So, I’m late to the game — Meso Maya has been around for a while now. I’ve driven past and even called to ask a few questions about the menu. And, honestly, based on its early reviews and the lackluster love received over the years, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try it. That was until it inched its way across the loop and into my neck of the woods. Meso Maya had planted its huarache where I could no longer ignore the smells of handmade corn tortillas and mesquite grilled meats. (more…)
Earlier this summer, one of Dallas’ brightest star chefs, Omar Flores, partnered up with Alec Marshi to open Whistle Britches, a Southern-inspired casual restaurant focused on killer fried chicken, biscuits that only grandma could make, cold beer, and all the picnic fixin’s you could want in far North Dallas.
There’s been quite a bit of talk about it. Having just met Chef Flores at the Chefs for Farmers event last weekend and hearing mostly positive reviews about Whistle Britches, when a friend of mine mentioned her phenomenal experience, I couldn’t put it off any longer.
My first thought as the doors opened was, “Wow. This is really bright and open!” I loved it. It was a much lighter and inviting atmosphere than its previous space owners had created, and we absolutely loved the outdoor patio. Bright colors, fun fixtures, and natural lighting really make the space impressive and fun. The outside area has colorful chairs and an open deck perfect to enjoy now that the weather calls for outdoor seating. However, for this particular visit, we kept it indoors since e’rybody was showing up. We were celebrating my dad’s birthday!
To save time while everyone arrived (and mostly because it says it’s a 30 minute wait time), we ordered “The Whole Bird” for the table and some appetizers. Let me tell you; even if you just want a little afternoon snack, get your whistle britches over there and order the “Pickled Jalapeño Pimento Cheese.”
Guuuuuuuuuuuurl, I could eat that entire thing with a spoon and a blanket in a corner all by myself. It was such a comfort food champion; I don’t even know what to tell you. Their saltine crackers are house-made, very on-trend at the moment, but there was nothing “trendy” about how those crunchy chile-flaked wafers of deliciousness worked magic in combination with that pimento cheese to transport me directly into a huge wooden rocking chair on somebody’s grandaddy’s front porch somewhere in the South. North Dallas was not the vibe that app was rockin’. It was a tip of the hat to Southern cuisine in one unassuming countrified bite, and it was amazing.
We also enjoyed their wonderful “Creamed Corn Hoecakes;” however, the hoecakes arrived a little underdressed, as their pats of butter had flown off the side in the journey to the table. So, I didn’t get a great shot of those. They were very light and delicious, but they ain’t no pimento cheese.
When the main event arrived, the first thing that captured my nose’s attention was the lovely waft of butter dancing across my senses, coming from the ridiculously and generously sized biscuits on the table, alongside sweet local honey butter and a blueberry jam sent from the gods. They arrive as four, but Grandma Ollie snagged one right as I was taking a shot, and I don’t blame her. They were dreamy.
Immediately thereafter, all eyes were on that beautiful basket of chicken. What I remember before passing out from joy was the hot, crispy herbed crust being so unique. There was a definitive note that really separated this fried chicken from what one would expect. And, I’ve had me some fried chicken, my friends. This was special. The crust adhered so perfectly to the chicken, and the wonderful aromas circling the table were intoxicating. Even thinking of it now, I can recall that herbaceous note of the crust without being heavily crusted with herbs. It was certainly memorable.
Sides included were their creamy chive potato salad and light vinegar coleslaw. The consensus at the table was that the sides were “okay” while the fried chicken blew everyone away and the biscuits were a soul-touching experience. One side worthy of mentioning though was the macaroni and cheese. Goot Lort, it was mac’daddy delicious. Definitely get you some of that when you go.
We were most impressed with the pimento appetizer, biscuits, and chicken overall – which is probably how it should be! Their moniker bears the trio ‘Chicken – Biscuits – Beer;’ so, I would hope those would be the highlights! We didn’t get to the beer this time but believe me… there will be a next time.
Every year, D Magazine puts out a “Best of Big D” list – it’s basically a “where to find the shiznit” list of anything and everything in Dallas. It was no surprise this year when Empire Baking Company was named Best of Big D Bakery for Bread. Having run full-production bakeries in a past life and having been schooled on more than one occasion by some of the most passionate, tattoo-covered, lovable, foul-mouthed, “bread is life,” under cover of night, master baker beasts, I can tell you, Empire has some killer bread.
So, as you can imagine, when Empire’s blog posted a Back to School Sandwich contest focused on using their bread, I was all over it. The contest ends Friday, August 19th; so, I still have another day to submit more sammies, but this one deserves to be shared even if I don’t win. The rules are: 10 ingredient limit, serve cold/room temp, and make it simple, nice, and tasty. Here’s what I came up with…
Servings: Yours and Only Yours
Time: 10 mins
Cook your bacon until it’s crisp, set aside the bacon, and discard the bacon renderings. Or, save the renderings if you know what’s good for you. Don’t wipe out the skillet! Just be patient, my friends. Glorious deliciousness awaits you. Take the skillet off the heat for this next part. Mix the Buffalo sauce and the softened butter together just to combine. Don’t freak out when the vinegar doesn’t play nice with the butter. Just keep stirring around to incorporate most of the sauce. Then, take a butter knife and slather one side of each Pane Paisano slice with the Buffalo butter (I like that – “Buffalo butter”), then place the buttered side down in the skillet where you cooked the bacon. Then, return the skillet to medium-high heat to toast up only that one side of bread. That’s right. I said one side only. You’ll see…
Once the one side is golden brown, remove from the skillet, and place the two slices of bread aside, leaning on one another to cool. This just makes the process go faster. While your two toasted slices are cooling, take your celery stalk, and slice it thinly on the bias. The idea is that you’ll be adding the celery for texture, but it can’t fall out of the sammy. Thus, no dicing.
Once the Pane Paisano slices are cooled, place them toasty side down, and spread the chunky blue cheese dressing onto the soft side of the bread. The softer side will absorb the blue cheesiness, and the chunks of blue cheese will fall into the wonderful crevices and pockets of joy in the bread. If you had toasted both sides, you’d have to smush the crispy bread to spread the blue cheese. See? There you go. One-sided toasting is muy importante for this sammy.
Now, take your thinly sliced celery, and cover one side of the sammy, making sure you are strategically placing the celery so that every bite gets that textural crunch. The blue cheese will act as your glue here so the celery won’t slide off.
Next, layer your Buffalo chicken deli slices, bacon, and baby spring mix. Close up the sammy with the other slice, and enjoy the tangy zing of the Buffalo sauce against that creamy blue cheese and salty, smoky bacon. I can’t wait to turn this bad boy in for the contest… wish me luck!