Category Archives: You gotta eat

Don’t Tell Supper Club aims to make cocktails a feast for your senses

Sam Houghton, Don't Tell Supper Club
Don’t Tell’s Green Eggs and Ham. I would drink it on a boat.

I’ve just sipped from a glass brimming with vodka, fruit puree, lemon and champagne on crushed ice, and the crackle of Pop Rocks is still rocketing around my tongue.

“This is going to be a full sensory experience,” James Hamous says, casting a nod at the room as he takes it all in. “Not the humdrum of your typical restaurant.”

It may look plain on the outside, but inside it’s a sensory wonderland.

Do tell, sir!

Actually it’s the Don’t Tell Supper Club we’re in, but it’s clear from our grand surroundings that the folks behind the curtain want the place to be anything but a secret. The décor is whimsical bordering on outlandish, with designer mirrors, slanted shelves, an array of sexy crossed legs along a wall and a stack of books behind the bar that transform into a flock of flying seagulls.

At Don’t Tell, already in soft opening but which officially launches its dinner menu July 27, it’s going to be all about the show, stage and all. The place transforms from dinner club to nightclub at 11 p.m. and will be open three nights a week, Thursday through Saturday, with former Top Chef contestant Tre Wilcox the architect du cuisine.

Sam Houghton, Don't Tell Supper Club
Houghton’s vodka and fruit puree-powered Contortionist is sprinkled with Pop Rocks.

“It’s going to be socially interactive,” says general manager Hamous, also co-owner of The Standard Pour in Uptown, who prefers to describes his role at Don’t Tell as “facilitator of entertainment” and then, on second thought, as “director of crazy.” He’s thinking maybe geishas in the future, or mermaids in a ginormous water tank.

Yup. It’s going to be that kind of place – a cabaret of contortionists, aerialists and dance revues wriggling and prancing as you devour another forkful of lamb, the sort of spectacle you might find in such clubs in Amsterdam, Miami or New York City.

Likewise, the showy ‘tude infuses the drink menu from bar manager Sam Houghton, formerly of Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza and The Standard Pour. Think dry ice, smoke and fanciful touches like those Pop Rocks in the so-called Contortionist, added, as the drink list says, “to bring the party to your mouth!” (Exclamation point not mine.)

The tiki-esque Trainspotting includes four syringes of rum piercing its icy depths, to be injected upon serving into the highball of orange, lime, pineapple and coconut.

The Most Unusual Tea, a name playing off the brand phrase for Hendricks Gin, is poured from a beaker into a tea cup that bubbles smoke rings like a magic potion of gin, lime, basil and citrus-chamomile bitters.

Sam Houghton, Don't Tell Supper Club
Houghton’s Bumbledypeg, a twist on the classic Bee’s Knees designed for a friend who’s allergic to honey.

One standout is the Green Eggs and Ham (pictured above), a cool mix of tequila, egg white, jalapeno/cucumber puree, St. Germain and spicy Firewater tincture. With a slice of candied bacon crawling from the lime-green surf over the rim of the coupe, I would drink it on a boat, or with a goat. The name even references “Sam I am” Houghton herself.

My favorite may be the Bumbledypeg, whose name recalls mumbledypeg, the old-timey childhood game played with a pocketknife; Houghton says she wanted to make a Bee’s Knees (gin, lemon and honey syrup) for a friend who’s allergic to honey. Her version nicely substitutes almond-y orgeat for honey, but the coup de grace that graces the coupe (boom!) is a Bit-O-Honey speared with a tiny plastic sword.

Drink prices are expected to hover around $12, with many echoing the venue’s theatrical theme: “They’re things that alter and play with your senses,” Hamous says.

DON’T TELL SUPPER CLUB, 2026 Commerce Street, Dallas.

Top Dallas chefs unite for benefit pop-up for kids — with a $1,000 haircut on the auction block

Make Room for Daddy and That Girl: What sounds eyebrow-raising is actually the benefit event's two featured cocktails.
Make Room for Daddy and That Girl: What sounds eyebrow-raising is actually the benefit event’s two featured cocktails. (Photo by 

It all started with hair – Noelle Hendrix’s hair in particular. The Dallas private chef has the kind of eye-catching dreadlocks that invite teasing from fellow chefs, who would joke about taking their knives to it – maybe for charity.

Teasing turned to brainstorming and then into action, and on Saturday you’ll be able to reap the results when Industry Alley, in the Cedars, hosts a pop-up dinner showcasing a semi-supergroup of Dallas chefs. Proceeds will fund Hendrix’s “$10K for Kids” effort to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The cash-only event, which goes from 6 p.m. until the grub runs out, will feature four of Dallas’ top chefs, each offering a specialty dish for just $10. Doors open at 4. Early arrival is advised.

Participating chefs include John Tesar of Knife, Oak and adjoining Quill, Graham Dodds of Wayward Sons, LUCK’s Daniel Pittman and Kitchen LTO’s Nick Amoriello. So while it’s all for a good cause, this is clearly a chance to benefit your belly as well. Behold the choices: Beef cheek on creamy polenta (Tesar); lamb, pork or beef brisket tacos (Pittman); venison tartare (Amoriello); or strawberry shortcake (Dodds).

Bar owner Charlie Papaceno will be offering a pair of cocktails created especially for the event, each of them a nod to Danny Thomas, the actor, singer and comedian who founded St. Jude in 1962 to treat and research catastrophic childhood disease. Make Room for Daddy – the name of the sitcom Thomas starred in from 1953-65 – is an old-fashioned mix of Old Forester bourbon and Lebanese 7-spice syrup, while That Girl – the name of the series starring Thomas’ daughter, Marlo – features tequila, triple sec, cranberry and Champagne.

There’ll also be live music, plus a handful of raffles and silent auction items – including Hendrix’s signature dreadlocks, which can be had for $1,000. “The money goes to the kids, and the scissors go in the winner’s hands,” she says. “Otherwise, they’ll stick around and be ready to cut next year.”

This is the latest in a series of pop-up dinners at Industry Alley, which has also featured chefs such as Small Brewpub’s Misti Norris and Lucia’s Justin Holt. But it’s the first to fund a cause, or to have anything to do with hair.

More information is available here.

INDUSTRY ALLEY, 1711 S. Lamar St.

Cocktail of the Week: Filament’s Push It = real good

Filament
In the garden of gin and vermouth: Let Filament’s Push It tiptoe through your two lips.

COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: Push It (Filament)

You may have heard about Filament, and by that I don’t mean the little thin fibers found in certain organic structures. No, this would be the new, industrial chic restaurant from FT-33 chef/owner Matt McCallister in Deep Ellum that’s garnered wide acclaim, including a glowing, four-star review from The Dallas Morning News’ Leslie Brenner.

The cocktails at Filament are well conceived and solid across the board, but for me the star of the bunch is this festive refresher from beverage program manager Seth Brammer.

NAME: Push It

KEY CHARACTERISTIC: Flowers

WHAT’S IN IT: Gin, Cocchi Rosa, citrus, pink peppercorn, sea salt

WHY IT WORKS: Cocchi Rosa, the lush and rosy vermouth variation from the fine folks at Cocchi, is one of the best things you’ll ever put in your mouth. Flowery and fruity with the slightest hint of bitter, it’s a sensational sipper on its own; go get yourself a bottle right this minute. I’ll wait.

Okay, so: In Filament’s Push It, the Cocchi Rosa is subtly supported by gin’s botanical notes with a splash of lemon to round it out. Served in a Collins glass with floating peppercorns and a rim of fine sea salt, it’s playful and spontaneous, and while it’s beautiful to look at, those little pink globules are more than decorative, adding a floral pop of their own. The drink is served with a straw but I enjoy it most from the glass, where the random salt-and-pepper mix unleashes a tango on your tongue. Basically, if Tom Collins and sangria had a little rendezvous in the garden, this is what would happen. Enjoy.

Ramen, curry and Japanese-style cocktails await you at Industry Alley’s pop-up izakaya

Industry Alley
A sampling of Sunday’s shochu-fueled libations. (Justin Holt photo)

You don’t have to go all to Japan to find an izakaya, a gastropub-like gathering spot for those who love to drink shochu, the country’s national spirit. At least not this Sunday, when Dallas’ Industry Alley, Charlie Papaceno’s chill hang in the Cedars neighborhood, becomes a pop-up izakaya for the night.

Go get skewered.
Go get skewered. (Steel Wright photo)

It’s all part of the bar’s “1st Sunday Soiree,” a recently launched series of evenings featuring guest chefs and their gustatory goodies. The series kicked off last month with Small Brewpub’s Misti Norris, whose creative consumables were to die for; Justin Holt, sous chef at Lucia, will bust out an array of ramen, yakitori skewers and the Japanese delight known as Battleship Curry. The fare is cash only, with prices running from $2 to $10 from 8 p.m. until the food runs out. Try to remain civilized.

This time around, bar manager Mike Steele is getting into the fun, rounding out the izakaya theme with a mix of cocktails featuring shochu, a low-proof liquor distilled from stuff like rice, barley or sweet potatoes. As I wrote in The Dallas Morning News, it’s light and earthy, like a hoppy green tea.

industry Alley
Steele at work at Industry Alley.

In Japan, shochu is the featured spirit at izakayas, which evolved from sake shops that began adding seating so people could stay a while. While they still feature sake, beer, wine and whiskey, shochu is still the foundation; at 50-proof, it’s not as strong as most spirits but still brawnier than wine. Izakaya-style bars featuring American-oriented cocktails have blossomed throughout the country.

Steele and guest bartender Trina Nishimura — the two were among the original crew at Cedars Social, the influential craft-cocktail bar just down the street — will be serving up a mix of izakaya-style cocktails evoking both Japanese-style drinks (think low-proof) and cocktails adhering more to a Western philosophy. They’ll use ingredients like yuzu and matcha green tea syrup and stick to two kinds of shochu, one made from barley and the other from white sweet potatoes specifically produced for shochu. “Once you get that third or fourth sip and that shochu gets on the palate, then these other flavor profiles start coming through,” Steele says.

POP-UP IZAKAYA AT INDUSTRY ALLEY, 1713 S. Lamar, Dallas. Food is cash only. Starting at 8 p.m. until the food runs out.

 

 

Beef and booze: A venerable steak house marks its 50th anniversary — with a twist.

This gin and tonic -- with rosemary and a bit of ginger liqueur -- will take you back to yesteryear at Ruth's Chris' 50th anniversary cocktail dinner.
This gin and tonic — with rosemary and a bit of ginger liqueur — will take you back to yesteryear at Ruth’s Chris’ 50th anniversary cocktail dinner. (Photo courtesy of Ruth’s Chris Steak House)

That name: It’s hard to wrap your mind around. Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Or is it Chris Ruth’s Steak House? Or wait a minute – was it the Steak House that Chris Ruth built?

No matter what it is, the place has longevity – 50 years of it, in fact. This year, Ruth’s Chris Steak House hit the half-century mark – and the national restaurant chain’s milestone means your good fortune.

Get ready for the 1965 Cocktail Dinner Party, a celebration of the New Orleans-based institution’s 50th anniversary. On Thursday, Aug. 20, Ruth’s Chris Steak House will offer a five-course dinner at 99 nationwide locations, including sites in North Dallas and Fort Worth.

There will be drinks, the type of which Don Draper would approve — modern renditions of classics like the Gin and Tonic, the Gimlet and the Manhattan. They’ll accompany dishes like seared jumbo sea scallops, grilled ginger shrimp and, naturally, filet mignon. The full menu is available here.

Tickets are $90 plus gratuity. Reservations are required, and participants are invited to share their experience on social media with the hashtag #ThisIsHowItsDone.

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE

North Dallas location: 17840 Dallas Parkway. 972-250-2244.

Fort Worth location: 813 Main Street, 817-348-0080

Saturday’s Off to the FARM: Cultivating cocktails and cuisine for a good cause

Caledonia Spirits
Farm-fresh-minded Amber West, in her days at Central 214, will be back behind the bar at Saturday’s benefit event.

It’s been way too long since the vivacious Amber West has loosed her earthy mixology mettle upon the world, but that’s all going to change on Saturday with Off To The FARM, an epicurean event benefitting Project Transformation, an education-oriented agency serving low-income kids throughout North Texas.

There will be goats. And aquaponics. And hors d’oeuvres from chefs like Hibiscus’ Graham Dodds, Garden Café’s Mark Wootten and Adam West of The Porch. And of course, drinks from Amber West, whose talents once shone behind the bar at Central 214 (where Dodds was chef) before she took a job as Texas rep for Vermont-based Caledonia Spirits.

Off to the FARM runs from 2 to 6 pm Saturday at 314 W. Belt Line in Desoto, just outside of Oak Cliff. The farm facility houses both FARM (Farmers Assisting Returning Military) and Eat The Yard.

Project Transformation, a non-profit education organization offering after-school and summer programs to low-income youth, is putting on the event in partnership with FARM. Participating chefs will create their hors d’oeuvres using the farm’s locally grown produce, and it’s a fair bet that Amber’s cocktails will include some of that fresh stuff, too: As bar manager at Central 214, she had a particular knack – and an undeniable passion – for highlighting seasonal fruits of the land in her cocktails. But then Caledonia stole her away, and then she became even busier still, taking time off to have her second daughter, Sage.

“I’ve supported Project Transformation for the last three years,” she says. “Being a mom, my heart just went out to these kids who don’t have anywhere to go after school. This really saves them from being on the streets.”

This drink at Central 214 benefits literacy programs. Get over there immediately and order one.
Some of West’s previous handiwork, this one for a 2013 Derby Day event.

And with part of Project Transformation’s curriculum including cooking and gardening workshops, she was sold.

West’s cocktails will celebrate springtime and complement the event’s Southern-style menu. And of course, they’ll feature Caledonia’s honey-kissed Barr Hill Gin. And probably herbs and honeysuckle too.

All proceeds will benefit Project Transformation. Tickets for the all-inclusive event are $35 in advance or $40 at the door and can be purchased here. More information is available here.

Twenty Seven’s cocktail game: Whatever it is, that thing put a spell on me

Moses Guidry, Twenty Seven
Hey. Smoke Ring: Let me stand next to your fire.

In Twenty Seven, I found Nirvana. And the Doors, Joplin and Hendrix, too. The recently debuted Deep Ellum restaurant from “underground dinner” purveyor David Anthony Temple has been open barely a month, but it’s not just the food that may take a little piece of your heart.

Twenty Seven’s compact bar, with barely a handful of stools, assumes the spotlight late Saturdays when the place burns the midnight lamp as XXVII Antique, with live lounge music from 11:30 pm to 2 am. But with a solid, just-launched cocktail menu from bar manager Moses Guidry, it shouldn’t be overlooked anytime.

“It’s a classic cocktail menu to go with the mystique of the place, the energy,” says Guidry, who works most nights at the Front Room Tavern at the Hotel Lumen near SMU. “(Twenty Seven) definitely has that classic, speakeasy vibe.”

The restaurant operates Thursday through Saturday, with four tasting menus and two seating times nightly. The space nicely reflects Temple’s animated, stylishly gonzo personality, from the dining room’s vintage touches to the barrage of art paraphernalia honoring rock icons Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain – all lost to the world at age 27 – in the restrooms and adjacent corridor.

David Anthony Temple
Twenty Seven recalls the iconic rockers of the so-called 27 Club.

Aside from a classic Old Fashioned and a slightly altered Aviation, Guidry’s drinks are off the beaten path, appealing to the earnest imbiber. Vodka is nowhere to be seen. Instead, there are variations on lesser known gems like the martini-esque Ford Cocktail and the A La Louisiane, a cousin of the Vieux Carre.

Guidry’s Smoke Ring, an agave-based spin on the Pisco Sour, is especially notable. Subbing mezcal and tequila for milder pisco, it enlivens the standard mix of simple syrup, lime, egg white and bitters with bracing cucumber. Cool and smooth with the faintest bit of smoky heat, it’s offered with a swirl of Peychaud’s bitters and a sea-salt-sprinkled jalapeno coin to entertain the eyes and nose. “It’s just a great way to introduce mezcal to people who haven’t had it or who think it’s too intense in other cocktails they’ve tried,” Guidry says.

The hardy A La Louisiana is another standout, pumping up the rye quotient and adding chocolate bitters to A La Louisiane’s classic formula of Benedictine, sweet vermouth and a bit of absinthe. The shade of summer tea, it breathes of orange peel and cocoa, with a warm rye finish tame enough to break on through to most palates. “I’m not a bourbon drinker, but I could drink that,” said the foxy lady sitting to my right.

Moses Guidry, Twenty Seven
A La Lousiana: For the La. Woman in you.

Less successful during one visit was the Night Rider, a bold after-dinner-style cocktail that marries the herbaceous French bitter liqueur Suze with an espresso-infused Cynar (an Italian artichoke-flavored bitter) and an attending party of vermouth, orange juice, egg white, vanilla extract and chocolate bitters. However, its potential was lost in a purple haze of aggressive coffee.

The list also features the Ford’s Cocktail, a blend of the longstanding Ford and Vancouver cocktails, but done with Ford’s gin; meanwhile, the Aviation sports the sweet Luxardo cherry liqueur and eschews the usual lavender Crème de Violette altogether. In all, there are 10 drinks on the menu, but that will grow by several in the coming weeks and rotate when called for.

“We’re going to keep it seasonal,” Guidry says. “David’s got the freshest ingredients in the kitchen, so clearly we’re going to use those at the bar as well.”

The drink list currently stands at nine but in time will likely hover around a dozen.  Among the additions will be the Purple Reyes, which will light your whiskey fire with bourbon, ancho chile liqueur, Cynar, cherry liqueur and chocolate bitters.

Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

Twenty Seven
Bar manager Moses Guidry stirring up smoke.

Driftwood has invented an even better way to eat oysters, and bacon is not even involved

What could be better than this?
What could be better than this?

True oyster lovers know there’s no better way to enjoy nature’s briny gift to humankind than to slurp them right out of the half-shell. Well, not unless you’re at Driftwood, the Oak Cliff seafood oasis that has possibly invented the perfect way to love our luscious little friends – slurped right out of the half-shell and then followed by excellent half-shell shots.

Imagine yourself sitting at Driftwood’s newly expanded absinthe bar. Imagine it’s Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, because those are currently the only days when this is available. Suddenly – because you’ve ordered the oyster shell shooter special – four delicious Blue Point oysters appear in front of you, gleaming in their little half-shell boats. Of course you’re ready to pounce, but wait: Here come four glorious bottles, a beckoning backdrop to your bivalve bonanza.

Driftwood
Um, this.

Now, then: You may proceed. Oyster No. 1, down the hatch. Your friendly bartender raises the first bottle – mild, sweet La Guita Manzanilla sherry – and fills your still-briny oyster shell with a mini shot. You drink. Above you, clouds part and a sunbeam envelops you in a heavenly glow. (Your mileage may vary.) Each bottle gets its turn in a half-shell as you finish off oysters two through four: Del Maguey Vida mezcal. Laphroig single malt whiskey. And finally, sweet licorice-y Pernod.

The order is deliberate, explains Dallas bar man extraordinaire Michael Martensen, who hatched the concept in collaboration with UrbanDaddy Dallas editor Kevin Gray. (Gray had been eating oysters in New York once when he was suddenly inspired to have the barkeep top off one of nature’s cups with Laphroig.) “The sherry is soft,” says Martensen, co-founder of Misery Loves Co., which owns and operates Driftwood. “The mezcal is the next softest, but introduces smokiness. The Laphroig has a burn; it’s a smoke bomb in your face. And the Pernod is a whole other flavor – it’s got a dessert quality, so you want to finish with it.”

Driftwood
And it goes a little something like this.

For those who haven’t ventured beyond more basic spirits, the four liquids might present a challenge, as several are generally acquired tastes. It’s a fine way to measure a companion’s taste for derring-do. But look, if you’re willing to put a raw oyster in your mouth, it’s not that much of a leap to consider accenting it with an intriguing alcoholic beverage, right?

The whole experience runs a reasonable 20 bucks. And just in time for National Oyster Day.

DRIFTWOOD, 642 W. Davis, Dallas., 214-942-2530.

Edgy, fun and sexy: LARK on the Park meets The 86 Co., and everybody wins

Jason Kosmas
The 86 Co. spirits line, shown here at New Orleans’ Gravier Street Social.

Perhaps you are accustomed to your wine and beer dinners being proper, stately affairs. Perhaps you are given to gatherings punctuated with string quartets and at which your only words to a total stranger might be “Check, please.”

Then perhaps you are not quite prepared for Aug. 18’s “86 & Noise” dinner that aims to infuse Dallas’ LARK on the Park with an experience that head barman Matt Orth calls “edgy, fun and sexy.”

Imagine realigned tables and a revamped sound system. “It’s going to be as brash as possible,” Orth says. “But in a good way. We want you guys to mingle and jump around.”

And, possibly, to jump up and get down.

The four-course dinner will highlight The 86 Co., the celebrated spirits line launched in late 2012 by a trio of fine gentlemen including Austin-by-way-of-Dallas-resident Jason Kosmas. Kosmas, co-founder of legendary New York craft-cocktail bar Employees Only, will host the dinner along with Orth and 86 Co. Texas brand ambassador Omar YeeFoon.

“It’s not going to be like your normal wine-tasting dinner,” YeeFoon says. “We’re gonna try to make it very communal. We’re going to try to get people who don’t know each other to sit together.”

Bombay Sapphire competition
LARK on the Park’s Matt Orth, who not only knows how to make a good drink but how to enjoy one too.

In other words, wear deodorant. But mostly, prime your palate for a 6 p.m. cocktail hour with cocktails and tastings of The 86 Co.’s signature spirits: Tequila Cabeza, Ford’s Gin, Aylesbury Duck & Weave Vodka and Cana Brava Rum.

Dinner – which will include grilled shrimp, steak tartare and grilled jerk chicken – will start at 7 p.m., with each 86 Co. spirit having its turn in a Matt Orth-designed cocktail to accompany each course.

“The whole idea behind it is to just be fun,” YeeFoon says.

Tickets are $75 plus tax and gratuity. I’d make reservations if I were you.

LARK ON THE PARK, 2015 Woodall Rodgers Fwy, Dallas. 214-855-5275.

Cocktails, pasta and pistols highlight Dallas bar’s Spaghetti + Western nights

Windmill Lounge
Thirst rides a bar stool:  Hit the Windmill for the good, the badass and the linguini.

“I’m just a simple man of God.”

“Well, it’s time we unsimplify you, Reverend.”

The mysterious man rode in from the West, and before long the townsfolk would be looking to him to save their wretched lives. But that’s what happens when you’re packing whiskey, and Chris Furtado, Texas state manager for Utah-based High West Distillery, rose to the occasion.

On Monday, Furtado pardnered up with Dallas’ Windmill Lounge to present Spaghetti + Western Night, a “pasta and pistols” event they hope to make a regular occurrence. For $10 – barely a fistful of dollars, let’s face it – you’ll score a plate of pasta and an accompanying High West spirit-based cocktail to go along with the night’s chosen Western flick.

This week’s inaugural outing featured “High Plains Drifter,” the 1973 Clint Eastwood classic with dialogue like the above and a frontierswoman disparaging Eastwood’s character with the line: “From a distance you’d almost pass for a man.” The hearty, homey pasta was bowtie, the cocktail a theme-conscious, bitter and refreshing “Sergio” made with High West’s Double Rye whiskey, Ramazotti amaro and sparkling cider. The Windmill’s Charlie Papaceno even wore an apron. “This is a real Texas pasta because it’s got beans in it,” he said in his best Lee Van Cleef scowl.

If you want to ride in and hitch your horse for the next showing, “The Outlaw Josey Wales (another Eastwood vehicle) will hit the screen at 8 p.m. Monday, May 5. You might even run into a few of your favorite bartenders.

WINDMILL LOUNGE, 5320 Maple Ave., Dallas. 214-443-7818.