Tag Archives: eating in Dallas

Underground Dinner with Ryan Barnett

You’ve heard of those underground dinners, right?  Pop-up restaurants?  Well, Hub and I were unexpected stand-ins for a good friend of ours who couldn’t make it.  I had always wanted to attend an event like this but never really gotten around to it.  Such fun!

It was held at My Private Chef in Deep Ellum by Chef Ryan Barnett.  There were two communal tables and a four course dinner.  Delicious!  Ryan likes to focus on locally sourced food.  The freshness and purity of the flavors really showed through in each dish.

Our first course was a chilled mussel salad with peach and grapefruit.  A light vinaigrette and the bitterness of the greens perfectly complimented the shellfish and the fruit.  I would have never thought of a mussel salad, but I will from now on.  It was very nice.

Next, a veloute’ of sweet Texas corn topped with a little crab and some thinly sliced green onion.  And sweet it was.  It was delicately, yet fully flavored.  Creamy and smooth, delicious with the little touch of crab.

I wanted to pick up the bowl and drink it.  But, I behaved and used my spoon!

Next on to the fish.  Flounder served with an assortment of local squash.  Very nice.  A squash blossom was a lovely touch, as well.  The flounder was cooked perfectly.

So good.  I love fish.  But, what I don’t usually like at all is lemon desserts.  I am glad that I’m not the type that won’t even try something I have disliked in the past because the lemon tart was fantastic!  Not overpowering.  Tender crust.  It really was excellent.

Chef Ryan will be doing these dinners every two weeks.  We went to the first one on the 3rd.  So check in with him for more info… ChefRB@me.com.  Request to be on the mailing list if you want to be notified of new dinners.  This one was $50 for four courses. It was BYOB with wine service provided.  The service was great.  Conversation was lively and the food…  wonderful!

Like Chef Ryan on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/ChefRyanBarnett

Del Frisco’s Grille for Lunch

What’s better than a free brunch at the new Del Frisco’s Grille?  Not much!      Hubbard and I were treated this Saturday and loved every bite.  This is the steakhouse’s answer to a bar and grill.  Very stylish and a great location.  The patios is spacious.  They even have an patio upstairs in their second dining area.  Bonus:  they serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  I love that.  I’m always craving something delicious on Saturday afternoons.  I think if you see the pictures you’ll be craving it, too!

I’m a sucker for deviled eggs.  With truffle-chive vinaigrette?  Are you kidding?

Hubbard is still talking about these cheesesteak eggrolls.  They really were delicious.  Tender beef.  Cheesy, crunchy.  Great idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Carbonara Flatbread.  Isn’t it lovely?  Prosciutto, Parmesan, cracked black pepper cream sauce.  Kind of like a ham and egg pizza but better.  And we still haven’t gotten to the the entrees yet.

Want a drink?  How about that white Sangria?  So light and refreshing.  Makes you want to drink it all day!  The Bloody Mary comes with a tray of garnishes that you can use to fix up your own glass.  I never got to that because I was actually just interested in tasting the mix.  I hate a dull Bloody Mary and this one was nothing but dull.  Not too spicy, still full of flavor.  Of course, the brunch punch isn’t too bad either.

Bacardi, Malibu, orange and pineapple juices, grenadine… yum!

When I go to a new place for brunch I always try the Benedict.  This one was particularly good.

Sitting atop white cheddar and scallion biscuits, topped with chipotle hollandaise, the eggs were perfectly prepared.  I’m pretty picky about poached eggs.  This was a great entree and very filling.  Hubbard had to try the chicken fried steak.  He makes a mean chicken fried steak here at our house.  So, he can be critical when it comes to CFS.  Not much to complain about when it’s made from ribeye!

The chorizo gravy gave a nice full flavor to the dish.  Hub liked it a lot.  The steak was very tender and not chewy or fatty at all.  And yes, the crust says on the meat when you cut into it!  Delicious fries.

Yes, they are really called Sea Salt and Parmesan Frites.  Call them whatever you want.  They’re really good.  Maybe not as good as the desserts.  But, damn close!

This was my favorite.  Coconut cream pie.  Delicious!

Bread pudding?

Lemon cake?

Oh, come on!  You know you want it!  We’ll be going back for sure!

Celebration for Lunch

I had been meaning to visit Celebration forever.  Evidently it’s been there since 1971.  It’s an old house converted into a restaurant and all the rooms are separate little dining rooms.  It has a full bar and some really good food.  It’s the kind of place you could take your grandmother.  She’d love it.  The food is wholesome and satisfying.  Hubbard said, “It’s what Black Eyed Pea wants to be”.

Basket of Mixed Breads

Basket of Mixed Breads

The breads were warm enough to melt the butter.  Freshly baked.

Field Greens with Red Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnuts with Lemon Garlic Dressing

I paid a dollar extra to have this as one of my three sides.  Worth every penny!  Actually, much better than I was expecting.  Kind of elegant.

Chicken Fried Chicken with Jalapeno Cream Gravy

I was very impressed with this.  I don’t usually order chicken breast because I hate dried out chicken.  This was moist and juicy.  Perfectly done.  The gravy had just a hint of spice.  Not hot or anything.  Mashed potatoes and roasted beets on the side.

Burgundy Pastures Chopped Beef with Mushrooms and Onions

Hub was pretty well into his plate before I got him to stop and take a picture.  He ate it all and liked it quite a lot.  Then he ate about a third of my chicken.  He loved that chicken.  Mashed potatoes and corn on the side.

Coconut Cream Pie

For sure someone’s grandmother made this.  It was delicious!   It all tastes homemade.  What’s not to like about that?

We both had a glass of wine and the bill was $49 before tip.  Keep in mind, the wine we chose was $9 a glass.  So, without the wine, that’s a pretty good price for a very good lunch.

Central Market Purchase of the Week

Besides the $9 a pound fresh Gulf shrimp I grabbed up, I like this living basil.  Questions:  Will it last long?  Will I be able to plant it outside when it’s for sure warm enough?  Will I just eat it all instead?!

Let’s See that House-Cured Bacon One More Time

Makin’ Bacon

Yes, Hubbard and I are the proud parents of a home-cured and apple wood smoked 3 lb slab of bacon.

Our pork belly spent it’s first 7 days covered in a dry cure made of Kosher salt, pink salt (nitrite) and dextrose (sugar).  Rubbed the bacon with the dry ingredients and then poured about half a cup of pure maple syrup over it.  Sealed it up, stuck it in the fridge and turned the meat every day or so.

Rinsed and ready to go.

Light a fire in the Big Green Egg.

Add some soaked apple wood chips to the fire.

Set up an indirect smoking rack.  We put down the pizza stone.  Shallow pan on the stone to catch juice.  Roasting rack with bacon.  Use your incredible Big Green Egg skills to get the unit to sit on 200 degrees for the next two hours.

There’s our toasty, roasty baby.  Nothing left to do now but…

Fry it up in pan!

So, what do we do with this 3 lbs of heaven?  Any ideas?

Smoke for Brunch 2012

Smoke is a meat lover’s dream.  They make practically everything themselves.  Take the Bloody Mary…

They pickle the vegetables they use for garnish.  They make their own roasted tomato and chile mix.  The drink is super flavorful.  The waiter said spicy, but I didn’t think it was hot-spicy.  Just good.  Although it seems funny to pay $10 for a drink and $15 for a steak and egg breakfast, that’s exactly what we did.

Hanger steak, sliced and served over a fluffy biscuit topped with peppercorn gravy.  A huge pile of scrambled eggs, though you could have yours fried, if you want.  Frankly, I didn’t even eat more than a bite of my eggs.  They were good, but there was so much on the plate that was better and I knew I couldn’t eat it all.  Potato cakes made with goat cheese were a little overdone.  Still a nice starch to accompany the meat.  A broiled tomato and and a couple of spears of asparagus made it a really nice plate.  The steak was cooked perfectly.  But, we still couldn’t resist a couple of sides…

They call the bacon “thick cut pork belly bacon”.  Which seems a little funny because all bacon is pork belly.  Who cares what they call it.  It’s amazing.  Looks like it’s a little crunchy, doesn’t it?  It’s really not.  It’s firm enough, but nice and chewy and meaty.  The “artisanal style pork ham” has just a touch of sweetness and is pleasantly moist.  Love it.  Both these meats are cured and smoked in-house.  Out back, you can see the huge smoker on the patio and firewood is abundant.  These side dishes are a deal at only $3.50 each.  You can pay that much much for a side of crappy store bought bacon.

Yes, I took home a to-go box.  With tax and tip, $72.  Not bad for something you can’t get anywhere else in Dallas.  In fact, Hub and I have some pork belly curing in the fridge right now.  I’ll be shocked if it turns out to be even close to as good as the bacon we had today.  At least we know what to shoot for!

Stackhouse Burger

Thanksgiving was behind us.  We needed a burger house and decided to try the new place with the spectacular view of downtown, Stackhouse Burger.  It’s just up the street from Baylor Hospital.  Unfortunately, we were there on a super windy, kinda chilly afternoon.  No great view of downtown for us.  We ate inside.

The place is pretty small but very well appointed.  I really liked the look of it.  Lots of natural light.  You order at the register and then they bring the food to the table.  You decide if you want a single, double, etc…  then the toppings come at an additional cost.  I think lettuce and tomato comes with it.  There’s a list of additional toppings.  You can get wine and beer.  Our order consisted of a cheeseburger with grilled onion and bacon, an order of the housemade potato chips with homemade carmelized onion dip and a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato.  We also got a beer and a glass of Savignon Blanc.  It was about $35.  Not horrible.  But, not cheap either.

Hub ordered his burger pink.  The choices were pink and well done.  He thought that maybe his burger was a bit more on the red side when it arrived.  But, he did think it tasted great, though it was messy.  I didn’t confirm, but the rolls look like those fabulous Empire Bakery buns.  He said he would order it next time with less stuff.  My bite was delicious.

The grilled cheese was good.  Could have been a little more melted.  But, the bacon and tomato really made it a meal.  Yummy.  The star of the show was the house made potato chips.  Really good.  I like blue cheese, but we really didn’t need it.  The dipping sauce, a basic French onion dip, was perfect.  I could go for some right now.  They should make a bigger deal of the chips.  The only reason I knew about them was that someone mentioned them on a blog.

I’m ready to check it out again.  Then, maybe go across the street to The Elbow Room for a drink at the bar.  Or have some knives sharpened at Viega!

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Cream

What is in a name?  A lot, when it comes to this soup.  In fact, the name sounded better than the soup tasted.  But, what was I expecting?  It’s squash soup.  Squash isn’t just bursting with flavor to begin with, right?

I cracked open the squash.  Since I’d never cooked a butternut squash before, more less a six dollar organic butternut squash, I took a little nibble of it raw.  Nothing.  I tossed a piece to the floor to see if the dog would eat it.  No dice.  It tasted like nice, fresh, organic nothing.  Maybe the roasting would help.

I will say that it smelled considerably better after the roasting.  I had rubbed the cut side of each half with olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted it for 45 mintues at 400.  Still didn’t taste like a whole lot.

I medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped

Saute in a soup pot with olive oil and a little salt until tender.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for a minute or two more.  Scoop the squash flesh into the pot.  Add four cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so.

From here you take it off the heat.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, thinning it with up to 2 cups more chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Taste.  That’s kind of the problem here.  The most potent flavor in almost six cups of soup was 2 cloves of garlic.  That’s not a lot of flavor.

All of this is supposed to be pumped up by two teaspoons of chipotle chopped.  I used chipotle puree and put a lot more than two teaspoons.  It didn’t taste like much.  I added a Mexican spice blend that’s heavy on the cumin.  A little more garlic.  Salt.

It was OK.   The addition of the blob of sour cream with chipotle mixed in was nice.  It was still and exercise in blandness.  If you like bland or if you feel that you can jazz this up sufficiently to make it really good, then do make this soup.  It’s got to be pretty good for you, right?  It’s basically nothing but vegetables.  But, frankly, V8 has more flavor.

Thankful Pizza

How do you go from this…

To this…?

Thankgiving.  We brined and smoked our turkey.  And last night it was delicious on a turkey pizza.  Started with an olive oil and garlic base with a little crushed red pepper.  Topped it with hunks of smoked turkey, little blobs of stuffing, spoonfuls of truffled mashed potatoes and some green been casserole scattered around.  (Yes, with the crunchy fried onions from a can!)  When it came out of the oven we drizzled it with giblet gravy and added a little bit of cranberry sauce here and there.

Thanksgiving by the slice.  Not too bad!