Joyce and Gigi’s has been on my To-Eat list for some time now. After doing some recon, I was excited to check this place out. For over a year, I’ve driven past this place without giving it a second thought. To be honest, I thought it was some crappy Asian fast food restaurant because the red and yellow signage reminded me of Lover’s Eggrolls. Whoops! Anyway, the reviews and the menu sounded promising and I was in the mood for something different.
It’s been a while since I’ve been out on a double date, so I thought Joyce and Gigi’s would be a great spot to check out. So who better to invite then my own favorite Guatemalan, Esteban and my really good friend Claire. The restaurant is owned by a mother and daughter and it offers a mix of Argentinian, Bolivian and Peruvian inspired dishes so I hoped he could help me validate with his taste buds if this was a solid joint. (Not that Guatemalan is the same as all South American foods, but there are similarities).
Joyce and Gigi’s is located right next to the Method coffee shop. It’s a very strange location hidden between a random neighborhood and “the hood” off Ross and Hall St. There isn’t much of parking lot, so we had to valet our cars and hope none of them would go missing later.
The restaurant is super cute on the inside. Very homey and the natural light that pours in makes it instantly likable. The bar area has this faux-kitchen feel to bring out the coziness of the dining room. It was like stepping into grandma’s home and something you wouldn’t expect at all. We were quickly seated and started perusing the menu over a few glasses of the Kaiken (Mendoza red blend wine)….
In a March blog, I raved about a fantastic new brunch spot called Origin Kitchen and Bar. I loved that they serve Cultivar coffee and the menu was interesting. The venue was small, but lively and it was a place I would recommend to anyone who wanted to brunch.
After so many months, I decided to revisit and brought some good friends with me. This particular morning I just wanted something I knew was going to be delicious and wasn’t quite in the adventurous mood for something new.
Knife, a modern take on steakhouses, opened mid May and I have been dying to try this place out. There has been so many openings recently of trendy modern American cuisine and wanna-be exotic or fusion restaurants all over Dallas, so I was very happy to know a more exciting contender has entered the foodie arena. Finally. Some good ole fine dining. Originally my two year anniversary dinner was set for Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse, but I begged for Knife instead and I was not disappointed. We both loved it. All for the sake of the blog! Tsk tsk.
Happy 2 years to us!
Dining room area.
Chef’s Bar Seating. Watch John Tesar himself make your dinner.
The restaurant is located inside the Palomar Hotel off Hwy 75 and Mockingbird and I liked it there. Valet parking is complimentary. The layout of the restaurants is pretty open and sectioned off nicely. A lounge-y bar area, a dining area with bar-like seating right in front of the chefs (including John Tesar himself), and a nice outdoor patio with a cozy fire for summer nights like these. It’s upscale enough to be a great destination for occasions like mine and at the same time casual enough to stop by for some drinks and splendid food. I’m going to apologize in advance for some of my photos. I’ve broken my food porn photo rule for you guys. I can only do so much with flash and taking pictures in a dim room.
Service was impeccable as it should be. Attentive, polite, and timely. We were presented with iPad tablets for the drink menu, which I thought was pretty cool. Each wine had a small history of its origin and I decided to have an Italian blend to start the night. The waiter brought out their version of a complimentary “veggie basket” to start. It’s quite unusual. There were radishes, baby carrots, celery to dip in their ranch sauce and beef jerky and then the waiter came by soon after to offer up a basket of different breads to choose from. So far so good.
For our appetizer, I wanted to try the heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with sea salt, rice wine and olive oil powder. The presentation was beautiful, and the salad comprised of three different kinds of tomatoes. The savory and saltiness of the tomatoes with the sweet watermelon was refreshing, but you have to really love tomatoes to love this dish. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. Next time, I’d probably opt for something more exciting. Bacon tasting, perhaps?
Side note: my friend Charlie checked out Knife the week before and submitted a photo of the pork belly, which by the looks of this photo is beautifully plated and he gave it his two thumbs up.
The Establishment quietly re-opened about a month ago and the anticipation leading up to my visit was a mixture of anxiety and excitement. After reading Leslie Brenner’s sort of review, I had my eyes set on this spot as my next foodie location to check out. But, like her article said, any info on The Establishment was not really available online. Facebook hadn’t been updated in a year, the website isn’t fully up and running, and the phone number lead to some strange voicemail inbox that was already full. There’s was no way for me to get a preview of the menu or know if I needed a reservation on a Friday night. I just had to show up and hope for the best.
Walking in…I instantly loved the place. Classic, romantic, Friday night date night perfect. We sat on their lovely patio and thoroughly enjoyed one of Dallas’ first warm spring nights. Travis St that night was poppin. A great beginning to a date night. I also came prepared with a ravenous appetite.
Martha’s Vineyard (Mass.) Oysters
Deer Creek Washington Oysters
To start, we ordered the oysters. At $3 a pop, there were a variety of oysters from different states to choose from. We ordered a dozen oysters and went half and half on the ones we thought sounded yummy. I got The Deer Creek Washington Oysters which were small, sweet and plump and had this awesome freshwater flavor that I loved. The other six were the Martha’s Vineyard from Massachusetts that had a buttery but salty profile. Not my fav. More salty than buttery. I’d recommend the Deer Creek. Honestly, my palette for oysters isn’t all that refined. Yes, they were delicious and if you are into that sort of thing, great. I don’t mind the cheap deal for a dozen that you’d get from Pappadeaux during the summers. $36 for oysters I can do without. Sorry, I’m cheap like that.
The Establishment serves their plates “tapas style” which is a clever and nicer way of saying “we are charging you more for smaller portions”. Some dishes were better than others and the price range is an average of $10-$15. Definitely fancy tapas, but what you are paying for is quality and creativity. Here’s the low down on all 7 dishes we ordered to feed our inner tapeworm from least favorite to what we thought was the best tasting:
Lobster with snap peas, mushrooms, and popcorn butter. Sounds amazing right? This was a $16 plate with about 4 bites of lobster. The lobster was a little chewy but each bite with the sweet snap peas and mushrooms brought it together. I was probably the most excited about this dish, but was underwhelmed. I wanted more.
The halibut came in a sweet pea broth and some fancy mushrooms. Also slightly lacking. Felt like something was missing. This was my second most anticipated plate off the menu, but was sadly disappointed that I wasn’t wowed. I was hoping the broth would bring out the sweetness in the fish but it didnt. Sad face.
Wagyu Tri Tips. The meat was cooked perfectly and came on a small bed of black trumpets, caramelized onions and this cabbage looking thingy.
Foie Gras Torchon. I’m no connoisseur of foie gras, but it was delicious. The sweet grapefruit marmalade and the toast was lovely, even if it kind of reminded me of french toast. Beautifully plated.
Dessert: Banana rum pudding with vanilla wafers, banana halves and sea salt. Totally makes me think of childhood comfort food. I could do without the sea salt (just a personal preference of sweet and salty), but it was really good. Perfect end to a meal to balance all the savory things we just ate. For now there is only one dessert. I’m excited to know what other fun stuff will be offered in the future.
The homemade papperdelle pasta with melt-in-your-mouth suckling pig and arugula. It wasn’t a pretty dish but it was damn good. The pasta had the perfect density. Not too thick or chewy. Perfectly cooked and the suckling pig was such a great complement. Very yummy.
My absolute favorite was the Agnolotti, which is braised rabbit leg,sheep milk, more fancy mushrooms I’v never heard of, and stinging nettles (whatever that is). This plate left me wanting more. I had to refrain from licking the plate. Next time, I’m not sharing.
Overall, I enjoyed the creativity of the dishes, the ambience, and the service. From what I can glean, the service is very accommodating, attentive and well-versed about each component of each dish. I love it when a waiter knows his shit. If you don’t want to do tapas-style and want a dinner size portion they can definitely do that too. I honestly think that might be the better route. The bar still offers Smyth-like service, where the mixologist will create a drink based on your conversations with them about your drinks preferences.
While I’m sure by the time you try this place out, all the social media and websites will be available for you to peruse the menu, reviews, and maybe even pictures of the venue. Prices might even change. As much as I really want to love this place for the food, I’d give this spot a 3 or 3.5 stars. It’s still relatively new, so while the venue is working out any kinks, it’s tough to judge.
If I do come back, I’ll probably ask for dinner sized portions instead of going for tapas style or check out their brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. All in all, there’s definitely some great potential here.
National Grilled Cheese Day is this Saturday. So to commemorate a childhood fav, I decided to make a fancy-not-so-fancy grilled cheese sandwich. Lo and behold: Hickory smoked cheddar and American cheddar on french bread. All ingredients I got from Wal-Mart’s market department and it didn’t cost me more than $5 bucks since I made 4 of these bad boys. As outrageous as some grilled cheese sammiches can be (gold-infused grilled cheese?), I thought it best to keep it simple and yummy. Maybe, next time I’ll add bacon.
If you aren’t in the mood to make your own GCS, what better day than today to get one for free? Norma’s is giving away free cheese melted happiness today. Find out here.
And a quick and handy tip from Albert Nguyen, contributing writer for Fresh Patrol, on how to make a really good grilled cheese when you need it most:
There are a few things I eat when I’m drunk at 3 AM, that I don’t normally eat when I’m sober.
1. Jack in the Box
2. Multiple packets of instant ramen + egg + a slice of cheese + lunch meat + dumplings + chicken nuggets (you can ask my roommate if you don’t believe that I actually put all this together)
3. The “work with what you have” grilled cheese sandwich
What is the “work with what you have” grilled cheese sandwich you ask? It’s very simple. Again, please remember this only happens when I’m drunk and it’s 3 AM.
First, take two slices of bread and put a slice of cheese on top of each, then stick them in the toaster oven. Right before the cheese melts, add some tabasco sauce on top of the cheese and put the bread back into the oven. When the cheese finally does melt, the tabasco sauce will fuse itself into your sandwich, giving each bite the perfect consistency of taste and flavor.
Tabasco sauce works better than sriracha because it’s in more of a liquid form, which allows it to penetrate the cheese much easier. Sometimes when I’m feeling extra adventurous, I put tabasco sauce on one slice of bread and cholula sauce on the other. Not everyone is ready for this, so please pace yourselves. Only the most experienced “work with what you have” grilled cheese sandwich connoisseur can even attempt something like this.