For the past few weeks, I've been in full exploration mode, both at home and out-and-about. So many new restaurants to visit, so many subjects to explore! Here's a small sampling from my recent culinary adventures, as well as some recommended reading and an exciting announcement:
The following are first impressions of a few restaurants visited during the past couple of weeks - no reviews, just quick bites. Have you been? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts as well!
4433 McKinney Ave., Dallas
I'd heard raves about this tiny spot, serving chef-driven plates marked by creative flavor combinations and fresh, often local, ingredients. I popped in with a friend around noon on a Saturday to find the place humming but thankfully not jam-packed. We settled into a booth and perused the menu; both breakfast and lunch were available. After a brief confab with our mohawked waiter, I selected the Kozy Salad with Salmon and my date went with the grass-fed beef (I believe) tacos.
My salad was generous, studded with berries and slivers of green apple. Topped with a glistening, marbled salmon filet, cooked to medium as per my request, it was both refreshing and satisfying. A small cup of balsamic vinaigrette on the side was perfection. The tacos were also proclaimed a "hit", but to my eye, that plate was lacking. Two tacos and a little guacamole for a double-digit price tag? I was assured that they were more than filling, however, and to be fair, meat of that quality costs a pretty penny. Also, my friend commented that he was actually pleased to be spared the usual carb-a-rific plate-fillers. In the end, we were both happy campers, save a few hiccups in service. I'll definitely be heading back to Kozy soon.
4302 Bryan St., Dallas
Last Monday's episode of No Reservations left me with a mad pho craving, so when my pops called to see if I had lunch plans the next day, I was quick to suggest we visit a spot that I'd been meaning to try for some time. A friend had recommended Vietnam ages ago, and I was sure they'd have something to satisfy the soup monkey on my back. Sure enough, Vietnam has a full menu of traditional pho variations, as well as an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet on weekdays. Dad opted for the buffet (natch), and I selected the pho with beef. In fact, the menu had a wide array of dishes to choose from, including traditional spring rolls and entrees, in addition to soups.
While I slurped and crunched and sipped my way through my steaming bowl of pho, Dad paraded a seemingly endless array of colorful dishes across the table in front of me. He proclaimed most of them "good" and a few of them "great", with just a couple ranking in the "eh" division. My pho was also a solid "good", featuring full-flavored broth and a generous tangle of tender rice noodles. Requisite garnishes of bean sprouts, cilantro, basil and lime were fresh and plentiful. I can't say much for the atmosphere at Vietnam, but it seems to be a very popular spot for a quick and affordable lunch. I'll keep it on my list for the next time a pho craving strikes.
Black Friar Pub
2621 McKinney Ave., Dallas
A friend tipped me off to this new bar from the owner of the Idle Rich, and even if I hadn't known ahead of time, I would have figured out the connection to its sibling across the street shortly after walking through the door. Black Friar's menu of beers and bites and those famous cheese boards is just about the same as you'll find at Idle Rich (or The Old Monk, for that matter), and the pub-type atmosphere also felt familiar. The after-work crowd on our visit was friendly, and the beers were nice and cold, but the service left much to be desired.
After attempting to flag down one of several waitresses for a quarter of an hour, we gave up and trekked to the bar for our first round. The second round ended up being self-service, too, but someone eventually wandered our direction after we tried to order food from the bartender. In the waitresses' defense, it was a busy night, and I'm sure the exercise did us good. At any rate, we had a great time and the tab was nice and tiny.
Enrich Your Mind
Salt: A World History
by Mark Kurlansky
"A salt is a small but perfect thing."
Salt built the Great Wall of China, and paved the way to the American West. It was the driving force behind the first of the famed Roman roads and an indispensable element in the sacred Egyptian process of mummification. Prized as an aphrodisiac and an explosive, a preservative and a palliative, salt has been and always will be a crucial commodity to civilizations around the world. This fascinating book details salt's role in the rise and fall of empires and its uses in chemistry, medicine, warfare and, of course, cookery, throughout recorded time. I was shocked to learn the extent to which salt - making it, storing it, trading it and using it - has shaped our world. This book is a great read for food lovers and history buffs alike!
In The News
And, finally, we have an announcement to make:
DallasEats has been named one of the top food blogs in the city by Where The Locals Eat, a guide to the best restaurants in the country. We're honored to be featured on this national site, along with news, recommendations and other tasty tidbits. Thanks a million, and we promise to keep up the good work!