Bulla Gastrobar Brings Authentic Spanish Tapas to Plano

While Texans are known to be lovers of Mexican food, there are a variety of dishes from other Hispanic countries just waiting to be discovered. Legacy West’s newest addition, Bulla Gastrobar, offers a variety of Spain-inspired dishes, drinks, and tapas.

Last weekend, I had the chance to preview Bulla’s dinner menu ahead of the restaurant’s opening this coming Tuesday.

To kick things off, my guest and I ordered a plate of embutidos (cured meats) and cheeses. We were allowed to pick one type of meat and one type of cheese. For the meat, we chose the finocchio, which is a handcrafted Italian salami. For the cheese, we chose the mahón, which is a firm cow’s milk with lemony, salty, tangy flavor. The plate came garnished with nuts and candied pecans in the center. It also included three crispy crackers with drops of cajeta dolloped onto them. The sweet and savory portions of the plate paired very well together and set the bar high for the upcoming dishes.

A tapa from Bulla Gastrobar, with finocchio and mahón cheese (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

After my guest and I finished off the plate, we received our drinks. Although it is customary to receive drinks before appetizers, the restaurant was packed, and therefore orders had been getting mixed up throughout the night. This was understandable, considering the restaurant is still gearing up for opening and working the kinks out.

We were each allowed two drinks from the cocktail menu, the first of mine being the Bullfighter. The Bullfighter consists of Bulleit bourbon, Aperol, Dow’s Port, lemon juice and cranberry. It had a taste similar to that of a good fruit juice, like acai berry. The alcohol taste was just slightly noticeable, which allowed for me to take in the delightful combination of fruit flavors.

The Bullfighter (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

For the second drink, I ordered the Moscow Mule. Bulla’s Moscow Mule consists of Russian Standard Vodka, Fever Tree ginger beer, fresh lime, cardamom, currant infused syrup and candied ginger. While most bars’ Moscow Mules are rather gritty and bitter, Bulla’s was a delightful exception. The currant syrup gave the drink a sweet, fruity flavor, allowing it to taste similar to Sprite mixed with a candy-like infusion.

Moscow Mule (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

As for the post-drink effect, I felt that the impact was just right. I didn’t feel drunk, but I did feel relaxed enough to just unwind and enjoy a stress-free night.

For the next plate, we ordered the Montaditos de Castillo, which were an arrangement of four slices of toasted bread topped with braised short ribs, tomato marmalade, guindilla, and tetilla cheese. Although this sounds like a lot to take in, I highly recommend just taking a big bite and consuming every aspect of the piece all at once. The combination of the ingredients makes for a hearty, flavorful appetizer with a sweet and spicy kick.

Mostaditos de Castillo (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

When it came time to order the main entree, my guest and I ordered the paella, however, there was a bit of a mixup in the kitchen, which resulted in our order being pushed back an extra 20 minutes. To make up for this, one of the servers offered us the albondigas.

The albondigas were an arrangement of three veal and pork meatballs immersed in a tomate frito sauce and topped with manchego cheese. The meatballs were thick, warm, meaty and cut very easily. Eating the albondigas was like eating miniscule meatloafs and they were enough to tide us over until the paella arrived.

Albondigas (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Bulla’s paella is a soupy, creamy rice dish, with calamari, prawns, clams, red sofrito, shrimp and saffron arranged to make a beautiful display. It tasted just as amazing as it looked. The consistency of the rice was just right, the insides of the clams pulled out easily, and the shrimp were cooked to a pink perfection.

Paella (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

We ended the night with the flan de coco, which is a coconut flan served with a side of passion fruit sorbet. The sorbet was unlike anything else I had ever tasted; sweet, icy, and packed with fruit flavor. The flan itself was also a unique dish, given its utilization of coconut.

Flan de coco with fruit and a side of passion fruit sorbet (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

From beginning to end, I was highly satisfied with the food and drinks served to us. Despite a few minor kinks in terms of customer service, I appreciated the fact that the staff acknowledged the mistakes, made it up to us by offering us extra food, and by allowing us to fill out feedback cards. With their diligence and customer orientation, everything should be running smoothly by opening day.

Bulla Gastrobar officially opens on February 13 in Legacy West.

How Pazzo Encompasses Everything Dallasites Love About Uptown

When Dallasites head out for a night in Uptown, they are seeking delicious food, good drinks, and/or fun music. Cedar Springs’s newest opening, Pazzo, has managed to combine these three elements to create an Italian dining and lounging experience. Pazzo is the brainchild of Luke Zeutzius, whose mission is to bring an evolving menu designed for the American Italian fusion enthusiast.

Upon arriving at Pazzo’s media and influencer event, I am greeted with smiles from two casually dressed young ladies, who quickly seat me in the proper section. I am first offered water, and once the server returns with a cold glass, I am then asked for my drink order.

To kick things off, I order the Walk of Shame, which consists of Zephyr gin, lemon, and Angostura bitters. It is a tangy, fruity, sour drink, which tastes like lemonade with a hard kick.

The Walk of Shame (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

I follow the Walk of Shame up with the Straight Skinny, which consists of Código, agave, and lime. It is Pazzo’s version of the margarita and it has a light taste. The agave makes it sweet, but not to the point where it overpowers the tequila and lime. Most house margaritas taste like Slurpees, however, Pazzo’s tastes like a delicious, healthy juice that one could pick up at a Pilates studio; theirs just happens to be kicked up a hard notch.

The Straight Skinny (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

After drinks, the servers bring out a variety of appetizers, including the White Truffle Garlic Bread, Crispy Polenta Cakes, and Crispy Eggplant. Although all of the appetizers are phenomenal, my personal favorite would have to be the Crispy Polenta Cakes. As a Texan, I love my pork, and Pazzo’s polenta cakes come topped with a sweet, shredded, savory pork shoulder. It is the perfect merging of Italian and Texan culture.

Crispy Polenta Cakes (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Before the main entree, the servers bring out what’s called The Vinegary One, which is Pazzo’s house salad. The signature dressing nicely complements the greens and vegetables, giving it a salty, lemony taste.

Pazzo’s house salad: “The Vinegary One” (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

For my main course, I order The Cripsy Piece of the Lasagna, which is a lasagna dish layered with spinach noodles, bolognese sauce, and a combination of fresh and aged cheeses. As its name suggests, the noodles are rather crisp. The bolognese sauce is hot, hearty, and packed with spice and flavor.

The Crispy Piece of the Lasagna (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

To wrap things up, I pick the Chocolate Chip Cookie Panwaffle “Smore” as my dessert. A fun fact about this is that Pazzo’s owner Luke Zeutzius invented and patented the Panwaffle pan, as a result of him and his younger brother arguing about what to eat for breakfast. The Panwaffle Smore is topped with strawberries, chocolate, graham crackers, ice cream, and burnt marshmallow fluff. It is a dessert experience unlike any other, and a must-try for first-time visitors.

The Panwaffle S’more (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

After dinner, we are taken to a lounge, in which the walls are lined up with couches. We toast with champagne to celebrate Pazzo’s prosperous future.

I leave Pazzo highly impressed with what I’ve experienced. Pazzo manages to encompass everything Dallasites love about Uptown, from fun, upbeat music, good drinks, and delicious (not to mention, relatively inexpensive) food.

Pazzo will begin serving items from their brunch, lunch, and dinner menus beginning February 2. They will also host a grand opening celebration on February 23.

Corey Pond Speaks on The Common Table’s New Frisco Location

For nearly eight years, The Common Table has been a hot brunch destination for Dallasites and Uptown dwellers. With its new location in The Star in Frisco, founder Corey Pond hopes to expand Common Table’s horizons and attract a wider demographic. As its name suggests, The Common Table is a haven for those who wish to bond over the love of beer and food.

“It’s more of a feeling than it is anything literal,” founder Corey Pond says of the eatery’s name. “A common table is a place where you would go and meet people you don’t know, and hopefully make new friends. We believe we’ve incorporated that sort of philosophy here.”

A “common table” inside The Common Table’s Frisco location (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Although The Common Table is arguably most known for its brunch and beer dinners, Pond notes that he hadn’t originally planned to serve food.

“I had a love for craft beer and wanted to open a craft beer bar,” Pond says, “but because of the location we ended up with, we also had to have a restaurant. It took us a little while to get the food right, but now I think the food in both places is very good, especially for the price.”

    Founder Corey Pond (left) with Operation Partner Rodman Shields (right)

Weekend brunch is a staple in Dallas. With so many restaurants to choose from, The Common Table has set itself apart by making quality dishes and creating an amped up atmosphere.

“Brunch food really isn’t difficult to prepare,” Ponds says. “It’s just all about buying good ingredients. It’s a chill vibe here most of the time, but at brunch time, we turn up hip-hop music a little louder than usual.”

Although The Star and Uptown are two vastly different scenes, The Star’s location shares a lot of the elements that the original location has become well known for.

“We’ve just recently started the live music series here [in The Star,] Pond says. “The music events are held every Thursday and Saturday night, like in Uptown. Some of the artists are the same, but we also have some new artists.”

Apart from the live music events, The Common Table’s Frisco location also has Live Trivia Wednesdays, Brewsday Tuesdays, and Pour Man’s Beer Dinner on Mondays.

Trivia Nights and Pour Man’s Beer Dinner are just a couple of The Common Table’s notable events

“The Pour Man’s Beer Dinner is different every week,” Pond says. “Each week, the chef in each location comes up with a different four-course menu, each of the courses is paired with a different beer.”

Because of the wide variety of beer available in house, The Common Table’s customers are able to taste unique pairings of beer and food.

“Beer’s such a versatile drink, more than wine.” Ponds says. “There are over 100 different styles of beer, so for any type of food you make, there’s a perfect beer to pair it with.”

The Common Table is currently open in both Uptown Dallas and in The Star in Frisco. Be sure to pay a visit and try their unique pairings.

Francesca Nor Details Dive’s New Renovations, Personal Journey to Dive

Dive Coastal Cuisine is going into its eighth year of serving hearty seafood in the Highland Park district. For the past three weeks, Dive has been undergoing some major renovations. They will officially reopen their doors on Wednesday.

“We are basically taking the front walk-up center and putting in a full-service bar,” owner Francesca Nor said of Dive’s renovations. “We’ve always been a walk-up concept and have never been ‘full service’ anything. There will be five or six seats at our bar where we will serve beer, wine, infused tequila, and our signature sangria.”

Apart from the bar and full-service aspects, Dive’s rebranding will also include changes to its aesthetic.

“Where there was a high-top communal table, there will now be a banquette,” Nor said. “We’ve added some lighting, we’ve redone the menu, we’ve redone the website, and we’ve added coral to our color palette. Our color palette was originally navy and turquoise, but now, it’s navy, turquoise, and coral, so it has a little bit more of a ‘poppy’ feel.”

From a very young age, Nor became fascinated by culinary arts, cultures, and unique dishes.

“I was about five or six years old when I first became interested in food,” Nor said. “I was born in Los Angeles and my parents would take us to upscale, hip restaurants. I would go into these restaurants and order things like the caviar or the shark, and the waiter would look at my parents like ‘Is she for real?’ I didn’t know any different, I just knew that I liked that food because my parents exposed me to it at a young age.”

Dive’s signature SURF+TURF dish, consisting of Churrasco steak, grilled shrimp, cilantro rice & black beans with house-made chimichurri sauce (Photo Credit: Claire McCormack)

Despite having developed an interest in food so early on in life, Nor began her higher studies in the realm of art.

“Funny enough, I went to school to study photography and mixed media art,” Nor said. “It wasn’t until I was about 21 years old until a light went off. I was living in Florence, Italy and I took a workshop at Cordon Bleu, and realized ‘this is what I need to be doing,’ so then I decided to go to culinary school.”

Nor finished culinary school at the top of her class. Following culinary school, Nor traveled the world, acquired knowledge of various world cultures, and eventually opened Dive. When selecting her employees, Nor believes in a personal approach, as opposed to modern technological pre-screenings.

“There are a lot of ways restaurants select their employees,” Nor said. “There are HR departments, there are all sorts of personality tests, but honestly, I just kind of go with my gut. I get the first impression of someone and I just kind of go off of how they click with me. Experience is always important, but if they don’t respect my business and what I do, then it’s just another job to them.”

For those wanting to follow in Nor’s footsteps and open a restaurant, Nor offers a bit of advice.

“Hands down, you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing,” Nor said. “Stay true to yourself and make sure that what you’re doing is something you enjoy. Staying honest with yourself and not doubting yourself is conveyed in everything you do. If you believe it, your customers will believe it too.”

Fish on the Grill (Photo Credit: Claire McCormack)

Dive Coastal Cuisine officially reopens on Wednesday and operates from 11 a.m to 9 p.m. They will also be open until 11 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday and will offer a variety of late night bites, including cheese boards, hummus boards, and more.

Dallas Hale details conception of Sushi Marquee

In the dining industry, the quality of each guest’s experience is just as important as the quality of food they’re being served. The minds behind the Crafted Bar Concepts restaurant group strive to create a guest experience as unique as possible. Sushi Marquee, the newest addition to The Star in Frisco, is a hot, fresh concept from the minds of CBC.

Various sushi rolls arranged to celebrate Sushi Marquee’s opening in The Star (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Sushi Marquee started off as an idea of  CBC’s Vice President Brad Hawkins. Hawkins partnered with Dallas Hale, CEO of Crafted Bar Concepts, to create what would become Sushi Marquee.

“At Sushi Marquee, the guest comes in anticipating a phenomenal meal,” Hale said, “In addition to that, they receive an interactive, fun experience. We’ve got sake bombs, ’80s and ’90s music, and we aim to create just an all-around good time, that way, when the guest leaves, they say ‘man, I can’t wait to go back!’”

Sushi Marquee’s large television screens, which often play classic movie clips and music videos from the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. (Photo Credit: Tammany Stern)

When approached by Hawkins to partner in the creation of Sushi Marquee, Hale, confident in its success, immediately agreed.

“I wish I could take credit for this idea,” Hale said. “This is the brainchild of Brad Hawkins. We’ve been the best of friends for about 25 years and we’ve always talked about creating a concept together.”

The minds behind Crafted Bar Concepts. Dallas Hale (left), Brad Hawkins (center) and Matt Saba (right). (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Sushi Marquee is largely inspired by the sushi restaurants Brad Hawkins encountered while visiting Los Angeles.

“Brad has been telling me about this concept for about 20 years,” Hale said. “He had gone to L.A. and came across a place that had a fun, interactive vibe but the worst sushi he had ever tasted.”

Because of his experience in L.A., Hawkins was determined to create something better with Hale.

“He came to me and said, ‘Dallas, we need to recreate this concept, but we need to jazz it up and make it the best sushi they’ve ever had,” Hale said. “I told him, ‘let’s go.’”

A couple of the many options Sushi Marquee has to offer. (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Despite having been primarily relying on word-of-mouth promotion, Sushi Marquee has seen much success since its grand opening two weeks ago.

“It’s surprising how well the turnout has been,” Hale said. “We haven’t advertised yet because we’re still working out all of the kinks, but the food’s been amazing, we’re getting great reviews, and the crowds keep pouring in, it’s been great!”

Sushi Marquee’s signature Lamb Lollipops (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Although Sushi Marquee is currently only open for dinner, they plan to officially open for lunch at the top of next year. Their lunch menu will feature a variety of options which they call their “Power Lunch” meals.

“Our Power Lunch menu is amazing,” Hale said. “We will offer our full menu at lunchtime, but we will also have poke bowls, sushi burritos, and bento boxes.”

The Power Lunch menu will provide guests with easily customizable options.

“We’ll have signature poke bowls, but we’ll allow the guests to select their choice of fish, along with their choice of rice, sauce, and veggies,” Hale said. “Once their bowl is ordered, the customer will be served within five to seven minutes.”

Although Sushi Marquee is fresh off of its opening, they have managed to keep the ball rolling with all sorts of events.

“We’ve already had people call to set up their bachelorette parties, birthday parties, and bridal showers,” Hale said. “We also hope to get a video DJ for New Year’s Eve.”

Sushi Marquee is a novelty for lovers of sports, music, and Asian cuisine. It is a fresh, fun, modern concept, unlike any other sushi restaurant in town. Sushi Marquee is officially open in The Star in Frisco.

 

Haywire to Begin Serving Brunch

In the three weeks since their official grand opening, Legacy West’s Haywire has proven to be a hit. People from all over the metroplex are stopping by to get a taste of southern hospitality.

This coming weekend, Haywire will begin serving brunch.

I was lucky enough to try some of Haywire’s soon-to-be-available brunch items last weekend during a special Frontburner friends and family event. Their items are far different from the regular chicken and waffles or eggs benedict Dallasites know and love. Haywire’s brunch menu consists of many traditional brunch items that have a southern touch one couldn’t find anywhere else.

To kick things off, I ordered a Seelbach cocktail. The drink had a fruity, citrus flavor, similar to grapefruit, followed by a strong, alcoholic aftertaste. I cooled down with a mimosa, in which the champagne and orange juice flavors had a perfect balance.

Mimosa (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)
For the starter, I was served the Cast Iron Cheddar and Jalapeño Biscuits. The biscuits were served with sides of sausage gravy and peach compote. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the biscuits were crispy, with a crunchy, cheesy outer layer, and didn’t fall apart leaving a flaky mess. The gravy complemented the biscuits in a way that made them feel warm and comforting.
Cast Iron Cheddar and Jalapeño Biscuits (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)
The biscuits were followed by the Ranch Chicken Cobb Salad. Although the salad was phenomenal, I found it a bit oddly presented. It looked like two chicken strips were simply plopped atop a bed of greens. Perhaps the salad would’ve been more aesthetically pleasing had the chicken strips been cut into smaller pieces and spread among the salad. Despite the salad’s peculiar appearance, it was packed with flavor. It was heavy on bleu cheese and Texas honey & herb vinaigrette dressing, which gave the greens a creamy texture. Plus, the bacon bits gave the salad a sweet, meaty kick.
Ranch Chicken Cobb Salad (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)
I ordered the Texas Gulf Shrimp and Grits for my main course. Normally, I’m not very big on grits, however, I do not regret trying Haywire’s. The grits were topped with a beautiful arrangement of high-quality shrimp and a poached egg. The shrimp was the brightest shade of red, and thick and meaty like sausage. The grits were creamy and soupy in texture and had a spicy kick courtesy of Haywire’s signature creole sauce.
Texas Gulf Shrimp and Grits (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)
I concluded my brunch meal with the Texan Pecan Brown Butter Pancakes. In all honesty, these pancakes were the best I’ve tasted in my life. I’ve never had pancakes with a perfect cake-like texture, but Haywire hit this nail on the head. These pancakes were a stack of heavenly, fluffy goodness, topped with delicious whiskey peach compote, pecans, and whipped cream.
Texan Pecan Brown Butter Pancakes (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)
Legacy West’s Haywire is a manifestation of southern hospitality. It’s an experience unlike anything you’ll find in Plano and is sure to be a hit for years to come.

Haywire officially rolls out their brunch menu on December 23rd at 11:00 am.

Laura Sanchez on her Family Mexican Food Empire

In the heart of the Bishop Arts district lies one of DFW’s longest standing Mexican food restaurants. El Ranchito has been in business for nearly 35 years, and owner Laura Sanchez is still expanding upon her empire.

In September, Sanchez opened El Ranchito’s South Cooper location in Arlington. Opening the restaurant was a process that took nearly seven years.

“The original building owners originally wanted to lease the place,” Sanchez said. “I wanted to own it, so I had to wait until the owners were ready to sell the space. When we heard the building was finally for sale, we bought it, and then it took two and a half years to actually build the restaurant.”

When deciding on a location to open the restaurant, Sanchez made sure to strategically pick a Hispanic-populous area.

“We are feeling very optimistic about the new location,” Sanchez said. “It’s a larger restaurant attracting the Hispanic communities of South Arlington, Mansfield, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth.”

In terms of measuring up to the success of the original Oak Cliff location, Sanchez is looking forward to seeing the new Arlington location thrive.

“It’s doing very well so far,” Sanchez said of the new location. “The Oak Cliff location has been in business for 35 years, so the new store is gonna take some time to meet the original’s success, but as for now, we are very confident about it.”

El Ranchito’s menu consists of North Mexican cuisine. Sanchez emphasizes that much like the food in the U.S., Mexican food specialties differ by region.

“Northern Mexico is very meat, beef, and pork oriented in terms of food,” Sanchez said. “We have a lot of tripas and other dishes that aren’t as popular in the south or southwest regions of Mexico. Northern Mexico offers a lot of cabrito, asado, machado; all those dishes they don’t have in the other places.”

Delicious Tacos Al Carbon plate from El Ranchito (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

 

With its new location having opened up, El Ranchito will also be dividing its traditions and events among the stores.

“Every year, we celebrate the birth of Elvis Presley and we commemorate his death,” Sanchez said. “The event takes place across four Wednesdays in January and four Wednesdays in August. However, my brother and I have decided that the Elvis events will take place two Wednesdays in Oak Cliff and two Wednesdays in Arlington during the two months.”

The Elvis Presley celebrations consist of look-alike contests.

“The people who come to compete just make it a culture,” Sanchez said. “They just always go all out. People are already calling to reserve their spots.”

El Ranchito pays tribute to Elvis Presley twice a year (Photo credit: Tammany Stern)

 

When she’s not holding down the fort at her two El Ranchito locations, Sanchez is either helping organize events in her Jefferson Tower event center, or handling matters at La Calle Doce, her Mexican seafood restaurant.

“At La Calle Doce, we serve a lot of Monterey-inspired seafood dishes,” Sanchez said. “Some of our specialty dishes include our tilapia, which is served on top of our signature paella. We also serve a really good ceviche, and our shrimp cocktail is loved by Oak Cliff’s Hispanic community.”

Sign in front of La Calle Doce, also owned by Laura Sanchez (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Part of what makes Sanchez’s dishes so authentic is the fact that many of her employees are members of both her immediate and extended family.

“It’s wonderful working with family,” Sanchez said. “Most of them have been working for me since they were legally able to work. It helps that they really love the restaurant and put a lot of care into creating quality dishes and providing good service.”

Mariachis in El Ranchito give Sanchez’s restaurant an authentic Mexican feel. (Photo credit Tammany Stern)

El Ranchito is currently open in Oak Cliff and in Arlington. Also, be sure to try some delicious Mexican seafood at La Calle Doce in the Bishop Arts District.

Legacy Hall is an Artistic Celebration of Food and World Cultures

The most anticipated addition to Plano’s Legacy West shopping center is finally set to open its doors this Wednesday. Legacy Hall is a three-story food hall containing a variety of restaurant set-ups and bars. It is the first of its kind in the United States, inspired by the food halls Jack Gibbons, president of The Frontburner Group, encountered during his international travels.

“My business partner Randy and I were in Russia traveling back through Amsterdam,” Gibbons said. “When we studied the history of food halls and how they started in Europe, we felt that there was a big place for this in the United States.

Legacy Hall’s opening comes shortly after the opening of Legacy West’s Haywire, which is also parented by The Frontburner Group. Like Haywire’s three stories, each floor of Legacy Hall has a different feel to it.

“On the first floor, there are 20 stalls that are serving all different product from shawarma to lobster rolls. Each of the 20 stalls is run by local chefs and restaurateurs,” Gibbons said. “There’s a full working brewery on the third floor.”

This past Saturday evening, media and press were invited to a sneak preview of the much-anticipated food hall. Each of the attendees was given a pre-loaded “hall pass,” containing $25 worth of credits, valid at any of the bars and food stalls.

For dinner, I made my way over to Blist’r and ordered a Char-grilled chicken tikka naan wrap. I was given the option of choosing “regular” or “spicy” and opted for the latter. My wrap was assembled quickly, in the same fashion of a Chipotle burrito.

Char-grilled chicken tikka naan wrap from Blist’r in Legacy Hall (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

I was very satisfied with the taste of my naan wrap. While the chicken was hot, spicy, and flavorful, it was the tamarind and mint chutney, along with the pickled onion that gave the wrap a sweet kick. I washed down the wrap with a lemon berry acai flavored Stubborn Soda. The soda tasted different from any other soda I’ve ever tasted, as the sweet fruit flavors overpowered the carbonated water. Originally, I had planned to give up drinking soda in the imminent new year, however, I may have to make an exception for Stubborn.

After dinner, I opted for a healthy dessert at Berrynaked, a stall offering a variety of popsicles, smoothie bowls, and sundaes. I was able to try both the matcha latte and the blueberry lavender popsicle. While both popsicles were refreshing, I preferred the blueberry lavender. The matcha latte was good, however, the dairy base doesn’t allow for the consumer to get to the flavor as quickly as the water base of the blueberry lavender does. As for both popsicles, they were frozen to the right consistency to which they didn’t melt immediately upon removal from the freezer.

A display of popsicles at Berrynaked (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

To end the night, I paid a visit to the third level bar and ordered a drink called “Teaches and Peaches.” The Teaches and Peaches consists of Peach Brandy, Madeira, lemon juice, raspberries, and billers. Albeit a bit pricey, it was packed with fruity flavor and had a strong impact.

Teaches and Peaches from Legacy Hall’s third-level bar. (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Although I didn’t get a chance to try every single food stall, there were several items that looked very appetizing, including “The Soulman” from Press Waffle Co., as well as handcrafted pizza from Forno Nero.

The Soul Man from Press Waffle Co. (Photo Credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Apart from offering a multitude of delicious food options, Legacy Hall encourages its guests to be environmentally conscious, as they have different trash containers for paper, plastic, and food waste.

My only complaint of the night was that the first floor felt rather crowded, however, this is likely to change, as more outdoor additions are underway.

In March of 2018, Legacy Hall will open an environmentally friendly music venue right outside of the first floor.

“Our venue will be called ‘The Box Carton,” Gibbons said. “It is made out of recycled shipping containers and has different bars and restaurants that will really complete the food hall project.”

Although the Gibbons and The Frontburner Group have a lot on their hands right now, they have no plans to slow down in the near future.

“We’ve started a company called ‘The Food Hall Company,’” Gibbons said. “We’re starting our Plano hall as our first one, but we plan to create more of these unique venues and make them wildly popular across the country.”

Legacy Hall is an artistic celebration of food and world cultures. There is something for everybody at Legacy Hall and it will undoubtedly be a hit upon opening.

Legacy Hall is set to open on December 6. For a complete list of bars and food stalls, click here.

 

Dee Lincoln Prime is a Remarkably Lavish Dining Experience

To kick off December, Dee Lincoln, also known as the “queen of steaks,” opened the doors of her highly anticipated new sushi bar and steakhouse, Dee Lincoln Prime. Prime comes seven years after Lincoln parted ways with Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, of which she was one of the co-founders.

During Lincoln’s seven-year hiatus, she spent time traveling the world, learning firsthand about international dining cultures, and studying the craft of chefs she admires. Over the course of the past two years, she began to conceive what is now Dee Lincoln Prime.

This past Thursday evening, I got the chance to have dinner at Prime before it opened its doors to the public.

In a previous interview, Lincoln mentioned that when creating Prime, she had the “young, hip millennials” in mind. This was evident with the restaurant’s simple black and white setups and the upbeat music playing throughout the night.

I decided to kick the night off with a drink. Prime’s drink menu contains a variety of uniquely-named beverages, including “Asian Persuasion,” “Fashionably Western Manhattan,” “Bubble Bubble,” and “Voodoo Smoke.” I decided to go with the latter, which consists of Roca Patrón Reposado, Apple Brandy, Benedictine, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, and Aromatic Bitters. The Voodoo Smoke was packed a very strong, citrus flavor, similar to that grapefruit. It was sour, but for the most part, tasty. Apart from taste, the drink was beautifully presented. It was purplish-pink in color, with a blackberry and mint for garnishing.

Dee Lincoln Prime’s signature Voodoo Smoke beverage

 

For the rest of the night, I refrained from drinking alcohol and opted to drink water. As strange as this sounds, even the water exceeded my expectations. Instead of water from a spigot or a fountain, Prime’s standard “free” water is actually Fiji Water. At this point, I could tell I was in for a meal of lavish proportions.

I selected the Char Grilled Oysters as my appetizer. The plate contained six oysters with a lemon and slice of toasted bread in the center. The bread had an olive oil and garlic spread, and the oysters were covered with this spread as well. Personally, I’m not much of a seafood eater, however, the oysters were absolutely phenomenal. They were chewy, easy to pull apart, and tasted like chicken. The oysters had the consistency of tapiocas or bobas and were more juicy and saucy with each bite. The outer shells of the oysters were very clean, and not crusty or grimy, like those of other restaurants.

Dee Lincoln Prime’s Char-Grilled Oysters

 

When it came time to select the main course, I chose the eight-ounce filet mignon with lobster macaroni on the side. I had never previously tried lobster macaroni, but Prime’s set a very high bar to reach. The lobster chunks in the pasta were meaty and had a taste similar to that of breakfast sausage. The cheese in the dish was hot and melted to a consistency that gave the dish a soupy texture. As for the steak, it was very thick, however, fairly easy to cut. It was marinated with just the right amount of spices and juices to allow for a bold, sharp, and distinct flavor.

Dee Lincoln Prime’s 8oz Filet Mignon with the signature Lobster Mac & Cheese on the side

Apart from the incredibly delicious food, Prime’s front of house staff did a great job tending to me and other guests that night. In her interview, Lincoln described choosing only the best of the best for her staff or “internal guests,” and her staff most definitely did not rest on their laurels. By frequently visiting with me, asking me questions, and fulfilling my food and drink orders in a timely manner, the staff demonstrated how much they cared about the quality of my dining experience.

Dee Lincoln Prime’s top-notch staff made sure things ran smoothly throughout the course of the night
(Photo credit: Tammany Stern)

Dee Lincoln Prime is currently open in The Star in Frisco.

Dee Lincoln Details her Journey to Dee Lincoln Prime

From the woman behind Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House comes a beautifully lavish new concept. Dee Lincoln’s newest restaurant, Dee Lincoln Prime, opened up this past Friday in The Star in Frisco.

Dee Lincoln Prime is a unique concept, offering a variety of tequila, steak, and sushi.

“My entire career has been in upscale steak business,” owner Dee Lincoln said. “Over the past seven years, since I’ve taken a little sabbatical and traveled around the world, I’ve seen that there’s been a huge evolution in food. You always think about sushi and sake, but I wanted to do something different.”

When creating the concept of Prime, Lincoln had a younger, modern generation in mind.

“I knew I wanted to have an upscale steakhouse like everyone expects, given my thirty year career,” Lincoln said, “but I also wanted to do something for the young, hip millennials, with the vibe of a classic steakhouse.”

Dee Lincoln Prime contains many signature elements, including a tequila library.

“I thought it was very neat that we were able to secure tequilas from $15 a shot to tequilas from $950 a shot,” Lincoln said. “I am not a tequila expert, but fortunately my bar manager has a passion for tequila. Together, we were able to put a program together that consists of various styles and brands of tequila. For starters, we secured about 40 labels, some of which are not available in any other restaurant.”

A glimpse at Dee Lincoln Prime’s tequila library

Lincoln’s aforementioned bar manager, Kamakana Hoaeae, along with the rest of Prime’s staff, are all masters of their crafts. When putting together her team, Lincoln was sure to choose the best of the best.

Managers Kamakana and Steve, all smiles on opening night.

“I’ve built an amazing team,”Lincoln said. “Some of these people, I’ve networked with for many years, some I have not, but they have fabulous reputations.”

Executive Chef TJ Lengnick, along with the rest of Dee Lincoln Prime’s carefully selected kitchen staff.

One of Lincoln’s most notable team members is her sushi chef, Mark Tungcmittrong. Lincoln recalls meeting Tungcmittrong long before conceiving the idea of Prime.

“Mark did a lot of catering for big hotels like The Anatole and The Hyatt, and designed their sushi bars.” Lincoln said. “I met him when he was catering for me in my Bubble Bar, which is my private event space in Uptown. His sushi was art.”

After meeting him, Lincoln spent time studying Tungcmittrong’s craft.  

“He and his family have their own small businesses,” Lincoln said. “One’s called Bamboo and one’s called Sushi Rock. I would sit at his bars many a nights and watched an unbelievable artist do great things with the best quality fish. I started him off by hiring him as a consultant, but was then able to pull him full time. Now his son’s taking over the family business.”

Sushi Chef Marc Tungcmittrong arranging his display at the sushi bar

 

With great skills and craft comes great responsibility. Although Lincoln holds her staff to a very high standard, she insists on treating them like family. She makes sure that her staff has a good work-life balance, that way, they can provide the best guest service.

“When my staff, or as I like to call them, my internal guests, are happy, I can rest assured that they will take care of the restaurant’s guests,” Lincoln said. “I believe that people in the service industry need to have harmony, which is why I’m closed on Sundays. By closing on Sundays, I can be sure that my team can leave here on Saturday knowing that they will be able to spend time with their families, and not have to worry about coming back to work until Monday.”

Having had an extensive history in the realm of upscale dining, Lincoln is not feeling any pressure stepping back into the game.

“I had a good run with Del Frisco’s, but I believe every era comes to an end,” Lincoln said. “I’m don’t see them as competition. My only competition is within myself and inside myself.”

Dee Lincoln Prime is currently open Monday through Saturday from 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.