Category Archives: Andrew Chalk

Asador at the Renaissance Hotel Wants To Be Dallas’ New Destination Restaurant

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by Andrew Chalk

Asador, the farm-to-fire restaurant at the Dallas Renaissance Hotel (the lipstick building on I-35) is back. They are now declaring themselves a ‘destination restaurant’ and not JAHR (Just Another Hotel Restaurant) catering to captive hotel guests. They are welcoming patrons from the locality as much as does neighbor Sēr, just across the freeway at the Hilton Anatole, or The Mansion restaurant, two miles away on Turtle Creek. They even have a brand new ballroom that will prove popular for large events.

This is no empty declaration. Executive Chef Brad Phillips has spent his two years at the helm building up relationships with suppliers and a kitchen staff that shares his vision. The menu now changes with the seasons, as Asador showed at a recent media event I attended designed to celebrate the Fall harvest.   Continue reading

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Celebrating It’s Third Anniversary Lazaranda Stays Fresh

 

laz1by Andrew Chalk

When Lazaranda threw open its doors in 2011 I remember the sense of anticipation about the prospect of an established Monterrey restaurant spreading its wings north of the border helmed by a Mexican chef who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Partners Mario Letayf and Antonio Marquez said ‘At Lazaranda, we offer the real food of modern Mexico, a combination of Mexican heritage and modern techniques and ingredients.” The early tastings bore that out. Recently, I revisited Lazaranda as part of a media event to see how the latest menu stood out.   Continue reading

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Clay Pigeon is Fort Worth’s American Bistro

070_CPFDby Andrew Chalk

It has a quirky name and a slightly quirky location (being a few blocks away from two hot restaurant areas) but Fort Worth’s Clay Pigeon gave me one of the best-prepared meals that I have had this year when I attended as a media guest. Add to the food, a good wine list and thoughtful, attentive service in a restored brick dining room with lots of free parking right outside and you have all the elements of a successful destination restaurant. In fact, visitors to Fort Worth, driving from Dallas or elsewhere, should consider putting Clay Pigeon at the top of their list for New American food while in the city for the museums, performing arts, the rodeo or shopping. It is nearby all those things, but not embedded in one of the restaurant ‘clusters’.

Don’t be fooled by what realtors call the ‘drive up appeal’. It looks like a gas station because it started life that way. Although Clay Pigeon wasn’t on the site quick enough to symbolically preserve one of the gas pumps as did one restaurant in a former gas station that I once visited. Inside, the walls have been sanded back to the brickwork. It makes for a warm, inviting space with maybe too much squareness to be called ‘cosy’. On one side is a shaft of light from the open kitchen and at the back a functional bar that turns out specialty cocktails. The design keeps noise levels reasonable for conversation.    Continue reading

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Et Tu Julio! Komali Chef Is Caesar Salad Champion

IMAG0371The chefs line up. Winner Peraza is second from the left. Runner-up Andrea Maricich is being interviewed by emcee Jim White and third-placed Kenny Mills has the hat

by Andrew Chalk

Julio Peraza is the new AIWF Caesar Salad Champion, making him the twenty second winner of the annual competition that challenges Dallas chefs to win a public vote with their Caesar Salad and ‘lagniappe’ dish. In an impassioned acceptance speech the executive chef at Komali and Salum Peraza attributed his success to his hard-working sous chef Abraham Salum (who also happens to be his boss). The Peraza-Salum team described their winning dish as “Ancho Braised Short Rib and Queso Fresco Tamal, Black Bean Sauce, Crema and Chile de Arbol Salsa”. This is on the menu at Komali. Peraza now becomes Honorary Chair of next year’s event. So popular was this dish that it was sold out before I got to it after circling around taking pictures.    Continue reading

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Max’s Wine Dive in Fort Worth Introduces New Menu For Fall

IMG_0003by Andrew Chalk

Max’s Wine Dive, the popular restaurant with the slogan “Fried Chicken and Champagne?…Why the Hell Not?!” just revamped their menu for Fall and Crave was at the media event to roll it out. From small plates to large, it looks like a winner.

Go to the section of the menu entitled “Chef Stefon’s Fall Menu” and start with PB&J Wings ($10), chicken wings in Max’s signature batter and slathered with thai peanut sauce and blackberry coulis (a variation on sweet and sour). But take plenty of napkins as this can be a messy dish as well.   Continue reading

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Selling Texas Wines Outside Texas’ Borders: What Can Texas Wineries Learn From Gruet Winery?

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by Andrew Chalk

Gruet Winery sells almost 130,000 cases of wine a year, the best of it made from New Mexico grapes and clearly labelled as such. Its retail and on-premise (restaurant and club) reach extends to 49 states in the U.S., plus Japan and the Caribbean. Gruet is sui generis in this respect. No other winery from New Mexico has a footprint outside of the state.

Texas wineries are at an inflexion point in the industry’s history. They are quality-competitive with like-for-like varietals from other states, but that fact is not known outside the state. As a result, out-of-state sales are much lower than they could be. Obviously, a good product is not sufficient to sell nationally. Something else is needed.

What lessons does Gruet’s success have for Texas wineries in expanding their sales footprint outside the state? What are the key factors that led to Gruet’s success? Was it distribution? If so, does on-premise or off-premise distribution matter more? Is it reviews? If so, which review sites matter? How important is editorial coverage in wine blogs? How important are blind tastings? What about word-of-mouth?  Continue reading

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Sparkling Wine: Anna Gets Her Bubbles On

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by Andrew Chalk

Make a wine in Spain that sparkles like Champagne, use the same winemaking technique, use (pretty much) the same grapes and you have a wine that tastes like Champagne but at half the price. In Spain, Cava is the best known type of wine made like this and we had a couple of bottles from one of the best-known producers come into the office recently. With the help of some sparkling wine fans, I got to taste them. Cava comes from specific areas in the region surrounding Barcelona so, next month, it may cease to be Spanish at Catalans go to vote on independence for Catalonia on November 9th. We will be drinking ‘Cava di Catalunya’.

The Anna de Codorniu Brut, NV (non-vintage), $15 SRP, is made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Parellada (one of the traditional Spanish varieties). It is light, creamy and lively. It does not have the common almond flavor associated with Cava and might be described as a less complex rendering of a light Champagne such as Perrier-Jouet.   Continue reading

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