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.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Beer Dinner

The Grape, one of my very favorite restaurants in Dallas, and Four Corners Brewing will be having a beer paired dinner.  You would be well advised to check this one out. - Bon

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Beer Review - Belikin Stout

Belize Brewing Company Belikin Stout - 6.5% ABV

So there I was, sitting at the bar at a resort in Belize (poor me, right?) wondering which piss water Caribbean beer I was going to gag down for the next several days.  Red Stripe?  Gag.  Kalik?  Gag.  Corona?  Double gag. 
"A beer I guess"  I replied to the bartenders query.
"What kind"?  he asked with his slightly accented English.
"Urk ... do you have any with flavor"?  I asked, fearing the worst.
"Have you tried Belikin"?
"No, but I guess I will give it a shot" I sighed.
"Do you want the lager, the Premium or the Stout"?
At this point the few brain cells that I have left fired up and I recalled that Belize used to be an English colony called British Honduras.  British.  Why wouldn't there be a stout? 
"Kind sir, I would love to try the stout".
Now the next several hours are a bit blurry due to the quantity of Belikins that followed, but I seem to recall my initial impression as having the gates of heaven open and a choir of angels singing, but I could be misremembering.  Regardless, over the next several days I experimented enough with the beer to be pretty damned sure that my initial impression was not as seen through rose colored glasses.

The Belikin Brewing Company was founded in 1969, well before independence from England, and their brewing line has 4 stouts.  4.  Four.  Quattro.  Damn, I wish that I had tried them all.  The bottle for the stout is the same as for the lager with only the color of cap to show the difference, but not to worry, you won't confuse them.  Oddly, they also brew Guinness Stout which is not the typical stout sold in the U.S. and Europe. "This wonderful rich beer is brewed by our brew masters at the Belize Brewing Company Ltd in Belize according to the original recipe from Ireland under the direct supervision and quality standards of Guinness Ltd. from Dublin, Ireland" and is a potent 7.5% ABV.  I wish that I had tried it.
The stout is almost black and has a thick, rich texture, almost like a porter.  The smell is rich as well, with molasses, licorice and coffee.  The flavor is also surprisingly rich with dark fruits, roasted malts, licorice, molasses and hops appearing at the end, very complex and decidedly un-Caribbean (halleluiah).  I was so impressed that I actually did not feel the need to look for another beer during the whole trip.  I have heard rumors that Belikin is available in parts of the U.S. so if you know where I can find it ......

Belize Brewing Company
One King Street
Belize City, Belize

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bishop Cider Company

Did you see that there is a new Cidery open in Bishop Arts?  The Bishop Cider Company is the first in north Texas and will be "pushing the limits" of creativity.  Their website will soon be coming to or check them on facebook.  Though I am not personally a big fan of cider I am quite sure that Mrs. Vivant will be dragging me down to try it out.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Restaurant Review - Lark on the Park

Lark on the Park

Wouldn't you like to be one of those people find success in virtually everything you do?  The Midas Touch?  It seems that Shannon Wynne and Keith Schlabs have that magic touch with 16 thriving Flying Saucers and the iconic Meddlesome Moth creating its own legacy, what else could they do to extend their beer-centric empire?  The Lark on the Park is what they did.

The Lark is the logical progression in their trend to take beer out of the forefront of attention of their concepts and make the food the star and the beer becoming part of the supporting cast.  Compare it to your own maturing process ..... mass quantities of beer were great when you were in college but as you aged you find that you appreciate a fine wine with dinner or a snifter of good scotch every so often. 

The space is elegant simplicity with the materials used in the construction reflecting their desire to reach a more gentrified clientele.  It feels light and airy with the artwork provided by local artists on gigantic blackboards; a theme found in all of their previous creations, but taken to the next level.  The acoustics are blissfully muted and for the first time in a Wynne/Schlabs concept we could have a quiet conversation without resorting to reading lips. 

I normally refrain from trying a new restaurant in the first few weeks because I know that there are going to be lots of hick-ups which will annoy me so much that I will probably not return.  I am not a very forgiving soul ... major character flaw.  But we surmised that with their soft opening on Friday that not so many people know about the Lark and that they would not yet be inundated with the beautiful people (of Marilyn Manson's definition, not Hollywood's) and lo and behold we were right!  The second welcome surprise is that the food was magnificent and the service, while not yet polished, was friendly and professional.  Not flawless but certainly not flawed. 

The menu like the beer selection, is limited with the chefs (husband and wife team Dennis Kelley and Melody Bishop from Suzanne Goin's renowned Tavern in Brentwood, California) having chosen to provide a menu with fewer selections of very high quality, seasonal items.  The weakest selections on the menu are those found in the appetizer section.  The grilled artichokes on the Antipasto dish makes it worth trying but we recommend skipping the Grilled Chicken Skewers.  Sausage Plate, Cheese Plate ... meh.  The dinner selections were applaudable with every single entrée influencing us to much lip smacking and much sharing. 

Lamb Shank
The Braised Lamb Shank with Israeli Couscous, pine nuts, feta and black olives was huge and so tender that the asked for knife was never needed or used.  Moist, tender, delicious and highly recommended. 

Moo Krob Pork

Moo Krob Thai pork comes with lime-cilantro sticky rice slaw and a chili garlic sauce that will bring tears to your eyes.  The pork was braised with Thai spices with the skin left on and crisped ... kind of like an oversized lardon.  Fantastic.


I usually test a kitchen's quality by ordering a fish dish.  Fish is so easily overcooked or undercooked that a poorly trained or poorly managed staff will expose themselves to a watchful eye.  The Massachusetts Haddock was flaky and moist, served on a carrot puree that accented the subtly flavored fish with its parsley-chive sauce. 

Lastly, the Seared Cape Cod Scallops was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the evening.   Served with risotto, English Peas and enhanced with Saffron, they were tender, sweet and delicious.  So what was the disappointment?  Three lonely little scallops for $28 is a bit of a stretch no matter how delicious they are. 

Buttermilk Pie
You must save room for the Buttermilk Pie.  Outstanding.  The Sticky Toffee Pudding is good enough to make an Englishman homesick.

"What about the beers?  You haven't talked about the beers yet!"  I was just getting to that.  Keith has chosen several beers meant to compliment the meal, but you won't find a broad range of any one type.  You will find a good example of an IPA, a Saison, an English Ale, but you won't find several examples of each.  The wine list is quite adequate as well with the selection being more extensive than that of the Moth.  The mixology also is much improved over their predecessors.

Even though the Lark is located in fairly close proximity to the Moth it will not be in direct competition to them.  Instead think of it as a competitor to Oak.  I can assure you that you will find us there often enjoying their offerings and trying to figure out how in the hell we can acquire the golden touch too.

Lark on the Park
2015 Woodall Rodgers Fwy
Dallas, TX 75201

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Road Trip Dining - Durango, Mexico

I recently completed a project in Durango, or more correctly, Victoria de Durango, in Mexico.  Of course I received a bunch of "Are you crazy"? comments and "Aren't you afraid of getting kidnapped or killed"?.  Believe me, if they were looking for someone to hold for ransom it sure as hell wouldn't be me.  I believe that Mrs. Vivant may actually pay someone handsomely to keep me there.

Durango is located in central Mexico about half way between Big Bend and Mexico City and lies at 6,600 feet above sea level, which is higher than Denver.  This old colonial capital of the state of Durango was founded in 1563 and is rather smaller than I anticipated at around 600,000 residents and like Denver is relatively flat and easy to walk, except for the altitude thing.  The semi-arid environment makes you continuously thirsty and oddly enough, the watery Mexican beers seemed to fit my craving for liquid just fine, along with copius amounts of water (bottled) and an insatiable need for Chapstick.

It is rather amazing that so many Mexican dishes are made from 4 simple ingredients; tortillas, meat, sauce and cheese.  Enchiladas, chilaquiles, tacos, quesadillas, etc. are all made basically the same way and if you like these combinations you will do just fine.  If you feel the need to eat ‘safe’ you can find McDonalds, KFC, Subway and even Applebee’s, but for the life of me I can’t imagine why you would.  You can also find Italian (not so good), Chinese restaurants (authentic Chinese cuisine is well loved in Mexico) and Torta (sub) shops everywhere.  Remember, breakfast in Mexico is at 10:00 am, lunch at 3:00 pm and dinner starts at 10:00 pm.

Try Fonda de la Tia Chonda at 100 Calle Noga for authentic traditional dishes surrounded by the moneyed elite of Durango.  This is where I discovered Bohemia Obscura beer.  Where in the hell has this one been hiding?  Brewed by FEMSA - Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma in Monterrey and is a subsidiary of *sigh* frigging Heineken, This amber delight had way more flavor than any Mexican beer that I have tried in the past.  It is quite malty and is a smooth drink.  Light and watery (it is a Mexican beer after all) but with flavor, and most likely is a bock style beer.  It paired amazingly well with the Mexican cuisine being served.

The hotel where I stayed, The Gobernador, has 2 restaurants that are good enough that you won’t feel the need to wander through the streets searching for something better.  The fine dining choice, La Hacienda, specializes in Duragueno and Mixiote dishes of which several that you will not likely find in the U.S.; sorry, though I will eat almost anything, I could not quite work up the nerve to try dishes with a corn smut called huitlacoche, which is a disease that forms galls on the corn kernels. 

I encourage you to visit Durango which I found to be safe, clean (except for the air pollution) and the citizens were amazingly friendly.  There are areas of Dallas that I stay away from because I don’t feel safe and Durango has those same areas.  Your common sense will tell you to stay away from the seedy areas and you should listen.  That same voice will tell you where to eat so keep listening.  In all my many Mexican travels I have never gotten ill from the food or the water and with a bit of common sense you will be good to go. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Beer Review - The Temptress

Lakewood Brewing Company's The Temptress Imperial Milk Stout - 9.1% ABV

I am so very impressed with the quality of beers being produced in Dallas these days.  To be completely honest I didn't ever think that I would ever see the day that world class beers would be brewed right here and to my chagrin, The Temptress is as good a milk stout as you will find anywhere. 

The beer pours thck and dark creating a small head that leaves sticky lacing on the side.  The lactose used in the brewing process imparts a lovely cream odor and pairs with the malts to make the beer smell more dessertish than beerish.  Smooooth and silky mouthfeel greet you from the first sip.  Chocolate and caramel malts, sugar, cream, nuttiness, and none of them overpowering.  The biggest problem is that it is so smooth and easy drinking that you drink a second, and maybe even a third and then ... then you wake up with peanut butter smeared all over your body and an inflatable sheep lying next to you in bed.  What?  Was that only me? 

HOWEVER .... if you want a transcendental experience you must seek out the bourbon barrel version.  Mother Goose is that ever good. 

Lakewood Brewing Company
2302 Executive Drive
Garland, TX 75041