Tasting notes


Unless you’re a Walloon, you probably don’t know that July 21 is Belgian Independence Day. Why is that important? Because Meddlesome Moth marks the occasion by designating July 18–22 Belgian Beer Week at the Design District gastropub. Each day will feature a different tapping of unique or interesting beers (from pale ales to sours), as well as a daily flight of five beers ($20) from the same family of brewers: The Duvel Single, and the Ommegang Rosetta (a brand new fruit-flavored powerhouse), and a trio of consecutive vintage quadrupel ales from 3 Philosophers ( 2011, ’12 and ’13).

Fans of the now-departed Stephan Pyles restaurant may be lamenting that while his new Flora Street Cafe continues to serve the signature blue corn muffins, other favorites from the old menu are not available there. True enough. But his other Uptown eatery, Stampede 66, is picking up some of the slack. Four of the most beloved dishes are migrating to the menu there, including the famous bone-in “Cowboy Ribeye,” pictured; the tamale tart with peekytoe crab; the Southwestern Caesar salad; and the Heaven & Hell cake. All are now available on the dinner menu.

Steel, the gayborhood sushi spot, has added new summer lunch items to its menu, including crispy rock shrimp, Thai crunch salad, Vietnamese buns and pad Thai. Lunch is served Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Uptown has a brand-new eatery: Next Door at 2908 McKinney Ave. is a chef-driven restaurant and bar overlooking the neighborhood from its second-floor patio. We’ll share a sneak-peek of chef Paul Niekrasz’s menu soon.

The Southern California-based fast-casual chain El Pollo Loco has about 400 locations — none of them in North Texas… yet. That’ll change next month with two locations opening in the Mid-Cities, followed by “five to seven more” by the end of the year, including in Dallas proper. The chain is known for its grilled bone-in chicken served whole, in burritos, tacos and bowls. But the chunky guacamole is the draw for me.

DFW Restaurant Week — when more than 100 local restaurants offer fixed-price menus ($35 or $45), with a portion of proceeds benefiting the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope — runs from Aug. 15–21 (though some places extend by a week or two). But reservation day is July 18, so get ready to line up on Monday to book your favorite, or the most popular, restaurants on the list.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 15, 2016.

—  Craig Tuggle

First look: Stephan Pyles Flora Street Cafe

StephanPylesFloraAlthough Stephan Pyles hasn’t had a restaurant on The Strip since his game-changing Star Canyon, the superstar chef got his start in the gayborhood 40 years ago when he started working at the now-shuttered The Bronx. Since then, he’s become one of the acknowledged masters of high-end cuisine (the James Beard Foundation even created a Southwestern category for its awards due to his pioneering work).

Last month, he officially closed his namesake Downtown restaurant — because it was time. “I don’t miss it one bit,” he tells me. “It was time.”

But he didn’t have to go far to feel creatively revitalized. Already, he has emerged a few blocks away with a whole-new concept … of sorts.

Stephan Pyles Flora Street Cafe, across from the Meyerson Symphony Center, takes its name and inspiration from his Routh Street Cafe, which was launched in 1983 as his first solo venture. Old-school fans still remember its appeal, which included classical music wafting on the airwaves. Flora Street pipes in a combination of classical and ’80s trash rock as a kind of tribute to its roots in the 1980s.

The menu takes a few cues from past Pyles concepts as well (including the deliriously dextrous blue corn muffins), but it’s so far-reaching and ambitious as to seem like nothing we have seen before. Pyles is famous for traveling the world extensively, incorporating new techniques, ingredients and flavor profiles into his culinary creations. The menu descriptions read more like poetry than components. “Poblano infladito, black bean mousse, Tennessee wild paddlefish caviar” could be a new form: haikuisine.

He divides the offering into raw bar, starters, mains and a chef’s tasting, but even the desserts sound like a seduction of sweets. Equally beautiful are the platings of dishes and the space itself, whose 70 seats are bathed in soft natural light. All the details promise to make Flora Street Cafe the most talked-about restaurant of the summer.

2330 Flora St. FloraStreet.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: The Modern Star Canyon Margarita

StarCanBack in the 1990s, Stephan Pyles’ gayborhood eatery, Star Canyon, was just about the hottest restaurant in the Southwest. And of course, they serves a margarita.

Well, Pyles now has several restaurants, including Stampede 66, where he serves a new frozen concoction called The Modern Star Canyon Margarita. Made tableside, this signature potable is as beautiful as you’d expect from Pyles. Because it includes a dose of liquid nitrogen, it’s perhaps not the easier cocktail to make at home. We don’t care. They shared with us the recipe, so here it is… and if you can’t make it yourself, well, that’s what reservations are for.

2 oz. Hornitos Silver tequila

1 oz. Patron Citronage

4 oz. prickly pear puree

4 oz. sweet and sour

Lime foam

Candied jalapenos

Making it: In a mixing bowl, combine tequilas, sour mix and puree. Using caution, incorporate liquid nitrogen into the mix until frozen. Be careful not to the the nitrogen with skin!) Once the mixture is frozen, scoop it into a margarita glass and level out. Top the frozen mixture with lime foam and jalapeno. Enjoy with a straw or spoon.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: Garth Brooks Edition

ManInTheHatGarth Brooks is one of our favorites, so we’re excited he’s in town this weekend for two concerts at the American Airlines Center. Well, we aren’t the only ones. The Texas-themed (and gay owned!) Stampede 66 by Stephan Pyles is happy to have Garth around for a few days, and so came up with this recipe for a cocktail they call The Man In The Hat. Yee-haw!

1.5 oz. High West Double Rye

.5 oz. Pimm’s

.5 oz. Cocchi Vermouth

.5 oz. Texas Honey

2 dashes Fee’s Orange Bitters

Making it: Shake ingredients together and pour over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with orange peel.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay travel journos tour Dallas, eat too much and have too much fun

IMG_1588For a number of years, gay journalists from around the world (and the U.S.) have descended on North Texas to get a taste for what it’s like to live in, and visit, Dallas as a gay person. Ya know, if you don’t live here, you can imagine outsiders might think “Red State haters” and “George W. Bush’s hometown” more than “largest DIFFA fundraiser, Black Tie Dinner and gay church in the world,” so we need to welcome them and put on our best Stetson and tallest stilettos to show them what it’s like. (We expect they will write copious positive reviews of their experience to share with their audiences.) And based on my poll, mission accomplished.

Seven journos braved the trip that exposed them to life here. Paul (from Holland, second from left), returns to Dallas after having been here last five years ago. Fellow Amsterdam resident Edwin (center) remarked that he could move here permanently, given the chance.

It’s interesting how others see our city, as well. All were impressed by the “ample” parking (are they crazy?) and some were agog that the line dancers at the Round-Up Saloon could actually “click” their boots when they stomped around the dance floor. They also seemed to enjoy the ample food, which is always a huge part of press tours. They got to dine at Stephan Pyles’ Stampede 66, Henry’s Majestic, Dish and Meso Maya; and took cocktail classes at Cook Hall and with Leann Berry at Komali. That was just the start: They got massages at Green Lotus Spa; they took excursions to NorthPark Center, the Arts District, Oak Cliff and Klyde Warren Park; ventured to the museums and even took in Gaybingo on Saturday night, in addition to exploring the gayborhood and its nightlife.

It only took three days to do all this, and lots more; Steven Lindsey — himself a travel journalist (and frequent Dallas Voice contributor) — organizing a full but not overwhelming experience for them. So keep an eye out for stories appearing in Curve, The Out Traveler, Man About World and other gay pubs around the world in the coming months.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: Chef Matt McCallister to open second Dallas restaurant, Filament

Matt McCallister

Matt McCallister

Matt McCallister — the former protege of Stephan Pyles who gained national fame after opening his Design District restaurant FT33 — has finally announced his sophomore effort. Filament will open “in spring 2015,” according to a release, in the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Focusing on simple Southern ingredients — “items that I eat on my own time,” McCallister says — it will be approachable, but with surprises. We’re used to surprises from him, and this is a happy one.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A few people we think of when we think 2014

BWDP_Bruce profile-1

Bruce Wood

Tomorrow’s edition of Dallas Voice reveals our annual choice for LGBT Texan of the Year. I won’t spoil who we chose, but in going over the year in my mind, some names stuck out — they were on my mind during 2014 a lot, for a variety of reasons. For instance, Bruce Wood — a friend and also one of the most frighteningly talented artists Texas has ever seen (I swear that’s not an exaggeration) — passed away, far too soon, at age 53 this past May. We did a cover story about Bruce the following week, cause he touched so many lives.

The community also reacted strongly to the passing of Chris Miklos, a muscleman popular in the bear community, but also a medical researcher who did a lot of good for people. Just a few weeks ago, I was stunned and saddened by the death, at age 31, of Brandon James Singleton, an actor, dancer and funny, skilled writer (he contributed a terrific series to Dallas Voice in 2012 about turning 30). Just as recently, two community leaders — Paul Lewis, a former executive with Caven and Steve Bratka, a huge fundraiser for the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats — passed away.

Wed Steve Dan

Noviello and Bedner

Not everyone who resonated died, of course. Mark Pharris and Victor Holmes of Plano won a marriage equality against the state of Texas — bully for them! And bully, too, for Jack Evans and George Harris, who finally tied the knot last March after more than decades as a couple (though not legally binding, their retired pastor wanted to make a statement to the Methodist Church). TV personality Steve Noviello did enter wedded bliss — legally — to his partner Doug Bedner in New York. Matt Miller brought the Gay World Series of Softball back to Dallas, and we were all glad to see thousands of athletes out at the clubs. And Stephan Pyles got more recognition for his cuisine for his new restaurant, San Salvaje. We were also pleased as punch when our favorite radio commentator, Rawlins Gilliland, did his first live spoken word show … and it was such a hit, he did several more.

There were some important allies who we cheered on, as well, from failed gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and lieutenant governor hopeful Leticia Van de Putte. Local chef John Tesar caused such a stir in the foodie community, we were happy he was on our side as a gay-friendly restaurateur. And Dale Hansen raised the bar high early on with his full-throated advocacy for gays in sports.

Think we left off someone important? Possibly — feel free to weigh in with comments. Then again, maybe they are in tomorrow’s paper — or even on the cover! Check it out Friday!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A foodie weekend (with pictures!)

Dallas’ social season really gets rolling in the fall, with tons on foodie events especially ramping up already. Burgers & Burgundy is this Friday, followed soon by Chefs for Farmers, the Caesar Salad Competition, the Beaujolais Festival and more. Heck, if you add in all the fried foods at the State Fair, it’s virtually nonstop.

But it all got moving this weekend especially, starting with the James Beard Taste America Dinner at the Hilton Anatole’s Wedgwood Room on Friday; Abacus, the Uptown eatery, celebrating its 15th anniversary on Saturday; and Les Dames d’Escoffier Dallas hosting its Raiser Grazer on Sunday. (I wasn’t able to make it out to the latter, but Les Dames always do it up right.)

lobster Gnocchi

Gnocchi lobster

The James Beard event, a first of its kind in Dallas, featured five local chefs designing signature apps served during a reception, followed by superchefs Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington and Dallas’ own Stephan Pyles taking on two courses apiece at the sit-down dinner. O’Connell’s lobster-gnocchi and Pyles antelope entree were heaven, and Janice Provost’s (Parigi) crab cake with lemony aioli the most heavenly single bite.

Abacus chefs

Abacus chefs

The fun at Abacus the next night was the uniqueness of the menu: The four-course dinner offered your choice of one of three items per course — one from Abacus executive sous chef Chris Patrick, one from former exec Omar Flores and another from Tre Wilcox, also a former exec. The winning chef on my menu? Flores, who delivered two of the four, with Patrick and Wilcox one each. But it’s quite possible the best single item was Wilcox’s duck three ways, especially the lobe of foie gras which started out the evening right. Congratulations to Kent Rathbun for a decade-and-a-half of setting the bar high.

See a slideshow of photos from the two events below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Penne Pomodoro offers gluten-free menu

Food coverIn this week’s Food Issue, we have stories about the Oak Lawn Farmers Market and a vegan cookbook by drag cabaret performer Mistress Ginger. Organic… vegan… but we left out a gluten-free story. Sorry! Just so you know, Penne Pomodoro, the Italian restaurant with locations in Snider Plaza, Lakewood and Preston Forest, has gluten-free options on its menu. That’s a pretty sweet development for folks who like pastas, pizzas and risottos, but suffer from celiac disease.

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Dallas Voice this week and read all about Trinity Groves, Stephan Pyles’ San Salvaje, the Resource Center’s food pantry, and much more.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Perini Ranch wins James Beard Award

Atop the famed iron armadillo at James Beard winner Perini Ranch Steakhouse

It’s the Oscars of the culinary world, the James Beard Awards (named after the late gay gourmand). Winning one is a feather in a cap — and in this case, that cap is a Stetson. Perini Ranch Steakhouse, the home to the annual Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit, is one of five recipients this year of the the Beard Foundation’s American Classic Award, which often goes to family-owned foodie businesses that have maintained their local character. The steaks there are excellent, as is the brunch if you’re lucky enough to get it, but it’s no doubt the steakhouse’s participation in the summit that helped bring it to the attention of the foundation. The Perinis attract some of the best culinary talent in the nation, many from the Metroplex (owner Tom Perini’s daughter, Caroline, is co-owner of Dallas’ Easy Slider food truck, and she is actually featured in tomorrow’s Readers Voice Awards). And the upcoming summit, in just a month’s time, will be the final appearance of legendary Dallas chef Stephan Pyles.

Congrats to the Perinis!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones