Monday, March 17, 2008

J.R.-Wiches: Ooey, Gooey Party Treats

"So tangy and delish. I could see them becoming an addiction!" - F.P.

"They're slap your grandma for seconds good." - Jeremy

DallasEats was recently introduced to the greatness of J.R.-Wiches. These little beauties arrived at a small gathering in the most unassuming way (think hot celeb in ball cap and dark glasses...except with pyrex and tin foil), but soon our mouths were watering as the house was filled with the scents of melting cheese and browning butter. They emerged from the oven so golden, so tempting, that many of us risked a wicked case of pizza burn just to get to that first taste of heaven. Our courage was rewarded with what may be one of the all-time great party snacks.

J.R., a regular DallasEats blog reader, and the man behind the "Wich", has offered his recipe for these marinated, baked goodies, and we will forever remain in his debt. They're ooey, they're gooey, they're totally unique and completely delicious. Behold: J.R.-Wiches


1 package King's Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls
thin-sliced deli turkey
sliced Havarti cheese (with or without dill)


1 stick butter, melted
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
generous splash of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Make sandwiches by splitting each Hawaiian roll and generously filling with turkey and cheese. Arrange sandwiches in an oven-proof casserole dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over sandwiches. Cover and refridgerate overnight. To bake: Preheat oven to 350-degrees and bake until bread is browned and cheese is melted (time varies). You may also choose to briefly broil the sandwiches after they are baked for increased crispness and browning.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fish: Weekly, Monthy or Never at All?

The following lists are from this month's RealSimple magazine. What a great resource!

With all the press lately about farmed fish vs. wild, mercury contamination, etc., it's nice to have a comprehensive list of which fish are cool to eat, and how often it's safe to eat them. The info below was compiled by a marine scientist based on mercury contamination levels and the method by which the fish were caught or farmed. I have condensed the first lists based upon what is most common to us here in Dallas, however I have transcribed the "Try to Avoid" list in its entirety. All info can be found at

This is a subject that I've written about in the past, both here on the blog and in the newspaper. It's becoming more and more important to pay attention to this subject - both for our health and for the sake of the environment.

Safe to eat Twice a Week:

Catfish (U.S.), Clams (farmed), Dungeoness and Stone Crab, Mussels (farmed), Salmon (wild Alaskan), Bay Scallops (farmed), Shrimp (U.S. farmed), Striped Bass (farmed), Tilapia (U.S.), Rainbow Trout (farmed)

Once a Week:

Halibut (Pacific), Tuna - Albacore white, canned or fresh (U.S. or Canada)*

Once a Month:

Catfish (Vietnam), Clams (wild), Cod (Pacific), Blue Crab*, King Crab (U.S.), Snow Crab, Flounder and Sole (Pacific), Lobster (American/Maine), Mahimahi, Salmon (wild CA, OR, WA), Sea Scallops (New England or Canada), Shrimp - Northern (U.S. or Canada), Shrimp (wild U.S.), Squid, Swordfish (U.S.)*, Tilapia (Latin America), Tuna - albacore white canned (imported)*, Tuna - light canned, Yellowfin Tuna or Ahi (U.S.)*

Try to Avoid:

Caviar (Imported wild), Chilean Sea Bass*, Cod (Atlantic), King Crab (Imported), Crawfish (China), Flounder and Sole (Atlantic), Grouper*, Haddock, Halibut (Atlantic), Monkfish, Orange Roughy*, Rockfish (Pacific), Salmon (farmed or Atlantic), Shark*, Shrimp and Prawns (imported), Skate, Red Snapper, Swordfish (imported)*, Tilapia (Asia), Bluefin Tuna*, Yellowfin Tuna or Ahi (imported)*

*Because this fish is high in mercury or other contiminants, those who are pregnant, nursing, of child-bearing age or feeding young children should avoid it entirely. (RealSimple Magazine)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

DallasEats Reader Picks: Olenjack's Grille

Olenjack's Grille
770 Road to Six Flags E, suite 100
Arlington, TX

We'd like to begin this post by reiterating the fact that these Reader Pick evaluations are not "reviews". When we set out to thoroughly evaluate a dining establishment, we visit it at least twice. In many cases, we may go three times or more, attempting to hit the place at different times of the day. That way we can try to evaluate both lunch and dinner, or at least a different waitstaff shift. We felt the need to offer this intro because it pains us both to make negative comments about a restaurant we've only dined at once. That being said...

Olenjack's Grille in Arlington seems to have a split personality. The first, we'll call it Jack's, is a posh steakhouse crossed with a Star Canyon-esque Tex-fusion restaurant that strives to impress and often succeeds. Jack's has classy, if dated, starched burgundy tablecloths and a nicely appointed wine list. Jack's is a place we'd drive out of our way to go to again.

Personality number two, which we'll call Olen's, is an average eatery with a hotel dining room decor, butcher paper on the table and a staff that languishes between courses and drink refills. At Olen's, they take a diner-like approach to service, sending each plate out with a food runner as it's ready, leading to an auction at the table ("Who had the pork chop, guys?"). This was a sticking point for us. When you're paying upwards of $30 a head for dinner, ladies should be served first, gentlemen second and it's not out of the realm of reasonable expectation that the kitchen have everything ready to roll at the same time.

Olenjack's split personality crosses over onto the menu as well. Starters (listed as "small plates") were impressive, and a few of these with wines to match would have made a lovely meal. Salt and pepper shrimp were perfectly cooked - no rubber tires here - and the spicing offered a pleasant bite. Steak-cut calamari was surprisingly tender, but the runny, bland tomato sauce it was served with kept it from achieving greatness.

Entrees were a similar mixed bag, with our group of six split 4-2 in favor of "eh". The standout dish was a vegetarian pasta ordered with extra mushrooms. The kitchen was more than happy to accommodate and we were presented with a plate that would have made the most ravenous hobbit happy. Shrimp and grits also pleased, although the grits themselves were so salty that they almost threw the whole dish off course. Fortunately, the andouille sausage and mustard greens added enough of a bite to keep the dish at least somewhat on track. Those members of the party ordering from the grill were most disappointed, one commenting that his pork chop was "OK", but that it had a strange, metallic aftertaste. For these grill-ees, however, side dishes such as a succulent roasted cream corn and maple mashed sweet potatoes came to the rescue of their ho-hum entrees.

Dessert left us with smiles on our faces. From the surprise appearance of Henry's Homemade Ice Cream (a DallasEats fave), to a luscious "Key Lime Tart", it was the most enjoyable course of the evening. A word of warning: "Key Lime Tart" is placed in quotation marks because it is better described as a piece of key lime cheesecake (at least texture-wise) or creamy key lime pie. It is also better described as enormous and scrumptious, although FP freely admits that she's a sucker for anything key lime.

Our only quibble with the dessert course was that we wished that coffee had been served *with* it, instead of ten minutes ahead of the game. Those who wanted to sip a little after dinner joe while their companions had a sweet nibble were already down to the cold dregs in their mugs by the time dessert arrived. Refills were not offered. Sigh.

This new restaurant is promising, but DallasEats is hesitant to pass along a recommendation. Another appearance from Olen's might ruin your visit to Jack's.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DallasEats Reader Picks: John's Cafe

John's Cafe

1733 Greenville Ave, Dallas

(see website for second location in Plano)

A couple of weeks ago, FP and I asked our readers to recommend their favorite undiscovered restaurants. I must confess, it was a selfish ploy. What appeared at first glance to be a friendly way to get the word out about some great places you might not have heard of, was, for me at least, a means by which I could gain access to a few closely guarded gustatory secrets.

Case in point: John's Cafe. Our dear friend and loyal reader Elizabeth offered this unassuming hole-in-the-wall off Greenville Avenue in response to our request, and it was just what we were looking for. Thus, I am faced with a dilemma - now that I know about John's, I'm reluctant to share the wealth. A place like this makes you wanna keep a secret.

John's Cafe sits in a strip mall on lowest Greenville, next to a Thai restaurant, across the street from Lucky's Roadhouse (great bar, different story). You'd miss it if you weren't looking real hard. A companion and I rolled in about 11 a.m. on a weekday for a late breakfast/early lunch. Our first impression was that this tiny place was squeaky-clean, from the linoleum floors to the vinyl booths lining the walls on our left and right. We proceeded to the back counter to place our order - my pal went for the Combo Omelette and I had a cheeseburger and fries. My antennae are always up when it comes to finding great burgers, and I noticed that the word "Hamburgers" is actually on the sign out front of John's - a very good omen.

As my companion pondered his beverage order, a gray-haired, mustachioed gentleman sitting at the counter tipped his newspaper and suggested "Ouzo...?" with a wink (and a thick Greek accent). Once we began to chuckle, the old man joined in, along with the man taking our order. I don't know if this was an impromtu performance, or their standard "new customer" joke, but we were charmed nonetheless.

Our food arrived in mere moments and soon we were tucking into some solid diner-style fare. My mate's omelette was a monster, filling 3/4 of a dinner plate, and it contained a little of everything - cheese, meats and veggies of several varieties. Alongside were some nice-looking hash browns featuring a respectable dark brown-to-creamy white potato ratio. My burger was a solid "B+", earning points for juiciness, generous amounts of cheese and toppings and a toasted bun (a personal requirement for anything above a "C" rating).

I can't wait to return and try some of the Greek-inspired dishes on John's menu - Gyros, anyone? Considering the crowd that began to gather as our early lunch wrapped up, however, I'd suggest hitting John's at off-peak hours. See why I didn't want to let you in on my new little secret? Thanks, Elizabeth, for the excellent pick! (note: I miss you very much now that you're all the way up in Boston...but at least I won't have to fight you for a table at John's!)