Mesa Veracruz Coastal Cuisine – Oak Cliff, Dallas

After a bit of recent social media chatter, I realized I had yet to visit Mesa Veracruz Coastal Cuisine on West Jefferson in Oak Cliff. My friend, Mesa neighbor Jim Richardson of Oak Cliff Cellars, suggested we run over there. Jim's wines will be featured on the new Mesa patio, and he is also planning some fun wine dinners with the Mesa folks.

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Mesa strikes a pose on the bustling little strip of West Jefferson between Beckley and Zang – just a couple blocks from 35E.

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The Reyes family – with Olga and Raul in the kitchen, daughter Jaret front of the house and Raul Jr on the floor – radiate genuine enthusiasm for the cuisine and the guests. The rest of the staff is equally warm and helpful. Let's eat:

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^L: Surtido Veracruzano: enfijoladas, plantanos rellenos, empanada, picadas.
^R: Robalo and Gulf shrimp Ceviche. Nice.

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 ^L: Chilpachol de Jaiba y Camaron: spicy seafood broth with fresh crab, Gulf shrimp, dumplings, mussels. The broth was remarkable.
^R:  Sopa de Lentejas: lentil soup with pork ribs, plantains, tomato, boiled egg.

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^L: Costillas en Adobo: pork ribs in red chile and plantain sauce, jasmine rice.
^R: Huachinango ala Veracruzana: fillet of Gulf snapper sauteed with stewed onions, capers, olives, tomato, jalapeños, carrots. 

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^ and my destination dish, Mole Mama Cata: Chef Olga's unique mole with over 20 ingredients, recipe has passed down from her mother Catalina. Here with duck. Mole, Mole, Mole! Just divine.

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^L: Chocoflan Flan de Naranja; Tres Leches; Arroz con Leche.

We enjoyed both the meal and the convivial atmosphere this Friday night. I think they could use some support during the week as well – so head on over and enjoy this little "joya."
Mesa on Urbanspoon

Collecting some of Chef Omar Flores’ Driftwood, Oak Cliff – Dallas

Well, it looks like the long wait for this place to open was worth it.

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Driftwood, Chef Omar Flores’ (Abacus) seafood restaurant at 624 W. Davis in Oak Cliff (next to Bolsa Mercado), has a welcome feel, a cool patio deal, and some nice stuff on the plate. Owner Jonn Baudoin’s hospitality doesnt hurt, either.

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Our group ordered almost everything from the heavily seafood-centric menu – but there are many gems from the land as well. Here are some dishes I could get pics of before they were attacked. Read the ingredients in each description – lovely dishes on the page, plate and palate. 

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^ Malpeque Oysters – Jalapeño Sorbet, Pickled Green Apples.

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^L – Naked Cowboy Oysters – Champagne Bubbles, Rio Red Grapefruit Mignonette.
^R – Little Neck Clams – House Made Fennel Pork Sausage, Marinated Tomatoes, Calabrese Peppers, White Wine Broth.

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^ Berkshire Pork Rillettes – Pickled Dried Apricot Compote, Bread n’ Butter Baby Beets, Rustic Toast. A heart attack in a jar – and almost worth it! I love rillettes, and this dish did not dissapoint.

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^L – Maine Lobster Roll – Gherkins, Tarragon Aioli, Truffle Potato Gaufrettes.
^R – Chargrilled Octopus – Fingerling Potato Confit, Manzanilla Olives, Watercress, Pickles Onions, Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette.

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^L – Crispy Seared Idaho Trout – Serrano Ham, Pimenton Roasted Fingerlings, English Peas, Sherry Vinegar Pan Sauce.
^R – Madagascar Vanilla Crème Brûlée – Orange Caramel, Cajeta Whipped Cream. Nice.

We also had the Hiramasa Crudo, Grilled Shrimp, Softshell Crab, Diver Scallops, Brussel Sprouts, Fried Cauliflower, and the Rabbit Duo. Nearly every dish was a hit with our jaded table. Some interesting selections from the wine list assisted in our revelry.

People are always asking me: “What’s new? Where should we go?” How about Driftwood, friends.

Driftwood  on Urbanspoon

Saturday Lunch with Bruno Davaillon at The Mansion, Dallas

As exceptional as Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek chef Bruno Davaillon's dinner tasting menus are, a little light lunch can be equally stunning. Err – light, in this case, may refer only to the time of day! Check this out:

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^ Crispy Pig Trotter, Watercress / Horseradish Sauce, Pickled Vegetables. 

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 ^ Pan-seared Sweetbread, Carbonara Ravioli, Sunchoke / Black Truffle Sauce.

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 ^ Duck Meatballs, Duck Consomme, Foie Gras, Black Trumpets, Green Cabbage, Chestnuts.

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^L: Chatham Cod, Potato / Cod Brandade, Tomato Confit, Capers, Lemon Brown Butter.

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^ Chesnut Mont Blanc, Chocolate Macaron, Vanilla Chantilly, Rum Ice Cream.

Yes – a little crazy – but ridiculously well-crafted and delicious. And better than another steak and bottle of – Heaven forbid – Silver Oak. 

A reminder to occasionally expand your horizons, and your palate. Cheers!

Timely update: Bruno Davaillon has just been nominated for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southwest award. Sweet! 

Mansion on Turtle Creek on Urbanspoon

Checking In: For You, Taste of Poland, Plano

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Check out these pics from For You, Taste of Poland, a family owned market and restaurant featuring traditional Polish specialties: Pierogi domowej roboty, Galabki – stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, Bigos – Polish hunters’ stew based on cooked sauerkraut, Polish sausage, Pork cutlets, Red and White Bortscht, Placki Ziemniaczane – Potato pancakes, and a bunch of other great stuff. Check out the menu here.

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Dropping in on Matt McCallister at CampO, Oak Cliff

Better late than never. Our crew rolled into CampO Modern Country Bistro after a delightful Thursday Wine Chat by Michael Flynn at The Mansion (read: we needed foods).

It's a cool space – and should be, as owners John Paul Valverde and Miguel Vicéns run the design shop Coevál Studio. They also had the good fortune of snagging former Stephan Pyles Exec Chef Matt McCallister to run the kitchen, for the time being at least. Matt has generated crazy buzz and amassed significant praise for his dishes at Campo – almost frustrating, in fact, for a guy about to leave to open his own signature restaurant in the burgeoning culinary destination that is the Dallas Design District. He can handle it.

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^ Drool-inducing items for the food-lover. Let's eat:

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^L:  Chorrizo Fritters – Charred Oregano Aioli, Manchego;
^R:  Smoked Baccalao (Salt Cod) Dip

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^L:  Roasted Cauliflower-Gratin Dip;
^R:  Matt's house-made Charcuterie – Farmhouse Salumi, Rossette de Lyon, Sopprasata di Calabria, Lonzino, Chicken Liver Mousse

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The Goods:
^L:  Lambs Tongue Salad – Celery, Coriander, Pecan, Pear;
^R:  Beef Heart Tartare – Mustard, Cider, Black Truffle

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^L:  The table devours:
Tonight's 3rd Coast Catch;
Acadian Dutch Mussels – Linguini, Carrot, House Pancetta, Bottarga;
Pressed Pork Shoulder – White Beans, Sage Chimichurri, Cippolini Onion Jus;
^R:  Here's Matt's riff on the old skool snack Ants on a Log.

The next evening Matt introduced 11 new menu items – we'll have to get back while the gettin' is good! Actually, the staff Matt has in place in CampO's kitchen – including Josh Black, Ian Starr and Matt Gatsey – are very talented as well. In fact, Gatsey staged at Alinea and Gramercy Tavern and was on staff at Per Se. It will be interesting to follow the team's progress after Matt takes his leave.

Campo Modern Country Bistro on Urbanspoon