Friday, July 29, 2005

Plano: Starbucks & more

Dallas suburb Plano is not the upscale shopping mecca it wanna be. It may have Central Market, but it also has a ton of $1 stores and other cheezebag signifiers ... another way of saying there aren't nearly as many Starbucks as you’d want: a mere five (the crappy outlets located in smkts and Targets don’t count). But the coffee chain's expanding N, and that includes a new Starbucks on 15th & Custer. (alas, still in boring/predictable west plano; maybe one’ll come to the eastside soon?)
In eastside news: 3 new mom-and-pop restaurants in the historical downtown (where they’re building lotsa hipster urban loft thingies):
1. Feels Like Home. 1410 K Ave. #1109B, 214-578-1500. Philly-style cheesesteaks.
2. Vito Bistro. 1410 K Ave. #1109, 214-473-8046. Affordable white-tablecloth Italian. They have branches in FW and NY (where they’re from).
3. Macatrello’s. 1112 E.15th St., 972-312-1940. Petite deli does burgers, chicken, salads.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Xocolatl Room

Those who can never get enough chocolate will heart the imminent transformation of Dallas Chocolates, the Uptown chocolatier founded by Zel Nealy. She’s expanding from choc-making to a choc-themed café called the Xocolatl Room, where everything on the menu will have a touch of chocolate: choc drinks, choc desserts, but also choc-laced items for breakfast and lunch. (It’ll stay open at night, but just drinks & desserts.) Xocolatl will have a soft opening on Aug 1, followed by, what, a hard opening? in September.

2817 Howell st. 214-559-7277

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BK chick fries

say, how bout some chicken-like extrusions

Here’s what you get when portability is your priority: BK Chicken Fries, which Burger King actually has the balls to call "innovative." As if extruding chicken into a French fry shape is innovative. The chick sticks are coated in a "zesty, seasoned batter" and served in a cup that fits into your car cup-holder, w/ a well on the side for sauce (buffalo, BBQ, honey-must, sweet&sour, ranch). BK was already doing chick tenders, so this is just a mktg campaign to get young males on board (which is why the ads star a stupid fake band named Coq Roq – can you believe? on TV?) They're $1.69 / 6 or $2.69 / 9, but keep in mind that all this ultra-cheap chicken ain't cheap if you consider factory farms, the pathetic chicks themselves, the air/water pollution, etc. Somebody pays down the road.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tijuana Bar & Grill

Given the name, Tijuana Bar & Grill might sound like your basic restaurant-bar; the help-wanted ads, however, describe it as "one of the city’s newest and most innovative hospitality concepts." So there. Maybe the "hospitality concept" part comes from the fact that owner Dante Picazo has experience not just in restaurants but also casinos? Anyhoo, it opened Tues Jul 19, w/ a multi-Latin menu (Cuban sandwiches, tortas, "Latino tacos" described as having barbacoa beef) and modern decor; but equally interesting is the location at McKinney / Monticello in the site formerly occupied by the doomed Vino & Basso, and before that, the odiferous Toscana.

4900 McKinney Ave., 214-443-9293, no website yet

Monday, July 25, 2005

BM on ciabatta bandwagon*

Why looky here: new samwiches from a (semi) fast-food chain, served on ciabatta bread. OH, must be Jack in the Box, since they’re the ones who originated the idea of using this oddly-named bread many people had never heard of. But no, it ain’t JITB; it’s copycatter Boston Market, who just introduced a line of carvers (how friggin pretentious - ya suppose they mean SANDWICH?) being served on CIABATTA rolls. Wow, what a clever idea. The meats include such JITB favorites as turkey and ham. BM (snicker) bites anyway, in many ways, including its use of thick to-go packaging that’s really bad for the environment.

*call it petty if you like but i can't even be bothered to put a link to the company's website

Friday, July 22, 2005

Eat the World*

Eat the World, a Lake Highlands drop-in, has a cool back-story. It’s owned by Toby O’Brien, a mad-genius visionary who was behind Yegua Creek, a well appointed brewpub on Henderson. (This wuz in the ‘90s - LONG before Hibiscus, Hector's, etc.) After Yegua closed, customers begged him to keep doing the fried turkeys he sold on holidays. He couldn’t do it at home so he opened Eat the World, a little to-go spot on NW Hwy. Now, 5 yrs later, he’s upgraded to this expanded space. Along w/ take-home casseroles for which he’s become known, he does salads, sammies, ice cream, espresso. In an ex-convenience store, ETW has refrig cases but also couches, antiqued walls, and stained-concrete floors. Every other Wed, he hosts a $10 "wine exchange" where he puts out snax and you bring a bottle of the wine-o-the-nite. And on Weds & Fridays, Paul Cascio, of Al’s fame, comes in and makes Italian sausage, which for many people is a very big deal.

9850 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, 214-340-3663

*props to BK

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Boots and Brix lunch buffet*

Boots and Brix, which needs a new name, is a hotel restaurant (in the lobby of the Richardson Hotel). Recently renovated, cheffed by Brian Dietz (formerly of Oceanaire Seafood), and hot to seduce the locals, it has a new lunch buffet that’s a steal. The salad/soup is $8.99 and gets you stuff like tomato-mozz, chick salad, artichokes, pasta, grilled vegs, deli meats, olives, blue cheez chunks, grape tomatoes. For $13.99 you also get entrees like rotiss chicken, blackened tilapia, and pork loin, w cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed vegs.

*Unusual blog item alert: no links, not "breaking," neither sweet nor caffeinated

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Terra Sweets & Beets

Beets get the respect they deserve w/ Terra Sweets & Beets, a salty-snack deal from Terra Chips that combines its already-popular sweet potato chips with beets. Unlike Terra’s other root veg chips, these are crinkle-cut, which usually adds a buttressing element; maybe beets are too fragile to endure being cut into regular smooth chips. They're purply-red and, since beets are the sweetest of the root vegs, so are the chips. Terra is part of Hain Celestial which owns about half the brand names sold in WF, from Celestial Seasonings to Garden of Eatin' to Arrowhead Mills to Health Valley to WestSoy to Imagine Foods (maker of Soy Dream and Rice Dream) etc etc.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Brooklyn's Pizzeria

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria is a relatively young chain w/ four branches, all far N of LBJ (Plano is the newest), but they do all the right things: make everything from scratch, incl. their pizza dough which they hand-toss, use whole milk mozzarella which they shred daily, etc etc. the family that owns it is in fact from Brooklyn, so this is old-school pizza; no arugula or upscale-type toppings, it’s not that kind of place. They also do calzones, stromboli, pepperoni rolls, lasagna w/ house-made pasta, and so on.

1314 W. McDermott Dr., Allen 972-359-1144
4900 ElDorado Parkway, McKinney 972-540-5561
5729 Lebanon Rd., Frisco 972-377-4410
4637 Hedgcoxe Rd., Plano 214-705-0777

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ruggeri's: antique-ing it

Ruggeri’s, an old-school Italian restaurant, was last seen in Dallas at the Quadrangle (in the space previously occupied by Mediterraneo, which is now a classy Ital mom&pop called Riccardi’s). Well, hi, there are two new mini-Ruggeri’s, both in sibling antique malls. The first opened last wk at Vineyard Antique Mall in Colleyville; the second opens next wk at Vineyards Antique Mall in Plano (which has been open about 6 mths at the NE corner of Preston & Park). Though still ID’d as Italian, the menu for the Colleyville location has your typical antique-mall food: salads, chick-sal samwiches, quiche, w/ the only "Italian" item being spumoni.

4701 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville 817-849-1330
4817 W. Park Blvd., Plano 214 473 8300

Friday, July 15, 2005

Haagen Dazs banana split

equal time for HD

Summer's the time for banana splits and limited edition ice cream flavors and every day is a new day. which is a roundabout way of saying, pls ignore the fact that yesterday's item was also on a ltd-ed ice cream and banish all thought that today's item could thus seem repetitive. Haagen-Dazs claims this limited edition banana split ice cream is available jan- oct. but i just saw it at super-T so let's go w/ "it's new". banana split as an ice cream flavor has "historically" been a low-end/ generic thing. but w/ ice cream becoming a corporate conglomerate clusterF and everyone having to offer the same 5 flavors, there is now a higher-end version. HD's has banana ice cream, "whipped cream" (?) ice cream, choc fudge, and pieces of "real" strawberries and cherries. vs the fake ones.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blue Bell peanut butter & jelly*

Despite its lame claims of being The Best ... despite the proliferating number of clueless states it's currently impressing (FL, TN, all the states in the SOUTH who have no history w/ ice cream) ... Blue Bell’s ice cream sucks. (While we're at it, the company itself is kinda weird & ferrety but: onward and upward.) They never quite get it right: milquetoast flavor profile and boring flavor selection (uh, milk chocolate?) w/ ultra-cheap ingredients for which they nonetheless charge $5.49. Anyway, they just released a new flavor, peanut butter and jelly. It's vanilla ice cream (see, how stupid is that, to have the base be vanilla) w/ peanuts and swirls of pb & grape jelly.

*this news brought to NYCE by the plano guy

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Goldfish Sandwich Snackers

make mine a tuna on wheat

Big Goldfish, little Goldfish, flavored Goldfish, even colored Goldfish; at some point, Goldfish crackers became their own food category. New: Goldfish sandwiches – two crackers w/ filling, in three flavors: original w/cheese, original w/peanut butter, and cheddar w/peanut butter. Sortof like those square orange things they’ve been selling in vending machines forever. And boy, if you wanna see who Pepperidge Farm thinks the Goldfish audience is, just visit the frigging website (click on the title of this posting); it’s all bizzy graphics and video games and contests.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Moe's Southwest Grill

A week isn’t complete w/out news of another restaurant chain bringing more conveyor-belt vittles. This one’s Moe’s Southwest Grill, an Atlanta outfit specializing in "fresh-Mex" – basically burritos & stuff - but w/ fresh, from-scratch ingredients (none o that pre-cooked chicken chunkola), vegetarian items, and tofu (following the lede of Pei Wei). The first local outposts are in Plano and Irving, 2B followed by Dallas, Austin, & Lubbock. Raving Brands, the parent co., is a franchise whiz whose other Concepts include Mama Fu’s Asian, Planet Smoothie, PJ’s Coffee, Shane’s Rib Shack, Doc Green’s Gourmet Salads, & Boneheads Seafood. Sheesh any cuisine not covered there?

4700 w. park blvd. (at preston, of course), plano. 469-241-0393
6550 N. MacArthur Boulevard (at royal), irving. 972-444-0474

Monday, July 11, 2005

Green Tea Frappuccino®

Starbucks keeps rollin 'em out, altho this item isn't new if you live in australia or korea (and supposedly taiwan and malaysia and china and japan, too): Green Tea Frappuccino®. it isn't a coffee beverage, it's one of their milkshaky icy drinks w/ ice, milk, and flavoring -- in this case green tea powder and a couplo shots of what appeared to be melon-flavored syrup. It's refreshing, tho not as creamy as green tea ice cream. Green tea keeps getting more and more popular, suppose it'll get more popular now that it's a Starbucks thing? in any case, it's cool that a product that started abroad is coming here rather than the other way around. It'll be available starting Wed july 13.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Extreme Pita

From the land that brought us Eugene Levy and the song O Canada comes Extreme Pita, a new chain that wants to do for pita bread what Chipotle is doing w/ tortillas. But why not cut Extreme Pita some slack; it’s entirely possible that its healthful (their word, not mine) pita sandwiches will be less despicable than the trough mentality at Chipotle. Started by two brothers, Extreme is bucking typical franchise wisdom by leapfrogging all the way down here to TX (also: CA, AZ, and new England); the first branch is on Belt Line but you know there’ll be more. Oh, the food: There are pita sandwiches (lotsa chicken), pita pizzas, and salads, and supposedly a viable selection of vegetarian items. Is the word "extreme" still viable, too?

5290 Belt Line Rd Ste#103, 972-980-0432

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Snow Monkey

Shaved ice rules. (One of the cool things about it is that it’s uniquely popular around here, vs., say, the northeast, where it’s not popular at all.) The problem w/ shaved ice is that a lot of vendors are seasonal. Some are kiosks in parking lots that sprout and wither unpredictably. Snow Monkey is a year-round place that just opened in Plano, on parker by alma, in what usedta be a place called Drink Express. Snow Monkey hopes to extend its season by offering items other than shaved ice including sandwiches, smoothies, and ice cream. Altho shaved ice is perfectly good right through winter.

909 w. parker rd. 469 467 3377

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Jell-O Oreo instant pudding mix

now in pudding form too

Does Oreo instant pudding mix seem new? Not really. Oreo is, after all, everywhere, permeating every category known to man (food and otherwise). And there's already an Oreo pudding, tho pre-made pudding cups (some in limited editions). Oreo pudding ain't exactly hard to make; funky homemade recipes have been floating around for years. Whatsit take to crumble Oreos into vanilla pudding? But people like their convenience items and oreo, which itself has undergone some expansionism, continues to have mystique that goes beyond its role as a mere cookie. So Oreo pudding, there it is.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Happy 4th - see ya Wednesday

Friday, July 01, 2005

Dunn Bros Coffee

coffee week day 5. sob. it was fun while it lasted

While they’re no Starbucks (and who is), Dunn Bros Coffee is another chain that sells espresso drinks. They’re smaller (about 50 branches), based in Minneapolis, and roast their beans onsite. They tout their Little Guy status ("we do not use a cookie cutter approach," they say), but hope to add another 30 stores in '05. They have outlets in KS, MO, SD, TN, WI, and Addison,TX w/ a store TK in Frisco and an eye on Dallas. (The company prez was quoted as saying that finding a good location has been the major obstacle to expansion in DFW, which he views as ripe since no chains other than you-know-who have opened here).

3725 Belt Line Rd., Addison 972-406-9711
coming soon: 3685 Preston Rd. #101, Frisco