Archive for June, 2012

Ristorante Nicola

Posted by    |    June 28th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

A new chef at a many-times-seen-but-not-often-visited spot attracted my cohort, Oh Hey Dallas, and I ventured into what promised to be a new, more Italian-centric, chef-driven Ristorante Nicola.

The space is much larger than expected with a gigantic bar and waiting area complete with gold tree stumps (because who doesn’t love a gilded tree trunk?).  I was escorted to a comically large booth for two people to meet my friend.  I was immediately greeted by Sam, who was perhaps one of the most attentive waiters I’ve met in quite a while.  Later in the meal I was informed that I was sitting squarely in the seat that George W. Bush once sat for dinner once — made my freakin’ evening.

My first drink was the Zenzero Allergria that started off my meal well with GG Le Poire vodka, ginger liqueur, and lemon juice.  The simplicity of the three ingredients made the drink refreshing (which is necessary in this ridiculous weather) and somehow complex.  Since I’m a huge fan of Le Poire, I loved this drink and would definitely order it again at a happy hour to help me forget about a long day at the office.

My second martini (which I enjoyed with the salad and pasta courses) was the classic Nicola Martini, made with vodka, St. Germain, and, again, lemon.  This drink was quite similar to a lychee martini and not terribly different from the Zenzero, so perhaps go with the previously described drink over this one.  One note about the pasta: I hate (read: hate) gnocchi and I LOVED the gnocchi served to us — it was very obviously homemade and was almost like small pillows of potato deliciousness.  I made a point to take home the leftovers.

My third and favorite drink of the evening (coincidence?) accompanied the entree course of lamb (more, please) and scallops.  Speaking of scallops, all of Chef Justin’s food items are either local, made in-house, or shipped overnight from the coasts (the fish, that is), and the freshness of the food is noticeable.  The scallops were so meaty and firm that they couldn’t have been out of the water for more than 36 hours.

Now, back to the deliciousness of the third drink, the Honey Manhattan.  Made with Jack Daniels Honey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters, it’s a drink for the more stout drinkers out there.  Unless you’re prepared to deal with this drink’s side effects, don’t join the party.  I had to stay up an extra hour to make sure I’d had enough water to mitigate any future hangover symptoms.

Restaurante Nicola is a sophisticated place to grab a drink after work or with a friend or two.  The entire wait staff is attentive, Food is available in the bar area (which is always a plus).  Snack on some of the Italian-inspired deliciousness during happy hour (specials below) at a reduced price.  Oh, and don’t forget to give your compliments to the chef!

Ristorante Nicola
Ste 150, 8111 Preston Road  Dallas, TX 75225
(214) 379-1111

Specials:
Monday-Friday | 4-7 p.m. | Reduced priced appetizers, $5 wells, $7 wine, martinis, and specialty drinks

Craft Cocktails of Texas

Posted by    |    June 7th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Have you heard?  The bartenders are coming!  One (shot) if by land and two (shots) … just because.  Join some of the most revered (see what I did there?) cocktail concontion-ists from all over our fair state for Craft Cocktail Texas.  

Events June 14-17 will show you how to throw a killer cocktail party, teach you the intricacies of bitters, and everything in between.  Local barkeeps like Eddie “Lucky” Campbell and Rocco Milano will join forces with other cocktail educators from Houston, Austin, and San Antonio to bring us lucky locals some serious pointers, demonstrations, and tastings.  A full pass will even get you into a pool party with your favorite bar(wo)men … talk about adding a splash!

To make things more fun, join thirty bartenders on Saturday in Main Street Gardens for a cocktail mix-off.  The bartenders in the competition will be serving samples of their craft cocktails, but if you want to really wet your whistle, the barkeeps from The Usual in Fort Worth will be opening a pop-up bar to serve everyone deliciousness (believe it).  If you’re worried about being in the Texas sun with nothin’ but a tent and some booze, fear not, food trucks will be serving up hot (err… cold) deliciousness to keep your tummy happy (happier?).

See a full schedule of the Craft Cocktail Texas classes and festivities here: http://www.craftcocktailstx.com/schedule.php
“Like” them on Facebook for updates and news: https://www.facebook.com/craftcocktailstx

As if the mere idea of having a weekend chock full of bar learnin’ wasn’t enough, the wonderful people over at Craft Cocktails Texas have been nice enough to offer up to my fans TWO sets of TWO tickets to TWO events for next weekend’s boozy festivities, the VIP kick-off party at the Stoneleigh and the USBG Competition and Festival.

TO ENTER, by noon on Tuesday, June 12 (my birthday!):
- Tweet me (@drinkdallas) and include a mention of @CCTXDallas — make sure you say which event you want tickets to (one tweet per event, please)
- Write on my Facebook wall and mention the event you’d like to go to
- Comment on this post and tell me which event you’d like to attend.

The winners will be chosen randomly, so don’t worry about putting a bunch of effort into your entry (though I’ll still read it so feel free).  Two entries per person per platform will count.  I will be giving two pairs of tickets to each the kick-off party ($300 value per pair) and the USBG Competition ($80 value per pair).