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 24, 2011

Restaurant Week 2011 - EllerbeFine Foods

Ellerbe Fine Foods

As I was saying, restaurants participating in KRLD Restaurant Week take very different approaches to serving the sweating, grunting masses of common folk invading their demesne for this massive charity event.  There are those like Stephen Pyle's who prepared a meal that could easily replicated by Denny's and then there are those who prepare fine dining in hopes of attracting new patrons.

We almost declined to make our reservation at Ellerbe when they demanded that we leave a credit card number informing us that if we 'no showed' we would be charged for the meal anyway.  But having heard great things about Chef Molly McCook’s kitchen talents we decided to push on.  Upon arriving we were ushered to a back room that was completely filled, which struck us as odd since the front room was completely empty.  We were presented with the RW menu and while the offerings sounded dandy we asked to see the regular menu out of curiosity at which point we were told that if we ordered from the regular menu, we both had to order from the regular menu and that we would be re-seated in the front room.  Odder and odder.  We came )( that close to walking but we looked around saw the other customers shoving the RW fare into their faces with great gusto.  So we stayed.

From this point on the experience made a 180 degree turn towards superb.  The staff was amazingly accomodating and our server, Alyssa was a doll. Friendly, competent and engaging.  The complimentary bread (we can forgive the fact that they sourced it from California) was served with fresh butter and Hawiian red salt.  Cool.
Our first course consisted of a Summer Zuchini and Basil soup containing Grana Padano, lemon zest and olive oil.  One of the finest soups that I have tasted all summer, delightful.  The Scott Farm Assorted Melon Salad was interesting enough to be an entree salad at most restaurants.  Arugula, with balsamic reduction, crumbled Valbreso feta, kalmata olives and nuts kept my taste buds dancing a jig. 

There was an option to purchase an order of Boudin balls which I jumped on as that we know that Chef McCook is from New Orleans and learned her secrets in her grandmother's kitchen on Ellerbe Street.  Light, subtlely flavored inside, crispy non-greasy crust on the outside left us debating if we should order a second round, luckily, the entrees arrived.

Corn Meal Crusted Redfish with Carter Farm Green Tomato Relish was what we both chose.  The fish was perfectly prepared and served on a bed of B&G Gardens Black-Eyed Pea sautee and Chiffonade Cabbage.  Oh.  My.  God.  Did we add the offered lump crab meat for $5?  You bet your ascot we did.  An astounding dish.

We finished with Maw Maw's Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce and Pralined Pecans.  You know how when you get a freshly made cinnamon roll and it has that crusty, crunchy, yummy crust?  And then the warm fluffy, bready inside?  Yeah, that's what this was, but it was bread pudding.  Not overly sweet with REAL whisky sauce.  Mother Goose.

You can be assured that we will return to Ellerbe Fine Foods, soon .... maybe tonight.

Ellerbe Fine Foods
1501 W Magnolia Avenue
Ft Worth, Texas 76104

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beer Review - Twisted Thistle English India Pale Ale

Belhaven Brewing Company Twisted Thistle - 5.3% ABV

Another shoulder season beer for you to try as you sit anxiously awaiting the Autumn beers to arrive is Twisted Thistle IPA from the mad Scotsmen at Belhaven Brewing Company.  The Dunbar, Scotland brewery produces some of my very favorite beers ... Belhaven Stout, Wee Heavy and my very, very favorite beer, Belhaven Scotch Ale.  The Twisted Thistle fits right along with the rest as a superb brew. 

Most English IPA's are tame with a plethora of malts and a bit of mild English hops to give the brews some interest.  This IPA is a bit more rugged that those of their neighbors to the south, much like the Scottish people themselves with the most interesting flavor in the beer coming from the peat smoked malts.

It pours a golden-orange and has a thin head that will persist for a bit.  The smell is quite floral with a bit of citrus and a bit of hops coming through.  You will taste a bit of malts, sweetness, grapefruit, malts and the Cascade hops which build up as the level of the beer drops and provide a bit of resin flavor.  The smokiness is quite subtle but noticable.

This is quite a fine session beer that should keep your tastebuds interested for 2 or 3 glasses and quite refreshing to boot.

The Belhaven Group
Spott Road
East Lothian
EH42 1RS

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beer Review - Well's Bombadier

Wells and Young's Bombadier Premium Bitter - 5.2% ABV

Summer is winding down .... well, it's supposed to be winding down.  Though 100+ degrees every frigging day fools you into believing that summer will last forever, in reality autumn is only a month or so away and your thoughts should be turning to the autumn brews.  Now don't get me wrong, I love the Weiss beers, but after several hundred of the buggers they begin to taste a bit like dirty feet, and I am not quite ready for the Marzen's and Octoberfest beers.  So what does one drink during a shoulder season like this? 

When I hear bitter during the description of a beer my thoughts go immediately to the hop monsters that are prevalent on the west coast, but if you were to use bitter for an English beer my mouth begins watering.  For you see a 'bitter' in England is simply a pale ale with a wee extra bit of English hops which are quite mild and fruity.  There are generally 3 types of bitters, ordinary or session bitters, which have an alcohol content around 4%, the best or regular bitters which land somewhere around 4.5% abv and the premium bitters which have about 5% abv. 

The Bombadier pours an reddish amber with a creamy head that persists and leaves a nice lacing pattern on your glass.  The smell is subtle, malty and, well, beer like.  The flavor is quite earthy with malts dominating but the background flavors of caramel, toffee, pepper and biscuits follow right along.  Hops glide into your perception as you swallow.  Sightly bitter, slightly sweet, light and easy to drink makes this a fine, fine beer for the refreshment you desire at the end of an end of summer day.

Wells and Young's Brewing Company
The Brewery
Havelock Street
MK40 4LU
United Kingdom

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beer Review - Savor Commemorative Beer

Dogfish Head & Samual Adams SAVOR Flowers Collaboration - 10% ABV

As we left the SAVOR Beer and Food event in Washington D.C. this year they presented us with a bottle of beer to take home with us to remember the event.  This years commemorative beer is a collaboration between Sam Adams Brewery and Dogfish Head Brewery.  Neither of those breweries produce beers that tickle my fancy for the most part, but both have offerings here and there that I appreciate from time to time.  SAVOR Flowers is another stellar example of how collaboration beers can outshine the beers produced by each individual brewery.

The name pretty much gives away the product ... Flowers it is named and flowers it does provide.  The first deviation from the norm is that they substituted rose water for the base component.  Then they added dried lavender, hibiscus, jasmine and rosebuds to the brewing process "to further enhance the beer’s botanical qualities".  Then on Jim Kock's annual trip to Bavaria to pick his hops for Sam Adams, he stumbled across a new variety of hops known only as #369 which has increased floral notes.  They added 30 lbs. of this hop into the brew to add even more complexity.

THEN SAVOR Flowers was aged in Barrel One—the same bourbon barrel Jim used to age the premier batch of the first “extreme” beer, Samuel Adams® Triple Bock, in 1993. Barrel One is the first barrel originally used for spirits which was then used to age beer. For the last 18 years it has been filled with Samuel Adams Triple Bock.

The beer comes in a 750ml bottle (cool shape) and is corked.  It has a lower carbonation than most and the head is just a thin, white ring that doesn't persist.  The smell is pretty much what you would think it would be ... flowers.  The taste is amazingly complex; honey, bread, grass, rosemary, cinnamon, earth, ginger and bourbon and really like nothing you have ever tried before or ever will again.   Your first sip will confuse your tastebuds and there is a good chance that you will never like it, but if you take your time and sip, and concentrate on all of those flavors, you may decide that it is phenomenal.

Lucklily we have 2 more bottles to pop but are hesitant to do so because we know that when they are gone, they are gone for good.  But with all of the subtleties of the flavors we dare not wait long.  Damn.

Sam Adams Brewery
30 Germania Street
Boston, MA 02130

Dogfish Head Brewery
#6 Cannery Village Center
Milton, DE 19968

Restaurant Week 2011 - Stephen Pyles

Stephen Pyles

Let me start off by saying that I greatly admire the restaurants that are participating in KRLD Dallas Restaurant Week.  Diners  get enjoy over 120 of the area’s best restaurants as they offer special three-course dinner menus for only $35 (beverage, tax and gratuity not included). For each dinner served, $7 will benefit the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope Home.  

It also gives you an opportunity to try the cuisine at restaurants that you would be hesitant to try simply due to the cost of fine dining.  We would never have known how wonderful Cadot Restaurant is or how over-rated Abacus is without this service. 

There is a dichotomy between how restaurants approach Restaurant Week, however.  The first half see this week as an opportunity to attract new patrons and to help their Karma.  They serve fine quality food as you would find it normally on their menu.  The second half see this as a pain in the ass and participate simply because of peer pressure and serve less than stellar offerings.

Stephen Pyles has selected the latter path and we were .... underwhelmed by their offerings.

Stephan Pyles
1807 Ross Avenue, Suite 200
Dallas, TX 75201

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beer Review - Duvel Single

Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat Single - 6.8% ABV

Once upon a time there was a beer named Duvel Green.  Duvel Green was created to satisfy the growing demand for Belgian beers by the rather unsophisticated mass market beer drinkers.  Rather than create a beer that is really complex (made so by the second firmentation that occurs in the bottle) they chose to produce a beer that is created using only a single firmentation and meant to be served as a draft.  Perhaps the name of the beer was the reason that sales were so weak.  When I hear the term 'green beer' I either think if the dyed shite served on St. Patrick's day or the beer that I found under my car seat that may have been there for months that I tried to drink after deluding myself that it had been aging and not rotting and would be wonderful .... I was wrong.  Either way, green beer =  bad beer.

So the marketing geniuses at Duvel renamed the beer Single to describe the single firmentation that the beer goes through.  I fear that this beer was created to tap (get it?  tap?) into the success that Stella Artois has enjoyed for too long now.  The magnificence of the Belgian beers is their complexity, which this beer does not provide. 

The head pours large but dissapates fairly quickly leaving a medium head over the bright, golden ale that persists.  The suble aromas hint toward malts, citrus and hops, but not much more.  The flavor is rather boring ... some lemon, some bready malts, some hops and a bit dry.  HOWEVER if you are one of the zombies that still think that Stella Artois is a fine drink I thing that you would find this one a good match.

Duvel Moortgat USA
21 Railroad Avenue, Suite 32
Cooperstown, NY 13326

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beer Dinner

Il Cane Rosso and Dallas Beer Snobs beer and food pairing on Tuesday, August 9.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beltline Road - West

Tasty Greek Restaurant

Let me introduce you to my friend Walid 'Wally' Amro.  Wally moved to the U.S. from Lebanon in 1991 and began working at the Tasty Greek Restarant.  10 years later he bought it and you will see him there every day working the kitchen with a welcoming smile. 

Most of the food that Wally serves is home made from fresh ingredients in house.  I have to admit that this restaurant is on my list of favorites and visit it often.  You will not find more loyal patrons and I see the same faces at dinner, time and time again.  While I don't know their names, we give each other a nod of recognition and a wink because we know something that you don't ... and that is that this food is frigging amazing and that the rest of you are missing out.

Wally's place is a small hole in the wall in a nondescript strip center at the corner of Beltline and Josey Lane in Carrollton.  It is so spotlessly clean that Wally has hung up the scores from the health department inspections on the wall, next to the photos of his best customers.

A Gyro is a Gyro is a Gryo so skip the sameness and go for one of Wally's specialties.

Start out with the made from scratch Hummus or the Baba Ghanouj served with warm Pita.

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) is a baked delight with phyllo, chopped spinach, onions, feta cheese, lemon juice and olive oil.  So simple but oh so good.

Pasticio is Greek lasagna, right?  Yeah, like a Ferrari is just a car.  Layers of macaroni to separate the layers of seasoned ground beef and cheese melted into a creamy, garlic bechamel.  Divine. 

May I also recommend the Baked Kibbie?  Seasoned ground beef mixed with cracked wheat then layered with sauteed onions and pine nuts.  Rich and quite filling.

How about Mousakka?   Ground sirloin mixed with sauteed onions, garlic, tomato, eggplant and lots of seasonings.  Bloody hell that is good.

I must insist that you end the meal with the Baklava, you will thank me.  Don't forget to look around at the faces of those dining around you because you will more than likely see them next time you are in.  Heck, one of them might even be me.

Tasty Greek Restaurant
906-A Beltline Road
Carrollton, Texas 75006

Beltline Road - West

I have found a secret that I will let you in on, but please don't tell anyone else. 

You know Addison.  You know that Beltline Road in Addison (roughly from Preston to Midway) is restaurant hell with lots o' mediocre restaurants and a few gems hidden here and there.  What you don't know is that the best eating on Beltline Road is west of Marsh.  Mom and Pop shops, mostly ethnic (Mexican, El Savladoran, Thai, Vietnamese, etc) but with food cooked and served with love and pride.

In the next several weeks I will be letting you in on some of these diamonds with the hopes that you will take the trip and try several of these yourself because they deserve to be noticed.

Beer Review - Stroh's

Pabst Brewing Company Stroh's Lager - 3.2% ABV


The Stroh Brewery Company
P. O. Box 736
Milwaukee, WI 53201