Wednesday, August 14, 2013

DFW Restaurant Week: Hibiscus

Two years ago when my husband and I visited Dallas for a preview weekend for his job, we went to Hibiscus. I was super impressed then, much to do with the fact that the evening ended with a perfect apple pie with lavender ice cream. I still think about that dessert. A lot.

My recent visit was with my friend RB, and we both enjoyed the great prix fixed menu for DFW Restaurant Week, which benefits the North Texas Food Bank. I was really surprised by the portions and the quality of the food. I have been to several restaurants for DC's restaurant week, and I always felt a little slighted. Hibiscus did it right- great portions and good food.

The prix fixed menu at Hibiscus required you to share the appetizer, a side, and dessert. Not sure what would happen if you happened to be eating by yourself- maybe people who eat by themselves don't usually go to casual fine dining restaurants?? 

We started with the crab dip. It was pretty good- maybe a little too much of a mayo taste, but had good size pieces of crab in it. The portion was big for two people. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture because we were so hungry- we ate like savages and poof- it was gone. 

For the entree we both chose the filet and shrimp. The shrimp was very tasty, and while the steak was good, it's no III Forks (don't get me started but yes, III Forks beats Nick and Sams). 

For our side, we chose the mac and cheese. I'm 99 percent sure there are hatch chile peppers in their mac, and it was AMAZING! Is it just me, or do you also get into the hatch festivities this time of year? Oh- thats just me buying all things hatch right now?? Ok, well then.......

Back to the mac- get it people- you will not be disappointed!! 

For the finale- six layer chocolate cake yo. IT WAS SO GOOD. And HUGE. Could easily serve a table of four. My only gripe is that it was definitely right out of the fridge, I prefer my cake at room temperature. When I had the second half of this cake the next day after letting in sit out on the counter all night, it was even better. 

Hibiscus gets a 7- it's cool, and its food is pretty good. And I know I say a lot of places are "pretty good." Fifty percent of restaurants in Dallas are. When a restaurant is amazing or even really really good, Ill be sure to shout it from the roof tops to make sure you are aware. (Assuming you weren't already....)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Simple Series- Tomato Sauce

I hardly ever make the same recipe twice. I am always looking for something new, exciting, or challenging. Sometimes though, I wish that I had some simple, fresh recipes in my back pocket. That's what this series is about- getting back to the easy basics. This personal collection of recipes will be ones that can be made without exact measurements and can be added to and subtracted from with ease. Here is my first effort- Hope you enjoy! 

Easiest Tomato Sauce 
This recipe is perfect and simple. Feel free to add more or less of these ingredients, this recipe is so flexible!! 

Olive oil 
28 oz San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 onion, chopped (I chose white because its what I had on hand) 
1/2 to 2/3 cup of broth or wine (whatever kind you have on hand- I really think you will be fine no matter what!)
Sea salt
Herbs, if desired

1. Heat one tbsp. oil on medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add onion, and allow to soften and caramelize- approximately 4 minutes. I added a little more oil in the middle of this process because the onions started to look a little dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant- about one minute. 

3. Deglaze pan with broth or wine, and cook liquid down for a couple of minutes. 

4. Add can of tomatoes and juice. With a spatula crush the tomatoes in the pan, into smaller pieces. Bring heat down to low-medium, and simmer for a few minutes. 
(This pic looks gross- but it smelled so good at this point!!) 

5. At this step you could add chopped fresh herbs like oregano or basil, or even browned Italian sausage or beef. 

Isn't this the easiest recipe? I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

(The easiest tomato sauce with Italian sausage on angel hair pasta. It was sooo good, so simple, and done in the time it took for the pasta to cook!) 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: HG Sply Co.

Lowest Greenville's newest addition to its burgeoning restaurant scene hits all the trendy high points- paleo based menu, repurposed wood for tables, subway tiles around the bar, jar candle holders, local produce and beer, etc. the list goes on. The crowd last night was a mix- groups of dudes (who i guess came to get their protein on) and couples in their late twenties to mid thirties. It's a cool place to go that's not in uptown and without the uptown crowd. 

The menu is simple- appetizers that range from pork belly to tacos, a few salad options, sandwiches and burgers, a build your own bowl section (for a reasonable $13), and then about 7 entree options including lamb shank, steak, chicken, fish, and then lots of side options. 

We started with the Founders Trio Appetizer, named after the three business partners who own the restaurant. It consisted of three tacos- one pork, one chicken, one brisket. Soooooo good- especially the brisket one- I could have eaten about 6 of those! 

    (my half-eaten brisket taco- I was too   
       hungry to wait to take the picture)

I was really torn between the lamb shank and the HG BLT, but I ended up landing on the BLT because it sounded so interesting- arugula, fried egg, pork belly (hello!!!) and tomatoes. The bread was interesting- some type of multi grain that was very toasted and kind of got in the way of me eating my meat infested sandwich. Beyond the bread- it was really really good!  (Ps it's kind of messy- don't order this on a first through fifth date.)

   (HG BLT-pork belly, tomato, arugula,       
             and fried egg sandwich) 

The husband ordered a chicken sandwich- topped with avocado and sandwiched with the weird bread. It was ok- it felt like a usual chicken sandwich to me but T thought it was a little above that. Both sandwich came with shoestring French fries (also trendy), which were so tiny and crispy I felt like I was eating the tiny chip crumbs at the end of a bag when you know you should throw it away but you are going after every carby crumb. 

We were so full (the sandwiches were pretty big- especially mine) we couldn't bring ourselves to order dessert. So sad. 

Overall it gets a 8 out of ten- the atmosphere was cool, the food really good (but not fall out of your seat amazing) and there is a really fun, laid back rooftop.  I'm excited that we have another solid option on lower greenville! I love my 'hood.....

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review:Pho is for Lovers- Perfect for a Rainy Day

Before it gets extra miserable concerning the heat index, I made it a priority to try Pho is for Lovers. This hard to miss shop, tucked in a standard shopping center across from the PetSmart on Greenville Ave., will surprise you. The atmosphere consists of simple white walls and just a handful of tables. The menu is fairly simple itself, offering mostly bahn mi sandwiches and pho. 

I split the bahn mi with my friend Ryan, my usual weeknight restaurant partner in crime. We opted for the deli meat bahn mi- mistake. Nothing great about this version of the sandwhich. I should have known better. 

BUT the pho was amazing. The broth was very flavorful, keeping afloat the noodles, fresh veggies, and yummy beefy meatballs, which was perfectly meaty and a little fatty. 
(The beef pho I ordered, sorry it's a tiny bit blurry!) 

(I'm sure their other bahn mi sandwiches are fine- the deli meat one is just not worth it.) 

In addition to a bowl of pho as big as your face, you get a tiny plate of extras- jalapeƱo, lime, and basil. They were the perfect additions to the pho. I of course added all of them, and some sriracha. 

(Yummy extras for your bowl of pho.) 

This place would be THE perfect place for a bowl of hot, hearty soup on a rainy day. When it's not a hundred degrees outside. Hot weather and soup just don't mix people. Come mid- November, you need to get your pho on at this place!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Neighborhood Services- Never Fails

On a lowly Tuesday night I escaped to the wonderful Neighborhood Services with a friend. I have been there several times with my husband and have always been in love with their cocktails and dishes. From perfectly prepared fish to an extraordinary schnitzel (trust me on this one, ORDER IT), this place NEVER EVER fails.

On this weeknight adventure, I opted for the short rib stroganoff special. It was perfect for a stroganoff- not too rich- with fatty (but not too fatty) pieces of melt-in-your-mouth short rib, light but creamy sauce with parsley. To make this even better it was served on house made pappardelle- which if you haven't had homemade noodles you don't know what you are missing- and let me tell you- you are missing a lot my friend.

Speaking of friend- my lovely company got the steak and frites. I'm a beef girl. I love it as much as I love bacon (which freakin' says alot)- so when I say that this steak was one of the best I have ever had, please take that as gold! Steak house quality here people. AAaaaaaaa-ma---zing!!! Fries were ok, nothing special, but salty carbs will never be turned down. Also the voodoo sauce that accompanied the steak- not too hot, just the right amount of kick and zing, and so incredibly tasty that I could have drank it. Yeah I'm gross, but I could have- it was that good.

To follow this meat and carb fest we shared the pepper jack mac and cheese- yeah we are awesome and so was it. Cheesy with a kick, how everything should be.

If you havent stopped by Neighborhood Services, do yourself a big ole Dallas favor and go asap. Never ever have I had anything there that wasnt top notch. You will thank me later.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Central Market Find- 1883 Two Year Vintage White Cheddar Cheese

When was the last time I had white cheddar?? I asked myself this last night when I was at Central Market staring at a large display of this cheese. Was it on a cheez it? If so that's sad, affirming all the more reason to buy this. Done. Bought.

Now one night later, it is nearly half consumed all by my lonesome. I can't be left alone with cheese, I love it too much. And this cheese my friend is the mucho sophisticated cousin of the sharp cheddar cheese you are used to. This white cheddar is salty, tangy, and with a full mouth feel (that sounds weird but it's true!) This hit the white cheese void I wasn't really aware I had. You probably have this void too. Buy this cheese! Perfect for these warm spring nights we are having.

DISCLAIMER- I in no way work for Central Market. You will probably see lots of posts about CM because Im still new to Dallas/Texas and am absolutely obsessed with this store. Please bare with me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Goodfriend- Best Burger in Dallas?

I love beef. It's right up there with bacon, which you will find out quick enough, says quite a lot. There are few things in life that aren't made better with beef. Lucky for me- I'm in Texas, the land of cow.

On that subject, lets discuss Goodfriend. I have eaten here a couple times and it is really really really really good. But wear your stretchy pants y'all, because not only are the burgers HUGE, they are so delicious you will be sure to eat every meaty bite.

For appetizers, the menu features a hummus option- which is completely random- but the Fez Mezze is great- you can't really ever go wrong with goat cheese.

As for their burgers, the best on the menu is hands down The Coop, a heaping mound of protein featuring a fried egg, thick crisp bacon, a juicy burger, and melted brie. This burger very well may be the best burger in Dallas. It includes all the best things in life in one place- Brie, bacon, and beef and then tops it with a fried egg. Good freaking luck beating this!! Not quite as filling (and almost as tasty), the Loretta features a perfect beef patty on which the tanginess of blue cheese cuts the savory sweetness of onion jam. The Schnitzelgrueben can be skipped- it's got it's merits, but it really should be a sausage patty to complement the kraut and sauce- but then that would change the purpose of actually being at Goodfriend. Note this my friend- Proceed with EXTREME caution when ordering the Pepper Bomb. Take this from a Louisianan- it's miserable hot. It's the kind of hot you can't enjoy the flavor of what's going on because your mouth hurts so bad. If you are into that kind of thing though, order away.

One of the best features of this little burger shack is the local beer selection. Dallas has a small but great community of microbreweries and Goodfriend does an excellent job featuring these.

This place never fails on delivering an excellent burger and service. Pair that with an ice cold local brew (like something crisp and tasty from Lakewood Brewing, which is right in the neighborhood) and you will be thinking you died and went to beefy heaven!!