant.  When asked where the brewery was a kindly served pointed me to a door and said "through there".  Sure enough, it was the entry to the brewery and it took several seconds after entering for us to realize that we were the only ones there.  Just a couple of strangers wondering uncontested through their clean little brewery.  Upon exiting we asked another harried server where we could go to sample the brews.  Her furrowed eyebrows indicated that this was not a common question.  "You can order it with dinner" she suggested.  So, we were seated for dinner and still wish even now that we had not stayed.

Waving Wheat Witbier - 5.3% ABV
The Waving Wheat is an unfiltered (give it a swirl to stir up the goodies), decent, harmless summertime brew.  Lightly colored with the taste of coriander, wheat and citrus it goes down smoothly and quickly.  Even though it smells yeasty you will not really taste much.  Not bad, not great.

Miners Mishap Black Lager - 5.3% ABV
Miner's Mishap is a black lager (schwarzbier) and was created to memorialize the time that the founder spent in the coal mines.   The recipe given to them by a home brewer, thank you, sir.  The malts and hops are imported from Germany and help create a fine, flavorful beer.  The smell of malts, chocolate and molasses come through as you drink making this lager taste more like a porter.  A fine creation that I will happily drink again.

Pietro Piegari  Amber Ale - 5% ABV
Pietro Piegari (Pete) is an amber ale named for the original founder of Choc in the early part of the 20th century.  The aromais quite strong with the malts, citrus and lightly hops leading you to believe that this will be a monster brew.  It is really quite tame.  Slightly sweet like caramel with the citrus notes following along.  The hops at the finish are just enough to balance us out.  Not bad.

Super Saison - 7% ABV
The brewers at Choc have a few specialty beers worth mentioning.  The Smoked Porter (not pictured and not well received by the snobs) and the Super Saison were sampled on this trip.  The Super Saison was appropriately named as that it was the finest beer we tried this day.  This Belgian style farmhouse ale uses Saison yeasts, European pilsner malts and noble hops to create this fresh, flavorful brew.  Crisp and light you will taste the sweetness, the yeasts and a background flavor not unlike grass.  A bit over carbonated, this one would be perfect as a lighter springtime thirst quencher.

We found that if you were to order a beer at Pete's Place as a draught beer you will get typical Oklahoma 3.2% swill, so stay with the bottles, and get them from here if possible as the the trip to the brewery is really not worth your while.  All in all the beers are not bad and a few were quite good but the flavors, while good, are quite muted, probably due to the relatively unsophisticated beer market where they are located.  We hope that the brewers continue on down the path that they have started on and not fall into the 'that's good enough' trap. 

Choc Beer
120 Southwest 8th
Krebs, OK 74554

Road Trip Dining - Pete's Place

Pete's Place - Krebs, Oklahoma

Unfortunately, the dining from the road trip was not nearly as successful as the beer tasting. 

Pietro Piegari moved from San Gregorio Magno, Italy, with his family in 1903 to Krebs, Oklahoma to work in the coal mines.  Pete was 21 when a cave-in crushed one of his legs so badly that he was unable to return to work. So he began making and selling Choc beer from his home. The home brew originated in Indian Territory, and the recipe had passed from the Indians in the area to the Italian immigrants. Soon men began gathering in Pete's home to buy and drink Choc, so Pete began preparing food to accompany the beer, as any good pub would do.  In 1925, Pete officially open a restaurant in his home but the Choc beer was soon outlawed by the federal prohibition act. My guess is that no one in the family, nor any of the cooks, have returned to Italy since 1925 to experience what Italian food is supposed to look and taste like. 

The experience is really quite bizarre.  You walk in the front door expecting to see a normal restaurant, but instead what you see is a series of hallways with doors securing private dining rooms behind.  You and your group will then be placed in one of these cubicles, never to see another patron or anyone else except for your servers until the time that you leave.  The windowless cell that we were placed in was painted a lovey shade of lavender and decorated with garlands of plastic ivy.  The rack of used Riunite bottles offset the framed photocopy of a sketch of Jesus and random photos of Italy perfectly. 

Your entree comes with appetizer, salad, spaghetti, meatballs and ravioli.  Your appetizer is a plate of olives, pickles and that most famous of Italian cheeses, muenster.  Accompanying your appetizer is your 'salad'.... simply iceberg butt lettuce with swimming in oil, which doesn't really meet the definition of salad.... but, oh well.  The spaghetti was cooked nicely al dente with a tomato sauce that is made in house and is not too bad.  What they called ravioli was the strangest part of the meal... though shaped like a ravioli, it had a thick, gummy exterior wrapped around a flavorless, unidentifiable 'meat'.  One bite is all that I could choke down.
Entrees were more successful, thank goodness.  The server recommended the pork loin (though from the size of that brute I suspect that it was a boneless pork chop) which was covered in a tasty brown sauce loaded with mushrooms.  A bit tough, but delicious.  Chicken Alfredo was grilled chicken (dry and already cut up into bite sized pieces assuming that we cannot be trusted with knives) prepared with an uninspired alfredo sauce fresh from a jar, served over a perfectly cooked pasta.  The Chicken Parmesan was no better or worse that that you would get from Olive Garden or the frozen food section at Wal Mart.  Desert?  No, we skipped desert for obvious reasons.
I left very full, but very unsatisfied.  My advice for the ownership of Pete's Place (still owned by the same family since Pete opened his place) is to perhaps take an extended trip to Italy to experience what has been lost.  Quantity does not trump quality.

Pete's Place
120 Southwest 8th
Krebs, OK 74554

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Heart Attack of the Month - Pepperoni Roll

Pepperoni Roll at Mama Mia's Italian Restaurant and Pizzaria in Deep Ellum

Gut Bomb Alert!  Gut Bomb Alert! 

Pizza, calzone, stromboli...what's the big deal?  We all know that those things are not good for you in the extreme, why pick one over all of the others?  Because, my health food eating friends, this one caused me more gastrointestinal distress than any pizza resembling object that any that I have eaten in quite some time. 

Mama Mias is the kind of restaurant that is guaranteed success in an area packed with bars, clubs and drunks.  Cheap, dense, booze soaking food is just what you need at 2:00 in the morning after an evening of debauchery, and Mama Mia's is open until 3:00 on Friday and Saturday to cater to the staggering masses.  Their traditional New York style hand tossed pizzas are really quite good with the ingredients tasting like everyone else's that buys from Ben E. Keith.  Good, but not exceptional.  Decent pastas and not too bad sandwiches round out the selection of Italianate offerings that every drunk requires.

The Pepperoni Roll is listed on the menu underneath Calzones and Stromboli and is really quite inexpensive, especially when you take into consideration the size.  It really is simplicity, pepperoni.... lots of pepperoni... and cheese wrapped in a pizza crust and sprinkled with parmesian and oregano.  That's it....oh, you also get pizza sauce to dip it in if you choose.  Cut into this log and you immediatly notice the red grease running out of the wound like blood from a fresh kill.  The grease continues to run out as you eat... "damn, must have nicked an artery", you think.  And it doesn't stop!  The grease continues pouring out of the corpse like clowns piling out of the midget car at the circus.  As you reach the end the pepperoni roll remants are floating on a veritable pond of partially congealed goo.  Delicious.  As I sat eating this mass of goodness I could hear something popping, like someone goofing around with bubble wrap, or popcorn.  At some point I realized that I was hearing my arteries crackling from the mass of cholesterol that I was adding to my system.

You can order a salad to accompany your pepperoni roll which may or may not help with the corking that is sure to follow. I would suggest ordering a salad, and a fiber bar, and perhaps a handfull of tree bark to help push things through. Good luck with that.

Mama Mia's Italian Restaurant and Pizzaria
2935 Elm St
Dallas, TX 75226

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beer Review - Faro

Lindemanns Faro - 4.2% ABV

There is a veritable explosion of craft brewers and micro-brewers going on right now.  In spite of the crappy economy more and more people are finding that today's beers are much better and more flavorful than the mass produced swill that our fathers 'enjoyed'.  In some areas where you can't spit without hitting a brewpub, increased competition has caused some misguided brewers to go to extremes to separate themselves from the others... and the beer snob does not think that it is necessarily such a good thing. 

Blueberries should never be found in beer, hell, for that matter fruit should never be included in the brewing process.  You want a lime in your Mexican beer?  Fine, I will grant you that it certainly does not hurt the flavor on those watery brews.  I have enjoyed beers with herbs or hints of fruit or aged in whisky barrels but the really fruity beers, erk.  Ever so often I will try one of these aberrations and occasionally find them amusing, but a real beer drinker wants beer, loves beer, as beer is meant to be, not sissified up in an attempt to get wine drinkers to jump on the bandwagon.

Here is where I show you what a hippocrit is.  A Lambic type of beer brewed only in the Pajottenland region of Belgium and in Brussels. Unlike conventional ales and lagers which which use cultivated strains of brewer's yeasts, lambic beer is produced by spontaneous fermentation by exposing the mash to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are native to the Senne valley (yes my children, the river that runs through Brussels is the Senne).  While lambic itself is a type of sour wheat ale (from all of those naturally occurring yeasts and bacterias) the Lamics that you find here have had fruit extracts added.  Frambois?  Hate it.  Peche?  Hate it.  Cassis?  Hate it, too, hate them all.... except for Faro.  Traditionally, Faro is a light, low alcohol beer made from blending lambic with meertsbier (a light freshly brewed style of beer) and brown sugar.  The Faro we have now though does not add the meertsbier and is a bit stronger.

I found the Belgian Lindemans Faro to be quite light and quite refreshing.  A crystal clear pale red color with a light fruity nose, the Faro reminded me of a fine, rose' sparkling wine, but without much sparkle.  Lightly fruity and slightly sweet with a hint of cherry, it is a perfect compliment for a desert or to be enjoyed at the end of a long, hot day.  It is much better than I expected.

Brewery Lindemans
Lenniksebaan 1479
1602 Vlezenbeek

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Restaurant Review - Cosmic Cafe

Cosmic Cafe

If you were to make a list of restaurants that your average Texan would be least likely to try, a vegetarian restaurant would surely top the list.  "Could I get a steak with that"?  "No, sir, this is a vegetarian restaurant".  "OK, then I'll take chicken instead"  "We are vegetarian, we don't serve meat".  "No meat?  What kind of whackos don't serve meat"?  Bubba, you see, finds it hard to believe that vegetarian ("No meat"?  "No Bubba, no meat".) can be filling and delicious and the Cosmic Cafe does vegetarian very, very well.

You may remember it as Duck's Cosmic Cup, or the Cosmic Cup and now as the Cosmic Cafe.  Regardless, the restaurant has been around for quite a long time.  Finding the Cosmic Cafe is not so difficult, finding a place to park can be a challenge.  Their tiny lot holds only about 10 cars so save yourself some frustration and park in the neighborhood to the east and walk.  As you walk up you cannot help but notice the rather extravagant decor.  Murals, mystic symbols and multitudes of statues and figurines are quite a distraction, but in a fun, whimsical  way and not scary like your dope smoking cousin's bedroom with the satanic blacklight posters and goat skulls.... well, maybe not your cousin.  After you have been seated, make your way toward the back and serve yourself some freshly made chai, then sit back, relax, and enjoy some terrifice people watching as you wait for your meal.

Start your fun with a hummus plate (describe it to Bubba as bean dip with toast, he'll get the idea) or better yet, samosas, which are like fried pies filled with potatoes and peas.  Bubba likes potatoes and Bubba likes fried stuff, so Bubba will like Samosas, trust me. 

Budda's (not to be confused with Bubba, definitely not the same) Delight is an Indian themed flavorful mix of curried seasonal vegetables, dahl (spicy lentil soup), rice, pappadam, a samosa and naan.  Delicious, flavorful and filling.  My favorite are the spinach enchiladas.  Red tortillas stuffed with spinach and topped with creamy cheese sauce.  Served with black beans and rice as well as with a salad of fresh greens this dish will satisfy almost any appetite and you don't even need to tell Bubba that it is healthy.

Cosmic Cafe
2912 Oak Lawn Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Road Trip Dining - The Search for the Perfect Gumbo, Part 5 (the last)

Prejeans - Lafayette

We have finally reached the Grande Finale on our search for the perfect Gumbo.  Who would have thought that our exhaustive search through New Orleans to find this elusive prey would lead us to Lafayette, Louisiana?  Lafayette?  The big secret to finding the best in cajun and creole dining is knowing that New Orleans is on the periphery of cajun country and that Lafayette is the heart of all things Zydeco...who knew?  Even more ironic is that fact that when we road trip to NOLA we skip right through without even considering stopping, and thus we have driven right by Prejeans several times without blinking.  Dumbasses is us.

And why would you give Prejeans a second glance?  It is on I-49 as you come into Lafeyette and looks like a huge tourist trap, you know the ones that end up giving you the Thibodeaux Two-Step.  As you walk in to the restaurant the first thing that you notice is the plethora of crap for sale to unsuspecting tourists.  "Hmmm, looks like a tourist trap to me".  Then you notice the giant plastic alligator overlooking the dining room.  "Wow, make that an uber tourist trap".  Fishing nets, murals of the swamps and bric-a-brac make you feel as if you should run for the hills, but don't run, just sit for a bit and notice all the really round people in the room... they didn't get that way from eating salad. 

We started with the Gumbo, magnificent, greasy Gumbo.  The grease is the key to knowing that the Gumbo is home made because sausage you see, has quite a lot of fat in it, and when cooked in the mix the fat is going to be released, permeating the mixture with it's magnificence.  Hunks and chunks and roux.... perfection... the best Gumbo that I have ever had.  Holy poop on a stick, I have found the Holy Grail of Gumbo!  I could have stopped there and been absolutely satisfied with my discovery, but no, a real explorer must see what is on the other side of the mountain, right? 

Catfish Grand Chenier is on the other side of the mountain my friends, and it is ohhhh so good.  Southern catfish rolled around Prejean’s seafood stuffing, fried golden brown & smothered with crawfish Etouffee.  I cannot even begin to describe the multitude of flavors battling for dominance and all of them wonderful.  It was served with rice dressing, which was kind of like a dirty rich, but not like dirty rice at the same time and corn macque choux, a mini corn pie where the pie shell holds in the butter and spices instead of having them run all over your plate.

Cochon Du Lait Pie, the other entree, is slow roasted pork “debris” topped with chive mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese and baked in a cast iron skillet.  Rich, delicious and decidedly unhealthy, but we were beyond caring, we were in the zone.   "Dessert"? Asked our evil little server, a certain Miss Lancaster.  *Sigh*  "Why the hell not?"  Banana nut bread with warm praline sauce and yes, it is every bit as wonderful as it sounds.  "You know that Lafayette has the Festival International de Louisiane where there are dozens of vendors selling hundreds of dishes much like what you just had here."  Do what now?  No wonder these people are so round and yes, we have already made our reservations... damned minx.

As I sat contemplating what had just transpired Mrs. Vivant, interrupted my solitude with "Are you crying?"  "*sniff, sniff*...... maybe".  "You pig!  You didn't even cry at our wedding!"  She had a point, but this was a spiritual matter that had moved me like no other, this was about Gumbo.  It was  long, quiet drive back to Dallas, but that did not bother me as much as it should, because I had just attained nirvana.

Do yourself a favor if you happen to be road tripping through Lafayette, ignore the tacky billboards, ignore the harsh blacktop parking lot, ignore the voice in your head telling you that you are only a couple of hours from New Orleans.  Stop, eat and cry.
Prejeans Restaurant
3480 N.E. Evangeline Trwy. (I-49)
Lafayette, LA 70507

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beer Review - Snowmageddon

Rahr and Sons Brewing Company Snowmageddon Imperial Stout - 10% ABV

Lots o' things happening here that make this a compicated review...and we're not talking about just the beer.  Do you remember the snow we had last year (February 11, 2010)?  You know, the 14" snow...the biggest snowfall ever recorded in DFW?  The people are Rahr remember because that is the day that the roof of their brewery collapsed due to the weight of that record breaking snow.  Engineers in Texas design their buildings to withstand heat and wind loading, but snow?  C'mon..not in Texas, right? 
To commemorate the rebirth and rebuilding of the brewery and to honor those that helped with the reconstruction, Rahr and Sons created this oatmeal imperial stout based on an award winning recipe from a local home brewer.  Complicated, isn't it?

The beer itself is a seasonal brew and has a substantial 10% abv.  It is delivered to you in a 22 oz bottle, which is enough to get an army of midgets polluted and 1 beer snob as well.  The brew pours almost black with a head that does not persist.  Smell the coffee?  Smell the chocolate?  Smell the dark fruits?  That is an imperial stout smell all right and the taste follows along with the smells.  Bitter coffee flavor from the roasted malts along with the chocolate flavor and a bit smokey as well but thinner than expected.  It is kind of like you mixed a chocolate stout with a smoked porter.  Quite drinkable but hardly worth the $20 per bottle price tag.  Try it if you are flush with cash before it dissappears...for this year.

Rahr and Sons Brewing Company
701 Galveston Avenue
Fort Worth, Texas 76104

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beer Review - Primus

Live Oak Brewing Company Primus - 8% ABV

Typically when you think of a winter seasonal you think of dark, rich, sweet beers with lots of alcohol meant to keep you warm as you sit warming yourself by the fire.  Well damn it, this is Texas and frankly we don't have many cold, snowy days that would require a winter warmer.  Actually, this is the season for outdoor activity in Texas because it is the heat of the summer that keeps us inside.  The Live Oak Brewing Company in Austin has produced a winter beer that is better suited to our climate and to our tastes.

Primus (pronounced pre-moose) is classified as a weisenbock, which is a combination of a wheat beer and a bock beer.  But this beer is a bit more complicated than that... to begin with the smell is quite subtle, but you will smell what you expect from a weiss beer... bananas, cloves and yeast... then you smell the dark fruits that you would expect with the bock... and then you get a background of earth and candy.  The cloudy amber has a large creamy off-white head due to the substantial carbonation... so much cabonation in fact that it makes the beer a bit difficult to drink.  The flavor is really, really complex and surprising.  There is a strong breadiness that goes along with the grainy texture, followed by the bananas and the cloves from it's weiss bier roots.  You will appreciate the spice, the prunes, the sweet and the alcohol, but the real complexity comes from the faint sour notes hidden in the background.  This is one of the finest beers of this genre outside of Germany and is indicative of how rapidly craft brewing is improving in Texas.  Though I am not a big fan of many of Live Oak's beers you really must give this one a try.  Gentlemen, you have a winner.

Live Oak Brewing Company
3301 E 5th St # B
Austin, TX 78702-4909

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Restaurant Review - Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill

Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill

So we called one of the snobs, St. Bernadus, and asked him to join us at Neighborhood Services for dinner.  "Sure thing" he replied, "see you in 5 minutes".  15 minutes later, no Bernadus, but the phone was ringing.  "Where are you?" he asked.  "At the bar".  "I'm at the bar too, it's not that big, I should be able to see you".  "Wait...which one are you at?"  (I know, never end your sentences in a preposition, but I'm not a frigging English major, get over it)  "The one on Henderson, where are you?"  "No, no, that is Neighborhood Services Tavern, we are at Neighborhood Services Bar and Grill on Preston."  "Screw that, I'm here now, so here I will stay."  Confused?  So were we.  However the menus are quite similar at all 3 Neighborhood Services and the food quality is excellent at all locations so you really can't go wrong.  Just be sure that you are visiting the one you think you are visiting.

We were waiting at the bar because you are going to wait for a table as that these guys do not take reservations.  You may, however, call them when you on your way there and have your name added to the wait list, which will save you half an hour or so.  Normally I won't wait to be seated in a restaurant, but Neighborhood Services is good enough to tolerate being shoved by and squished in with "the beautiful people" and honestly it is kind of fun to play Name That Enhancement with the patrons.....boob job here, collagen lips there, botox everywhere.  Also the bartenders are true mixologists and are quite talented at their craft, watch them work their magic.  We were extremely dissappointed at their extremely limited draft selection and if Stella is the best that you have on tap then you are severly lacking. 

We began the evening with the Fried Little Asparagus.  Mild asparagus fried with a crispy tempura batter, sprinkled with percorino cheese and drizzled with lemon-dill creme fraiche.  Magnificent, sublime.
While visiting a fine dining establishment we recommend that you seriously consider the specials board and order from that.  This is where a superior chef will show how talented he/she is, and Nick Badovinus is a fine, fine chef. 

The nightly pasta special was Rigatoni with tender, juicy cooked roasted chicken topped with asparagus tips, sun dried tomatoes and basil leaves.  Beurre Blanc AND brown butter sauce perfectly finished out the dish.  I had to force myself to put down more fork between bits and not shovel it down like a starving maniac.  In-frigging-credible.  The side of Brussel Sprouts and pancetta proved to me that Brussel Sprouts cannot be prepared by anyone, in any way that I will eat them.

Hake?  Hake?  What kind of a fish in Hake?  No, you won't catch it in Lake Lewisville so let me tell you about Hake.  Originally a fish only found in the inlets and bays around Ireland, somehow it has found it's way into the waters off Cape Cod and British Columbia, it is not considered to be one of your finer fishes and is often used to make imitation crab.  Firm fleshed and mild tasting it was prepared with a panko bread crumb crust, topped a lemon, beurre blanc sauce, micro greens and was perfectly cooked and delicious.  By using a common, sustainable fish and preparing it so very well the chef has shown an additional level of sensitivity.  Bravo, sir. 

Dear Neighborhood Services, love your restaurants but am easily confused by the similarity in the names.  Can we call the next one Bob?

Neighborhood Services Bar and Grill
10720 Preston Rd, Suite 1101
Dallas Texas 75230
Tel. 214-368-1101

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beer Review - Flying Saucer Addison's 15th Anniversary

The Flying Saucer in Addison

I love beer.  I love beer festivals.  I love any occasion where I can taste lots of different beers that I have never tried.  Thus, I loved the 15th anniversary celebration at the Flying Saucer in Addison.  10 different "very rare" beers were tapped at the rate of 2 per hour and since most of them were high octane beers I had to be judicious in which I tried.  So here are my musings, as best as I recall.

Avery Brewing Company Mephistopheles Stout - 16.8% - ABV
16.8%?  Jesus, why don't they just start with a glass of lighter fluid?  The Avery website describes the brew as a "bouquet of vine-ripened grapes, anise and chocolate covered cherries with flavors of rum-soaked caramelized dark fruits and a double espresso finish".  I am afraid that I was unable to detect those complex flavors as I spent 3 minutes gasping and coughing after my first sip  You know what I tasted?  I tasted and alcohol.  I have had coffee liquors that burned less than this stout.  Complex?  You are darned right, black, thick, rich and very complex, and potent, perhaps a bit too much for all but the most discerning palate.  Interesting note, there was also a fine glaze left on the glass after it was finished that really looked as if you had filled it with motor oil. 

Stone Brewing Company Vertical Epic Ale - 9.5% ABV
Stone is known for their 'in your face" beers that take hold of you taste buds and make you their bitch, but this one was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the day.  I really did not know what to expect from what is described as a "Belgian Pale Ale" brewed using pale malt and triticale (a cross of wheat and rye) with chamomile and German Perle hops added.  Saisonish?  Interesting.  But then, they add muscat, gewurztraminer and sauvignon blanc grape juices for the second fermentation.  "Do what now?  They put grape juice in mah beer?  What the hell are they trying to do, make another Purple Haze crap beer like those Abita fellers"?  No Bubba, just read along and try not to move your lips.  Vertical Epic pours a hazy orange color and has a cream colored head that leaves very little lacing and yes, you can smell the grapes, but also a citrusy background.  It is very light and very clean with a smooth, cloying texture that would make it dandy for food pairings.  It tastes kind of sour, kind of yeasty and kind of fruity with the hop finish you expect from a Stone product and very little evidence of the alcohol that you would normally get from a beer with this high of an ABV.  All in all it is really, really complex and way more interesting than I anticipated.  Kudos to the Stone guys for this one.

Real Ale Brewing Company 14th Anniversary Ale - 8.5% ABV
Texas breweries are crippled by the archaic beer laws that force all breweries to go through a distributor to get their beer to market.  This forces them to produce beers that are highly palatable to a rather unsophisticated clientele.  It would not be in their best interest for them to produce a beer that most of the beer drinkers in Texas would not appreciate, right?  Thankfully, no.  Real Ale in Blanco Texas has produced an American Strong Ale that can compete in any market, even those used to complex ales.  The ale is brewed with 2 pounds of hops per barrel and then dry hopped using Sincoe hops (which have a slightly pineapple essence) to give it a 75 IBU rating.  Not a lot of hops by west coast standards but considerably more than the typical Texas brew.  It pours cloudy, goldenish with a tan head.  Nice floral nose and moderate carbonnation.  Citrus, pine and pineapple tastes are all there and well balanced with the malts.  Very drinkable and very pleasant.  Keep it up Real Ale and I will just have to drink more of your offerings, darn it.

Brooklyn Brewery Monster Ale - 10.8% ABV
This English Style Barleywine was the preferred drink of the English aristocracy and the American elite in the earliest days of the settlement of the Americas.  Brooklyn uses the mashes from 3 British malts along with 3 American hops to create a very traditional, very drinkable ale.  The clear, rusty-red brew smelled  like a typical ale with the citrus from the hops, the dark fruits from the malts and the ethers of the alcohol sneaking in.  The tastes of dark fruits, brown sugar and bready yeasts followed by a bit of hoppy bite.  All in all a very balanced ale with a bit of warming from the high alcohol content.  It seemed more like a strong ale and not so much like a barleywine, but very drinkable nontheless.

As I sat trying to focus on the menu for the next round of tappings and slowly realizing that focusing was a problem and that sitting upright was becoming an issue also, I decided to call it a night.  Hopefully we will find an opportunity to try the Dogfish Midas Touch or the Sierra Nevada Oak Aged Reserve, but for now the liver must rest.  Happy Birthday Flying Saucer, see you Wednesday.

The Flying Saucer
14999 Montfort Drive
Addison, TX 75254