Monthly Archives: March 2011

Downtown spot serves up happy hour cocktails, delicious chops

The patio of Dallas Chop House/Photo: Taylor Henry

I have a bit of envy when I’m walking my dog at Main Street Garden Park and I hear a party going on. Apparently, the downtown trend is to flock to the bottom of the Comerica building, where people rid their workdays with cocktails at Dallas Chop House‘s happy hour.

Outside of this prime time, drinks are not a bargain here, with all cocktails staying close to $14 and most glasses of wine surpassing $10. However, take the bartender’s recommendation of his latest cocktail, and the new concoction may be worth the $15 price tag. The mojito’s $12 price tag, however, is better spent elsewhere.

If having dinner, popovers are brought to the table, providing a fluffy and disappointment replacement of typical bread. This sweet, almost pastry-like bread is served with a rosemary butter, making for an odd pairing of dessert and herbs.

A steak house wouldn’t be complete without Caesar salad (and cheesecake) on the menu list. However, this lightly dressed bed of lettuce has only the Parmesan crisp going for it. The Big Blue, however, is a better choice, although the size is better for sharing. Iceberg lettuce is topped with marinated tomatoes, apple wood-smoked bacon, pecans and a blue cheese dressing that’s creamy and light for those who don’t love the pungent cheese.

Three filets are offered, two eight-ounce, one of which is prime angus beef, and one 12-ounce all-natural angus beef.

The $12 difference between the all-natural and prime angus eight-ounce steaks is legitimate if eating the steak alone. However, top either one with a small mound of truffle butter, and the extra marbling in the prime doesn’t seem to make a difference.

One of my favorite aspects of this place is the ability to add hollandaise sauce, béarnaise sauce, Maytag blue butter or truffle butter to any steak. Other options have supplements ready, such as the lamb chops served with bordelaise and blue cheese.

Side dishes arrive family-style, ready to share. The steaming bowl of potatoes is the worst disappointment when you have a good steak. The chef tried to amp it up with a few green onions and chive oil, but I would have to add copious amounts of salt to make them work, which made the side not worth the trouble–or the carbs.

However, the steak fries may be the best option on the menu: each fry has an ultra-crisp outside, encompassing a soft, steaming, and seemingly delicate piece of potato. These perfect pieces of carbohydrates are tossed in roasted garlic, prosciutto and Parmesan before they are arranged like a game of Jenga on a plate.

The creamed spinach is delicious and enjoyable—if you’re not expecting creamed spinach. If you’re expecting sautéed spinach with a pinch of nutmeg and an accent of cream, it’s fine.

I need to do some more investigating on the desserts here.., so far, the cheesecake was an utter disappointment of a bland slice of empty calories.

Dallas Chop House has been serving downtown residents and visitors for over a year, owned by Mike Hoque, who also owns Dallas Fish Market down the street. His next endeavor is a Mexican restaurant, which is currently in construction in the location directly across Main Street from the Chop House.

Dallas Chop House
Location: 1717 Main St., Dallas, 75201, 214-736-7300
Hours: Lunch: Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Price: $$$$ (Appetizers, $12 to $18. Entrées $25 to 39, excluding market prices)
Service: Friendly, informative
Ambience: Contemporary and spacious on the inside with a lower noise level, commonly packed with people on the patio
Attire: Smart casual
Payment Information: All major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar
Seating: Indoor and patio

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Jersey Mike’s gives free subs to help Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer for a second year

Logo provided by Jersey Mike's Subs.

Among Jimmy Johns and New York Subs, Jersey Mike’s Subs is a popular sandwich go-to for many SMU students. And through this weekend, students choosing Mike’s over Jimmy’s will be helping children wipe out cancer.

For a second year in a row, Jersey Mike’s has dedicated the month of March to contribute to Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (WOKC) for each sub it sells. From Feb. 28, the sub shop has been giving 25 cents of every regular-sized sub and 50 cents of every giant sub sold to the organization.

Go in to any of the 14 Jersey Mike’s in DFW on Monday, March 28 and donate at least a buck to WOKC, and you’ll be handed a free regular sub as part of “WOKC Day.”

While all of this is consistent with last year’s campaign (that raised over $50,000), this year  SMU students and faculty get a WOKC day of their own Friday, March 25 at the Greenville Avenue location. Just bring your SMU ID and at least $1 to donate.

The money raised last year provided funding for four pediatric cancer research trials in 2011 at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Cook Children’s Medical Center Fort Worth: so skipping the savory pastrami at New York Subs for an Italian sub at Jersey Mike’s this month may be worth it.

Jersey Mike’s Subs
Location: 5521 Greenville Ave., Dallas, 75206, 214-692-6985
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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The home of a classic breakfast

When searching the breakfast menu of a restaurant, I frequently skip over the omelettes and go straight for pancakes, crepes or biscuits and gravy. But every so often, when my eyes don’t make that jump, my choice will be cheese, ham, green onion and bell pepper carefully encompassed in egg: a Denver omelette, or what some of you may know as the Western omelette.

I’ve perused various sources to find the origin of this classic, but found ambiguous answers, including one from Denver’s Westword that was informative, but one that was still without a final answer. However, on my trip to Denver, my boyfriend and I were able to find a place that claims to be the home of the Denver Omelette.

The Denver omelette at the Delectable Egg/Photo: Taylor Adams

The Delectable Egg is a local chain in Denver (and Westminster), providing customers with a menu listing various appetizing meals, but I wasn’t coming up to the mile-high city to order waffles. Offered with breakfast potatoes and a choice of toast, an english muffin or pancakes, this Denver omelette comes out  with sliced ham and bell pepper on top of the egg combo.

 

The toast was toast. The breakfast potatoes needed work–added salt helped, but some crispiness to the outside of these small chunks would have made them acceptable. What was important, however, was up to my expectations. The omelette was nothing different and spectacular–it wasn’t baked or complimented with foreign ingredients. However, it was simply the way a Denver omelette should taste, which is something many restaurants can’t seem to figure out. The ratio of meat, cheese and veggies was perfect: with each bite the cheese would melt and the bell pepper would crunch; and there was the right about of ham to provide the meatiness required in a full breakfast.

This alleged home of this classic is a good destination for this breakfast favorite: it’s simple and it’s perfect.

The Delectable Egg
Location: (Multiple) 1642 Market St., Denver, 80202, 303-572-8146
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Price: $ (items are below $10)
Service: Friendly, attentive
Ambiance: Small, downtown breakfast joint
Attire: Casual
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Alcohol: None served
Seating: Indoor seating

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Filed under American, Breakfast

A meal worth digging into

The taco combo/Photo: Taylor Adams

Since I noticed that taco joints seem to be popping up like frozen yogurt chains, I’ve been less than eager to open the doors of new ones. But Digg’s Taco Shop has been serving tacos across from my college campus since January of this year–not terribly long, but more than enough time for a true food lover (and routine taco eater) like myself to give it a try.

I finally got myself inside this restaurant, where Stromboli Cafe used to serve over-priced pizza. The walk-up order counter has a menu with tacos, quesadillas, hamburgers and other miscellaneous items.

Order the tacos individually for $2.50 or go with the combo served with cilantro rice and black beans for $6. The combo makes for a complete meal. The small cup of beans is classic–nothing special–but complimentary of the tacos. It also makes up for the boring mound of rice on the other side of the rectangular plate. The meat (or veggies, if you’re into that) of each taco is served beneath a heap of cabbage, small chunks of tomato and plenty of cilantro inside two soft, white corn tortillas, just enough to keep everything together before taking the first bite. The roast pork carnitas is a sweet meet, paired perfectly with the fresh cabbage and a squeeze of lime. Less exciting is the shredded beef, which pours out grease as you lift it up, and fails to live up to much expectation.

Hot Digg-ity Sauce at Digg's Taco Shop/Photo: Taylor Adams

However, to amp it up, there is some “Hot Digg-ity Sauce” sitting on the table: a runny but decently hot (remember, a Texan is talking) condiment.

I’ll make sure my next visit will involve a gulf shrimp taco and possibly even a mahi taco (both are offered fried or grilled). But there’s sure to be a couple of visits to Rusty’s before that. However, what has me more excited for Digg’s is the quesadilla. Shredded cheese  is offered with either chicken, beef, shrimp or veggies melted together between grilled flour or spinach tortillas.

I don’t order quesadillas often: it’s a food I actually love, but associate with an afternoon snack in my middle school days. But now it looks like this afternoon snack can work in my college days with a crisp tortilla (flour, of course) carefully casing shredded chicken blended with cheese: simplicity made satisfying.

Margarita popsicles or crispy jelly donut holes are available if you’re still hungry after your meal–both of which are on my “to-do list” for this joint. Now I just wonder how many visits it will take for me to order a hamburger at a taco shop.

Digg’s Taco Shop
Location: 6309 Hillcrest Ave., Dallas, 75205, 214-520-0155
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Price: $ (items are below $10)
Service: Adequate
Ambiance: College hangout, entertaining and tasteful music
Attire: Casual
Credit Cards: All major cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer, wine and margaritas served
Seating: Indoor and patio seating
Take-out: Yes

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iPads and cannolis

It’s midterm time at SMU and my review of English notes is constantly interrupted by my conversations on Twitter. I’m seeking advice on whether or not I should get an iPad and whether or not there is such a thing as a good cannoli in Dallas.

I made a horrible decision right before my 18th birthday. I was in Boston’s North End and I came to realize the time had come for me to try my first cannoli. I wish someone had stopped me. I live in Dallas: A city filled with many Italian restaurants, ranging in quality from “I’ll go there on my birthday” to “The convenient location isn’t even worth it.”

So my first quest begins. I’m searching for the best cannoli in Dallas. Mike Drago, assistant managing editor at the Dallas Morning News, suggests I avoid the trouble. Travis Hudson, web editor at the DMN, tells me to start at Jimmy’s.

The cannoli at Angelo’s is decent–topped with pistachio, the Sicilian dessert is pleasing after spaghetti, but not on par with the North End perfection. I can advise to avoid the cannoli sitting in Central Market’s display case. Beyond that, there’s work to be done.

My research and eating begins tomorrow.

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Filed under Dessert, Italian

Small Italian spot disappoints with first impression

There are numerous restaurants I see while driving around this city, and I’m always eager to finally go to one I’ve passed for years. Tonight, Meredith Shamburger and I tried one we had both been curious about: a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that promised satisfying Italian food.

Bellini’s Cafe & Pizza doesn’t have a website, but it does have a large sign above its awnings in the small strip mall on Congress Avenue. Just off Oak Lawn Avenue, this Italian spot appears closer to fine dining once you walk in.

This particular evening, we were welcomed by a host (with a perfectly-executed Elvis hairstyle) who led us to the dining room: a smaller space filled with white table clothes covering tables topped with menus and silverware. Only half of these tables were full around 7 p.m. on this Saturday night.

A generous portion of toasted bread was offered to diners from a seemingly bottomless basket being carried around throughout the dining room. So far, so good, the crisp outside of the bread, topped with seasonings of rosemary, made a nice crunch before the soft fluff inside. A plate of olive oil, balsamic, garlic and parsley made the bread even more legitimate for filling up before the meal arrived.

Our young waiter was eager and attentive, but hardly helpful. I clearly brought on high levels of stress to him when asking his opinion on the better choice between the lobster ravioli and the chicken parmesan. (For the record, I know better than to order lobster ravioli in most Texas restaurants). After nervous considerations, the young man suggested the chicken parmesan, since he knew the angel hair was made by hand in house, and the ravioli was not. Chicken it was.

The caesar salad almost wasn’t worth mentioning: a creamy dressing with too much lemon was tossed in large pieces of lettuce. The waiter cracked black pepper before spooning grated parmesan over the small salad, all of which was topped with one crouton. Yes, just one dense crouton.

Meredith went with the angel hair and marinara sauce. Both of our plates were presented with tall, thin slices of carrot propped up in our pasta. Once we both took this out, we dove in. The chicken was slightly tough, but the seasoned, breaded flavor was there; and on bites topped with a copious amount of cheese, it was fine. The sauce was less-than impressive, though. I could blame it on the fact that it’s the beginning of March, but the seemingly watery tomatos made salt necessary. And the, as promised, handmade pasta failed to match up to even my favorite packaged pasta.

Overall, the service was up to par, but the food was less than pleasing. It could have been the one time, and it’s probably worth another shot. I was even tweeted that I should be pleased with the place. But with so many Italian restaurants in Dallas (and I just discovered there are FOUR in walking distance of my apartment), how do I have the time to risk this place again?

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Finding my “Appetite for Architecture”

My brother, the architect, is lousy company for the first couple of minutes at a restaurant. As I’m commenting on menu items and beginning my complicated routine in picking something, his eyes are wondering everywhere. No, he’s not looking at women walking by, nor is he looking at food being placed on the table beside us (though I might be). He’s looking up, down, left, right, up again, down again. I’m sure those who dine with him for the first time think his wandering eyes are the result of his awkwardness–unless they’re architects, then they probably understand.

Dallas Fish Market is the venue for Thursday's "Appetite for Architecture."

Even for those of us who may not think about the detail of the ceiling in the restaurant before the freshness of the tomatoes in the Caprese, the space of the restaurant is a great effect on the dining experience. This Thursday, Tyler (the bro) and I are headed to Dallas Fish Market to look at restaurant design as part of “Appetite for Architecture.”

The Dallas Center for Architecture is hosting the event, open to professionals and community members, which is just the first of many to come. The Center hopes to have several of these events a year, where people “gather in an architecturally significant restaurant for food and drink and to hear from the architects/designers of the space and the chefs who inhabit them,” according the event’s website.

Dallas Fish Market is  located in the Kirby Building on Main Street, making this spot an ideal first venue for this series of events. 5gStudio architects will be there, discussing their work on renovating the landmarked building. The restaurant’s founder, Mike Hoque, will also be there, talking about his work with the architects in developing his ideal restaurant.

Wine and appetizers will help begin the evening at 6 p.m., followed by the discussion at 6:30. If  interested, you can register for $25. Otherwise, follow my tweets that night.

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