This Off-the-Menu Grapefruit Cocktail at Blind Butcher Is a Perfect Summer Quencher

Categories: Off the Menu

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Catherine Downes
At restaurants all over town, elusive eats await under the radar. Menus are updated, new items are added, and sometimes the best things are not on the menu at all. Let Off the Menu guide you to some of Dallas' lesser-known culinary creations.

"Is Chris Young working? We hear he makes pretty good cocktails!" a middle aged man bellowed, while he and his buddy barged through Blind Butcher's large, black double doors last Thursday. They took a seat at the end of the bar. I didn't hear what they ordered; I was too entranced by my pork belly poutine.

"I don't suppose you guys serve any off the menu items?" I asked Young -- the only man behind the bar at the time -- with my mouth full of gravy fries. He explained that the kitchen runs on a pretty tight schedule, so no. He has, however, been "working on something." Before I could ask more questions his fingers were grabbing bottles, and mixing things into a cocktail shaker.


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Hail, Seitan!! And The Best "Made-To-Order" Mac & Cheese This Side of the Pearly Gates

Categories: Off the Menu

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Daniel Rodrigue
For the better part of the past five years, chef Rosanne DiLeo worked the kitchen at The Libertine Bar on Lower Greenville. As she heard regular customers beginning to ask for more vegan dishes, DiLeo says she decided to incorporate more options on the menu and in the kitchen. And, for the past few months, the folks at The Libertine Bar continuously increased the amount of seitan (a wheat-based meat substitute) kept on hand as more vegetarians and vegans have caught on to the kitchen's various meatless dinner options. (If they serve it on the menu with meat, then just ask your server if there is a vegan off-the-menu option available.)

Two bartenders promised us the vegan seitan tacos and the ginger beef salad (with seitan subbed for the beef) were delicious. But the kitchen's real off-the-menu show-stealer happens to be a simple side dialed up to 11 - the "made-to-order" macaroni and cheese. "People have taken mac and cheese from just a side dish, and made it into dinner," DiLeo says on a busy Tuesday evening.

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Drink This: Tate's "Spiced 75" and Some Robust, Strong Drinks To Come

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A handful of people were scattered throughout Uptown's newest watering hole, Tate's, on Tuesday night. Bartender, JW was busy whipping up Sazeracs (he puts on an impressive show, misting each glass with absinthe, then torching it with his handheld blow torch). The bar was, and still is, celebrating Yelp's drink week with half priced Sazeracs, Eternal Flames (a strawberry-jalapeno-infused tequila and ginger beer concoction) and an off-the-menu item, called the "Spiced 75."

The drink is made up of lemon juice, simple syrup, Orchard Apricot liqueur, Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodka, and a dash of champagne. "Any kind of champagne will work" he explained, as he topped the drink off with a splash of Lunetta prosecco. The off-the-menu item will soon be on-the-menu, along with a handful of other additions. "We're adding some stronger drinks to the menu" he explained, "turns out people in Dallas enjoy their drinks robust, as opposed to sweet."

One of the additions is a drink made up of the bar's homemade cola, 100-proof whiskey and Amaro Nonino. They're also adding a new selection of wine and beer, and a few new food additions, like chile verde, jambalaya, and a grilled cheese sandwich with gruyere, smoked gouda, and cheddar.

The menu should be ready by the weekend.

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drink it

I Survived Tha' Nooner at Jonathon's

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Each week, Justin Bitner goes hunting for DFW's most interesting sandwiches. Have a sandwich suggestion? Leave it in the comments and he'll check it out.

Venue: Jonathon's Oak Cliff

Sandwich: Tha' Nooner ($11)

Bread: Impeccably blistered bun

Toppings: Half pound beef patty, handful of ham, swiss, thick-cut bacon, american cheese, tomato, mayo and a fried egg PLUS a huge side of fries

The Case: A couple weeks ago, you'll no doubt remember ol' Reitzy lobbed this tiny grenade onto my lap (or rather my gut) on our little blog. Charged with the task of covering the giant burger pictured just above, I made a stone-faced vow to Scott and my other fellow bloggers to not only try this piece, but to take it down -- or die trying.

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We Hereby Request That Meddlesome Moth Adds This Chicken-n-Biscuits Beast To Its Menu

Categories: Off the Menu

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Over the weekend, Meddlesome Moth featured the above dish, an off-the-menu heap of mouthwatering comfort on a plate: three biscuits smothered with sweet potato mash, topped with fried chicken, gravy and onion strings on a plate covered in sauteed zucchini and diced white onions, dotted with dried cranberries.

The plate had a $20 price tag but was large enough to feed two people, especially after a few beers. Our server assured us that it was the first time he'd seen the item featured, and while it probably wouldn't be a regularly occurring item, if enough people order it, it could show up on the chalkboard again. He explained that the Moth tends to feature fried chicken and biscuit-type specials on Sundays, which makes sense, because who doesn't enjoy a good plate of comfort food on Sunday night?

Great Scott! Wagyu Brisket and Burnt Ends at Pecan Lodge Make a Timeless Sandwich (Update: This is Now a Thing)

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Update, January 20: This sandwich, which Justin built on his own and named the Doc Brown, is now officially a thing. And it's being served. Now.

Each week, Justin Bitner goes hunting for DFW's most interesting sandwiches. Have a sandwich suggestion? Leave it in the comments and he'll check it out.

Venue: Pecan Lodge

Sandwich: The Doc Brown* (around $11)

Bread: Sesame seed encrusted bun

Toppings: Wagyu brisket and burnt ends

The Case: A fantastic side effect of the super-interconnectedness of social media is the ability of restaurants to broadcast limited-edition offerings to a wider range of people than would typically see daily specials scribbled on a chalkboard. One joint that uses this savvy tool to its fullest is Pecan Lodge Smokehouse, the oft-lauded barbecue stand in Shed 2 of the Farmers Market. Do yourself a huge favor and punch up @pecanlodge on your twitter vehicle of choice. If you see something along the lines of this ...

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... get your ass down to the Farmers Market an hour ago.

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Avila's Off-Menu Shrimp Tacos: An Appreciation

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Catherine Downes
On Thursday afternoon, a blackboard out front of Avila's Mexican Restaurant boasted -- in bright pink and blue chalk -- an enchilada lunch special. After being seated, and having chips and salsa thrust at me, I nearly ordered the enchiladas, but was swayed when I noticed another chalk board in the back of the dining room with the words "shrimp taco special" etched on it.

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The "Meat and Potatoes" at Macho Nacho Left Us Too Soon

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Catherine Downes
Macho Nacho, located at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, opened its doors in April, and has since been through some big changes. The menu has been altered several times, and items are constantly being added and taken away as the restaurant gauges which things work and which ones flop.

The current version offers a vast selection of Tex-Mex, street tacos and a steak sandwich. I visited recently and asked the server what his favorite item was and he laughed. It was one of those long-gone flops.

"It was called meat and potatoes," he said. "It's not on the menu but we still have a button for it, so you're welcome to order it if you'd like."

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Coal Vines Off-Menu Pizza Strikes a Vein

Categories: Off the Menu
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Catherine Downes
Sure, any pizzeria somebody walks into technically offers off-the-menu items; the chefs will sprinkle some cheese and random toppings on a pie and voila! This being said, we weren't on the hunt for elusive eats when we met some friends for pizza at Coal Vines in Uptown last week, but that's exactly what we stumbled across.

The semi-local pizza joint -- there are Southlake, Plano and Kansas City locations as well -- serves up specialty pizzas like the White Special (mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, sliced tomatoes and fresh garlic), the Bolognese (tomato sauce, mozzarella, Bolognese meat and béchamel sauce) and the pretty straightforward Sausage & Roasted Pepper pizza. More »

The Porch Offers An Off-The-Menu Trifecta of Deliciousness

Categories: Off the Menu
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Catherine Downes

The Porch is home to numerous off-menu items, what with their enormous, constantly changing blackboard, seasonal drinks and items that can be altered to suit diners' needs. Finding elusive bites at the trendy Henderson Avenue location wasn't a problem for us; the trouble was deciding which off-menu items to order.

We started our meal with the off-menu raspberry rye Collins, a summer-inspired take on the traditional whiskey Collins. The drink consists of muddled mint and raspberry, Bullet rye whiskey, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and Cointreau on ice and is topped with ginger ale. While the rye was definitely noticeable, it wasn't overpowering thanks to the fruit juices, mint and light carbonation. Our waitress assured us that while the drink is seasonal, they can make it year-round so long as they have raspberries in stock.


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