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, January 30, 2013

SmashBurger/Deep Ellum Brewing Collaboration

Boy, here's one that I didn't see coming.

SmashBurger founder Tom Ryan and Deep Ellum Brewing company founder John Reardon have announced a new burger and craft brewing paring concept to be available on the Dallas Smash Burger menus.  The new malted matches are part of the company's localization initiative and push toward burger and beer pairings in larger markets across the U.S.  SmashBurger is the first national fast/casual concept to take this step.

The first restaurant will be located at NW Highway at Midway and I am .... anticipating ... the opening.


Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner

Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner

Thursday, Feb. 7, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Celebrate your love for Sierra Nevada at Flying Saucer on the Lake! Sierra Nevada manager Brett Preston will be on hand to walk guests through a tasting of five of their finest craft beers, which will be paired with four dinner courses. Featured Sierra Nevada brews include Pale Ale, Kellerweis, Celebration, Ruthless Rye and Narwhal Imperial Stout. Paired dinner courses will be seasonal salad, braised beef street tacos, herbed rabbit with sweet potato grits and Narwhal milk shake.   Tickets are $45 for U.F.O. members and $50 for non-members.  

Flying Saucer
4821 Bass Pro Dr.
Garland, TX 75043

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beer Swap Night - January 2013

Every month (or so) the snobs get together to trade beers and BS about beers that we have heard exist, but that no one has really found.

The rules:  Bring a beer for all to try that is not common.  One that you have not seen before.  One that you, and hopefully everyone else, has never tried. 

The results are quite variable as the the beer snobs cast changes monthly so sometimes we get repeats.  Sometimes we get beers that are not really that rare.  Sometime we get to be amazed.  But always we have good camaraderie and conversation. 

This month's beers featured several Christmas seasonals, a few anniversary ales and a couple of real surprises. 

For the sake of brevity we will stick to the rarities and surprises.

The first rarity is Biere d'Hougoumont from Brewery Ommegang - 7.3% ABV
Brewed in the style of a Biere de Garde, better known as a French Farmhouse Ale, Ommegang brewed the bere using French yeasts and 8 malts, French Strisselspalt hops, and aged on white oak and hard maple wooden staves.  Even though the ale is loaded with malts, they are not overpowering.  If anything the only problem with the beer is that it is a very typical Farmhouse ale.  Here are some of the comments.
 - "The wood taste in the background is quite pleasant and the hops, even though delicious, could have been a bit more represented".
- "Good, but not awesome".
- "Smooth, slightly bitter, but it doesn't blow me away".
- Good beer, elaborate and malty".

Ommegang XV Anniversary "Trappist Ale" - 9.6% ABV
The beer was brewed as an homage to the great trappist ales.  In their own words "Created with deep devotion to the brewing art, using the finest ingredients and made with infinite care, XV is unlike any ale we've ever brewed".  They were so interested in maintaining the integrity of the beer that it comes in metal containers with padding to protect the beer from jostling.  The beer poured a dark ruby with lots of carbonation creating a frothy head.  The flavors were of dark fruits, molasses, malts and a bit of hops.  The finish was long and dry.  Here are some of the comments from the snobs:
That's correct, there was no comment from the judges.  Everyone just shrugged and said something like "Yep, that is a trappist ale".  Perfectly brewed in the style intended.

La Socarrada - "American Blonde Ale" - 6% ABV
This beer was the big winner of the evening and the biggest surprise of the evening.  Spanish beers are, well, let's be charitable ... mostly not so good.  We had few preconceptions but for the most part it was not one that we relished trying.  We.  Were.  Wrong.
Xàtiva is a small town in Valencia, Spain.  The brewery La Socarrada Cervesa Artesanal De Xativa set out to create a beer that represented their region of Spain.  They did this by adding Rosemary and Rosemary honey to the brew.  The color is honey amber and with little carbonation and a bit cloudy.  The flavor is slightly woody from the yeasts with fruits and spices.  Though there is rosemary, it only becomes apparent on swallowing and the honey does not make it too sweet.  Really, really good.  The comments from the snobs:
- "I like!  Crisp without being hoppy and just a hint of rosemary and honey".
- "Really good.  Would be great paired with roasted meat".
- "The most original beer that I have ever tried."
- "I will drive miles to find this one".

Schmaltz Jewbelation 16th Anniversary "American Stron Ale" - 16% ABV
16 malts, 16 hops and 16% alcohol.  Oy vey is this ever a face full of fun.  Honestly, you should try this just so that you can say that you did.  You may read the list of malts and hops on their website, but the reality is that there is so much happening that you would never be able to discern any one of them.  Let's let the snobs do the describing:
- "Brutal".
- "Wow, strong.  This is one slow drink".
- "Good flavor but the alcohol makes it difficult to drink.  Tough one".
- "Beer should not burn going down".
- "Damn, it stained my glass"!

The snobs would like to invite you to our next beer swap.  If you are interested please email us at and let us know so that we may make the proper arrangements and find the perfect venue.  Good fun, good friends and good beer.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Revolver Brewing

What do you say, shall we visit a local brewery?  Sure, why the hell not.

When Ron Keisler retired from the Marathon Oil Company I am sure he thought that he was going to get to take it easy and relax.  His son, Rhett, had other plans.  Rhett drug his dad, kicking and screaming, though not very hard, into the beer business.  They recruited Grant Wood to come to Texas to be their brewmaster.  Grant, originally from Irving, has 25 years of experience in the industry working for Lone Star, Pearl and most recently Sam Adams.   Together they have built this .. this ... this tin cathedral of beer worship.

The facility is a bit outside Granbury, about an hour and a half SE of Dallas.  Wisely, the brewery has been built with their eyes on expansion.  There is plenty of room for additional tanks and in the near future, a bottling line and for now, there is also plenty of room for their Saturday festivities.

Tours are from 12:00 to 3:00 with live music, food and a genial atmosphere where you can sit around a fire and drink their fine brews with a hundred or so of your new friends.  Oh yes, and the beer.  Your $7 admission gets you a Revolver Glass and 4 "half glass" servings of their current offerings. 

This week's offerings were:

High Brass Pale Ale - 6% ABV 
A smooth, lightly hopped delight that was way to easy to drink.  The malts shined through without being heavy with 'palest pilsner malt and select caramel malts' complementing the German Saphir hops.  I could see this one being featured on a long hot summer day of session drinking.

Blood and Honey American Wheat Ale - 7% ABV
Previously reviewed, this delight will also be a great summer coolant.

Revolver Bock - 6.5% ABV
Though not really a bock as that it is made from ale yeasts instead of the traditional lager yeasts, it oddly tastes more like the original German marzen than most other bocks made in the area.  The caramel and toffee notes that you would expect from a bock, but balanced with a bit more Wilamette and Northern Brewers hops than normal.  Nice balance, nice drink.

Mothers Little Fracker Stout - 7.75% ABV
We were lucky enough to get to try their very first specialty brew.  Dark and thick enough to leave an oily film on the inside of the glass that was tough to wash out.  It's sweetness made it more like a porter than a stout, the roasted malts were quite intense but balanced with Summit and Challenger hops.  Absolutely my favorite stout being made in our area.

Though the qualtiy of the beer made the trip worth the time investment, the drive home after imbibing in these lovelies can be challenging.  Perhaps if would be better to ask your local watering hole to import these offerings for you?  Lot's of potential here and I wish them much success.

Revolver Brewing
5600 County Road 308
Granbury, TX 76049

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Road Trip Dining - Susan Feniger's STREET

Ah, Los Angeles... the home of countless famous restaurants and restaurnateurs.  One of those famous restauranteurs who is very hot at the moment, is Susan Feniger.  You may have seen her on Top Chef Masters on Bravo.  You may have read her cookbooks.  You may have seen her on the Food Network.  She is also the owner of several  restaurants in and around LA including several Border Grills and STREET.  We chose to try out STREET and see how it rated against Dallas restaurants.

The Street concept is fairly simple, small plates and snack sized dishes inspired by Susan's discoveries as she travelled around the world looking for culinary inspiration.  " From Moscow to Mumbai, Buenos Aires to the Bayou, savory bites explode to life in the STREET kitchen, all infused with Susan's unique style and passion."  The restaurant, located in Hollywood, is quite small, but with a decent sized courtyard where all of the action occurs and where the best people watching is found.  All of the enhanced body parts that you would find in the Park Cities but with the added bonus of the plastic, over the top personalities of the aspriring actors/actresses.  The perfect venue to take advantage of the LA weather.

Laundry Day Fritters
Berbere Fries

We, being the bottomless pits that we are, tried virtually every item on the menu.  Pigfest if you will.  Here are some of the stand outs:
   - Laundry Day Fritters made with Red Beans and Rice, Hot Sauce Crema, Andoulle Sausage and Scallions.  Dandy.
   - Berbere (an Ethiopian Spice of Chili Peppers, garlic, ginger, dried basil, koraima, rue, white and black pepper and fenugreek) Spiced French Fries.
  - Mung Bean Pancake, a Korean influenced dish made from Scallions, Kimchi and Shitake mushrooms.
   - The Daily Pizza make with Broadbean Hummus, grilled Treviso, Ratatouille and goat cheese. 
Mung Bean Pancake

Every item was created to challenge your palate with the unfamilar, and every dish that we tried was a home run.  Outstanding.

How do Dallas restaurants match up?  Dallas restaurants, if you are willing to eat steaks, Tex-Mex, burgers or southern style cuisine, are world class (if you can call a burger world class).  However there is so much more out there that Dallas has not even begun to discover.  Tastes, flavors and textures that +90% of our citizens would spurn as being inedible because it is unfamilar keeps us firmly mired in mediocrity.  Look around, challenge your palate, you may be surprised by what you find.

Susan Feniger's STREET
742 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beer Review - Unibroue Grande Reserve 17

Unibroue 17th Anniversary Belgian Style Dark Ale - 10% ABV

Do you know the Unibroue creations?  La Fin du Monde?  Maudite?  Trois Pistoles?  All magnificent beers of different styles, yet all strangely similar.  Did you get to try their anniversary ale created for their 17th anniversary in 2007?  No?  Don't sweat it, you still can. 

In 2007 they celebrated their 17th anniversary by creating a very, very special ale, which approached perfection.

Serge Racine - "Andre?  Did you taste the anniversary ale?  It... is... spectacular!"
Andre Dion - "Oui Serge, it is quite amazing."
Serge Racine -"It is quite a shame that we will only be making this one once for it may be the best beer we will ever make"
Andre Dion -"Who says we can only make it once?"
Serge Racine -"Well, it is our 17th anniversary ale after all."
Andre Dion -"Sacre Bleu, let's make it every year on the anniversary of our anniversary, d'accord?"
Serge Racine -"Oui, genius!"

So was born a new tradion at Unibroue of brewing their 17th anniversary ale once a year.

This dark Belgian style ale is stunningly good.  It pours a dark, slightly cloudy amber with a creamy head that persists leaving nice lacing on the glass.  You will smell roasted malts, hops, sugars and a bit of vanilla.  The flavor is oh, so complex... very malty with cocoa, dark fruits and mocha.  The hops are their in the background as well as some spices and some sweetness.  It is really so balanced that it is difficult to isolate many of the flavors.  This Grande Reserve is indeed aptly named in that it won the International Platinum Medal three years in a row and was also named the World's Best Ale.  A-frigging-mazing.

Unibroue 80 Des Carrières Street
Chambly (Québec) J3L 2H6

Three Stacks Smoke and Tap House

For our northern metroplex readers, this is a press release for a new beer and BBQ joint opening in Frisco.

3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House Brings Bold Flavors to Frisco

Family Friendly Restaurant Turns Up the Heat With a Texas Twist on Barbecue

[DALLAS, TX, January 10th, 2013] - New flavors will debut in Frisco this year with the opening of a contemporary all-American smokehouse, 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House, which will offer a Texas twist on traditional barbecue and a full service bar. The fresh and flavorful concept will be opening its doors as Frisco’s first American Tap House in February of 2013.
Where cafeteria style, casual dining and a family friendly sports bar unite, 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House is a unique concept bound to please every member of the family in taste and ambiance. Committed to quality, seasonal and fresh ingredients, 3 Stacks aims to have customers taste the difference by serving a menu filled with quality slow smoked meats, homemade rubs & sauces, seasonal side vegetables and daily baked breads. Signature dishes include baby back ribs, smoked salmon, refreshing cucumber salad and fresh berry cobbler.

The namesake of the restaurant is attributed to the three large smokers that welcome diners upon entrance, each dedicated to a different selection of meat. Overseeing the preparation of the meats is Pit Master, Trace Arnold, also known as the “Rib Whisperer”. Serving as the genius behind the 3 Stacks smokers, Arnold designed the original the World’s Largest Transportable smoker in 1997. Realizing the need for design improvements, Arnold sponsored a complete design makeover in 2002, producing the Ultimate Smoker and Grill, an 80-foot traveling smoker with capabilities to slow smoke over 2,000lbs of meat. Arnold has since traveled the country competing, consulting and faming the concept that outstanding barbecue does exist.
Balancing the extensive food menu is the all- American Tap House which offers an extensive list of local & regional beers. Serving approximately 36 taps year round; their menu is focused on local and regional brews with the list inclusive of hometown favorites such as beer from Deep Ellum Brewery, Lakewood Brewery and Peticolas Brewing Company. In addition to these on tap and bottled up brews, they will also be debuting an exclusive beer-pairing menu to compliment the endless list of mouth-watering menu items. Adhering to their ‘something for everyone’ mission, 3 Stacks will also be featuring root beer on tap for kids to have with dinner or to top on ice cream for a root beer float.


3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House is a contemporary Texas smoke house and bar located in the suburbs of Frisco, TX. The restaurant is founded on the premise of catering to the needs of every diner’s palate and preference, while providing customers the finest quality slow smoked meats, fish and fresh seasonal vegetables. The menu includes Texas style smoked meat and fish, seasonal vegetables and Cicerone paired beer and barbecue. 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House is serving 7 days a week, with extended hours of operation on Friday & Saturday night. Reservations are not required, however, recommended and can be made by calling (469) 287-9035. For more information, please visit

Community Beer Company

Community Beer Company Debut at Meddlesome Moth

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 5 to 7 p.m.

Meddlesome Moth will host the inaugural tapping for Community Beer Company, who will be pouring the brand new brewery’s Community Pale Ale and Public ESB on Wednesday, Jan. 16, with the possibility of a introducing a few more brews as label inspection is passed. Owner Kevin Carr and Brewmaster Jamie Fulton will be at the event along with others from the brewery. Come get the very first pint of Community Beer Company brew at Meddlesome Moth!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Beer Review - Ska Mole Stout

Ska Brewing Company Mole Stout - 5.5% ABV

There are 4 western states that I think of when I think of bastions of beerdom.  California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado.  We all know that the area around Denver is inundated with fantastic breweries and a few scattered in the mountains to the west and north, but do we really include Durango in the beer holy land?

Ska Brewing was founded in 1995 by a couple of minors.  Not, not miners, minors, underaged skate punks who, we now know, knew how to brew a great beer.  Their best beer line, in my opinion, are their stouts.  So popular that they have decided to create a new stout for every season. The Mole Stout was their autumnal selection for 2012 and boy is it a dandy.

To first understand this brew you must understand what mole is.  Mole is a culinary creation from south-central Mexico that mixes chocolate, unsweetened of course, with chilis, which stimulates quite and endorphine rush.  "The Autumnal Mole Stout is an ale brewed with cocoa nibs, spices and three varieties of chile peppers: Mulato, Ancho and Hatch green chiles, (also known as Anaheim Peppers.)" says the folks at Ska.  The beer pours a really dark brown, almost black, with an off-white head that hangs around for a bit.  It smells of chilis, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and caramel, delicious and enticing.  The flavor is enormous, a bit sweet and a bit spicy with the cocoa shining through.  Hugely interesting with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, espresso, caramel are also there .... along with a smokey flavor.  It is really balanced, really complex but quite drinkable.  

Unfortunately I didn't try this earlier in the season so that I can buy more, but it makes me want to go out and buy there winter stout, Hibernal Vinifera, and anticipate the re-release of this beauty next fall.  If you find this still available I would highly recommend snabbing a 6-pack (yes, it is in cans). 

Ska Brewing
225 Girard Street
Durango, CO 81301

Monday, January 7, 2013

Event Review - Peticolas 1 Year Anniversary Party

You can't help but to be impressed at how far the Dallas craft beer scene has come in just a few years (of course, when you are starting from virtually zero, and after the rest of the country has been enjoying huge successes for many years, even a little success could be seen as a huge leap ... but I digress).  In our estimation the finest of the new breweries is Michael Peticolas' self named creation located in the Design District. 

Their new digs were not finished for their self-congratulatory party and the heater decided to quit the night before, but the fans were in good spirits and hey, there was a wedding going on at the same time, and who doesn't love a wedding?  It is too bad that there was not a band .... What?  Fish Fry Bingo was playing!!?  Damn, I didn't see or hear them at all!  Why not?  Because the warmest room in the building was the brewing room and knowing that there was only a thin bit of steel between me and many, many gallons of beer somehow gave me comfort, so there I stayed. 

The commemorative glass handed out at the door came with 3 tokens that you could use to fill your glass with Peticolas' line of fine brews, as well as a special beer made for this event.  Some of their special beers were included:
- Wintervention, which reminds me of a beer enjoyed many years ago called Christmas Farm Ale from the Dunedin Brewery in Florida.  Lots of great flavors and plenty of alcohol to warm your bones.  Really, really good beer.
- Great Scot, that ever so rare ale which is now even more rare as that this was the last keg to be found, though rumor has it that they are aging a keg or two for later release.
- Vanilla Bean Velvet Hammer, made specially for this event, was nice, but I'll be darned if we could smell or taste any vanilla.
The regular cast we present as well, Velvet Hammer, Golden Opportunity and their GABF award winning Royal Scandal.
The food trucks at the event were a nice touch, with more sliders than I have ever seen in one place, and provided the sponge that was needed to soak up our enjoyment. 

For many years Texans have suffered through having to drink mediocre, misguided and just plain awful beers and it would be a slam dunk for a start up brewery to provide more of the same.  Peticolas and a few others like Deep Ellum, Lakewood and Revolver have all made the decision to not follow decades of traditional Texas swill beer production.  Let's hope that this craft beer movement is not a trend and that we that we get to enjoy these creations for a great many years.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Screw

Those of you who have lived in cities other than Dallas know this, and people who have never lived anywhere else but Dallas need to know this:  Dallas restaurants are rather poor and are mired in mediocrity.  There is a reason that so many of the nations meh restaurant chains are headquartered here (Chili's, TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut, etc.).  The reason is that Dallasites, for the most part, are perfectly satisfied with boring food. 

We have eaten at most if not all of the highly touted restaurants in DFW and found them all lacking.  Whether it is problems with the food served or with the service is irrelevant, if you call yourself a 'world class' or '5 star' restaurant you need to provide what the rest of the world provides.  But the reality is the vast majority of our restaurants are very average; there are a several pretty good, a few very good, but none that approach great.  The closest that we have found to being comparable to what the rest of the world takes for granted in food quality and service is the Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth. 

The worst of the worst of culinary crimes comes out at family outing holidays; New Years, Mothers Day and Easter.  That is when virtually every restauranteur gleefully rub there hands together and chuckle a most evil chuckle and then shout 'let the screwing begin'.  They concoct a 'prix fixe' menu comprised of high profit items that their staff can pre-prepare so that they can partially heat it when ordered and then slop it on a plate.  Little or no regard is given to quality, profits are their goal.  They claim that the prix fixe menu was created due to the crush of patrons, but honestly, have you seen crowds that are bigger than the crowds that they usually have?  No.

Every year we try to find a restaurant that rises above the need for greed and fail.  We all end up paying outrageous prices for absolute crap while the owner's smile, knowing that we will be back at the next holiday.  Welcome to the screw.