Monday, June 16, 2008

You want a bier mit dat dinner?

Victory Tavern kicked off a summer series of great wine dinners on Saturday featuring hand-crafted brews from New Belgium. The Victory Park hot spot featured five courses from Executive Chef Jim Oetting paired with New Belgium's Skinny Dip (a seasonal release), Mothership Wit Organic Wheat Beer, Trippel Belgian Style Ale, and Fat Tire Amber. The series continues July 24th and August 21 with other hand-crafted beer producers. It's a great way to spend the summer with upscale "backyard cuisine" and a great brewski. Have you been to a beer dinner? What are your favorite boutique beers? Compare American brews to International suds. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Open Sesame for Ali Baba in Lakewood!

Ali Baba opens in the Lakewood Shopping Center and the neighbors are saying "Open Sesame!" The venerable East Dallas favorite Mediterranean (Lebanese) Restaurant is finally open in the old Carrabas location after spending years on Greenville Avenue. All the favorites are there: hummus, dolmas, succulent roasted chicken, gyros, falafel, and more. The menu is friendly and so is the staff. Lebanese house wines and some interesting choices from South America, plus a few selections of beer are available. They assure us they will be improving the wine list (they will even be printing one--none available on our first visit). Service is overrun right now, because the Lakewood denizens have sniffed a new restaurant in the shopping center and are converging in droves. The staff is meeting the demand with a big smile and an apology if the wait is a tad long. We didn't experience any particular problem, but we only had apps-- meat pie and spinach pie are great! Dolmas are an all time favorite of mine. Interestingly, if you just want rice and seasoning they are labeled with the traditional name on the menu, but if you want meat added they are listed as "grape leaves". It must be the essence of meat, because these are the skinniest dolmas I have ever seen. Maybe they've been on a diet. Ali Bab still serves the best hummus around. This is a big improvement over the great old "dive" surroundings on Greenville. The new digs are comfortable and the air conditioning works really well (unlike the past location). A WELCOME addition to the neighborhood. What do you think? Read the legend of Ali Baba on the back of the menu and see if you don't think CSI: Persia should look into it. I didn't remember such a grisly story when I read this fable in grade school.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wolfgang Puck lands in Dallas big time

Big news on the Dallas dining scene as Wolfgang Puck arrives to announce his company is working with Ray Hunt's Woodbine Development to restore the historic Union Station in Downtown Dallas and turn it into a grand events venue with catering from Wolfgang Puck, of course. The space should be ready to go by October or November. The kitchen facilities alone will cost $6 million. That's not all. Come February, the lighted ball atop Reunion Tower will become the site of the newest Wolfgang Puck Restaurant. It will be done to the hilt with a $25 million plus pricetag. Fine dining with a view on steroids! Of course, the iconic chef already has staked out territory in DFW with his catering company. His high-profile clients include the Nasher Sculpture Center, Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie, and the commissary at the new Hunt office building downtown. Have you been to any of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants? Have comments to share? Thoughts on celebrity chef restaurant outposts? (Wolf says he will spend a lot of time in Dallas overseeing the menu development and the operation of the new restaurant). Look forward to your comments.