Monday, March 28, 2011

Il Cane Rosso - Dallas: Deep Ellum

Party of . . . 22

My husband and I, along with the other 3rd grade parents, were invited to a social at Il Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum tonight.  We thought sure why not - we know most of the families going - and boy are we glad we did!

The evening was a private party and when we got our of his car you could smell the goodness coming from the restaurant.  We walked inside this new restaurant and were warmly greeted by friends.  Almost immediately the wait staff brought out the appetizers: garlic knots, mushroom knots, pepporini knots and veggie knots.  Garlic was hands down the best - all of the knots was warm dough baked with the different goodies inside them.  Three bites and you were done with your knot and on to the next.  Leave it to the husbands, they broke the ice and dove right in! 

Next the salads were brought out - I started out with the ceasar salad - it was good and I love a lettuce not too cold.  My friends Julie, said how good the other salad was so off I go to taste and boy was she right.  It was an Insalata Mista with balsamic vinaigrette. Love balsamic vinegar!

The wait staff was amazing and cleared off plates after each course and were Johnny on the spot with the drinks.  Glad I am not doing the dishes!  Pizzas were brought out - one yummy creation after another.  This isn't your typical pepporini pizza.  These pizzas had speciality meats and high end ingredients you would only find at home but who has a wood buring pizza over?

We were done eating pizza and into the good gossip only to smell a most amazing scent!  It was their Smores pizza and Nutella Pizza.  Being a professional consumer of anything sweet I was in.  My husband brought me one piece of each and there was none left.  Our boys would have loved the Smores as it was textbook gooey marshmellow - warmed chocolate and the pizza dough was the perfect subsitute for graham crackers. Their apple pizza was also very good!  Perfect way to end the night!!!

The evening was absolutely wonderful - good friends, good times and really great food!  Thanks Il Cane Rosso (the Red Dog) named after their red dog!

Oh, check them out for your next party!  They have a traveling pizza oven!!!

Il Cane Rosso

On a mission to bring authentic Neapolitan pizza to Dallas

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maxim's - Richardson: Greenville & Beltline

Party of . . . 9

I know 9 . . . right!  Our family eats together each Sunday, the ages span from my husband's 91 year old grandmother to our youngest son Jake, who is 3.   One of our usual stomping grounds is Maxim's in Richardson.

Maxim's is a Chinese restaurant but we go for the Dim Sum.  It is pretty rare that you can make the 91 and 3 year old happy at the same restaurant.  We have been dining here for 10+ years.  Dim Sum is a Chinese buffet on carts served in appetizer sized portions.  Dim Sum is served on the weekends beginning at 11am.  Best service time and food turn-over is from 11am to 1pm.

The building is pretty unassuming.  Looks like a big warehouse but as you enter there is a big fish tank with a fish in it that is not so nice.  You then enter through two doors and on the walls is 100s of pictures of people who have celebrated special events at this restaurant.  Most are wedding reception pictures but some are celebrities.  Present yourself at the desk and you will be seated. Depending on the time of day you come determines your wait - we usually arrive at 11am and have no problems however, if you arrive after 11:45 you can expect a wait.  We always sit with the same waitstaff which ensures a very successful Dim Sum.  The attention and customer service is great!

My husband does the general dim sum ordering for the family - we always get their har gau (shrimp ball in a clear steamed dumpling shell), scallops with jalapenos, eggrolls FROM THE BACK, spiders (tara grated and fried like a patty), sui mai (pork steamed dumping with a shrimp on top), ho fun,and pockets (and we are not sure what is inside those). 

Our family also orders items off the menu for the less adventuresome eaters (me and the children) we order the chicken fried rice with extra chicken, sweet and sour chicken for the boys, chicken egg fu yung in a brown oyster sauce and occasionally a beef and snowpea.  They always bring out white rice. 

Each table is set with soy sauce and a hot sauce of some kind.  The plates are on the table so you can start dim summing as soon as you sit.  They also offer hot tea as well as you usual sodas, cold tea and have a full bar for a special drink.

Maxim's does an awesome Chinese New Year.  We have been attending for so many years that we now get to reserve our spot for the New Years celebration.  This year we had three tables of 8 and had many friends joining us.  With our family not being of Asian decent it is such an awesome opportunity for my children to experience a celebration with another culture just 10 minutes from home.

Next time you crave Chienese food and want some - come for Dim Sum. 

Kid Friendly:  Absolutely - there is even a stage that many of the kids play on while families are finishing up their meal.
Cleanliness:  Yes
Service: Excellent!
Cost:  $
How likely to go back: There on Sundays!

Fogo de Chao - Addison: Beltline and Midway

Party of . . . 3

If you are the type to order the meat lovers pizza then this is a perfect spot for you!  It is meat, more meat, even more meat and just a little more meat for good measure.

We decided late this afternoon to have dinner here.  The attire for the restaurant is from one extreme to the other - you will see short and t-shirts to formal dresses depending on the time of year.  Every time we go there in only a handful of tables available.  When we dined here back when it opened we were sure it would go out of business.  We could not have been more wrong.

Thank heavens there is valet - now you can self park as well but with Jake I like to minimize the distance I have to walk where there are moving cars. So, we valeted.  We come in and are greeted by 2 ladies at the hostess stand.  We are asked if we have reservations - I used to think this was a ploy to show me how busy they are and that I should plan ahead.  I NOW realized they ask only to make my name off the list.

We are escorted to our table immediately.  I happened to run into Jennifer, the manager, who we have befriended over the last couple of years when we come in.  It is always a warm greeting. We sit and there are people all around us trying to help - the guy who takes the drink order, the hostess who is seating us and gentlemen who are there to pull out your chair.  I ordered tea and my husband and Jake both order water.  Years ago restaurants didn't cater to children all that much - well Fogo with it price tag doesn't forget the kids.  Jake has been eating here for free, in fact it might even go to him turning 5 and Scoots, who is 9 is half price.

There is what seems like the largest salad bar know to man - nothing rinky-dink here - aged parmesan, salads, anti-pasta, breads, dressings - it goes on and on.  Check out their website for every items that is in the salad bar.

We are all about the business of eating meat here!  So we sit and flip our card.  Now if you haven't been there before you don't know about THE card.  It is red on one side and green on the other.  Red says to stop bringing the meat by and green says to bring it on!  You see every piece of meat served is brought to you table side.  15 different types of meat from chicken, pork lamb and beef!  Their house special is called the Pichana - it looks like a little rainbow on it's side.  Our personal favorite is the bottom sirloin and we ask it to come with salt on it.  HANDS DOWN best cut!  Some of the others we like are the ribs (pork & beef) filet, chicken wrapped in bacon, sausage, top sirloin.  Some of the meats are heavy on the garlic. 

Once you are seated and drink orders are taken you are brought the most delicious little muffin but not truly a muffin more like a tiny pop-over (see below).  It is warm and has cheese baked into it so it is absolute goodness.  They also bring out mashed potatoes, polenta, and fried bananas.  Those in the know know to ask for the black beans and rice. 

Now we are get in and get our diners - not those folks that hang out and talk!  After all we have a 3 year old but lots of folks linger and order one of their yummy desserts.  Fogo offers a signature Papaya Cream dish, flan, brule, molten chocolate cake and key lime pie.  We are always too full to do dessert but I have seen them and then look good!

Fogo, while expensive $108 for 2, is perfect wither you are a football linebacker (guess who we saw there) or a mother to two sweet boys.  Everyone will find something they like and have something to looking forward to trying next time!

Kid Friendly:  YES, Jennifer the manager even brings Jake a special plate of fruit or whatever he desires.
Cleanliness:  Yes
Service: Excellent - non-stop in fact!
Cost:  $$$
How likely to go back: You bet!

Welcome to Fogo de Chão® (fo-go dèe shoun), an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. In 1979, Fogo® began sharing the gaucho way of preparing meat in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Today, our gaucho chefs still expertly grill each of our 15 cuts of meat and offer you continuous tableside service.
We invite you to enjoy the delicious preparations of our gaucho chefs along with our gourmet salad bar, authentic Brazilian side dishes, and award-winning wine list. Welcome to Fogo de Chão. 

The Gaucho Way of Preparing Meat®

Watch Fogo Video

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Studio Movie Grill - Dallas: Royal & 75

Party of . . . 2

OK OK - this is not a typical restaurant it is a multi-tasking location!  I was not only able to spend time with my sweetie, we saw a movie staring Matthew Mcconaughey and had lunch!

To the point of this blog I want to rave about the Chicken Ceasar Salad PIZZA!  What a wonderful surprise.  I am not sure what was on the pizza, seeing how the theatre was dark, but it had a full blown ceasar salad in the middle of the pizza just like Fire Side Pies!  Even my manly man of a husband loved it and we will absolutely get it again AND it might even been enough of an enticement to go back sooner!

Who says multi-tasking is bad for you?

Kid Friendly:YES
Cleanliness: Yes, for what I could see.  The bathrooms were even nice and clean. 
Service: Great - had Tim he was really helpful and friendly.
Cost:  $ - $$
How likely to go back: Probably with the boys next time!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Houstons - Dallas: Beltline & Montfort

Party of 2

Ok - just to be up front . . . you will NEVER get a bad review from me for Houston's. I love it, my kids love it, my husband loves it, the MIL, FIL, sister, mother and just about everyone else I know LOVES IT!

Today my usual lunch date, Jake, and I had to stop in . . . why?!?!?  Because we love it!  See the theme?  The trick to not waiting 30+ mins is to know their schedule and I can say with absolutely conviction I know their schedule.  They open at 11 and that is a prime time to go for lunch.  If you cannot make the 11am slot then go at 1 - probably a 10 min wait then but nothing compared to arriving at noon!  If dinner is what you are after then go at 5:30 YES 5:30pm or closer to 9.  This one restaurant seems to be recession proof!

The crowd during the day is business men in button downs and ties and women "who lunch" and me!  I am usually the ONLY person in there with a child.  My children have grown up dining at Houstons wether it be in utero or sitting at the table.  The evening crowd is usually your "more established" wink wink couples.  The bar is always full and I don't know a single sole who walks away unhappy here.

Jake and I got our usual:  the Flying Chicken lunch platter.   I am not even sure if it is still on the menu as we always order the same thing and their menu changes from time to time.  The Flying Chicken lunch platter is the best chicken tenders in the world - listen up every other restaurant that serves chicken tenders - take a lesson from Houstons!  The chicken tenders are big, chunky and juicy friend in tempura batter which makes the batter light and crispy!  The platters comes with the some of the best fries I have ever had!  They are thin, semi crispy and  perfectly salted!  You can get a double order or order the fried and another side with your lunch platter.  Houstons offers a BBQ and Honey Mustard sauce - SKIP THEM!  Go for the hickory sauce - my personal favorite.  Jake gets water to drink and I get an un-sweet tea - it is bottom-less with the non-stop attention everyone gets from the team environment of wait-staff.  There is no "this is my area" the entire crew take pride in a job well done.  Jake and I are in and out in record time - we LOVE IT here!

Some of the other great food Houstons offers that I can recommend are the:
Hickory Burger - comes piled high with freshly grated cheese, chopped onions, Canadian bacon, hickory sauce and a nice size patty.
 Club Salad - it has the chicken from the Flying Chicken, or you can get grilled, eggs, tomatoes, bacon, avocado and mixed greens.  My personal favorite is the buttermilk ranch however my husband, MIL & FIL all love the 1000 island (now that they brought it back).
   ***   be sure to ask for your piece of cheese toast!
The Traditional Salad - is my husband's go to salad - it is basically the Club Salad but without the avocados.
Prime Rib - they do it better than anyone else.  Be sure to ask them to keep the hot au jus coming.
Rack of Ribs - simply awesome - great flavor and be prepared to lick your fingers.
SOUPS!!!!!  Some are seasonal but my favorites are Baked Potato Soup, Red Beans and Rice, Tortilla (better than the Mansion), Gazpacho, or the Mexico City Soup.

Sides and desserts are just as varied as the people coming into the restaurant - as previously mentioned . . . LOVE THE FRIES!, the cous cous is popular or the cauliflower - Fries have to be the top seller.  Desserts, for us, comes down to two categories . . . are you with chocolate people or fruit people and then the answer to dessert is easy  Warm Five Nut Brownie with ice cream or Apple Walnut Cobbler with ice cream - do not even waste one more second reading the rest of the menu.  Hardest decision of you day will be which one to get!

Houstons offers an extensive wine collection - you are sure to be please with whatever you drink.  I hope to see you tomorrow at 11.  I will be the blond with the children!

Kid Friendly:YES, if your kids are well behaved or don't mind nasty looks!
Cleanliness: Very, even the bathrooms. 
Service: Excellent
Cost:  $$
How likely to go back: See you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Corner Bakery - Dallas: Preston & Forest

Party of . . . 3

Today Jake, my youngest, and I joined my MIL for lunch.  We were in between errands and Corner Bakery was a very central location.  I love anything that combines froo froo salads with baked goods! 

Jake and I enter and I must say standing in a queue and ordering is not kid friendly.  Once I was able to digest the menu (all 7 panels) I knew what I wanted.  however Jake was a different story!  Maybe I just didn't see it IN ALL THE WRITING but I couldn't find a kid's menu.  I asked the lady taking the orders and it is typical kids fare - grilled cheese, PB & J, Ham or Turkey sammys.  Jake was so not interested in any of those he just wanted a chocolate organic milk and a banana.  Finally he ordered himself a grilled cheese with fruit.  I got the 1/2 & 1/2 combo - a pretzel sandwich, so yummy to the tummy, and a ceasar salad. My MIL ordered the same combo but with a turkey sandwich and momma's chicken noodle soup.

On a side note - once Jake and I queued I was standing next to a lady who was in a motorized wheelchair and she started to ask me questions about the menu.  I was trying to help her out as best I could and as I was pointing something out she told me she cannot see.  I asked what she was wanting to eat and started reading the menu to her.  We told her to go ahead of us and order her lunch.  Clearly . . . I was vested in this lady.  I want you to know the Corner Bakery employees, especially this one young man, were so helpful to her.  Getting her tea, at the self service tea bar, getting her napkins, helping her to find the very best spot in an already crowded restaurant for her to be comfortable and have plenty of space.  I found myself, again, near her as there was only one booth left and putting Jake in a booth is the VERY BEST way to contain him!

On to the good stuff . . . the pretzel sandwich was so good - it had ham, a stone ground mustard, caraway havarti cheese, thinly sliced purple onions and tomatoes on it.  Every flavor worked perfectly.  As mentioned before got the 1/2 & 1/2 so my other half was a ceasar salad.  The salad has the perfect amount of dressing and the croutons had a kick to them that walked a fine line of gret and too much.  Both are a really good portion size and perfect for a lunch.  Jake, got his banana and chocolate milk but also the grilled cheese.  It looked like it was grilled on a panini, and had perfectly cut up fresh fruit, pineapples, strawberries, grapes, and melon.  I loved that it had good fruit and not just the cheap - no body wants it - melon!   My MIL, Margie, got the turkey fresco on asiago cheese bread!  It looked good!  It has turkey breast slices, 6 spinach leaves, marinated artichokes, roasted sweet balsamic onions, provolone cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto mayo.  I considered asking for a bite!!!!   She also got the momma's chicken noodle soup - she said it was good but she could taste the pepper in it and she prefers not to eat foods with black or white pepper in them.

The best part of our meal experience is that the lady taking our order gave us some small cookies on the house.  Jake who not only loved his banana, his chocolate milk, his fresh fruit and grilled cheese especially loved his and my cookie!  The things we will sacrifice for the little boys in our lives!

Kid Friendly:  Yes & No - if you have more adults than children or have older children then YES YES YES.  If you are out numbered by young children (not in a stroller) than NO NO NO!  Give it time, Corner Bakery is going no where!
Cleanliness: Very and there was a nice lady that came by several times to help keep our table picked up.
Service: Great - Friendly - Caring
Cost:  $
How likely to go back: As soon as someone is free for lunch!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cafe' Amore - Richardson

Party of 4

Cafe' Amore is a neighborhood hot spot.  You can bring your own wine and there is always a large party, usually family, celebrating an older family member's birthday or retirement.  The restaurant is low-key - you could wear just about anything in there and kid friendly.

The tables are classic old restaurant with plastic on top of a white table cloth.  The chairs are comfotrtable and on casters so with a young child who doesn't sit still they can be a pain. The usualy stuff on the table, including a candle holder with no candle in a somewhat dark restaurant.

The boys ordered fried cheese - clearly would not pass the GR (Gordon Ramsey) fresh test.  Frozed and now fried - the boy ate them so mission accomplished!  Cafe' Amore has wonderful rolls - might be the only home made item - but so worth the wait and calories!  Add a little butter and in heaven!  I ordered a unsweet tea, one of the boys ordered apple juice, one ordered water and my MIL (mother-in-law) ordered water.  My tea tasted old and way too strong, the water also tasted funny, so I ordered a diet pepst - another beverage with an odd taste - guessing I should have remember the BYOB (bring your own bottle).

Cafe' Amore is very average italian food - my MIL and I both ordered a chef salad AKA antipasta salad - it had some odd stuff on it for a chef's salad but fresh letture - the salami and cheese rolled into one bite was good and there was plenty.  The dressing was a little not to my liking but to each his own!  My oldest ordered a 10" pizza - NO SAUCE (never been a sauce eater) just pizza crust and white cheese - it was good but arrived 10 mins after we got our meal.  The youngest got the kids pasta and it was exactly like he liked it!  The special today was Osso Buco - so they can do more high-falutin meals but again I think everything would just be pretty average high falutin or not!

Kid Friendly: Absolutely
Cleanliness: OK
Food: Average
Service: Ok
Cost:  $
How likely to go back: Probably once more this year.

Phone: 972-699-8322
Fax: 972-994-0160
600 N. Coit Rd.
Suite #2050 Richardson
TX 75080