Thursday, July 30, 2009

Go Texan Restaurant Round-Up Sept 28 - Oct 2nd

Rarely do I blog about upcoming events. I feel the best way for me to serve the restaurant and dining community is to dine at places and review them after the fact, plus discuss interesting wines and other products. However, I'm breaking my rule just this once to mention the Go Texan Restaurant Round-Up, scheduled from September 28th through October 2nd, 2009. During this week, participating restaurants around the state will offer fixed-price meals featuring locally produced Texas foods paired with Texas wines (and hopefully beers and liquors as well). Similar to our beloved Restaurant Week, but this time with a Texas twist. The founders of Go Texan hope to raise awareness of Texas products and perhaps a little cash for charity to boot. Last year, more than 200 restaurants around the state participated in some form or fashion. This years list of North Texas participants includes such heavy hitters as Fearings, Pappas Brothers Steakhouse, III Forks, and Blue Mesa Grill.

I support this project for the same reason I support Restaurant Week. As a native Texan and longtime Lone Star resident, I believe in growing the Texas economy. If more people can dine at great restaurants at affordable prices, plus learn about the wealth of Texas growers and winemakers that continually pop out of the woodwork, it becomes a win-win situation for all. Hopefully, we can get a full slate of North Texas participants to keep our economy flowing like wine, proving that Texans are always true pioneers who keep inventing new ways to succeed.
Here's the website for all the info:


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quickie Review #41: 15th Street Eatery

Assembly lines are great vehicles for building cars efficiently, not so much for dining. Oh sure, if you see dinner as something to be endured rather than enjoyed, by all means go to the local branch of your "neighborhood" whatever and pretend you're having a good time. And yes, these days many chains are rather good, which was not necessarily true in days of yore. My lovely wife The Rock Star and I just dote on true neighborhood joints, so when we got the word on a new place called 15th Street Eatery opening up near our casa, we decided to investigate. True, the place has only been open a short time, but so what? I believe that a blogger serves the function of a modern town crier and that one of his principal duties is to get the word out, however that may be. Hopefully, if the experience is good and the post is positive, others will flock to check out the newby as well, before financial and culinary realities combine to put the kibosh on the owners dreams. So it was that we set out to find 15th Street Eatery one recent Sunday for lunch.

In a word, 15th Street Eatery is tiny. Tiny with a capital T. There are exactly seven tables in the storefront interior, plus another half-a-dozen stools at the counter next to where kitchen magician Sharon McGrath performs her cookery. Enticing smells of baking solicit your nose as soon as you enter, for she is a pastry chef as well as chef du cuisine. White wood-panel walls with dried and fresh flowers and coffee paintings for decorations. Cruise on up to the counter to order. If you're a first-timer, it's best to get one of the smallish menus and have a seat while perusing your choices, the better to let more experienced customers order quickly and efficiently. In fact, have a complimentary cup of coffee while you browse. In any case, place your order and prepare to wait. Remember, true goodness takes time and Chef Sharon does everything herself, except for two youngish assistants who take orders and expedite them to the table once they are prepared. Also, she gives out free samples. My bride adores eating breakfast at all hours, so she selected the Heavenly Hots. A short stack of nonuniform, made-from-scratch hotcakes sided with crisp, applewood-smoked bacon and home-fried potatoes and excellent eggs added up to one outstanding (and, for her, overly large) breakfast. That's OK, if you weren't born during the Depression, you know that it's not a crime to leave food on your plate. For myself, I had been craving a BLT, and the aptly-named BBLT (Best Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) more than filled the bill, the crunchy toast, iceburg lettuce, and tomato marrying perfectly with the bacon and Hellmans mayo. (I know it was Hellmans because I saw her dress the sandwich myself; have i mentioned how tiny this place is?) My lunch was accompanied by a cup of earthy mushroom soup and a simple spring mix salad featuring grape tomatoes and "secret recipe" house dressing featuring cilantro and lime vinagrette. We dined heartily yet leisurely, our repast accompanied by glasses of excellent, fresh brewed ice tea. (Be sure and order lemon and extra ice; as it is fresh brewed hot and will melt the ice quickly.) Soon enough, we were quite stuffed, but couldn't resist ordering a piece of the luscious-looking yellow cake with chocolate frosting for future consumption at home. I will be sure to update this post to let you know how good it was, provided I don't have a brain freeze and forget. Website is, but is a work in progress at this point, without menu or hours. Not to worry, the joint is open from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm during the week and from 7 am to 3 pm on weekends. Discover the delights of non-assembly-line dining at 15th Street Eatery yourself, and remember:


UPDATE: My wife and I enjoyed our dessert in the cool of the evening. The yellow cake was so moist it was positively dripping and the frosting was fudgetastic. We also solved the age-old problem of how to divide our slice. My cake-loving wife got the larger piece with less icing, while the smaller piece with more icing went to myself, the certified frosting lover. Everyone was satisfied, and we vowed to get another pastry selection soon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quickie Review #40: El Fogon

June is busting out all over, even if the calendar says July. By that, I mean that Latin restaurants are appearing everywhere, especially in the North Dallas/Addison/Carrollton area near mi casa. I have to call them Latin restaurants because they aren't all Tex-Mex, nor Mex-Mex. Surely, these qualify as Latin too, but I'm specifically referring to establishments featuring cuisines from farther south of the border, namely Central and South America. Many of you are no doubt aware of Gloria's, the pride of Salvatex (Mexico plus El Salvador) cuisine, but rest assured, there are plenty of others as well. Since I've been searching lately for new taste sensations (whether or not they have been sweeping the nation), and despite the fact that my lovely wife the Rock Star was temporarily unavailable to assist me in my quest, I decided to explore El Fogon Restaurant one recently Sabbath for lunch.

According to legend, El Fogon started life as one of the only Ecuadoran restaurants in Big D, but since they have added numerous Peruvian and Tex-Mex dishes, their food now can be best described as Latin. I received a very warm welcome from the family/staff, with no fewer than half-a-dozen people attending to my needs. They started to grill me on what types of dishes I usually liked, but I already had my answer. Outside temperature was 110 in the shade, and I knew that one of the best light lunches on such a day would be ceviche. El Fogon boasts several types, but when I discovered the Ceviche Ecuatoriana, I knew I had a winner. Tomato puree was combined with bell peppers, red onion, cilantro, fish (tilapia, I think), and shrimp into a pastoral delight that was cool as the proverbial cucumber and much more satisfying. Served with fresh lime and remarkably good plantain chips, it was infinitely pleasing, and made me eager to try the many other dishes on the menu. Don't worry, there are plenty of familiar menu items for the uncurious, such as quesadillas, nachos, and taquitoes. These came in handy, too, as the owner's family was dining at the next table and the ninos wanted burritos. Service? Ask yourself this: In how many high-end places will the owner interrupt his own family's repast to refill your tea glass? Not many, I'll warrant. Website for this smallish place can be found at, where you will find out that Saturdays are Ladies Nights. I'm sure this information will come in handy someday. Discover El Fogon soon, and remember:


Monday, July 6, 2009

Wine Corner Review #53: Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir

I'll wager that few vineyards here in the US can boast of a location at the foot of an extinct volcano. Yet, that is the exact address of one of the prides of Napa, Chalone Vineyards, perched precariously in the Gavlan Mountain Range 1800 feet above the Salinas Valley. More important, they are also one of the few wineries growing their grapes in limestone-based soils. You see, kiddies, limestone is also an important component of the terroirs of Burgundy, where most of the world's best chardonnays and pinot noirs call home. Today, we will be concerned with the latter varietal, as we sample a glass or three of one of the stars of Chalone's fine wine line, namely the Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir.

The robe of the Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir is garnet skillfully blended with royal robe purple. The nose suggest definite strawberries, spice, and that old pinot standby, cherries. Lots of said cherries and berries work the palate into a frenzy, with a peppercorn finish. Good pinots are among our most versitle reds; we enjoyed ours with steak and were quite pleased. Prime rib and ahi tuna would be even better matches I suspect. Website is, where you can check out their entire line of Burgundian beauties, to say nothing of other varietals. Discover how limestone can improve your pinot soon, and remember: