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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NYE Eve @ Roy's

I kinda wrote this out of order... but oh wellz.

For NYE Eve, my fiance and I went to Roy's... our favorite place for special occasions. :) Also because they recently put out a new prix fixe menu which sounded awesome! We already had plans for NYE to eat dinner with my parents, so this was our fancy night out.

Roy's - Plano
2840 Dallas Parkway
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 473-6263
www.roysrestaurant.com/locations/tx/plano
Price: $$$$+

We arrived early for our 6PM reservation... we're old farts.. I know. :P I prefer to eat dinner pretty early. The place was pretty packed when we got there. So he went to the bar and hit up the happy hour while we waited for our table. Their hh goes until 6:30 or 7PM everyday. :)

Soon we got seated. Our waitress was super nice, as usual. We rarely have bad service here. And we already knew what we wanted to order.

We got the normal edamame with shichimi for the table. But they also brought out some compliments from the kitchen: Fried Duck Dumplings
Oooooo! Amuse-bouches are not standard here... although I've had a few since I've been there so much. The plate was so cute! The outside was fried nicely and the inside was creamy and rich. It was a good little bite. :)

We came here to try the new Creative Northeast Asia Prix Fixe menu. The 3 course meal is $36.95~ (not including tax or tip).

We started with the Grilled Filet Mignon Yakitori (shoyu, cucumber, yuzu kosho). 
It was a pretty big appetizer I thought. And although I found the meat to be a little underseasoned, it was sooooo tender. I was about to cut it with a knife, but it was completely unnecessary. Super super tender!!

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Ahi (kabocha squash dumplings, bok choy, citrus emulsion). 
The plating was very pretty and colorful...but not a big portion. The tuna was fresh and I liked the pumpkin seed crust. The kabocha dumplings were pretty good, similar to gnocchi in texture I'd say. But the plate lacked seasoning overall. It was very light in taste. I wish there was more sauce than that little smear in the middle of the plate. However, my fiance had a genius plan. He asked for extra wasabi cream sauce that they use in the Misoyaki Butterfish (which I ordered for myself) and it was awesome. That sauce can go on anything! The manager came over at one point and we got to chatting and he actually said he's put that sauce on mashed potatoes before! Sounds divine!

Apple Tasting (five spice cake, bruleed apples, apple gelee, caramel sauce). 
Since we got a dessert with the prix fixe, we didn't order another one. When the waitress brought it, I was like "whoa!" It's a pretty big cake! And it was very pretty, I loved the different types of apple chips, bruleed apples, and apple skin? on top. She did say the skin was more for decoration... may not be good to eat. We both really liked the bruleed apples with the crunchy layer of burnt sugar on top. I also really liked the gelee and sauce, gave the cake the moisture it desperately needed. I can totally taste the five spice and I liked the flavors overall, but the cake itself was too dry. And there wasn't enough sauce to make it better. I think a bit more caramel sauce, maybe a few dollops of whipped cream would work wonders. Or even better... a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmm. Just a thought. :P

Of course I got the Misoyaki "Butterfish" (Alaskan Black Cod, baby bok choy, furikake rice) $34.60~ It's my absolute favorite, can never go wrong. The fish was melt in your mouth tender. And the sauce is always amaze-balls and the green is gorgeous on the plate. Thumbs wayyy up!

Ohh.. and the cherry on top... the couple in the table next to ours gave us a $25 off coupon as they were leaving. They got 2 in the mail and said one was to give to a "friend". Thanks friends!! It definitely made our night even better. :)

Another great meal. Everyone was so friendly, the food was good.... my butterfish still trumps all! Can't wait to go back again. Maybe I'll try something new next time... haha.

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~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Day Brunch @ Savor Gastropub

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had an awesome holidays/vacation/staycation/etc...

So we had some crazy cold front come on NYE eh? Kinda sucks but my friends and I stayed in and had a house party. It was a great time. New Year's day was just cold and dreary as ever. I think it's nature telling us all that vacation is over and back to real life we go. Booooo. And perfect weather to stay in and sleep. But I had a friend in town and we planned to meet up for a late brunch. Luckily, the roads didn't freeze and traffic was very light. It didn't take long for us to get to our destination.

Savor Gastropub
2000 Woodall Rodgers Freeway
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 306-5597
http://savor-relish.com/savor/
Price (for brunch): $$

I've wanted to try Savor's brunch for awhile now so I suggested it to her. Plus they take reservations. Yay. So we met there at 1PM. Parking there is pretty sparse, plus it was cold and wet, so I opted for valet. It's complimentary, so why not. It was pretty quiet in there. I guess most people decided to stay home. We were seated after everyone arrived. The restaurant was quite cold... since the entire place is glass windows. haha. But once we got some food in us, it was better.

My fiance ordered the Short Rib Tortilla Hash (short rib, fingerling, salsa verde, sunny-side up egg, chipotle hollandaise) $17~ 
I wanted to try that one too. The portion was quite big. He just cut up the egg and mixed everything together. It was yummy. The short rib was super tender. I liked all the flavors. It was a very comforting dish...good for a cold day like New Year's day. The tortilla was already mixed in, so it was pretty soggy. I wish they would've topped it, so it would be crunchy to start with. Other than that, I'd totally have this again.

I decided to keep it lighter. I got the Farro Salad (charred red onions, cherry tomato, pine nuts, basil mint vinaigrette) $13~ 
It was more like a plate of farro, than a salad. There was one big leaf of lettuce under all this. hahaha. But I didn't mind. The farro has incredible chewy texture. The flavors were light but not at all bland. And I loved the basil mint vinaigrette. Not heavy, but a little is enough to add great flavor to everything.

Brussels Sprouts (with bacon) $13~ 
I remembered the first time we came, their Brussels sprouts were really good. I didn't see it on the brunch menu so I asked the waitress if we can still order it. She says usually it's only available for dinner service... but she'll check with the kitchen. And YES! They'll do it!! :) It's considered an appetizer, that's why its $13. But it's a pretty big portion. I'd say about x3 what other places serve as sides. So the price balances out. Delicious!! The bacon gave just enough meat for my meatless farro salad. I'll probably order this every time I go.

Deviled Eggs (pepper relish, spiced pecan brittle) $8~ One friend ordered this to start. It was a very pretty plate. And it was very good. I really liked the spiced pecan brittle on top, added a crunchy texture.

He also got the Chicken Fried Steak (bacon and maple gravy, crispy breakfast potatoes, over-easy eggs) $19~ 
I got a bite of the chicken fried steak. It was pretty good, but in that bite I felt like maybe the meat was a little overcooked? I can't fully remember since there were so many other dishes and flavors going on all at once. He seemed to enjoy it though since he cleaned his plate. hehe.

Lemon Ricotta Stuffed French Toast (brioche, blueberry jam, spiced pecan brittle) $14~ 
Another friend ordered this. It was what I wanted... but opted for a healthier route. The waiter had said it was his favorite on the menu. It was so pretty... and looked AMAZING. And it tasted AMAZING! The whole thing was like a cloud, so fluffy!! The brioche was light and airy, the lemon ricotta filling was fluffy. Nothing was overly sweet, so it wasn't heavy at all! I ended up eating a fourth of her dish. hahaha. :P Oh man... next time I go, I'm totally getting that!!

Fried Chicken Salad (romaine, cheddar, cucumber, avocado, spiced pecans, tomato, honey mustard dressing) $16~ I didn't try any of this. Seems pretty standard... But there are lots of big chunks of fried chicken. :)

Nicoise Salad (coriander seared tuna, saffron aioli, olive tapenade, tomato, deviled egg, mixed greens) $19~ I didn't try this either but it looked really good. My fiance was sad that he didn't see that this had seared tuna in it.. his fav. hehe. My friend said it was good, but the salad part had a bit too much dressing, so he didn't finish that.

It was a wonderful brunch despite the yucky weather outside. I got to see people I haven't seen in over a year! Tried a new place for brunch and loved it! So far 2015 is looking pretty positive. :) And Savor is such a cool looking restaurant, definitely a good place to people-watch when the weather is nice.

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~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~

Thursday, January 1, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!! :)

Hope your 2015 is filled with delicious goodies and fun times!
(unfortunately I had to wake up early to work today... boooo.)

~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas in Houston: Just Dinner on Dunlavy

My fiance and I went to Houston last week to spend Christmas with his family. The first night there we went to a restaurant called Just Dinner on Dunlavy. I found it through Yelp searches. It was a restored old home and the reviews were all very positive.

This house was built in 1928. It was transformed into this cozy restaurant and opened in 2007. They source from their organic garden and shop daily for the freshest ingredients.

Just Dinner on Dunlavy
1915 Dunlavy Street
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 807-0077
www.justdinnerhouston.com
Price: $$$$

It was a small house. Very cozy when we walked in. They had dim lighting, Christmas decorations up and felt like you were going to a friend's home almost. We were seated in the front room. Our table was covered in magazine clippings. I thought that was a unique way to decorate the table, and minimize clean up, AND use up old magazines. haha. Recycle! :)

We brought a bottle of wine with us since it's BYOB. They do charge a corkage fee of $10 for every 750ml. They immediately asked if we wanted an ice bucket for our wine. We asked them if they could put it in the fridge first and it was no problem at all. The waiter brought us some waters and a little bit of their Pesto Hummus (with multigrain chips). The chips were like the store bought multigrain chips. I laughed a little when I saw it, but I actually really like these chips. The pesto hummus was really tasty. I do wish we had pita bread or something instead.

Soup of the Day: Sweet Potato Soup $7~ My fiance ordered this. I wanted to try it. The soup was silky and yummy. There were chunks of sweet potato in the soup as well but I thought they were undercooked. Slightly crunchy still.

He also wanted to try the Foie Gras Creme Caramel (pickled seasonal fruit, warm house-made brioche) $20~ 
 
He's never had foie gras. I'm not a huge fan. I mean I'll eat it, but it usually tends to be too heavy. So I was thinking he wouldn't like it. However, this was more of a sweet preparation of foie gras and I've never had it like this before. It was made more like a thick flan and it was more sweet than savory. It was pretty amazing. They served it with thin slices of brioche. Normally I love brioche but this one was basically soaked in butter. Too heavy to eat with the creamy foie gras. I ended up just eating the foie gras on its own. But I did like the pairing with the pickled fruit...although they seemed more like butternut squash or something instead of fruit. The acid from the pickled fruits definitely help cut some of the heaviness of the dish. Not the typical prep of foie gras, but delicious. I guess he'll have to try foie gras again another time to get the savory aspect of it.

Ratatouille (pickled vegetables, Belgium endive spears) $11~ 
My fiance's sister ordered this as her main meal. It's listed as an appetizer. Again, a very different preparation than we expected. It was served as a mound with endives on the side. And it was served cold. We all expected to be a hot dish, since it is stewed vegetables...

Pasta of the Day: Spaghetti (with meatballs and sausage).
His father got the pasta of the day. It was a huge portion! The spaghetti was cooked well. I thought the marinara was a bit more sour than I would've liked but the meatballs were good. They have pine nuts mixed into them!

Braised Boneless Short Ribs (port wine cherry sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables) $30~ My fiance ordered this. It was massive as well and the meat was very tender. He loved it.

Pan Seared Chicken Breast (wild mushroom pan sauce, blue cheese polenta, mixed vegetables) $24~ 
His mom wanted to try the blue cheese polenta so she order the chicken. Again, a sizable portion. She had some leftover chicken to take home. I tried a bite of the polenta. The blue cheese flavor was very mild, which is good. Sometimes blue cheese is quite overwhelming.

Stuffed Collard Rolls (quinoa, black rice, amaranth, roasted red pepper sauce) $20~ 
This sounded totally interesting so I ordered it. I like everything listed here. Two large rolls, it was very filling. I loved all the texture inside the collards. There was also hazelnuts (I'm pretty sure) inside... maybe a little too much. It added a nice crunch but a few bites had so many that's all I could taste. But overall, very good, and healthy! Did you know that amaranth is full of protein, iron, calcium, and triple the fiber of wheat? And it's gluten free. :) I need to find more of this.

At some point, we also got rolls. I don't think I noticed when it was served. haha. Too busy taking pictures of everything else!

Crispy Bacon Lardons Brussels Sprouts $7~ I also ordered the Brussels sprouts. Duh! If it's on the menu, I'm ordering it! It was yummy. Plus bacon, always a classic combination.

Everyone had a great time. His parents said they'd go back for sure. Really quaint setting. The service was warm and friendly and the food was good. Plus everything's seasonal so the menu changes every few months. :)

Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas!!

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~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tea at TASCHEN

Saturday was our afternoon tea at TASCHEN in the Joule Hotel downtown. I've been excited about this for weeks! I love afternoon tea, whether European style or Asian style. The concept, the food, the way everything is presented. It's so classy yet quaint and delicious! :)

I first heard of Tea at TASCHEN several months ago. It just started this year. I saw many pictures on Instagram accounts I follow and it absolutely looked amazing. I looked up the info and they only offer it once a week... Fridays at 2:30PM. And they only have 16 seats, so you definitely have to reserve ahead of time. Early afternoon on a Friday may be a problem for most people since we have to work. But I was psyched when they opened up a Saturday tea time for the holidays (November and December). Also at 2:30PM. I immediately called and got a reservation for 2 on 12/20. I dragged my fiance along with me. haha. He wasn't too keen on the price and had never done afternoon tea so he didn't understand my excitement.

Tea at TASCHEN - The Joule Hotel
1530 Main St.
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 748-1300 (x4363)
www.thejouledallas.com/tea-at-taschen.htm
Price: $$$$+

Just some brief info on the tea service...
Tea at TASCHEN is $59 per person, inclusive of taxes, gratuity and valet. During the tea, guests receive 10% off purchases in TASCHEN Library. The library is very intimate. A small room surrounded by interesting books and mosaics. Brightly lit, modern yet cozy. As we walked in, we were given glasses of champagne, the tables were beautifully displayed with colorful china, 24 ct. gold flatware, and a mini tower of delectable treats. The menu is seasonal, so it'll change in a few weeks.

There was a large communal table that was still empty when we arrived. So that gave me time to take like a million pictures. hehe. I loved the cup and saucer for the tea. And there was a shortbread cookie placed on top of it. We waited around for something to happen. My fiance wanted to dig into the food, but no one else had started yet. Plus there was no tea... so we tried to be patient. We were both hungry! haha.

Finally the large group arrived. And the manager came in to welcome everyone and explain how the tea service is going to work. He talked about the TASCHEN library, the rescued mosaics on the walls, the different food items on the display tower and the teas we will be trying. The champagne was all you can drink. Kinda wasted on me since I don't drink champagne, but I actually managed to down a full glass! The champagne they served was Gruet Sauvage.

The 3 teas featured were...
Nile Delta Chamomile (Egypt)
Coconut Assam (India)   
Both of these were from Kai Organic Tea.
2001 Vintage Oak Barrel Aged Pu-Erh (China)
Now this part was different than other afternoon teas I've done before. Usually you just select the type of tea you want, and they bring you a personal pot of it to refill at your leisure. But here, they had a waitress serve the tea, and you try all 3 flavors. I would've preferred my own pot so I can refill my cup on my own. And neither of us were fans of the Chamomile so I had to wait awhile before they started serving the Assam. The Chamomile was quite bitter, not mild like I'm usually used to. And I don't really like it in general, but he did, and he didn't like this one. He added some honey to it and it seemed to help a little. 
The Coconut Assam was interesting. Quite mild, not really sweet, but had a little nuttiness. The manager said this was his personal favorite, and the crowd pleaser, when he made his introductions. I thought it paired extremely well with the shortbread cookie. 
The Pu-Erh was the one we both wanted to try the most. My parents and I actually drink a lot of it at home. It's a very dark tea. It has a very unique smell and taste. I want to say it's a little like licking a tree bark, but in a good way. haha. I guess it's just a bit more herbal/woody tasting. And the flavor of this particular one was actually milder than what I drink at home. The dark color just gives the impression that the flavor is going to be pretty strong. We both liked this the best. 
Also, during the transition of different teas, a guy comes around with a jar and pours any remaining tea from our cups into it. I wondered why they don't give us new cups... It didn't bother either of us, but I would think hardcore tea connoisseurs would say the previous flavor is contaminating the next? Eh... we're not experts. haha. It was just something I noticed.

On to the food! Everything looked so quaint and delicate. I love miniature/finger foods. Always so tasty looking.

SAVORY
Goat Cheese Brioche (pumpkin butter, sage, salted pepita brittle). Y'all know I'm not a fan of goat cheese but I had to try a little anyways. It was quite goat-y... but I liked everything else. The pumpkin butter was a pretty orange and slightly sweet with the savory goat cheese. I loved the pepita brittle with that extra crunch. I just scraped most of the goat cheese off and gave to my fiance.

Lobster Mousse Napoleon (celery, spiced tapioca, soy caviar). This was interesting. There was a piece of lobster on the top and it was cooked perfectly. The soy caviar was done with molecular gastronomy. They did explain that they wanted to take classic afternoon tea foods and put a twist on it. The white puff on top was actually dehydrated tapioca balls and then fried! Cool! 

Ham Mousse Eclair (parmesan tuille, mustard caviar, bonfire salt). Totally cute and yummy. It was like a ham and cheese sandwich but fancier! The bottom was an eclair half, then ham mousse, topped with parmesan tuille, mustard caviar, and 2 little donut balls. It had a lot of flavor in that little bite. The mustard was a great addition to the other flavors. 

Deviled Egg Sandwich (tomato chutney, tomato meringue). This was our favorite. It was fantastic! Pretty AND delicious. I love a good deviled egg and I loved the presentation of it. How did they manage to cut out little perfect squares of egg white is beyond me. And the neat little piping of egg yolk on top. YUMM-O!

I had a friend that went a few weeks before me and she said that they were able to get more of the items they liked best. So we went in thinking that we can get refills on whatever we wanted...which cause my fiance to eat everything faster. haha. But half way thru, we were starting to think that wasn't the case. We asked the waitress that served the tea, if the food was one per person or if we can get more, and she said it was whatever is displayed for us. :( Uh-oh. haha. We were both a little disappointed. But later, when the manager came over, I asked him again. He explained that if the kitchen made extras or if they had some cancellations, then usually they are able to bring out more by request but it isn't always the case. He then asked us which ones we liked the best, we said the deviled eggs and ham mousse, and he winked and said they might have some more in the back. Yay! He later came out with 2 more deviled eggs and a ham mousse. He was fantastic btw, not just because he gave us more food. :P Very friendly, warm, and introduced the food/experience well.

SWEET
Huckleberry Buckle. This was already on the tower when we arrived. It was one of my favorite items. Kind of like a scone, moister than a biscuit but drier than a muffin. The frosting on top was a perfect ratio to the pastry. It paired SO WELL with all the teas. 
 

The last 3 desserts came out at the end. (From left to right)
Manjori Ancho Tart. It's a dark chocolate tart. I think he said 65% dark or something? It's very dense and rich, and had a spicy kick. It was too dark for my fiance so I got to eat half of his! :) 
Vanilla Yogurt Sandwich (with lavender). I think they said this was made with their house-made croissant dough. The cream is infused with lavender. I'm allergic to the smell of lavender so I was hesitant to eat this. I tried a teeny bit of the cream and didn't taste anything other than yogurt. He told me not to eat it... and it wasn't worth eating. He wasn't a fan.
Passion Berry. This was so good!! A heavy contender to the Huckleberry Buckle. I love passion fruit and it pairs so well to the marshmallow and cocoa nibs. The passion fruit was sweet, refreshing, and a little tangy. It was nice to end the meal with that bite.

Before we were finished, they gave every person 2 macarons to go. We got a chocolate and I'm not sure what the other flavor is. The chocolate wasn't that great... kinda chewy, but the other one is airy and nice, as it should be. 

It was a great time. The whole event lasted about 2 hours. It was nice to just sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. And my fiance enjoyed himself. Some things were different than I expected but overall I really liked it. The service was great, presentation was classy, the setting was intimate and the food was yummy. The price included tax and tip and valet already so I thought it was very reasonable. Generally afternoon teas are not cheap. I recommend this for a girl's day out, or if you just enjoy afternoon tea. They only have one service each day so you don't feel rushed at all, and you get your fill. We were both quite full after it all. And there's no dress code, but I noticed that most people were at least in nice casual attire.

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