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 22, 2012

Beer Review - Hop Trapp

Lakewood Brewing Company Hop Trapp Belgian IPA - 6.4% ABV

"This IPA has more in common with its Trappist cousins than with the face shredding IPA's of the west coast. While we still have a healthy bitter backbone and floral hop notes, this IPA is decidedly malty and complex with the addition of our Belgian yeast. It's the thinkin' man's IPA". Says the Lakewood Brewing website.  Let's break this comment down, shall we?

First, what is a Belgian IPA?  Here's the funny thing, Belgian IPA's are not really brewed for Belgian beer drinkers, they were created specifically for the American beer market.  Our friend Chris Bauweraerts, founder of the Brasserie d'Achouffe, told us that he created Houblon Chouffe after taking a trip to the U.S. and observed how our market trended more toward hoppy beers.  Indeed, Houblon Chouffe is his favorite creation but he admits that it is more like a Belgian Trippel than an American IPA.  There are two very distinct differences between Belgian IPA's and American IPA's:  the sugar content, they are usually quite sweet and the yeast, the strong earthy, banana taste which is quite pronounced.  You will also find that most Belgian Trippels have quite a lot of alcohol, upward from 8%.

Hopp Trapp is pours slightly cloudy, golden/orange with a head that does not persist.  The nose is of hops, citrus and a bit of yeast.  The beer is a bit dry, which is typical for a Belgian Trippel, and the carbonation is medium.  You will taste hops first and foremost; not overpowering or face imploding, but significant.  A bit of orange follows along and lastly the yeasts.  There is very little sweetness to speak of and the malts in the background are quite sublte.  This is a really decent beer but because of the lack of sweetness, low alcohol content and, what I found to be, irrelevant malts, I would tend to place it in the East Coast IPA category rather than the Belgian IPAs.  We are looking foreward to trying more of Lakewood's offerings.  Hooooray Beer!

Lakewood Brewing Company
2302 Executive Drive
Garland, TX 75041

Here is a follow up from the Hop Trapp review. I had a chance to try the Lost Abbey Brewing Red Barn Ale this weekend. It is described as a Saison style beer for American tastes. I was amazing how much it and Hop Trapp resembled each other. I would like to remind you that we have world class beers being produced right here in Dallas. Good show Lakewood.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Restaurant Review - The Bowery

The Bowery Restaurant

I love hotdogs.  I'm not kidding, I love hotdogs.  There is almost no other food that compliments a good, cold beer than a good hotdog.  Then why-oh-why am I unable to find a good hotdog joint in Dallas?  Oh, I know, there are some good dogs here and there in Dallas, but they are usually one offs, like the ONE hotdog at the Angry Dog.  There is also the dandy Chicago Dog from the Old World Sausage Company at the Farmers Market, but really, can you name one good hotdoggery that has more than a couple of really good dogs?

The Bowery is the latest introduction into the fickle Dallas restaurant scene where burger joints and taquerias reign supreme.  Billed as an 'upscale' hot dog bistro it rests in the middle of the land of the $30k millionaires where you can flip a coin and be as accurate as the experts in determining whether or not it will survive.  Our experience leads us to believe that it may not.

As we walked in we were accosted by a server who led us to a table and took our order.  It was, we found out a couple of minutes later, an option to have a server, you can order at the counter in the back if you choose and save a bit of cabbage, which you should seriously consider.  The menu is quite extensive with the dogs broken out into 3 categories.  The Classics with standards such as Korn Dogs, Chicago Dogs and Brats, The Traveller with dogs with an international flair and High Brow with with eyebrow raisers like Royal Wagyu and Duo of Duck.  The also give you the option of a Naked Dog that you can load up with anything you wish a la carte.  I really needed a base in which to compare these dogs to those I have had in the past and so stayed mostly with the basics.  The Bowery Brat comes with a beer braised brat, carmelized onions, house mustard and saurkraut served on an oversized bun that they have made for them somewhere in the design district.  The second (which really is overkill regardless of what they tell you) was the Chicago Dog which is a damn fine example of the style but about 1/3 larger than is typical.  The Overstuffed Dutchman is waffle fries, smoked bacon, chives, smoked gouda mornay sauce all on a baguette and, according to my lunch companion, really confusing and not at all worth the price.

The biggest issue that I have with the Bowery came at pay time.  Two hot dogs, potato chips and a soda came out to $25.00 .... for hot dogs.  Admittedly this is with tip, that you don't need to pay if you order from the counter in the back.  The Overstuffed Dutchman? $9.00.  The Chicago Dog?  $7.50.  The question you must ask youself is this version of the Chicago Dog worth twice as much as the Chicago Dog at the Old World Sausage Company?  Oh yeah, here is the added insult, you have to valet, add $5.00. 

The Bowery
3407 McKinney Avenue
Dallas, TX  (nothing there to see at this time)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beer Review - Wealth and Taste

Deep Ellum Brewing Company Wealth and Taste Golden Ale - 9.5% ABV

The trend to ferment beers inside repurposed booze casks continues to grow.  Whiskey, bourbon, wine, pickles ... maybe not pickles, not yet, are used to add complexity to beer with variable results.  For the most part, in my opinion, beers aged in wine barrels are misguided perversions, kind of like a Liger, with the fruitiness of the grapes overpowering the subtleties of flavors that grain provides.  Every once in a while you get one that you can really appreciate, and here 'tis.

Wealth and Taste is based on a Belgian style strong ale.  Yeasts provide Belgian beers with their unique flavor and add a certain fruitiness, mostly bananas, and spice, which the averge beer connaisseur either loves or hates.  Very few beer drinkers are indifferent.  DEBC mixed 3 different Belgian yeasts to achieve their creation.  They then age the beer, brewed with Muscat grape juice, in Chardonnay barrels.  These barrels have not been used to age the wine for as long as is typical.  What this means is that the wine had not saturated the wood so much.  So with less wine in the wood of the barrels there is less of their flavor imparted into the beer, making a sublte undertone of wine flavors rather than overpowering flavors.  But that was not enough for these mad scientists, oh no, they also added rose hips, chamomile flower and grapefruit peels.

The color is a hazy orange-gold with the smell being of yeasts, grapes and vanillla from the oak barrels.  The flavor is extremely complex with the earthy goodness from the yeasts arriving first, quickly followed by the grapes.  The dryness and balance surprised me a bit and there was very little evidence of hops.  My friends, this is a really good beer that deserves your attention.  As it is seasonal you may have a bit of difficulty finding it, but find it you must.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company
2823 St. Louis Street
Dallas, TX 75226

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beer Review - Great Divide Rumble

Great Divide Brewing Company Rumble IPA - 7.1% ABV

A gay friend poses this riddle:  "What is the difference between a straight man and a gay man?  3 beers."  For me it is "What is the difference between a Belgian beer connaisseur and a hophead"?  While I love the Belgians, their cloying sweetness and heavy texture weighs on me when I am trying to enjoy a 'session' on a hot summer day.  By the time I get to my third beer I want something cleaner, brighter and a bit hoppy.  No, no ...  I'm not talking about one of those palate killing hop bombs, I am talking about a nice middle of the road IPA.  That is exactly what we have here.

This beer uses the aggressive northwest hops which could be overpowering, but then they aged the beer 'on Oak' to mellow the brew and adds the vanilla accents.  The color is a golden amber and poured with a decent head that quickly dissipated.  The smell was predictable hoppy with a bit of sugar and vanilla undertones.  Hops also were the predominant flavor but there was a fine balance of caramel sweetness, along with some citrus, pine and vanilla.  Not a great beer but a pretty darn good one and worth seeking out.  Do your seeking quickly as that this one is seasonal and will go away soon.

Great Divide Brewing Company
2201 Arapahoe Street
Denver, CO 80205