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Savor the Flavor with Jim White, “The Wining and Dining Guy” September 7, 2010

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Dining Specials

Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse in Addison is offering some specials on dinner.  Their “summer special” (through September 25th) lets you enjoy all 16 cuts of their Churrascaria style grilled meat, salad bar and desserts for $29.95 per person (50% off regular price for kids 6 to 11).  You can take up to ten hungry people in for this special price.  You’ll have to ask for this special when you make a reservation.  Call 972-733-1110 for more details.  Visit Rafain’s website for details on “Dinner for two for $50”.

Über chef Avner Samuel is back in business mid-month with his Euro Bistro and Bar:  Nosh.  The former Aurora space is completely remodeled.  Casual Euro/Mediterranean fare will be offered throughout the day from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.  Chef Jon Stevens has joined the NOSH team as Chef/Partner.  Jon has lived in Dallas for 8 years, and worked previously at Neighborhood Services, Aurora and Abacus.  He is a native of San Francisco and worked at Jardiniere and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton.  And, a rather extraordinary vote of confidence from Chef Samuel, ” I’m giving Jon complete authority in the kitchen, from the development of our concept to menu creation, say’s Samuel, we are very excited to have him on board”.  Call to see exactly when the restaurant will open:  214-528-9400.

Chef Casey Thompson seems to be right at home at Fort Worth’s Brownstone serving Southern style cuisine.  The restaurant is nestled in the West Seventh Street development, and is offering all kinds of enticing specials, including:  Happy hour and drink specials–even a “Purple Friday” special if you wear purple or show a TCU ID.  The restaurant is serving lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch.  And, if you’re interested in trying some of Casey’s special Southern cooking at home, we share one of her recipes with you here…just read on for more.


Savor the Flavor with Jim White, “The Wining and Dining Guy” July 22, 2010

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Fond farewell to Aurora with a toast from Alsace

We’ve told you Chef Avner Samuel is closing Aurora at the end of July.  It’s the usual drill:  “the economy, stupid.”  Truth be told, after dining there this week with the delightful heir to the Alsatian wine estate Helfrich Winery, Aurora is too damned expensive.  No wonder it could not sustain in a down economy.  With most appetizers around $20 to $25, and entrées closing in on $60, who but Mark Cuban could afford to eat there regularly?  And, it’s not Mark’s style anyway.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Avner Samuel is a GIFTED chef.  His cuisine is certainly worth any price he wants to put on it.  Lord knows, the ingredients he uses are top notch,  and therefore, very costly.  But in the spirit of Evita, don’t cry for Avner DFW! He’s had a great run with Aurora and we salute him for the culinary innovation, and for creating a masterpiece.  Now, having said all that, his wife Celeste gave us some very good news as we were coming into the restaurant for what will be our farewell dinner at Aurora (more on that in a second):  She and Avner will take a bit of time off when the Aurora doors close, and start work on a NEW concept.  They have something casual in mind (simpler fare, lower prices).  And, more good news?  If you know where Aurora is, you won’t have to hunt for them.  They plan to keep the same space on Oak Lawn and EXPAND.  They will take over the space next to them.  More tables and a lower price point should be a boon to their business.  Let’s hope so.  We don’t want a chef as talented as Avner doing catering jobs.  They promised to let us know so we can alert you when the concept is finalized and they are ready to open.  Stay tuned.

The “last supper”,  as a few of us characterized our meal at Aurora this week, was to “taste and see” (keeping with the theme and borrowing from Psalms) great Alsatian wines from Helfrich and meet lovely winery principal Anne-Laure Helfrich.  The 23 year old gives wine drinking millennials a good name.  She is smart as a whip and knows her product.  It doesn’t hurt that she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in “Daddy Longlegs”.  Her family’s claim to fame is Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, of course.  You’ll find the wines very approachable and affordable.  Their everyday wines are priced around $15, and the divine grand crus retail for around $25.  Alas, since you couldn’t join us for dinner at Aurora, here are some photo highlights.  a votre santé and bon appétit!

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Savor the Flavor with Jim White, “The Wining and Dining Guy” July 6, 2010

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Follow the bouncing ball (or musical chef chairs)

Whew!  Whadda weekend!  There were fireworks galore–both inside and outside. Especially in Dallas restaurant kitchens.   While you were off having a grand Fourth of July celebration (I certainly hope so), here’s what was happening with the fates and fortunes of some of our favorite culinary types (chefs).

In the interest of time, let’s see if I can condense all this for you:  Dali is gone.  Aurora soon will be.  Paul and Avner are tired.  Dallas Chop House is sans executive chef.  Kenny is tired of John.  New chefs for The Green Room and Villa-O; Joel and Kenny have new gigs (yea!).  Whoa! This is too condensed. Even for the attention-span challenged (and you know who you are).  Here’s what we know today:

There is good news, in the wake of the sad news over the weekend that Paul Pinnell is closing Dali in One Arts Plaza.  Dali executive chef Joel Harloff is going to The Green Room as executive chef!  This is doubly good news, because the CIA trained chef, who has worked in some of the top kitchens in Dallas (Melrose Landmark, Nana, Mi Piaci), will help speed up the renaissance of the cool Deep Ellum restaurant.   The restaurant is located at 2715 Elm Street, Dallas, Texas 75226. For more information, please call 214.744.ROOM.

Now, as for Dali proprietor Paul Pinnell.  The press release sent out to announce the closing of Dali was a very positive spin, but short on specifics.  He noted that after taking a break he would return “to work in Dallas’ vibrant restaurant scene with plans of future innovation.”  According to Nancy Nichols on her D Magazine blog, she spoke with David McMillan (from Screen Door across the Plaza) who says Dali is closing “temporarily”.  We’ll keep you posted on this one.

As we continue making lemonade and chicken salad out of the restaurant news.  Word came just before the holiday that Dallas Chop House chef Kenny Mills had left the restaurant.  It turns out there was friction in the kitchen with John Tesar (culinary director for Dallas Restaurant Group).  See details below.  Kenny is bouncing to Villa-O as of today to start his new job as Executive Chef!  His and John’s comments on the situation (again courtesy of Nancy):

“I put in my notice two weeks ago,” says Mills. “They [DRG] fired my sous chef and put in one of Tesar’s guys. I came in on June 1 and there was a whole new crew in my kitchen.”

“Tesar wouldn’t let me run my kitchen. He told me I was an over-the-hill no talent cook. Life is just too short to work with people I don’t like.”

John Tesar commented, “This is just as big a shock to me as it is to you. I had no idea.”

We’ll be getting more news on future concepts from DRG and hearing about Kenny’s plans at Villa-O, but don’t expect too many more details on the breakup.  Sometimes best to just move on.

We reported last week that Avner Samuel has decided to close Aurora at the end of July.  The stress of the economy and the rigors of running a small, upscale restaurant have caused him to rethink his priorities.  Avner says he is emotionally and physically drained and needs time off to recharge.  Look for the lion of the kitchen to come roaring back with another concept after his respite. Again, we wish God speed to Chef Samuel and his wife Celeste who have poured their heart and soul into the fine dining concept.

We also have good news that Chef Jeff Moschetti (formerly with the Warwick Melrose Landmark, Stephan Pyles, and Beau Nash at the Crescent Court) is the executive chef of a new restaurant opening in Frisco called One2One.  It’s at Legacy and Highway 121, so geographic inspiration is at work here for the name.  Check out their website for more information.  1339 Legacy Drive, Frisco; 214-618-2221.

Stay tuned!

Savor the Flavor with Jim White, “The Wining and Dining Guy” June 29, 2010

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Goodbye to Aurora

The email came today from Celeste and Avner Samuel.  “After 7 wonderful years and the impending renewal of our lease… we’ve decided that AURORA had a fabulous run but it’s time for a change.  July 31st will be our last hurrah!”  Sad news for what has been described as Dallas’ only Michelin 3-Star worthy restaurant (If Michelin rated Dallas restaurants).  Through the years Avner has remained one of our most accomplished chefs.  The classically trained chef from Israel burst onto the scene as executive chef of the Mansion on Turtle Creek in the 80’s.  His collaborations with Stephan Pyles, Dean Fearing, Robert Del Grande and Anne McCann (Anne Lindsay Greer in those days), were the “shot heard ’round the world” that created the Southwestern Cuisine movement and paved the way for many a young chef who followed in their footsteps to flourish in an upscale Texas dining environment with a mission:  showing the unique flavors of Texas cuisine and the unmistakable influences on them of fine Mexican cuisine.  Samuel is a force of nature in the kitchen.  A true artisan.  A perfectionist who does not suffer fools lightly (inside the kitchen or out).  We’re on notice to sample the ambiance and elegance of Aurora one last time (or maybe a couple) before the end of July.  The email provides some welcome Dickens-like foreshadowing by mentioning that “info on future plans” will follow. Merci, chef!


4216 Oak Lawn Avenue,

Dallas, Texas 75219


Fireworks and food.  Is this a great country or what?

The best place in town to have a cool, comfortable, 5-star meal and watch Fourth of July fireworks is at Nana in the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.  Voted by Zagat as “Best Restaurant with a View,” Nana opens for dinner on Sunday, July 4th , and Monday, July 5th , from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. to celebrate Independence Day. In addition to its regular menu, the restaurant will offer the popular “Chef Tony’s Summer Savings Menu”, a delectable three-course prix-fixe dinner for $45. Sip on a chilled summer cocktail like a Mango Martini or signature Nana’s Perfect Rita, relax in air conditioning, and enjoy the cuisine and view from the 27th floor of the award-winning Nana. The Hilton Anatole is offering special room rates for Nana guests from July 1st thru July 5th based on availability. Please contact the restaurant at 214-761-7470 for more information and reservations.

If you’re more into the fireworks than the food, the best place in town to see the pyrotechnics is Addison’s “Kaboom Town”. The 25th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner festivities takes place on SATURDAY July 3rd from 5 p.m. until midnight.  Activities leading up to the fireworks climax include live music and food.  The Dallas Wind Symphony (and others) provides the music.  The Cavanaugh Flight Museum presents an “Historic Warbird Flyover” from 7:15 til 8:15.  The big bang, that is “Kaboom!” starts at 9:35.  For information on hotel and food specials, plus additional information, visit this link to Town of Addison

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Yummy Easter Happenings Galore! March 21, 2010

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Here comes Peter Cotton Tail, hoppin’ down the

bunny trail.

Waiter, ask that rabbit to refill our tea, please!

In honor of one of the most important family dining times of year, here is a sampling of some restaurants featuring Easter specials.  Add to this in the comments section if you are a restaurateur and would like to have our readers know about your Easter specials.  Thanks.

Chef Doug Brown (Dish), is offering an Easter Jazz Brunch at the Orion Ballroom in Oak Cliff, five minutes from downtown at 400 South Zang Street, 15th Floor, from 10 until 3.  This is the Bank of America Building.  The Orion Ballroom sits atop it. Chef Brown is featuring a lavish array of salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, smoked salmon, carving stations with ham and steamship of beef, an omelet station, pasta and fajita station, plus a temping array of cakes, pies and desserts.  The price is $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids under 12.  Make reservations by calling 214-942-1661 or email brunch@theorionballroom.com.

Lavendou Bistro Provençal Owner Pascal Cayet and Executive Chef Francois Soyez are offering something for almost everyone at their Easter Brunch.
First Course:  Soupe Froide de Concombre (Cold Cucumber Soup);  Prosciutto et Melon Sauce Sangria (Prosciutto and Melon with a Sangria Sauce); Salade César (Traditional Caesar Salad); or Vol au Vent de Fruits de Mer (Mixed Seafood served in a pastry shell).

Second Course:  Oeufs Poché Norvegienne (Poached Eggs on an English Muffin with Smoked Salmon and Spinach); Filet de Sole au Crabe et Champagne (Filet of Sole with Crab Meat and Champagne Cream Sauce with Basmati Rice); Gigot d’Agneau Provençal (Roasted Leg of Lamb with Gratin Dauphinois); or Poitrine de Volaille Chasseur (Breast of Chicken with Mushroom, Tomatoes and Demi-Glace Sauce with Fettucini).

Dessert:  La Tarte au Citron Meringuée (Lemon Tart with Meringue); Profiteroles au Chocolat (Ice Cream Filled Pastry Puffs with Chocolate Sauce); Feuillantine aux Fruit Rouges (Mixed Berries in a puff pastry with Chantilly cream); or Gâteau au Fromage (White Chocolate Cheesecake with raspberry coulis).

Easter Sunday, April 4 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Lavendou’s Easter Brunch is $29.95 per guest, plus beverage, tax & gratuity.

Lavendou is located at 19009 Preston Road, Suite 200, in Dallas (75252). Make reservations by phone (972-248-1911), fax (972-248-1660), by e-mail to provencial@aol.com or through their web site, http://www.Lavendou.com.

The Capital Grille is offering Easter Brunch from 1030 until 230 and suggesting you might want to try a dry aged steak or some fresh seafood along with one of their 350 wines.  This is starting to sound like a celebration.   Brunch is $35 per person (the wine is extra).  Call 214-303-0500 for reservations.  Or go to this reservation site.

Chef David Bull welcomes you to Easter brunch at Bolla in the Stoneleigh Hotel from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  He is offering a special three-course prix fix menu for $36 ($48 with Champagne and Mimosas) and $18 for children.  Call 214-871-7111 for reservations.  Or email reservations@stoneleighhotel.com.  See details of Easter Brunch and other special events at the Stoneleigh here.

Boi Na Braza in Grapevine has an Easter special, offering their full course meal, huge salad bar and desserts for $47.50 per person.  This is the place to go if you’re hungry and want meat and more meat.  They’ll be open special hours on Easter from noon until their last seating at 8:45 p.m.  Call 817-329-5514 or 81-251-9881.  Or email julio.matheus@boinabraza.com.  Located at Highway 121 at Hall-Johnson.

Cadot Restaurant is offering a three-course Easter Brunch for $29.95 person from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  Call 972-267-5700 for reservations.  Here’s the menu:

Duck Terrine With Pistachios And Truffles
Tropical Gazpacho
Poached Eggs In Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Smoked Salmon Hollandaise Sauce
Warm Goat Cheese Salad With Baby Mixed Greens And Balsamic Vinaigrette

Crusted Almond Tilapia on a Bed of Risotto, Served with Champagne Sauce
Lamb Chops with French Fries and Green Beans Served with Curcumin Sauce
Short Ribs with Horseradish, Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root Puree, Topped with Baby Arugula

Chocolate Heart with Mixed Berries and White Chocolate Sabayon
Cherry Clafouti Ginger Confit
Floating Island with Caramel Sauce

Chef Avner Samuel and Aurora offer a Kamen Estate Wine dinner on Tuesday April 6th.

It’s a six course affair featuring Kamen Cabernet and Syrah with special guest Robert Kamen, winery owner and screenwriter.  Mr. Kamen’s projects include The Karate Kid series (including the new film), the Transporter series, and his ode to Napa Valley winemaking “A Walk in the Clouds” starring Keanu Reeves.  The dinner is $150 per person.  Call or email for a reservation, 214-528-9400, or auroradallas.sbcglobal.net.  No slipping any “blockbuster screenplay” ideas to Mr. Kamen during the third-course!

Happy Easter!  Cheers!  Jim

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