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Monday, December 12, 2016

Barley & Board's Fall Menu Preview

I had the pleasure of trying Barley & Board's Fall Menu Preview at the end of November. As some of you know, Barley & Board is my new favorite restaurant since I discovered it earlier this year. It's all the way out in Denton though, so every visit is special. This was no exception. We feasted on their new additions until we can no longer move!

I was there with my fellow food bloggers and writers. I knew like 60% of the guests that night so it was pretty awesome. Just one big party!

Barley & Board
100 W. Oak St.
Denton, TX 76201
(940) 566-3900
Price: $$-$$$

The evening started off with an introduction by Chef Chad Kelley. He talked about the inspirations and ideas behind their menu and new items. He also introduced all the dishes as they came out of the kitchen. I cannot wait to see what all they have in store for us!

Some of my friends ordered cocktails. The liquor was certainly flowing that night! hehe.
Bitter Little Pe'ach (deep eddy lemon & peach vodka, lemonade, mint) $8.50~ Pe'ach is pronounced like "biatch". hahaha. I heard the waitress say it and thought it was hilarious! This seemed to have been the favorite. I kept seeing people reorder this.

Camaraderie (vodka, lemon, blackberries, champagne) $8~ Pretty!
Clara Lou (tequila, hibiscus syrup, lime, grapefruit) $10~ This was the pink ones in the martini glasses.
Sam Bass Bullet (bacon infused rye, maple syrup, bitters) $9~ My friend said he could actually taste the bacon in this. He enjoyed it a lot.

We started off with the appetizers.

Buratta Cheese (beet salad, chives, crushed walnuts) $12~ 
I would've ordered this myself if it wasn't part of the tasting. The buratta was like butter...basically melted in your mouth. And the combination with the raw beet salad was very interesting. I loved everything about it. It had a great combination of flavors as well as textures.

Roasted Cauliflower Flatbread (garam masala ricotta, lemon, pickled onion, capers) $13~ 
YUM! The garam masala added this nutmeg-y flavor. Very interesting, and oh-so-good! The lemon on the greens brightened up every bite. And if it had meat on top, I can totally make this my entree.

Second round were the sandwiches.

Harvest Turkey Sandwich (sourdough, smoked bacon, cranberry mostarda, arugula, havarti; served with house chips) $13~ 
Thanksgiving in a bite is what this is. Not only were the colors vibrant and festive, that tart cranberry mostarda wakes you up a little. I loved that the turkey was thick cut... none of that thin, deli sliced type of meat. And their chips... wow. Superbly crispy without being too greasy. They also reheated very well in the oven since I got one of the sandwiches to go. :P

The House Reuben (russian dressing, sauerkraut, gruyere; served with house chips) $13~ 
I normally don't care for reubens because I find the corned beef too salty. But the chef explained that they decided to use large chunks of beef instead of the typical thin slices. And by making the chunks bigger, they were able to use less salt while curing the meat. So the salt level was perfect. Also, the ratio of sauerkraut was just enough where it didn't overpower the rest of the ingredients. And the pickles were the perfect pairing to the meat. Loved it! I got one to-go to take home to my husband since he loves Reubens. :)

Now for the entrees! And I'm loving some of their item names. They're fun. :P

Soba-dass Noodles (yellow curry, coconut, bok choy, chickpea, acorn squash, cashew) $15~ 
This is a completely vegan dish so they're covering all the bases now. It had a ton of different ingredients and textures. I loved the subtle flavors... even the curry flavor was very light but still prominent. The more bites you take, the more flavors you discover. I loved the addition of the chickpeas.

Mr. Shankly (braised lamb shank, warm barley salad, jus) $25~ 
This dish made me wish I liked lamb. This was more than fork tender. Someone picked up the bone, and the whole thing just slid off. Knife definitely not needed! Served on a bed of barley, on top of a board... their namesake, hehe. Smart move there! I enjoyed the barley salad a lot. It was a light compliment to the heavier meat.

Scottish Salmon (horseradish crust, celeriac puree, brussels sprouts, golden raisings, dill brown butter) $22~ 
One of my favorite dishes of the night. That plating was gorgeous with that perfect horseradish crust on top. At first bite, the horseradish knocks the wind out of you. In a good way! But you'd have to like horseradish to like this dish. The salmon was perfectly pink and sooo tender. I loved the compliment of the brussels sprouts and puree.

We were told at the beginning of dinner that we were welcome to order anything else off the menu. So we're getting the burger! Duh!! One of the best burgers in Dallas, imo! There hasn't been a visit to Barley & Board where I haven't had the burger. :)
B&B Burger (sweet onion, b&b pickle, house sauce, american cheese; side of matchstick fries) $12~ It's just so amazing. Everything melds together so well. I can't believe I had half a burger after everything else we just ate. haha.

A friend of mine got the Mother Board (selection of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, pickles) $28~ I guess it's chef's choice since we didn't really know what all was on the board.

What a fantastic meal. As always... I was so honored to have been invited to be a part of this. It made my long drive to and from (on a week night, I might add) totally worth it. I didn't get home until 11:30PM but was still on a food high when I got home. haha. I also had a blast with my food blogger friends. And our waitress, Chelsea, was amazing! A big shout out to the PR team, particularly Narciso who always takes the best care of us. :) I highly recommend you to go check out their new menu as it is seasonal and may not be around forever. They also have some new additions to their brunch menu, I heard. I gotta make it out there to try that at some point. Looking through these pictures is making me hungry again. haha. I better go find me a snack!

*The meal was comped but all opinions are always honest and my own.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Asador: Chef's Harvest Dinner Series - November Edition

Last week, my husband and friends and I went to the Asador Chef's Harvest Dinner Series: November Edition. They do these dinners seasonally and is available once a month. We decided to do the one in November thinking it'll get us in the mood for the holidays. Boy were we in for a treat!

Renaissance Dallas Hotel
2222 Stemmons Fwy.
Dallas, TX 75207
(214) 267-4815

I had gone to a preview of the upcoming fall harvest dinners at the beginning of September. There we got to taste some of the dishes featured in the September dinner. The food was amazing! I have to say... I've always heard of Asador, but it's never been on my radar. The location is never really in an area where I frequent. But it truly is a hidden gem. I had an amazing time at the preview. (At some point I will finally write up the post for that one. hehe.) They told us that each dinner will feature 3 courses family style. Start off with a welcome drink and some snacks, then move into the actual dinner. Each dinner will have some sort of beverage accompaniment, whether wine, cocktails, or beers. And the whole dinner PLUS drinks PLUS tax PLUS gratuity is only $90! Whoa... That's a game changer. Most dinners like these typically run $80-120 and THEN you have to add on another $30-50 on the drink pairings. And they never include gratuity! This is a steal people... stay tuned for their dinners next season!

We arrived a little late due to terrible traffic. The dinner was on a Wednesday night and we were driving from Rockwall. The group had already started with charcuterie boards and a welcome beer. The dinner this night featured pairings from Real Ale Brewing. One of my friends was super excited because he's a real beer connoisseur. He had a hell of a time talking to Brad, the owner of the brewery, the entire night.

Asador has one of the best charcuterie boards I've ever had. Their smoked duck is my favorite. :) It was a little sparse by the time I got there. haha.

After some introductions and background info from Real Ale, they moved us to the long wood table for our feast. It was a communal style table since the dinner is family style. Looking through the menu, there's gonna be so much food. I'm so excited! The theme was Thanksgiving, since it was so close to the holiday.

First Harvest:
The featured beer is Lost Gold, IPA.

Carrot Cumin Soup (chive cream). The soup was poured tableside by the Chef, Brad Phillips. He's super nice and you can tell he's just so passionate about the food. Ever course he comes out to explain the dishes and ingredients. 

OMG... I normally hate carrots, y'all. But this soup was something else. One of my favorite dishes of the night. It was smooth, creamy, and luxurious. Slight sweetness from the carrots and just the most beautiful color. It had none of the flavors that I normally dislike of carrots. It was just magnificent. I'd be happy if we were only served this dish in the entire dinner!

Crispy Pork Tibia (wild boar, jalapeno orange, baby kale). 
I love me some pork. This was no exception. That jalapeno orange glaze was a great pairing with the boar meat. Just a hint of citrus sweetness and heat. I really tried hard not to over eat. There was just so much food!

Frisee, BBQ Apple, and Red Plum Salad (chestnut puree, black pepper honey vinaigrette). 
Loved pairing this with the Crispy Pork, the flavors all complimented each other so well. This was dressed lightly, which I liked. I did think the apples were cut a little too large but the flavor was great. It was so interesting with the BBQ rub on it. Loved it all!

Oh man... the first course blew our minds already and we've already been stuffing our faces. There's so much more coming!

Second Harvest:
The featured beer for the main course was Brewhouse, Brown Ale.

Turducken Roulade (cranberry tartar). 
OMG. My first ever Turducken! It was beautiful. The cranberry tartar was so vibrantly red. It was great but I think the turkey overwhelmed everything else because I couldn't discern the chicken or the duck. haha. But oh well. Yummy!

Roasted Wild Trout (mashed rutabega, artichoke). 
I think the fish stole the show for me for the entrees though. It was so freaking fresh and tender. The whole thing just melted in your mouth. And that rutabega mash... oh my. Just gimme a bucket of it. It's not often that I get to try rutabega either. Loved all the interesting ingredients we were tasting that night. Each plate of food they put on the table were just over flowing with food. The fish dish is the only one where we finished every piece of fish. We just can't let that go to waste!

The side dishes were a show of their own!
Green Bean Casserole (crispy onions). Fresh green beans, not that mushy stuff from a can. Delish!

Crispy Squash Blossom (ricotta, goat cheese). I love squash blossoms. These were so perfectly fried and the filling was fluffy. 

Sourdough Stuffing. We had so much stuffing we didn't know what to do with ourselves! We barely made a dent in this. I hope they let the staff take the leftovers, cuz I hate to think all this food was wasted. Or they should've just given me like 10 to go boxes. hahaha. 

Carrot Souffle (pecans). My favorite side dish. Again, CARROTS! Wow... they're really making me rethink my preferences. haha. This tasted more like a sweet potato souffle. It was cinnamon-y, nutmeg-y, and fluffy. The crushed pecans on top were a great additional texture. 

Potato Puree (garlic confit, truffle). Silky and smooth. Really great mashed potatoes.(And apparently I didn't get a picture of this...)

Third Harvest:
For dessert, our pairing was Coffee Porter, Brewed with Katz Coffee. Really quite interesting, to have beer paired with coffee. I managed to take a couple sips since usually I don't drink any beer.

Vanilla Panna Cotta (persimmon chutney). 
Persimmons seem to be the fruit of this year. I've been seeing it everywhere! And it's not that popular of a fruit! The panna cotta was creamy, yet light. The persimmon chutney on top was the perfect flavor pairing with the vanilla panna cotta.

Dark Rum Sticky Buns (apples, caramel). 
This was a show stopper dessert. I mean, serious mike drop. They placed about 3 of these mega sticky buns on the long table. Topped with that shiny pool of caramel sauce. Ahhhhh. If only I can just stick my whole face on it! Use it as a pillow. haha. They did give us some small to go boxes for these cuz there was no way we could've finished any of that.

What a phenomenal dinner. Chef Brad and the team at Asador outdid themselves. It was literally a Thanksgiving feast! I'm so glad we were able to be a part of this dinner and I will definitely be on the lookout for their future special dinners. Asador is worthy of a visit, add it to the top of your list, you won't be disappointed! The food was fantastic, and so was the company. We sat by Brad, the owner of Real Ale Brewing, and learned a lot of things on his business and beers in general. If you are ever in Blanco, TX, they do tours of their facilities.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sneak Peek: Standard Service opens Monday, 10/10!

One of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Rockwall... My friend first tipped me off that HG Sply Co was going to open something in our neck of the woods months and months ago. For the longest time I thought it was going to be a second location but never really heard anything about it. Last week, I realized it was going to be a different name, Standard Service. I've actually seen the name on Facebook at some point a while back but the name didn't jump out at me. So the opening kinda snuck up on us! Do you have any idea HOW exciting it is to get a new restaurant in Rockwall? There's not many great places to choose from and something with the caliber of HG Sply Co and Remedy is huge! hehe.

Standard Service
760 W. Ralph Hall Pkwy
Rockwall, TX 75032
(469) 651-1100
Price: $$$+

Once I found out Standard Service is the new restaurant name, I followed it's opening closely. Unfortunately they pushed back their opening date a few times since I started checking on it. We (a group of us) had been talking about going yesterday, then we found out the opening day got pushed to Monday, 10/10. Booo... Well, me being me, I decided to do a drive by with a friend Friday afternoon just to see maybeeeee they're doing a soft opening?! It's super close to my house anyways. As I drove by, I saw a lot of people inside. So I decided to park and go inside. They were doing training still so all the staff was there. I confirmed with them the opening date. MONDAY! And then they told me I'm welcome to sit at the bar and get a drink. Ooooo. So I casually asked if they are serving food as well. They said food service started at 6PM and it would be on them since they are still doing training. What?!? They're serving food AND it's free?? I immediately texted my husband and said change of evening plans and we're going to Standard Service! haha. I met back at the restaurant with my friend and her hubby at 6:30PM. The hostesses were super nice and said we can totally sit at the bar to eat and drink. Turns out they were having their friends and family night with mock services to practice. We felt so special that we were still allowed in since we're neither friends nor family. Although after the meal we felt like friends. :P

The space is super cool. High ceilings, lots of wood, the bar has a large window that opens up to their big patio. There's a ping pong table in the patio too. Definitely a cool place to hang out now that the weather is cooler.

We were given a smaller menu for their mock service night but the entire drink menu was available. We were so excited we didn't know whether to order food or drinks or just keep looking around the restaurant. Our bartender (who also took our food orders) was Jessica. She was super friendly and gave a lot of suggestions. You can tell she was very excited about the restaurant opening and their offerings. And... they have Moscow Mule and Old Fashioned cocktails on draft! What what!?! That's pretty freaking awesome. And they were good too. We tried both.

*I'm including the prices of all the menu items but the meal was on the house since it was a mock service. Sooo freaking awesome!!! :D

HG Moscow Mule (42 Below Vodka, Lime, Ginger Holy Kombucha, Agave) $10~ Very refreshing and definitely strong (for a lightweight like me) haha.

Right Grain Old Fashioned (Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon, House-Mashed Barley Syrup, bitters) $10~ My friend really likes Old Fashioned and she said this one was really good.

Bison Chili Frito Pie (South Dakota bison, kidney, pinto, black beans, fritos, shredded cheddar, lime crema, guacamole, green onions) $9~ 
This was their only appetizer option of the evening so we go it first while still trying to decide what entrees to get. This was a pretty damn big portion imo. And it was definitely the prettiest frito pie I've ever seen. hahaha. Delicious!!! All the ingredients were super fresh and the flavors all complimented each other well. There wasn't too much of one thing or another. And it had the slightest little spicy kick to it. Yum. This could easily be a meal too.

The B-Webb (The Last Word: High Born Gin, Maraschino, Chartreause, Lime) $12~ 
Partial proceeds go to St. Jude Children's Hospital. They told us that they feature 5 different cocktails (the line up changes every so often) and each one has proceeds that go to a different charity. That's really awesome. Drink for charity, amiright? My friend got this. It was a pretty drink. It has a bitterness to it but is very smooth. Another winner.

Chicken Salad Wrap (chopped chicken breast, celery, green grapes in green goddess dressing, marinated tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, green onion, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, crispy brown rice; with side of potato salad) $13.50~ 
My husband chose this as his entree. I really liked the potato salad. You can also choose potato chips as your side. He liked the wrap... I thought it was ok. The flavor was fine but it was too saucy for me.

The Standard Stack (herbed smashbrowns with caramelized onion and jalapeno, green goddess dressing, marinated tx tomato and arugula; with choice of protein). Kansas City Kobe Beef Burger $15~ My friend's husband got this. He said it was good.

The Standard Stack (herbed smashbrowns with caramelized onion and jalapeno, green goddess dressing, marinated tx tomato and arugula; with choice of protein). Scottish Salmon $18~ 
I got the stack as well but with salmon. I shared it with my friend since we wanted to try everything. She said this was better than her husbands kobe beef burger stack. I ordered the salmon pink in the middle and it came PERFECTLY cooked. I mean.. just on point. And those smashbrowns... so good. Nice and crispy and flavorful. The whole thing was delicious and very well rounded. It didn't feel heavy at all. And at first the portion looked small to me, but its quite filling. Highly recommend this.

My friend got the Chicken Fried Chicken (sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, green beans, chicken gravy) $16~ 
We also shared this one. Jessica (our bartender) recommended this one. They use chicken thighs instead of breast so the meat was extra juicy and tender. The color on the batter looked dark but it wasn't overcooked. I really enjoyed the crunch on the batter. The mashed potatoes were fluffy and the gravy wasn't too heavy. I think the chicken was my favorite thing of the night. Then the salmon and smashbrowns were a close close second.

We were having such a great time and the restaurant had completely filled up. The noise level is a little high but it's energetic not overbearing. We chatted with Jessica a lot throughout the night. It was very cool sitting at the bar watching them make all the drinks too. Since it's still their training, it's like we got a behind the scenes look at the restaurant. For their first night of food service, we thought everything went really well. The service was fast, attentive, and friendly. The food was spot on, no major snafus on anything. I'd say they're ready to open!

Finally we decided to ask if they were serving dessert even though it's not on the limited menu and they said yes. They only have 2 dessert options. One is a coconut blondie, called The Lucy. The other was The Ricky (dark chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauces, chopped peanuts, whipped cream) $11~ 
Such cute names! You can guess which one we got. hehe. It was pretty freaking awesome. I was on a no sugar diet, but I cheated and had 2 bites. The brownie was super fudgy and they gave enough ice cream to brownie ratio (this is important!) We killed it pretty quickly.

What a fabulous night! I saw the executive chef, Danyele McPherson, walking around the dining room later in the night but didn't get to meet her. She seems really nice. I saw her when she competed on Top Chef and have kinda been following her movement since. She used the be the chef de cuisine at The Grape then moved to Remedy and HG Sply Co sometime in 2014. I freaking love Remedy... especially their burger. I'm very pleased to see that the burger is going to be on the menu at Standard Service.

If you haven't noticed my excitement for this new opening... I'm telling you now... They open on MONDAY! Lunch & Dinner - 7 days a week! What a great addition to Rockwall. Go check them out. :) And say hi to Jessica for me!

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