Tag Archive | Dallas Restaurants

The Grape

Dallas, TX

One of my favorite all time “go-to” restaurants is The Grape. Located on lower Greenville in Dallas, this restaurant was opened in 1972 and my husband and I have been patrons since the early 1980s. We have seen several chefs come and go  – but the service and food has remained impeccable throughout these past thirty years.

The Grape is a little difficult for me to describe. It is a great place to take the family for a weekend brunch. It can be the perfect spot for a romantic dinner and a couple’s night out. It also fits the bill when dining with friends before a play or event in downtown Dallas. The cozy interior dining area is very charming and can take on a romantic vibe without feeling stodgy. The covered patio is perfect for brunch or a more casual happy hour visit.

The menu changes monthly, though some of the long-time featured items remain. Food selections range from European bistro, to New American innovative, to down-home style. A couple of their signature specialties are the Mushroom Soup (the best ever!) and the Brunch Burger (voted one of the best in Dallas).  The Cheese & Charcuterie boards are always unique and tasty. Their featured fish dishes have been some of the best I have ever had. The various steaks, Shrimp & Grits, Portabella Wellington, and Coal Miner’s Pasta are just a few of the “stand-out” dishes that I can remember. For those with smaller appetites, you may order small (or half) portions of many salads and entrees on the dinner menu. The wine selections and cocktail lists are always impressive.

On our last visit to The Grape with friends, I had a Pear Prosecco cocktail – which was a great start to a wonderful meal. I then had a small cup of Mushroom soup, because it is just too hard to resist! Next came the Courtney Salad which is another one of my favorites – with fresh butter lettuce, sunflower seeds, carrots, cherry tomatoes and blue cheese vinaigrette dressing (served with a warm bread basket and fresh butter). My entree choice was the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Lemon Parmesan Risotto and Broccoli Rabe. I then chose the Banana Fosters Bread Pudding for dessert.  Other members in my party had the Bacon Cheeseburgers, the Mustard-Crusted Salmon entree, and a Brandied Cherry & Dark Chocolate Terrine for dessert. Everything was flavorful and delicious! The wonderful ambiance, the great service, and the exceptional food and drink made for another perfect evening meal at The Grape.

The Grape’s Saturday and Sunday brunches are highly rated and offer more wonderful food options. I hope you get the opportunity to dine here in the near future for either brunch or dinner. Both menus are hard to beat. A final selling point – there is complimentary valet parking at the front door! 

All of this reminiscing about 30+ years of great meals at The Grape now has me ready for an encore. I hope to see you there!

Bon appetit!!

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Abacus

Dallas, Texas

I look forward to August every year because that means Dallas Restaurant Week is here! For a certain week(s) during August, many prime Dallas restaurants will offer a price-fix menu and give proceeds to the North Texas Food Bank. It is a great way to try new places and sample their menus (at a considerably lower cost) and it helps benefit a very worthy cause .

One of my restaurant choices this year was Abacus. I have heard about this high-end restaurant for years but never had the opportunity to dine there. Luckily I got reservations on a weekend evening and anxiously looked forward to our visit.

From the moment we stepped into the foyer, I was impressed. Two friendly hostesses greeted us and we were seated at a romantic table for two with a white tablecloth and napkin, candle, fresh flowers and a beautiful place setting. The noise level was energetic, but not too loud, as most of the sounds were coming from the open kitchen and bar area. Our waiter was very professional, friendly, and provided just the right amount of attention. I was very impressed with his knowledge of the menu and the wine list.

The restaurant’s ambiance is sophisticated and romantic. The upscale decor, music, lighting, and art all spell out “fine dining.”  There were many couples dining out this particular evening as well as large groups and a few families. It was perfect for a date night but not too stuffy for a business dinner or a nice dinner with friends or family. 

We began with a couple of the Abacus signature cocktails. The Lucy in the Sky was a fruity, champagne drink and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Gin Basil Gimlet was very tasty and refreshingly good. We were brought a nice bread basket with 3 choices of freshly baked breads and seasoned butter. All were delicious, especially the raisin & nut bread!

Our menu for Dallas Restaurant Week offered a choice of a small plate or appetizer, an entree and then a shared dessert. We opted for the Crispy Coconut Rock Shrimp and Texas Melon plate for our starters and both were great choices. The rock shrimp had a crispy tempura batter and was served with sliced jalapenos, toasted cashews and a mango and red curry sauce. The Texas Melon appetizer was a tasty as it was colorful. Chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon were arranged in a circle around shaved hearts of palm. It was topped with queso fresco, red onions and a cilantro and lime vinaigrette dressing. This was my favorite dish and the combination of colors, textures and tastes was sheer perfection. Delicious!

Next, our server brought over a complimentary Watermelon Mojito Mint Shooter to clean our palates between courses. It was served in a shot glass and tasted like watermelon juice with minty tapioca balls. Loved it!

We both ordered the Blackened Sockeye Salmon for our entree and it was cooked to perfection. The portion was quite large (2 fillets per plate) and the salmon was well-seasoned, but not overly seasoned, as I prefer for blackened dishes. Each entree was beautifully plated with the fish being served over blue corn grits and a red pepper butter sauce. Once again, the dish was visually appealing as well as being satisfying to our taste buds. Our server had suggested a perfect Merlot wine-pairing for this dish and it was spot-on. 

Dessert consisted of a shared plate with small servings of a chocolate and caramel torte, a scoop of chocolate chip mint ice cream and a fruit tartlett. Each one was enjoyable and ended up being a perfect end to a perfect meal.

We had a most pleasant dining experience this particular evening. I am always impressed when you get high quality food, top shelf spirits, innovative dishes, unique flair, and stellar customer service all at one time and in one place. Dining here is certainly not cheap but when all expectations are met, the cost seems justified. 

If you are interested in dining at Abacus, check out their diverse menu on-line. They have a wide variety of menu choices including fresh sushi, lobster shooters, buffalo tenderloin, and black truffle risotto. Monday through Thursday evenings they offer a 5 or 8 course Chef’s Tasting Menu with or without wine pairings. I hope you get to check it out!

Abacus is located in the Knox-Henderson area on McKinney Avenue. Complimentary valet parking is conveniently located out in front of the the restaurant.

Sixty Vines

Plano, Texas

I had the opportunity to dine here for a friend’s birthday brunch and we had an amazing time and a delicious meal. How had I not heard about this wonderful place? Sixty Vines is located in Plano off the tollway next to Whiskey Cake. I would describe it as a “casual American / Italian kitchen meets wine bar meets Farm-to-Market.” Now that I have you totally confused, I will try to describe it more accurately!

When I first walked in, I noticed how welcoming the interior was. There are high ceilings, many windows and lots of greenery. It is very spacious, clean and modern and I would describe it as “fun, vibrant and chic”. The entire place (and menu) remind me of  the Northern California wine country and that local cuisine. The decor works perfectly with the wines and style of food they serve. The kitchen, wood-fired oven, and charcuterie bar are all open-viewing.

The centerpiece of Sixty Vines for me was the entire back wall. There is a huge line drawing (made with one line!) depicting the farmers, the grapes, wine making, farm animals, etc. The more you look at it, the more items you see. Underneath the drawing are 60 spigots – each labeled with the 40 wines and 20 beers they serve on tap…hence the name “Sixty Vines.” The slogan on their wine menu is “C’mon, get tappy!” 🙂

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There is quite a variety of seating options. Choose from communal tables, high tops, secluded sectionals, greenhouse, patio, bar or the charcuterie bar to dine in or out. I can imagine dining here on a date, for a business dinner, for a family meal or with a group of ladies enjoying brunch – like we did. I would like to note here, the food is a little “adventurous” and maybe not for the picky eater (leave them home this time)!

My group of ladies started our meal off with Mimosas and Bloody Marys – both were made with wine and tasted quite delicious and refreshing. We enjoyed the Wood Fired Cauliflower, an entire head with pesto, parmesan and a lemon dill yogurt dipping sauce…yum! We had the Roasted Beet Salad with gorgeous red, pink, and golden beets. Next up was the Butcher’s Brunch Pizza with prosciutto, provolone, mozzarella, soppresseta, and over-easy eggs (one of my favorites this day). The Egg White Frittata with goat cheese, mushrooms and spinach was also enjoyable.

Next came the desserts – my favorite part of the meal! The Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes were AMAZING. Words cannot describe how fluffy and delicious they were. (There is no photo because we devoured them so quickly.) The Angel Food French Toast with fresh berries and whipped cream was light and sweet. The Texas Olive Oil Citrus Cake was our birthday girl’s choice and she seemed to enjoy it.  The Sweet Board was another favorite of mine. It had sea-salt shortbread cookies, chocolate ganache, pistachio cookies, brie, walnuts, pear butter, and matcha cake. There was not one bad dish our entire meal – everything, and I do mean “everything” – was eaten in its entirety!

I felt that I would do a disservice to Sixty Vines without trying some of their wine. I had watched other patrons tasting their wine flights and enjoying their wines by the glass, so I gave in finally and ordered a “Vine Hugger” (their house brand) rose’. The glass of rose’ was served at the perfect temperature and was crisp and delicious. I plan to return soon for dinner and give some of those other wines a try. (Only 39 left to sample!)

From beginning to end, we had a wonderful experience at Sixty Vines. The service was very attentive. The quality of the food was perfect. The food selections were plentiful. The ambiance was most enjoyable.

Anyone up for a night out? I know just the place!

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Fun birthday brunch!!!

Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill

Dallas, TX

This restaurant is one of Dallas’ best kept secrets. It is located in a commercial strip mall next to a Jason’s Deli and you would never guess from the outside what a little jewel this is on the inside.

You walk in the front door into a “chophouse” setting – well-lit bar, dark woods, cozy booths and tables, and low lighting. It is a classy, warm, and relaxed atmosphere. Kenny’s offers a very nice setting without being the least bit stuffy.

There are three things that make Kenny’s one of my favorite places to dine. Number one: when you make reservations, your server promptly addresses you by name…”How are the Brysons this evening?” I was impressed! Number two: you can order anything on the menu in any amount. You want to try just two coconut shrimp appetizers instead of six? You may.  Do you care for only one grilled oyster to taste? Just ask. I love this idea! Number three: When you are halfway through drinking your martini, your waiter comes by and pours the remainder of your drink into a new ice cold glass. Are you impressed yet?

We have dined at Kenny’s for both brunch and dinner and both are equally good. Our very first visit was for dinner. After our waiter discovered that this was our first time to dine at Kenny’s, he brought us two artichoke wontons, two coconut shrimp, and two tenderloin crostini as free appetizers. What a great way to get a customer hooked! Next we were served their fresh popovers with butter. These big warm rolls are certainly not the most attractive things but they are light, airy and delicious. Ask for two!

There have not been any dishes that we did not enjoy at Kenny’s. The Grand Marnier French Toast and Eggs Benedict were both delicious brunch dishes. The Eggs Benedict entree is served with either salmon, steak or a crab cake. For dinner, the French Onion Soup and Wedge Salads were both very good choices for appetizers. The Wood Grilled Oysters were fantastic – smoky and well-seasoned. The Pork Ribs were PERFECT – meaty and fork-tender with a great BBQ sauce. We are not usually huge meat fans, but the large pork chops and thick steaks being served all around us looked quite appetizing. The Brussels Sprouts and Bubbies Potato Cakes were great sides.

This is one of those restaurants that keeps you coming back. The impeccable service, the great food, and the friendly and attentive servers make for a perfect combination. Check it out!

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Toulouse Cafe & Bar

Dallas, Texas

If you are anything like me, when you hear the words “French restaurant”…..it conjures up thoughts of snooty waiters, expensive wines, and icky snails floating in a butter sauce. That is what I always thought until I found Toulouse Cafe and Bar in Dallas. Luckily, after dining here I have a whole new appreciation for French cuisine.

Toulouse is a French bistro located in the trendy Knox-Henderson shopping area. There is convenient valet parking located right across the street from the restaurant. Once you enter the main doors, you can choose to sit in the covered patio area or inside in the casual dining room. The patio area is all draped with bright red fabric and was very quiet and relaxing – that is where we chose to dine on this particular evening. The cane-back chairs, the black & white floor tiles, the small table candles and the patrons with their dogs table-side all enhanced the feeling of dining in a cafe in Paris.

Service was really attentive and we felt like we were well taken care of this entire evening. We started with a couple of  featured cocktails – a Chanel No. 6 Champagne Cocktail and a Mint/Cucumber Gimlet. Both were very nice and quite refreshing. We ordered the Cheese Board as an appetizer and it was exceptional. There were four types of imported artisan cheeses, fresh honeycomb, fruit, prunes, candied walnuts and grilled baguette slices. We followed up with French Onion Soup which was one of the best I have ever had. The Gruyère cheese was thick and lightly toasted and the overall taste was delicious – good to the last drop. 🙂

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Short Rib Bourguignon with noodles

We were almost too full to eat more at this point, but decided to keep going….the food was just too good not to! My husband ordered the fish special which was an Alaskan Halibut with Beet Risotto and Brussels Sprouts. The fish was very nice and cooked to perfection. I ordered the Short Rib Bourguignon which was absolutely “mouthwatering” delicious. I am not a huge fan of meat and I honestly ordered this dish for the carrots, onions, mushrooms and wide butter noodles. I was really surprised; the ribs were red wine braised and cooked for hours until fork tender – great taste and great texture. I ate what I could and had the remainder for a really fancy lunch the next day!  

Though being completely full and satisfied at this point in the meal, we had souffles served to us. We had ordered souffles for dessert at the beginning of our meal since they take some time to cook. Who cannot make room for dessert….right?!  The Chocolate Souffle and the Grand Marnier Souffle were both extremely light in texture and in taste, the perfect finale to this excellent meal.

Overall we had a most enjoyable evening with good service, delicious food and drinks, and a nice ambiance. If you would like to dine at Toulouse, they are located at 3314 Knox in Dallas, just a couple of blocks west of Central Expressway. This is a great place for a date night – casual but very nice. Bon Appétit!

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What have you got “to lose?” Get it?!

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions about this post. I would love to hear of your experiences if you have dined at Toulouse. Also, please subscribe to my blog if you enjoy reading about my dining and travel experiences. I appreciate it!