Monthly Archives: October 2012

Great One comes close to fulfilling its cookie promise

Great One Cookie Company has its name for a reason: If you’re having an amazing, gooey cookie that’s simply great, just one is enough. And just as the website says, “Life is too short to eat an average cookie.”

For the most part, the store lives up to the name and motto.

Carefully packaged treats from Great One Cookie Company. (Photos by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Located next to the small wine shop on Monticello Avenue, this miniature bakery offers customers a slightly small, but worthy array of fresh baked cookies. The woman behind it all, Pam Denesuk, can be found in the kitchen behind a mixer.

That may be where she stays as another employee walks up to take your order. This isn’t the best place to take a friend for a sweet treat to catch up some afternoon. The lack of music coupled with a feeling of awkwardness makes you want to get out of there with your box or bag of cookies as quickly as possible. Luckily, you will be pretty satisfied once you bite into a cookie.

While they’ve been posting on Facebook that Great One Cookie would have cookies with candy bars, such as Kit Kats, in their cookies, none were on the four cake stands where they were displayed last week. Don’t worry, you can order those candy-bar cookies if you’re really craving them. They did, however, have more than enough to calm down your sweet tooth.
The standard chocolate chip cookie has the perfect combination of dark and milk chocolate, as every chocolate chip cookie should (but many fail and choose to go one or the other). What you can tell about this cookie, and every other one here, is that it has a homemade quality to it. Everything is simple and clear tasting. It was a bit battery, as were most of the other cookies–but that may be her personal taste. Who doesn’t like a little cookie batter?

This would be the absolute perfect cookie if it were warm (which none of them were after they were placed into a white paper bag).

The oatmeal-raisin cookie (from left, clockwise) chocolate chip cookie, chocolate-pecan cookie and the white chocolate-cranberry cookie.

There’s a white chocolate cranberry cookiewith a perfectly-almost-too-much-sugar sweetness that is also a bit undercooked. The white chocolate doesn’t stay in chips when this cookie is cooked. Even when the cookie is room temperature, the chocolate isn’t a variation of crispy texture, but a gooey sweetness intermixed in the batter.  The macadamia nuts, however, give it a crunch that takes this to another level, and it’s worth ordering over the chocolate chip. It is a bit salty, though.

The oatmeal-raisin cookie was the one that was cooked through. With its mound shape, it looked more like a decadent dog treat rather than a cookie. It was also inconsistent–as though it were mixed with a wooden spoon instead of a Kitchen Aid mixer–pockets of sugar or flour surprise you.

The next cookie is one that caught me off-guard as my favorite, but it makes sense that salty and sweet could come together in one dessert of a cookie. The chocolate-pecan cookie is a chocolate chip cookie that isn’t over salted, but perfectly complemented with a salty pecan. It’s cooked thoroughly, and dark chocolate is melted through.

This little cookie shop is in an odd spot, but one that dishes out enough sweetness to have you look for it.

A dessert-filled bag from Great One Cookie Company.

Great One Cookie Company

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Price: $
Ambiance: This is really a place where you pick up your order and go, not sit and absorb the ambiance.
Payment information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: None served
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Filed under Dessert

Strive for taste sometimes becomes desperate at Desperados

The thought of having a cheese enchilada and a margarita on the rocks within walking distance sounds like a fine setting.The idea would be better, however, if it were on a beach and the destination were some place other than Desperados Mexican Restaurant.

The namesake tacos are fine and a safe order when dining in the intimate joint. Crispy, greasy flour tortillas hold melted jack cheese in the middle of the fold, topped with cuts of steak (or chicken, if you so choose), a few dices of tomatoes and a thin slice of fresh avocado.

Desperados tacos (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Dressed shreds of lettuce sit on the side of the Desperados tacos. While that space on the plate would be better suited to some rice, the lettuce does bring a chilly freshness to the greasy, but savory tacos. The shell is salty, the steak is well seasoned and the cheese is perfectly melted. (Come in after 5 p.m. on a Thursday and get these for $5.95 instead of $9.99 and they almost taste a little better.)

The attempt at queso (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

But the perfection in melted cheese isn’t always accomplished. The queso comes in a small cup, topped with a sprinkle of paprika, looking similar to Mi Cocina’s, but not living up to that taste. There’s effort put into it, with a small presence of peppers, but it lacks onions and any real kick or flavor. Needless to say, I can safely assume it’s a queso of which Leslie Brenner would definitely not approve.

The servers are quick and attentive, though there’s a good chance you could have three or four attending to your table during your meal. Our first waitress suggested that my order of sangria be upgraded to the larger, 12-ounce option. After seeing the other miniature glasses beverages came in, the $1.05 upgrade seemed worth it. The sangria is a little too artificially sweet, similar to the way plastic bottles of grape juice are loaded with just too much sugar.
Even while it’s somewhat buried by being at the bottom of the tri-fold menu, the list of Tex-Mex options should taste better. If visitors dare to go with these, they can choose from a meal of two, three or four options, all of which come with sides of fresh and flavorful rice and a small puddle of refried beans that need some salt.

Cheese taco and cheese enchilada are two options for a Tex-Mex plate. (Photo by MICHAEL DANSER)

The cheese enchilada and soft cheese taco sound like safe options, but the enchilada simply lacks significant flavor and the soft cheese taco has a fresh corn tortilla drowning it what appears and tastes to be the same disappointing “queso” that arrived in the white, plastic cup before the meal.

Desperados Mexican Restaurant
Location: 4818 Greenville Ave. in Dallas, 75206 (See website for other location)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m Friday through Saturday
Price: $-$$
Ambiance:  Intimate, casual, quick service
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepte
Alcohol: Full bar

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Filed under Tex-Mex/Mexican

Cafe Madrid: Nibbling toward a broader perspective

Simple olives at Cafe Madrid (Photos by TAYLOR ADAMS)

As Americans, most of us are accustomed to having a full meal. Unless we’re walking over the pavement at the State Fair of Texas, general grazing of different foods at one time just isn’t really our thing.

Luckily, we have restaurants, such as Cafe Madrid, that broaden that perspective of ours.
This quaint dinner spot makes for an ideal place for happy hour.
The deals of reasonably priced, smaller plates are worthy and the house sangria is delicious. It seems every restaurant in San Antonio has almost the perfect house-made sangria, but unfortunately, that’s not the case in North Texas. Cafe Madrid does a good job so that the beverage isn’t overly fruity. It’s still not made with the best wine, but perfectly infused with fruit–none of which takes up half of your glass like it does in other establishments’ rendition of the drink.

Aceitunas fritas

The mixed olives in oil are a simple beginner, one that could be welcomed before any meal. But to take this traditional first taste to a different level, try the aceitunas fritas. Yes, they’re fried. A simple batter surrounds the small tanginess of the olives. The simplicity is overcome by the aoili that lays beneath it.

Albondigas andaluzas

As for the meatier options, the albondigas andaluzas offer a different kind of meatball than you might be used to. These Andalucian meatballs, as they call them, have a hint of saffron. The almond-piquillo sauce that’s beneath it is worth scooping over the meat. The chorizo San Martin comes in a white wine and garlic sauce.

While the sauce is far too greasy to be paired with something as fatty as sausage, the meat itself lends a tender, fresh tasting link of sausage, one that could still use a bit more spice.

But there are still other things fritas you can get. In fact, there’s a nice portion of the menu dedicated to frituras. One of these is, of course, a plate of calamari, one that’s not special and can be skipped for something better, such as the fried cheese and spinach croquettes (croquetas de manchego y espinacas on the menu).

 

The calamari (foreground) fell short of the simple pair of cheese and spinach fried as a croquette (background)

There’s no wonder it could be a favorite item on the menu. The simple fact that it’s fried cheese has that covered. But the spinach adds an earthiness to it, one that’s subtle enough to give the cheese a prominent role, but helps the batter create something that’s more of a fried delicacy than a fried something-or-other you can find in Fair Park.

Cafe Madrid
Location: 4501 Travis St. in Dallas, 75205, 214-528-1731
Hours: 5 to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 to 12:30 a.m. Friday through Saturday
Price: $$
Ambiance:  Intimate
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepte
Alcohol: Beer and wine

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Eggs Florentine offers a savory return to Crossroads

Crossroads Diner is worth revisiting numerous times, even after you’ve managed to write a short review on it.

The pancakes are the perfect flat of puffiness. The Belgian waffles are a delightful excuse for a sweet in the morning. The service is always sincere. But there’s one particular meal that has me wanting to return to the Lake Highlands spot: eggs Florentine.

The perfectly salty eggs florentine at Crossroads is served with crisped hash browns and two sweet pancakes. (Photo by TAYLOR ADAMS)

Under “Other Stuff” toward the bottom of the menu, this unsuspecting meal offers two poached eggs topped with a spinach sauce, all supported by a bed of a sliced English muffin and smoked-pit ham. While it’s not the most photogenic meal, it’s one that has you inhaling its spinach-ham aroma as the plate lands in front of you.
The egg, perfectly poached to the point of being an art form, is the way a morning protein should always be presented. The toasted bread and salted ham beneath it are fine, and highly necessary to have evenly with every bite on the fork. The best part is what truly makes this a Florentine–the spinach sauce. It’s savory enough to be called gravy, but delicate enough to be respectable to eat before 11 a.m.
Sure, sweet breakfast rolls are always safe–just thinking of the frosted cinnamon roll at Mecca or the cinnamon sticky bun at Crossroads can make a person’s mouth water. Who doesn’t love crisp slices of bacon? But this ultra-savory approach to breakfast will have my vote every time.
Crossroads Diner
Location: 8121 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 1100 in Dallas, 75231, 214-346-3491
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday
Price: $
Ambiance:  Clean, calm and casual
Attire: Casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer, wine, specialty cocktails

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Filed under American, Breakfast