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Monday, August 7, 2017

Zatar - Now Open for Sunday Brunch!

Last weekend, I got invited to go check out brunch at Zatar in Deep Ellum. I was invited to a media dinner at the beginning of this year but had to decline due to work conflicts. I was so bummed! I've heard really great things about this place. So I jumped on this invite and accepted immediately. :) Plus... I love brunch!

Zatar - Lebanese Tapas & Bar
2825 Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75226
(972) 863-7100
Price (for brunch): $$

It was different going to Deep Ellum on a Sunday morning. No need to fight traffic or circle for parking spots! Woot! We arrived at 11:30AM. The place was pretty quiet, only 2 other tables so far. But brunch doesn't start until 11:30 anyways and it goes til 3PM! That's pretty awesome since a lot of places end brunch at 2... They just started brunch about a month ago, btw. It's super new, and so far no need for a reservation, so go sooner than later, I say! :)

I really liked the decor. High ceilings... they also have a huge outdoor (but covered) seating area. Lots of cool art on the walls and chandeliers. I love chandeliers. We were seated close to the window, yes, for light. hehe. Turned out it was the owner himself that seated us. Marc was super nice and he actually remembered inviting me back in Jan! Wow, great memory! Well, I'm so glad to have finally made it in.

It was pretty early in the day so my husband and I started with the Arabic Teapot (black tea with fresh mint) $4~ 
Neither of us really drink much alcohol anyways... but just so you know... they have Frose. I really enjoyed the tea, the mint was fragrant, but wasn't overpowering. It was great to just sip on it throughout the meal. The teapot was bigger than I thought too, the one pot lasted the both of us for the entire meal.

We were greeted by the PR rep that invited me. She was also incredibly nice. She gave us some history tidbits of the restaurant. Their oven was brought over brick by brick from Lebanon so as to ensure the most authentic baking of their breads. Oh my! I immediately added the hummus to our order so we can have some pita bread. hehe.

Hummus (chickpeas dip, with tahini, lemon, olive oil) $6~ 
It's gluten free and vegetarian. (The hummus, not the pita bread. haha.) It was a big portion, definitely shareable with multiple people. The pita bread was puffy and warm... right out of that amazing oven. OMG. This is the BEST hummus I've ever had. Seriously. And I've had quite a bit of hummus. It's one of my favorite things in mediterranean cuisine. Normally they're all fine... but this was spectacular. It had soooo much flavor! With a slight spicy kick to it. The texture was great, not gritty like it can sometimes get. Freaking amazing. And it's only $6 so you have to get it every time you go.

I got the Shish Taouk & Waffles (anise infused waffles topped with fried shish taouk chicken, drizzled with carob molasses) $13~ 
Added a fried egg on top. Chicken and waffles are like Brussels Sprouts and Pork Belly. If I see it on the menu, I'm very likely to order it. hehe. This was their twist on the popular dish. The waffles were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The carob molasses was quite interesting. Definitely not your typical maple syrup. The carob added a slight chocolate flavor and the molasses was dark, but not overpowering. The chicken was nice and juicy... I wished it was a little crispier but I don't know if that's the way they intended it. Just personally, I always prefer crispier chicken. And I wish the chicken pieces were a little bigger. I actually ended up removing the egg and eating it separately. The dish really didn't need that addition. It was definitely interesting! And we quite enjoyed it.

My husband got the Mother of All Pies (minced meat pie with cheese stuffed crust, topped with 2 sunny side up eggs) $14~ 
It was highly recommend by Marc. And he was right to suggest it. I loved the plating on the plank. It was actually completely different than what I was imagining. For some reason I was thinking more towards like the British style meat pies, but this was more like a Lebanese pizza. The dough/crust had great texture. It was nicely browned in their oven. The meat was flavorful and everything worked so well with the eggs on top. You can see some colorful pickled veggies they garnished the pie with... the red strips were radishes I think, and the green ones are actually cucumbers. I thought they were celery. So yummy. I liked this better than my waffles and my husband cleaned his plate!

We asked the waiter to box up some of the leftovers and I asked him about this chocolate cake they had that I've heard so much about. I didn't see it on the menu and wondered if they have it available. The waiter winked and said he'll see what they can do for me. hehe. And... they had it. Yessss! :)

Halawa Chocolate Cake
The waiter said halawa is some sort of fudge or candy made from sesame seeds. I did a Google search and it seems like the word is synonymous with Halva, which I've definitely heard before. It looked so rich and decadent! And the flavor totally matched the look. Ganache is like my favorite thing! And they definitely did it right. The halawa (sesame paste) is mixed with buttercream as the filling. It had a nice texture... and if you really tried to taste for it, you can taste the sesame a little. It was as good as I've heard. And it went so well with the tea.

What a great brunch! Part of me wished we had tried more things (the piggy side of me. ha!) but we had just the right amount. I wasn't dying for nap like I normally am after brunch. haha. Everyone was super nice and we definitely enjoyed the food. And now I'll definitely have to go back for dinner one night. Just FYI, other than Sunday brunch, they are only open for dinners. And closed on Mondays. Thanks, Zatar, for having us, we loved it! :)

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

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: 


Monday, July 31, 2017

District Food & Wine

I got to check out District Food & Wine in the Design District last week. I had heard positive things about the restaurant so I was definitely looking forward to it. They're open for lunch M-F, and dinner service is only Th-S, closed on Sundays. I couldn't make it out for dinner so I invited a friend that works downtown for a long lunch. :)

District Food & Wine
921 N Riverfront Blvd. #300
Dallas, TX 75207
(214) 792-9729
Price: $$-$$$

The Design District is a cool place but still has a lot of opportunities for expansion/development. It's quite far out for me from home and work so I rarely go to that area. So I'd consider District Food and Wine to be a hidden gem. I think more people need to know more about this area as well.

Walking in, the restaurant was pretty empty... only a couple tables taken. But the place has floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides of the building so it had a bright and open feeling. And perfect for photos! :) The hostess grabbed the owner for us when we arrived. Jeff is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Just the first handshake and I felt like he was so genuinely happy to have us there. We were seated close to the window for optimal lighting. And Jeff proceeded to take care of us for the entire duration of the lunch.

We started with some Bread (rubbed with garlic; served with butter). It looked simple but it was freshly baked...warm and fluffy on the inside, crispy edges, and the garlic rub perfumed our noses.

Jeff gave us the run down on the menu, as well as their daily specials. 
Then he told us that he is already going to send out some of their Risotto Balls and Meatballs (tomato basil sauce). Normally the Risotto Balls are $7~ 
It was nice to get a little sampler so we're not getting too much food. The risotto balls were super cute and delicate. He explained that they are actually gluten free! They were deliciously airy and light for a fried rice ball. Without the breadcrumbs they were really able to lighten it up. Soooo yummy with the tomato sauce. The meatballs were good too but the risotto balls stole the show.

As we were waiting for our entrees, I saw that more and more people were coming in. And Jeff greeted each table himself. That's really great service and hospitality.

I chose the Grilled Salmon (Scottish salmon, grilled vegetables, jalapeno mustard sauce) $17~ 
I wanted to be a little healthier since 1) I've been eating a whole lotta fried foods last week, and 2) I wanted to get the Mac n Cheese. hahaha. He told me that they typically cook their salmon medium rare, which is perfect. And you know what? They were SPOT on with the cook temp. The fish was beautifully pink on the inside and insanely tender. And that sauce... you can see the whole grain mustard in there and it paired perfectly with the fish. It was a pretty plate. Again, everything's so simple, but extremely well executed. It was refreshing to see a place that just does good food instead of trying to be "epic" or "trendy" or whatever.

My friend got the Rigatoni (with tomato basil vodka sauce; added chicken) $10~ 
He added chicken since the original dish does not have a meat. It was really good. I love vodka sauce. I wish the chicken pieces were a tad bigger, it got lost a little bit in the dish. Other than that, no complaints!

Mac & Cheese (with truffle oil) $7~ 
I HAD to get this. I've been seeing so many posts on social media of this one dish. The truffle was so fragrant and smelled so good. It was still bubbling a little when it was brought to the table. It's not stringy cheesy like a lot of other macs (like the long cheese pull) but it definitely was not lacking any cheese! I freaking loved that crust on top. It was legit, and it definitely lived up to all the hype.

It was a great lunch. And we weren't too stuffed. But then we had to get dessert right? hehe. :P

Jeff highly highly recommended the Lemon Cake (mascarpone frosting, white chocolate curls) $7~ 
And that's the main thing I've been seeing on their Yelp page. I'm not really a huge lemon fan but I was really intrigued. I'm soooooo glad we got it. It is seriously THE BEST lemon cake I've ever had in my life. No joke! It was so light and fluffy. The frosting was made with mascarpone so it was really light as well. But was still somehow luscious. The amount of lemon was spot on. It had just the right amount of tartness... a lot of lemon desserts tend to be too sour for me. Or too sweet because they overuse sugar to cut the citrus. Both my friend and I agreed it was the best lemon dessert either of us have ever had. I wonder if I can order a whole cake for a party or something.... :P

Chocolate Cake (chocolate ganache) $7~ 
We only ordered the lemon cake, but Jeff said he was also sending out the chocolate cake. haha. I love chocolate so I wasn't gonna say no! :P The chocolate cake was also fantastic. The filling was light, and the ganache was rich... the cake was surprisingly not overly sweet. And it was super moist. Normally I would opt for chocolate, but in this case, the lemon cake still won out. Needless to say, we finished the lemon cake. haha. And actually made it through more than half of the chocolate as well.

We had a great time. Jeff was the most wonderful host. And the food was just simply delicious. I want to send everyone I know there... so GO!!! I really hope they stick around for a really long time. Thank you, District Food & Wine, for having us. I hope I will make it back in the near future. :)

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

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: 


Monday, July 24, 2017

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

I'm loving all these Asian restaurants, dessert shops, and bakeries popping up all over DFW. To think, just last year, we didn't have any Japanese BBQ places and now we have TWO! Two really great ones too, each with their own large selection of food items.

I was invited to check out Gyu-Kaku in Addison recently. I've only been there once, in NYC, and I only had their amazing Matcha Mille Crepe cake. So I had to make sure they had them for the media dinner that night! I was so psyched! :D

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
5290 Belt Line Rd. #115
Dallas, TX 75254
(469) 567-3237
Price: $$$

It was a small group of food bloggers that night (and our +1's) so it was a more intimate event. We had a lot of fun including some sake bombs! (Well, they did, since I don't drink. hehe). Japanese BBQ is a great thing to do with a group of people. You an grill, and chat, and eat, and drink. There's no time limit (I don't think), like at Korean AYCE BBQ places, and you don't smell afterwards because all the grills have these vents on the side that sucks out the smoke. So feel free to take a date there too!

We had a set menu for the night but were told we could order anything else we wanted. I love that they customized each blogger's menu according to the IG account they represented! I'm representing @bestfooddallas! Woot!

Some of the girls got Sake. And you get your own individual ice bucket for the sake bottle. How cool!

Starters: These are all the actual portion size for each order.
Gyu-Kaku Salad $6~ Loved the dressing. And the thin slices of daikon radish on top.

Spicy Tuna Volcano $7~ Crispy, and slightly sticky rice, topped with spicy tuna. They're good! And quite filling.

Miso Chili Wings $7~ I freaking loved these wings. So much flavor!! I can just eat a couple plates of these and be happy. But I only had one that night because I knew how much more food we were getting.

Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap $7~ 
That stone bowl was seriously sizzling when it was served. It smelled so good! The waitress mixed it all up tableside, and then you let it sit in the bowl to crisp up on the bottom. I love normal Korean Bibimbaps, but the flavor profile for this one is totally different, since they needed to make it Japanese. It was delicious. The thin slices of beef with the caramelized onions perfumed the dish. The rice was plump and had great texture. This is a must!

Garlic Noodles $8~ 
On the menu it said it included chicken. I didn't see any chicken in ours, so maybe they did it differently for us. It was very garlicky which I liked. Probably not the best thing when you're on a date though. hehe. And the noodles were quite overcooked since they were in a stone bowl, so I didn't eat too much of it. I'm a texture person, so I'm pretty picky when it comes to noodles... they need to be al dente!

Mushroom Medley $4~

Garlic Spinach $4~
These veggies come in a foil pack. You put them on the grill and it basically steams them inside. We were told 3-5 minutes each side I think? But the first time we opened them it was still raw veggies. So just keep it on a grill and chat with your friends. hehe. It won't melt or anything.

Prime Kalbi Short Rib $9~ Love me some kalbi. The color on these were so vibrant. The meat was really great. Didn't even need to dip in any of their sauces. Highly recommend.

Toro Beef $5~ This was my favorite meat of the night. Toro beef is beef belly, which basically equals beef bacon. And who doesn't love bacon!! Just look at that fat to meat ratio. It had so much flavor. And it's one of the cheaper cuts of meat, win for me! :P

Harami Miso Skirt Steak $9~
Bistro Hanger Steak $8~
These 2 meats were served together so I forget which is which. They were both good, but one particularly was super tender. I want to say it's the skirt steak? Both had a marinade on it so had lots of flavor. Can't go wrong with either.

So... this was a lot of food so most of us didn't request anything else. But then I asked if they had beef tongue. If it's good, it's really tasty. And it has a unique texture.
Extra: Beef Tongue $9~ (+$1 for Scallion Sauce). 
Most of the girls on my side of the table had never had beef tongue, so I was happy to share this experience with them. And I think they all liked it! The tongue was sliced super thin and it only needs a few seconds on each side. It was really good. Some even had a 2nd piece!

And a tip... everything here is good with BEER! :P

Oh man... we were so stuffed! But it's not over yet cuz we still need to have cake!!

Lady M's Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake (usually served with ice cream) $10~ 
They gave us smaller portions, I think about a third of the normal slice. While my mouth wanted a whole piece, I appreciated them controlling my portions. haha. I freaking love this cake. I'm so happy we have it in Dallas now. It's limited quantity since they need to fly it in, so you just have to take your chances that they have it when you go.

S'mores (2 portions) $2.50~ This was a fun way to end the dinner. We had a blast cooking and eating with everyone!

It was one of the most fun media dinners I've been too. I like the interactive-ness and it was nice that it was a smaller group so we can talk to almost everyone. They have several package specials for 2 people. You can find the menu on their website here. It's a great deal considering all the different dishes you're getting! AND they have Early Happy Hour every day from 11AM-6PM, and Late HH from 9PM-10PM Sun-Thu or 10PM-11PM on Fri and Sat.

Thanks to Gyu-Kaku for having me. They took really great care of us. The wait staff was very attentive... water glasses always refilled! I will definitely be back. I need to bring my husband next time!! :D

Their "Summer BBGYU Festival" just kicked off and goes until 9/4/17. With food and beer discounts, a new kids' menu, and a sweepstakes to win a trip for 2! See their website for more details

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

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: