Casual

I finally meet up with Oishii Chef Thanh Nguyen, Dallas.

A bunch of my buddies (a crew of Mansion alumni) are always talking about their late-night escapades at Oishii on Wycliff west of the Tollway. I've been before, but always seem to miss "the Man" – Chef Thanh.

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I got it right last weekend. Here is the evidence:

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^ Thanh sends out some Vietnamese specialties to our motley crew.

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The great food and flowing Black & Gold sake made for a large time.

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Oishii does boffo business and boasts an extensive menu of Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai dishes.

I will be returning to sit at the Sushi bar and order a kind of omakase meal from Thanh – chef's choice – whatever's good. I hear good things. So far so good!

Oishii on Urbanspoon

Chef Tim Byres infuses Smoke Restaurant at the Belmont Hotel, Dallas

The Carnivores Delight.

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I've eaten at Smoke at the Belmont Hotel here and there over the last year and always pretty much enjoyed it just fine – but this time it was different. At the one year mark of this hipster-cool Oak Cliff joint, chef Tim Byres has reinvigorated the menu. Familiar barbeque favorites are now accompanied by inspired and creative dishes that remind me that there is, indeed, an executive chef in the kitchen.

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^Dry Cured Pork Jowl Bacon w/ House-made Half Sour Cucumber Salad, Sweet Chiles, Molasses and Mustard.

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^Crispy Veal Sweet Breads & Fire Roasted Figs w/ Jalapeños, Asparagus, Lime, Blistered Onions, Our Smoke Bacon, Wild Mushrooms & Goat's Milk Crema; ^Spicy Lamb Meat Balls and Pasilla Chile Mole, Garlic Potato, Golden Raisin Chutney & Preserved Lemon.

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^Smoked Sausage: All Spiced Rabbit, Spice Pork Andouille & Beef Paprika Fennel Seed w/ Mustard Sauce and Caraway Pickled Cabbage. LOVED 'em; ^Tamarind BBQ Salmon w/ Roasted Sweet Peppers, Tomato & Watermelon Vinaigrette.

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^Bricked Cornish Game Hen w/ Chicken Salad Vinaigrette – Walnut Oil, Verjus. Get all the components in one bite and it's chicken salad – cool.

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^ Beef Short Rib Chimichurri & Dry Rubbed Pork Spare Ribs.

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^Tim shows off the Primal 3 Bone Short Ribs: spice-rubbed and reverse-braised "low and dry" for about 22 hours. Yep.

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^More Rib porn; and the Ham.

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^ Smokehouse Cured Ham w/ Sorghum Molasses, Honey Peach Preserves and Sweet & Sour Jalapeño Jelly.

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^Look at that friggin' ham! ^One of Tim's smokers…

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^Mescal & Key Lime Meringue Pie – the meringue alone was so delicious we could have done away with the rest, even. ^And a Michael Martensen cocktail: Cedar Infused Tequila & Sour Bourbon Cherries.

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The new menu went live a couple weeks ago, get over there and check it out. Really. And don't forget about brunch – my buddy Matt is always jonesing for Tim's Blueberry & house made Ricotta Cheese Pancakes.

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Smoke on Urbanspoon

One of 48 Nights: Chef John Tesar Edition, Dallas

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The “guerrilla” restaurant concept 48 Nights @ SYLVAN | THIRTY from Dallas restaurateurs Chris Jeffers, Chris Zielke and Tim Byres has nearly run its intended course.

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When the six month experiment concludes on July 27th, around 24 well regarded chefs will have served nearly 3000 covers and raised tens of thousands for the Mass Care Task Force (American Red Cross Dallas Area Chapter, North Texas Food Bank, The Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Area Command, and Volunteer Center of North Texas).

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I, of course, chose to show up and cover John Tesar’s dinner. This is a document of the two seatings for the Monday dinner. With many friends in the kitchen and in the dining room, we just had fun.

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Between eating scraps from the chef, begging wine from Flynn and Barber, and trying to keep out of the way in the TINY kitchen – I didn’t notice that my camera was set up kinda wacky. So – this is an arty kinda photo essay type post. Just look at the pretty colors. Tesar knocked it out – and you can always see more detailed (and in focus) shots of his food elsewhere on this blog. Here we go:

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^ Former Mansion mixologist Michael Martensen whips up a Flaming Rum Punch w/ Ancho, Sea Salt and Mansion pastry chef David Collier’s Cotton Candy.

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^ Marinated Hamachi Vietnamese Style – Nuoc Mam Vinaigrette.

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^ The peeps enjoy as JT works the risotto.

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^ A little Uni Butter; then plating the Uni Risotto w/ San Diego Sea Urchin – Wasabi Tobiko and Lobster Consommé. …Martensen and I were eating a massive pot of this at the time – so you get no pic of the plated dish (told ya).

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^ My friends LK, C-LaB and sommeliers Scott Barber and Michael Flynn; Trays of perfectly butter-poached lobster.

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^ The Butter Poached Lobster – Rhubarb Compote, Shaved Foie Gras, White Balsamic Reduction.

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^ At the second seating, the crew is literally prepping the Halibut by candlelight.

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^ Hen of the Woods Mushroom and Fine Herb crusted Pacific Halibut – Parsley Lemon Nage, Tom Spicer’s Purslane. Very Tesar, and very good.

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^ Milk fed Tenderloin of Pork – Potato Puree, Truffle Nage.

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^ Prepping the Carrot Cake w/ Carrot Juice Shake and Lime Marshmallow.

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Great venue. Great food. Great friends. …Great concept. Here’s to another 48 nights, soon.

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Update: Volos Taverna is now Ziziki’s Taverna in Addison

…ran over here with "Teach" this afternoon – A quickie iPhone report:

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Volos / Ziziki's owner Costa Arabatzis was prepping for Ziziki's booth at Taste Addison and explained that the Volos name was simply confusing his loyal Ziziki's customer base – and in this market, why rock the boat! So a couple weeks ago – a quick name change. Business is already up. Same great vibe and satisfying food.

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^ Calamari; ^ Leg of Lamb Gyro.

The name change comes just in time for the popular Taste Addison event – and as an added bonus, Ziziki's Taverna won the Grand Prize in the festival's first ever food competition with it's Organic Free Range Sliced Leg of Lamb topped with Sweet Red Onions, Eggplant Salata flavored with Truffled Salt; Served on homemade Pita Bread and finished with Ziziki Sauce. (A different version of the dish above.)

I'll go report on the dish and the event over the weekend. Happy Eating!

I’m a moth to the bright flame that is The Meddlesome Moth – Dallas

So much for my scoop. I do this blog for fun, so my real job intervenes once in awhile.


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We dropped by Shannon Wynne's four day old venture, The Meddlesome Moth, late Friday night to check it out. Incendiary will soon be the appropriate descriptive for this joint. What a sexy space. I'm into mood and detail, and felt like moving into this place immediately. 


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^ First of all, I love the taps – no clutter of branded pulls, they are uniform. But the handwritten chalkboard descriptions add a clever and personal touch.

The most stunning element of the room took a second glance to register:

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^ Yes, these are the original (restored) stained glass windows from the stage of "The Supreme Court of Rock & Roll" – Dallas' first outpost of the Hard Rock Cafe.

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Opened in 1986, our original branch of that eventually tired concept was once one of the most stunning in the country.

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The now razed 102 year old building was at 2601 McKinney Ave – kinda across the street from the original Sfuzzi. Back in the day, we had quite a bit of fun down there.

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^ A nice touch, and very Shannon.

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^ My buddy Scott chatting up Moth chef Chad Kelley as we discuss plans to assault the menu for the next post; ^ Meanwhile… there's pie!

The menu gets me twitching with phrases like:

Shin of Beef – Vanilla Porter, Brie, Walnuts

Point Judith Squid – Braised Oxtail and Parsnip Purée

Veal Sweetbreads – Oyster Mushrooms, Bacon Jam

Five Spice Pork Belly – Pickled Carrot and Black Strap Glacé

Bone Marrow – Salsa Verde and Crispy Capers

Fried Hominy –  Cayenne with Lime

Cajun Boudin Blanc – Buttered Leeks

Moth Balls –  a nod to The Spotted Pig

(There's also, like, normal stuff for the less… adventurous.)

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^ Moth GM Lon Goodwin (C) flanked by sommeliers D'Lynn Proctor and Scott BarberWe all agreed that in keeping with Lon's 'green' philosophy – he needs to knock down the wattage of the fixture over this corner power table.

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^ As it was opening weekend and the throngs had yet to descend, Lon passed me the iPhone remote and I did the mix for awhile as we sampled the wares – including the exceptional Westmalle Trappist Ale.

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^ A little Beer porn. …then…

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^ Lon's 'green' restrooms feature Dyson Airblades, among other amenities.

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^ The sweet patio.

Next up: a post on the food – it better match up to the space, Chad! Love this place so far. Stay tuned.

Meddlesome Moth on Urbanspoon

Uhhh… Urbano Cafe Rocks. Dallas.

Last night, I joined my friends Tracy, John and Scott for a bite. We are eating our way through town lately – which is great because we are going to places on my list that I never make it to. I'm rather pissed at myself for not having gotten to Mitch and Kristen Kauffman's Urbano Cafe (between Tom Spicer's F.M. 1410 and Jimmy's Food Store).

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You could say my dinner companions and I are generally associated with fine dining, but we simply love good food, prepared with passion and integrity. Urbano is really good. The tight room of 9 tables creates electricity. The space is modest, loud, and a few degrees warmer at the height of the evening. We all agreed – we were in New York, not Dallas, last night.

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^ Exec. Chef K'eo Velasquez in his small, open kitchen; ^ Our bad-ass server.

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^ BYOB makes this place an absolute gem. ^ Caprese S’mores – Melted Buffalo Mozzarella between Toasted Crostini with Tomato and Balsamic Syrup.

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^ Pulled Pork Popper with Guacamole and Lava Sauce; ^ Tempura Shrimp over Papaya Cucumber Salad.

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^ Mussels with White Wine, Garlic, Onion, Basil, Sausage & Marinara – these were excellent; ^ Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Gouda Grits.

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^ Chicken Saltimbocca – Chicken Breast stuffed with Fresh Smoked Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Sage with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Green Beans; ^ Pan Seared Diver Scallops over Lemon Risotto with Dijon Cream.

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^ The Blackboard Special Risotto with Pulled Pork, Tomatoes and Peppers; and a little Tom Spicer from next door.

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^ A big ol' mess of delicious desserts: Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Mousse with Hazelnut Florentine Lace Cookie; Chocolate Mouse with Raspberry Syrup, Fresh Berries and Striped Chocolate Cigarette; Chocolate Fudge Mousse and Lilikoi Mousse with a Hazel Nut Lace Cookie and Fresh Passion Fruit; Champagne Macerated Strawberry Kiwi Sorbet.

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^ Blackboard Specials; ^ Chef K'eo Velasquez and Owner Mitch Kauffman after service.

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…Yep, we are a tough group – and we dig it.

Urbano Cafe on Urbanspoon

A Taste & More: Ziziki’s Taverna (formerly Volos), Addison

When Teiichi Sakurai suggested we meet at this new place in Addison Walk (SW corner of Beltline and the Tollway) I was intrigued, to say the least. "Teach" and I don't waste our dinners out.

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Volos Taverna is the latest offering from Mary and Costa Arabatzis (Ziziki’s).

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^Keftedes - country-style Greek meatballs served on a plum tomato sauce; ^Loli-Pop Lamb Chops. (These and other "Mezzes" – or small plates – are only $5 at Happy Hour. 4-6:30.)

The food, atmosphere, and general appeal of the place has already made it a favorite with the peeps here at the office. Much more to come on this welcome addition to Addison's casual comfort food caboodle. Stay Tuned!

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… The rest of the story:

So, what are Teiichi and I doing at Volos in Addison?

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Volos owner Costa Arabatzis and Teiichi Sakurai (Tei-An) go way back.

In fact Costa sold his M Street Bistro space at 2014 Greenville Ave. to "Teach" in 1995 – and Teppo was born. They've remained friends, sharing the trials and tribulations of running numerous restaurants in this crazy town over the years. 

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I had noticed the Volos sign go up on my way to Starbucks one day, but it didn't register as a restaurant from my passing glance (I'm trying to get Costa to add the word "Taverna" to the sign!). Then, last month Teach texted me – "Let's go check out my friends new place – Close to you."

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I really like the walk up and patio bar (open to the restaurant). The finish-out (by Bolsa design team Plan B) is very handsome and so welcoming… I immediately fell for the space. The bar is awesome. Time to eat:

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^Mediterranean Shrimp in Garlic, Lemon and Wine; ^Meat Tiropitas – flaky fillo stuffed with ground meat flavored with garlic.

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^Crespella Taverna – crepes stuffed with ground meat, served on Italian plum tomatoes and baked with béchamel

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^Trio Platter – Artichoke Hummus, Tarama and Eggplant Dip with grilled pita; ^ Tamara - a Mediterranean caviar spread.

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^Mushroom and Arugula Flatbread; ^a BIG bowl of Creamy Avgolemono w/ Meatballs - garlic, thyme, egg and lemon with orzo.

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^Slow-Braised Free-Range Lamb Shank; ^Gigante Beans  baked with plum tomatoes, Feta and pancetta.

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^Cast Iron Potatoes baked with onions, Feta and Pancetta; ^"Baklava" Cheesecake.

This stuff is rich, flavorful, and yes – cheesy. Very satisfying. A few doors down at Kenny's Wood Fired Grill, chef Kenny Bowers has really hit the right note with the local market – offering well done, oversized, big flavor fare. I'd like to see some of that crowd spill over and give Volos a shot, as well. Comfort ain't a bad thing – not at all.

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Volos Mediterranean Taverna on Urbanspoon

Quick Bite: Manny’s Uptown Mexican… in Addison.

We dropped by Manny’s Uptown Mexican Restaurante in Addison (across the street from Snuffer’s on Midway) to enjoy the patio weather and some lunch. Comida? “What’s Spanish for “lunch” I know milk is leche…?” (That’s a bastardization of a movie quote – good luck guessing that one.)

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^We enjoyed the Brisket Queso; ^CK got the #11 – I happily devoured a bite or two.

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^I went with the Two Beef Burritos: ^They came with one Sauce and I added another: the Tomatillo, and the Pica-Pica – a nicely fiery and flavorful choice, mealy with dried red jalapeños. Pretty good stuff, I’ll be back. They have half a dozen other interesting sauces… the Chile Vinegar is calling me.

Manny's Uptown Texmex on Urbanspoon

Banh Xeo at Nam Hua Vietnamese Cuisine, Garland

I love me the Vietnamese food. Phở is often the cure of the day, but delving deeper into the cuisine offers further delights. A great place to experience these is Nam Hua in Garland’s Saigon Plaza.

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Sure they have a nice phở (and sometimes you really need a nice phở):

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Chanh muối, a kind of salted Lime (or Lemon)-ade. ^And these delicious Grilled Mussles – with cream cheese and scallions.

But I’m here for the Banh Xeo.

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Bánh Xèo means “sizzling cake.” It’s a savory rice flour pancake/crepe/omlette with pork, shrimp and sprouts. You wrap it up in lettuce leaves and dip it liberally in Nước chấm – a sweet and acidic fish sauce. Frickin’ good.

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Ask for the translation of the back page of the menu for the goods. Enjoy!

Nam Hua Vietnamese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Burger Joy at Maple & Motor, Dallas

Finally made it over here:

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LK is a regular, so she knew that we'd miss the line that normally stretches out the door by heading over on a Sunday afternoon.

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Now, order at the counter – then sit down and play nice. We went straight for the burgers:

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We did a couple of the the Pepper Jack Cheeseburgers with Bacon, and Grilled Jalapeños – an excellent addition. The patty is hand formed from a fatty mix of beef and the bun – particularly good – crispy-toasted.

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The Tots were good, but the Fries were rockin'.

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The place has a fun, dive-y vibe. Along with Sweet Tea, they also offer Jolly Rancher Tea – interesting.

Then there are these things…

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It's a "Gob." (Pronounced 'gobb' not 'jobe' for all you Arrested Development fans out there.) Whipped Butter-cream between two Devils Food Cake rounds. Come on – you gotta do it!

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^ Maple & Motor during a rare lull.

I'll be back for more of these delicious burgers, and am intrigued by the Fried Baloney and the Flat Top Brisket Sandwiches as well. Another benefit of stopping by M&M is that it is across the street from Elliott's Hardware, which is quite simply Tim Allen quality crack for any red-blooded male – bonus!

Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer on Urbanspoon