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Sunday, December 31, 2017

CHOMP! 2107 Best Eats - The Sweet Edition

It's the last day of 2017!! Hope your year was as sweet as mine. Here's my "Top 10 Sweet Bites" for the year. It was pretty hard to narrow it down. Y'all know I lurrrv my desserts.

These are not ranked btw... I love them all. But I've definitely have some more than others. And SERIOUSLY craving some right now...

- Starbucks Reserve (Legacy West).
This place has made me like coffee. Even if the coffee is topped with a scoop of ice cream. haha. :P The House Affogato from Starbucks Reserve is delicious. And I'm obsessed with this place. I love sitting at the bar so I can watch the baristas demo the siphon coffee. One of these days I'll have to go to one of their workshops! Also fantastic... the Cold Brew Malt... basically a coffee milkshake - Cold Brew, 2 scoops of ice cream, Starbucks' malt powder.

- Bisous Bisous Patisserie (West Village).
I've definitely spent a lot of time in West Village this year. Between Pok and the Summer Sammie pop ups from Bisous Bisous, it's like I lived there. I went almost every weekend they were available. Warm and flaky croissant waffles made to order with seasonal ice cream flavors sandwiched in the middle. So yummy!

- Val's Cheesecakes (Maple Ave, Lower Greenville).
Best cheesecakes ever. I definitely ate A LOT of his cheesecakes this year, include TWO whole ones. They make a great addition to any special occasion and he can do anything you want in his custom creations. My all time favorite... the Classic Blueberry. I still have a few jars in my fridge, better go get those now!

- Everett & Elaine (Legacy Food Hall & Dallas Farmers Market)
I first stumbled upon E&E earlier this year at the Dallas Farmers Market. They makes some of the most delicious looking desserts and pastries. But since they've opened their stall inside the Legacy Food Hall, I've discovered my favorite thing there. The Tiramisu Cotton Cheesecake. It's an Asian style (super fluffy) cheesecake with a decadent tiramisu topping. It's on a whole different level. You cannot compare it with anything else. Every single person that I've recommended it to has loved it.
Photo by @_rachelann_

- Commissary (Downtown).
Again, one of my favorite places this year. They have a gorgeous dessert display and so far everything I've tried is good. However, the first thing I had there, the Triple Chocolate Eclair, remains one of my favorites. It's like a Ferrero Rocher, which is one of my favorite candies. Plus it's fancy.

- North Italia (Legacy West).
Again, one of my favorite spots this year. Make sure you make room for dessert after all those amazing pastas. Their Tiramisu is probably one of the best I've had to date. Rich espresso flavor and cream, lots of chocolates, and the crunchy chocolate balls totally makes it.

- Tommy Bahama (Legacy West).
I didn't even know TB had restaurants until I went to the Legacy West grand opening. The decor is so festive and the food is quite fantastic. But... their desserts are definitely the star. One of the prettiest desserts I've had this year... and definitely the BEST creme brulee ever, imo. Their Pineapple Creme Brulee is baked inside an actual pineapple!! So bright and fun and fresh.

- District Food & Wine (Design District).
This is definitely a hidden gem. They're only open for lunch during the week so I don't think most people know it's there. But the BEST Lemon Cake of my life! I don't even really like lemon desserts very much and I chose this over the chocolate cake. What?? Not too tart or too sweet, the cake is fluffy and perfect. I still think about it from time to time.

- Emporium Pies (Bishop Arts District, Deep Ellum, Downtown McKinney).
This is my favorite pie place in Dallas so it's really hard to pick a single one that I love. But I found my absolute favorite pie this year... and that's a pretty bold statement coming from me. The Nutty Honey from the Fall Menu... peanut butter and honey. Please bring it back!!

- We the Birds Macarons.
So... these are not limited to 2017, but I've got to give a shout out to my friends at We the Birds for having the most beautiful and delicious macarons ever. I prefer theirs over Ladurée. Yes, you can quote me on that. I gifted several of their custom flavors to friends this year so I think it's relevant. :P Love y'all!

Sweet Dreams everyone! And have the most amazing 2018!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

CHOMP! 2107 Best Eats - The Savory Edition

Happy New Year Everyone!

Initially I wanted to do a "CHOMP! 2017 Top 5 Best Eats" until I started going through all my pictures and realized there's NO way I can narrow it down to just 5! I mean, c'mon! I've had wayyyy too much good food this year! So now I've split up between Sweet vs Savory, and it's going to be CHOMP! “Top 10” Best Eats. Hehe. :P (And letting y'all in on a secret... I chose "10" because that's the max number of photos I can include on a single post on Instagram. hahaha. All for the gram, amiright?)

First up! The Savory! I chose these places, some for really obvious reason likes "I go there, literally, once a week", and others because it was just very memorable. And tbh I often don't remember what I ate 2 days ago because it's almost always something new and different. haha.

I don't really want to rank these because they are all fantastic in my book, so I will list them by how often I visit them.

1. Pōk (West Village).
I mean... are you even surprised?! I basically went 1-2 times a week for a good 6 months straight. I literally have 20+ folders on my computer of photos from every visit. I freaking love this place and I actually crave it. They have the BEST poke bowls imo, plus the best matcha drinks… My favorite being the Matcha x Coco. I always build my own bowl.
Here's my go-to combination:
- Base: Bamboo Rice + Kelp Zucchini Slaw
- Protein: Salmon
- Sauce: Spicy Ponzu
- Toppings: Edamame, Kale (no longer on the menu, so I switched to Napa Cabbage), Pickled Ginger, Crispy Onions
- Premium Toppings (+$1): Avocado and/or Seaweed Salad
I rarely deviate from this. It's just TOO good! And guess what? I just had it for lunch today!

2. Pōk the Raw Bar (West Village).
I only had the chance to sit in front of Chef Jimmy Park twice at the 5 seater raw bar. I'm sad he's not at Pok anymore... it was definitely the best sushi experience I've ever had other than when I was in Japan. The Omakase/"chef tasting" was freaking amazing. I got to try many things I've never had before. I anxiously await what he's working on next.

3 & 4. Commissary (Downtown).
This place only opened back in November but is already one of my favorite spots. I started going there weekly as well and each visit would cost me around $50 because I just wanted to buy everything! XD Also, most of the time I’m there by myself so I get a lot of stares from other people. It's just me... and a whole table of food. haha. This takes spot 3 and 4 because I love their Rigatoni (pork sugo, parmesan) and their Pulled Pork Sandwich (slaw, pickles, chipotle BBQ) is the BEST I've ever had, no joke.

5. Oni Ramen (Deep Ellum).
I've only been to this location, which is his second. This location only opened back in Sept but I've been there at least 5+ times already. Each time I go, I take new people because it's so good I have to tell everyone! BEST ramen in Dallas, hands down. All the different broths are super flavorful without being super salty. And most of the bowls come standard with a ton of toppings, you rarely have to add anything else, so it's more affordable than a lot of other ramen spots. My current favorite? The Rich Tonkotsu, plus a soft boiled egg. Yum! If you want even MORE flavor? Get the Kyushu Tonkotsu (with black garlic oil).
That pork belly tho.... 

6. North Italia (Legacy West).
I freaking love the entire Legacy West center. All the eateries there are fantastic. But I have a weakness for pasta and North Italia has got that down! Every single pasta dish I've had there has been on point. One of my favorites being the Short Rib Radiatori (parmesan cream, fresh horseradish, wilted arugula, herbed breadcrumb). The name for the pasta is just like it's shape! Like an old style radiator! haha. But seriously, can't go wrong with ANY of their pastas.

7. Haywire (Legacy West).
I told y'all I loved this area. Haywire is one of the newest additions, only opened at the end of November. The newest member under Front Burner Restaurants who also own winners such as Sixty Vines, Whiskey Cake, The Ranch in Las Colinas, and more! I was immediately impressed walking in. 3 stories high, each floor is decked out in unique Texas decor, and they have a killer patio (and an Airstream) on the 3rd floor. Not to mention the people here are so nice, I felt so welcomed. And the food? Amazing! My favorite dish right now is the TX Whiskey BBQ Baby Back Ribs... it's off the bone tender and comes with the 2 best sides they have... the mac n cheese and the cornbread. OH the cornbread! It's amazing. I will always order one for myself. They're only a buck each! It's absolutely my favorite thing there. In the span of 3 weeks, I went 3 times. Did I mention that it's about an hour drive for me from home to Legacy West? Worth it!

8. City Hall Bistro (The Adolphus Hotel).
Probably one of the most gorgeous spaces I've seen this year. It's hidden inside the newly renovated, and so beautiful, Adolphus hotel. The food is killer and unique. They change up their menu though so my favorite item is no longer on there... Atayef (savory Lebanese pancake, duck confit, pear, black garlic aioli). But that's ok, because everything else on the menu is also amazing. Pasta game is strong!

9. Mudhen Meat & Greens (Dallas Farmers Market).
I was obsessed with this place for a while. Their food is healthy yet tasty and filling. I don't go as often as I'd like because their weekend brunch gets pretty packed so I have to plan ahead and make reservations. My favorite brunch dish here is the New English Breakfast (two eggs, applewood bacon, chicken sausage, sweet potato mash, roasted heirloom tomato, toast, and dressed arugula). So many colors, flavors, and textures on this plate. And it's pretty healthy too. I never feel heavy or overly full after leaving here.

10. Edith's French Bistro (Mockingbird Station)
This is a hidden gem. I never used to go to Mockingbird Station much because there wasn't a whole lot, but I'm loving this new addition. First of all, one of the CUTEST places, decor wise. And secondly, the food is bomb! I've only been there 3 times but I haven't had anything bad. I especially love their sandwiches. I've gotten a different one on each visit. My favorite being The Pastrami (apple fennel sauerkraut, avocado, white american cheese). I always get the Caesar salad as the side. So freaking good!! Also make sure you save room for dessert. They have a crepe station as well as several cases of cakes and pastries on display.

So many other great restaurants and dishes in 2017... I wish I could include them all. It took me several hours today to finally get it down to 10! And here's to so much more deliciousness in 2018!!!

I'll be posting the Sweets tomorrow! Stay tuned! :)


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Opening Week @ Haywire - Legacy West

Haywire opened at Legacy West in Plano just 2 weeks ago. Being part of the restaurant group that brought us Whiskey Cake, Sixty Vines, Ida Claire, and more... this place was definitely on my radar. My husband and I happened to be in Plano on the 2nd night of opening so I quickly snagged a reservation.

*Now open for Lunch and Dinner. Brunch will start Christmas weekend!*

Haywire - Legacy West
5901 Winthrop St. Suite 110
Plano, TX 75024
(972) 781-9473
Price (dinner): $$$+

Y'all... this place is amazing!! My husband was caught in traffic so I explored the place while waiting for him. THREE floors completely decked out in awesome decor. Definitely a very western/Texas theme, but each floor had its own vibe. Also, a bar on every floor! The rooftop is extra awesome, complete with a cabin-esque nook area to enjoy a game, and a full size Airstream! It's a fancy Airstream too, I would like to dine in there some time. 
This place is huge! It's definitely going to be a popular spot when the weather is nice. So I was walking around just looking and taking pictures when I was greeted by the GM and the Director of Operations from Front Burner Restaurants. They just walked up and said hi! How nice! They informed me that they were having a complimentary wine tasting event and asked if I wanted some wine. I don't drink, but they guided me over there for some appetizers and cheese boards. Yay, free food! I sampled the Cornmeal Fried Texas Gulf Oyster and Fried Green Tomato (with Green Goddess dressing). 
So good. I'm not a huge oyster fan but it was so good! And loved the fried green tomatoes. You must have the dressing! Btw... since I don't drink wine, the GM brought me a glass of water, himself! I felt so special!! :)

I was getting a little worried and feeling bad that we were so late for our reservation, however, they were so laid back and easy going. When my husband arrived, we even went and got him some free wine first before being seated. The main dining area is super cool. Dimly lit, and really nice decor. They have a sitting area with really cool chairs and a fireplace.

Our waiter, Oscar, came over to greet us. He was super nice! We noticed that it was Happy Hour and he helped to recommend some drinks. My husband got the Frozen Texas Tea (4 types of liquor; with sangria swirl) $5~ during HH. 
This was a bigger glass than I expected. It was really yummy... did NOT feel like you were drinking that many different kinds of alcohol. But that's deadly right? My husband liked it so much he ordered a 2nd one, and that was one too many! He got quite tipsy towards the end of the meal. haha.

Happy Hour is M-F from 4-7PM. They have $5 apps and drinks. I highly recommend the Frozen Texas Tea. But have a DD! And... half priced wines every Sunday!

Mini Elk Tacos (spicy elk picadillo, caciotta cheese, grilled corn pico, cilantro crema, micro greens) $9.95~ 
We were also intrigued by the elk tacos from the HH menu, but they hadn't started food specials when we went. We got them anyways. So the meat is a elk and wagyu beef blend so it's not gamey at all. I was a little surprised it was a crispy taco... these days most people do soft corn tortillas (which I don't like). I liked the crispy taco shell. It was filled to the brim with meat. The toppings kept falling out. haha. A good problem to have. It was really good. I would've like some hot sauce but I just like spicy foods. hehe.

I asked Oscar about their cornbreads cuz a friend of mine had gone the day before and raved about them. I asked him because it's not on the menu... But yes, you can order them, and it's super cheap.
Buttery Cornbread. I think they're like $1~ each? 
Can I get a dozen to go please! :P These were my favorite things of the night. They were perfection! Warm, fluffy, with slightly crispy edges. It was sweet yet had a slight heat to it. I wonder what kind of spice they used but it was very slight... you just get a hint of heat. Enough to make you wonder. Loved it. I can have this with my meal, or as dessert.

For the entrees, there were so many things we wanted. I ended up with the Mesquite Grilled Bone-in Pork Chop (warm farro and rainbow chard salad, smoked chili honey butter) $24.95~ 
Mainly because of the farro and chard salad... sounded yummy! Plus this was healthier than getting the mac and cheese. (Next time!) Really thick cut pork chop, perfectly tender. I ordered it medium and it was a little under. Since it's bone-in, it takes a little longer to cook through. I would suggest med-well for next time. Loved the flavors too. The farro salad was amazing and had this peppery-ness to it. I liked the bit of heat.

My husband went with the Double Cut Texas Wild Boar Chops (local oyster and shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, cipollini onions, pan jus) $31.95~ 
The most tender boar everrr! We did notice that the veggies underneath did not include any of the mushrooms or onions so we brought it to Oscar's attention. He was able to get us a side dish of that. Ours just had brussels sprouts and butternut squash which also paired really well with the boar. I did wish the chops were bigger though. My husband inhaled his plate quickly.

We were pretty full. But I made sure to stop eating and take the rest of my entree to go because I wanted dessert. My husband regretted getting the 2nd drink because now he's way too full. haha. To our surprise, Oscar asked us if we wanted a slice of cake and it was going to be on the house. Well duh!! Bring it on! :P We chose the Chocolate Cake (with vanilla ice cream). Not sure how much the cake is since it was on the house! :) 
It was a big slice of chocolate decadence. That ganache is amazing. We ended up taking more than half of the cake to go, but killed the ice cream. Tip: If you let the cake warm up a bit... it's even better!!

It was a fabulous dinner. Brian, the GM, came by and talked to us for a while. Another manager came by to greet us towards the end of the meal too. And Oscar was just a joy. We absolutely loved our experience and cannot wait to go back. We're already planning to visit again next week.. and bringing LOTS of friends. :D

Quality of Food: 




Overall Experience: 


Monday, December 4, 2017

Lunch @ Sixty Vines

Sixty Vines... quickly becoming one of my favorite places in Plano. It's just such a beautiful space, and of course the food is fantastic. I was invited to come check them out for lunch and I was ecstatic! Luckily I had a doctor's appointment in Plano in the morning so I took half a day off work and had a long lunch with a friend.

Sixty Vines
3701 Dallas Pkwy.
Plano, TX 75093
(469) 620-8463
Price (for lunch): $$

Did I mention I love the decor and space? We were initially seated by the kitchen which was an open space so you can see them work. While I love that, it was a little dim. So we moved to their covered patio seating. The weather was cool and kind of overcast, perfect for taking photos!

Our waitress was Kirsten. She had only been working there for a few months but was extremely knowlegeable of the menu and their VERY extensive wine menu. The name IS Sixty Vines... meaning they have 60 wines on tap. Yes. ON TAP. And tons more by the bottle. So naturally they feature a lot of drink specials. :)

Bubble Monday - Half Off all bubbly
Rose All Day Tuesday - Half off all sparkling and still Rose
Wino Wednesday - Half off all premium and super premium wines

They also have an ipad for all the wine options which is really helpful if you want more information on certain wines, which dishes on their menu pairs best with which wine, and flights for those who want to try multiple types. You can probably spend a whole day going through and reading their selections.

Kirsten told us they also have a Frose (frozen rose with a splash of Rosa Regale). I don't really drink, but I do love sweet wines like moscato... and Rosa Regale is one of my favs. So I got the frose to try, plus it's really pretty.

My friend ordered the Rosa Regale per Kirsten's recommendations (and mine. hehe). She loved it. Had a 2nd one! :P

We started with the Garden Vegetables (fresh chilled vegetables, pears, lettuces, green goddess dressing) $11~ 

The veggies change depending on the season. I knew we were going to order a bunch of carbs for the main dishes so this is my attempt to be a little healthier. ha! It IS super healthy. The bowl was so colorful and pretty. You can just FEEL the freshness by looking at it. Other than the celery, I loved all the different veggie selections. My favorites if I had to choose... the tomatoes and asparagus. But they were all good. And that green goddess dressing was absolutely necessary!

For the entrees we got several different things to share. And I wanted to get things that I haven't tried before.

Tonnarelli (coconut and cilantro infused noodle, jumbo gulf shrimp, spinach, basil, cracked black pepper, pecorino romano) Full Order $15~ You can also get half order for $8. 
I freaking love pasta... I will always choose pasta over pizza. The coconut and cilantro infused noodle sounds so interesting. However, neither of us could taste those flavors. The shrimp, while super plump, overpowered the entire dish imo. I did like the hints of basil throughout. Their pastas are made fresh daily, so our pasta was literally made like 2 hours before we got there. So fresh!

Weekly Pizza: Autumn Flatbread (acorn squash and sage infused white sauce, provolone, halloumi cheese, butternut squash, herb roasted turkey, cranberry, arugula, freshly grated Pecorino Romano) 
When Kirsten started describing this to us... we kept nodding our heads cuz we knew we had to get this. I love anything with butternut squash. This is fall in pizza form. The acorn squash and butternut squash made it sweet and savory. The dough had a nice chewy texture. I loved the arugula on top to add a little peppery-ness. Our only complaint was it was a little dry. A drizzle or dipping of sauce of some kind would be perfect.

Short Rib Sourdough Melt (red wine braised short rib, basil pesto aioli, tomato, fresh mozzarella, balsamic, sourdough, duck fat lemon potatoes) $15~ 
Y'all. This dish stole the show! Not only did it look and smell amazing. It tasted even better. I'm not even a sourdough fan. But the bread was nice and crispy. The short rib was tender. The aioli and cheese and balsamic added so much flavor. And my friend extra loved it cuz it was saucy. Definitely an extra napkin sandwich if you are going to pick it up. hehe. Huge portion too. We each ate half and it filled us up! The duck fat potatoes were great too.. but we had too much food to pay that much attention. haha. Highly recommend this!!

Deviled Affogato (devil's food cake, salted caramel ice cream, coffee caramel, nitro cold brew coffee shot) $7~ 

We got a dessert to share. I haven't had their desserts yet and this sounded so good. I recently started loving affogato. I don't really like coffee so it wasn't something I normally order, but since Starbucks Reserve in Legacy West, I've discovered that I LOVE affogatos. Mixing ice cream sure makes the coffee better! haha. This also is on a chocolate cake. It was wonderful. The coffee, caramel and ice cream gets soaked up into the cake. YUM!

It was a fabulous lunch. I got to catch up with my friend, have delicious food, and enjoy the nice fall weather. The food was great, just as I expected. And Kirsten was a fantastic waitress. We were given plenty of attention, she was extremely knowlegeable, and super nice. Also, at some point during the meal, everyone came to greet us, the manager, the chef, etc. We definitely felt very special. So get over there if you haven't yet. And keep in mind that Monday - Wednesday are great for drink specials! Ohhhh... and they told us that they are getting ready to roll out some new lunch menu items too. So keep an eye out for that!

Thank you so much, Sixty Vines, for having us. We will definitely be back soon! :)

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

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: