DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Eatzi’s, Plano TX


If you lived in Dallas back in 1996, then you will probably remember all the brouhaha that went along with the opening of the first Eatzi’s.  I remember dropping by to pick up a treat and the entire establishment was filled up with Asian visitors all snapping photos at ninety to nothing.  The place was a real sensation and the parking lot was always full.  Almost twenty years have passed, but last time I checked, the parking lot was still full.

Bringing Gourmet to Market

There’s a sushi chef at the Rockwall Kroger offering samples, but it wasn’t always that way.  Back in the day, if you wanted something more than Del Monte and Hormel, then about the only place to get it was a place called Simon David, an upscale supermarket in Highland Park.  Eatzi’s raised the bar.

Forget green beans and canned chili.  You didn’t go to Eatzi’s for groceries.  You went for the experience.  Cram-packed in a teeny tiny building was a bakery and a counter with prepared foods,  as well as lots of specialty cheeses, meats and such.  Dallas loved it.  We could grab a quick sandwich from the frig, sample all kinds of breads, desserts and dips or pick out an entire dinner party from the prepared foods counter.

The next thing we knew, H.E.B. created Central Market, which was like a Simon David with an Eatzi’s inside.  The result?  Kroger has sushi.  Nowadays there are four Eatzi’s, but you’re still going to have a hard time finding a parking spot.

Meet Me at Eatzi’s

The Plano location of this beloved institution is the original Eatzi’s on steroids.  Sure, they have a bakery and a counter with prepared foods, but that’s only the beginning.  The front of the building is a comfortable patio for al fresco dining.  Right inside the door is a barista who would love to make you a cappuccino.  There are also a few tables for indoor dining and microwaves for heating up your goodies.  On the right side of the store is a counter putting together amazing salad and sandwich creations.  On the left is a grill that will whip up a made-to-order meal for you.  And sushi?  Of course, there’s a sushi bar next to the grill.

I’m lucky, the Plano location is just around the corner from Lenicam, where I work part-time.  If I need to go anywhere after work, it’s easy to pick up a delicious (and nutritious) meal.  It’s not cheap mind you, but well worth the coin.  I also say, “Meet me at Eatzi’s,” a lot .

Come back next week and see what I have on my menu!

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

The Devil, the Wolf and our Mercedes Benz

Bill and his new Benz
Bill and his new Benz


Our family has a new addition.  A 2014 Mercedes Benz CLA.

The Sad Day

One night in October of 2012, someone rear-ended Bill’s Mercedes on Preston Road, just a couple of blocks from where we turn into our neighborhood.  It was a sad day.  Bill loved that car.

After the insurance company declared his car totaled we dabbled with several options.  Bill and I test drove scores of cars.  We  made a stab at being a one car family.  He used up all the free days of loaner car.  Eventually we bought a brand-new, beautiful Nissan Altima.

Once a Benz Driver, Always a Benz Driver

I thought the story was over.  I continued to drive my Volkswagen Psaat and Bill had the Nissan, but Bill wasn’t happy.  Bill was a Benz driver and he didn’t have a Benz.

Soon he started talking about some new car Mercedes Benz would start selling in September of 2013.  I couldn’t get too excited about a car you couldn’t even buy yet, but Mr. Bill was excited.  Over the next few months I heard about that car a lot. Then he saw a video for the car targeting European drivers  and it was all over!  Here you can watch it for yourself :

He put my Psaat on Craig’s List and started looking for bargains on the CLA, but he ran into a problem.  Remember those commercials where William Dafoe, as the devil, tries to get a guy to sell his soul for a Mercedes.  The guy’s all ready to sign, until he finds out the car is under $30K.  Well, everyone except Bill thought that was a great price point for a Mercedes.  Not Bill, he was looking for the discount – and he kept looking and looking and looking…

Then He Sold My Car 

Bill was having no luck finding the deal he wanted, but then he found someone who wanted to pay his price for my car.  I thought he was nuts when he demoted us back to one-car-family status, but as he pointed out, he was going to buy his car soon and for part of that time we’d be out of town and the other car would just sit in the garage.  Famous last words!

Then He Ordered His Car

Bill finally wrangled up a few small discounts for the CLA and waited until December 31st, his favorite day to buy a car.  The only problem was that he’d sort of miscalculated when we’d get the car.  Nothing was available and he’d have to wait months to get the car.  The man was obsessed.  He put some money down and ordered the car exactly the way he wanted it.

Then we waited…SIX MONTHS!  At first, it was supposed to be six weeks to a couple of months.  Then the whole country of China got in line ahead of Bill, because folks there were willing to pay more for the car than he was.  As the postponed delivery date drew near, there was a bomb threat at the plant in Hungary where Bill’s car was being built, so the plant closed down for a while.  Then Bill’s car was built and we had to wait for a shipping date.  Then the car was on it’s way, but it was on the ocean.  As you can tell, Bill was getting frequent updates on his vehicle.

Delivery Day

We went on vacation the week before Bill’s car was supposed to arrive in Dallas.  We were visiting family, friends and lovely attractions, but all Bill could talk about was his baby that would be there when he got home.  I’m actually surprised we actually went on the vacation, even though it had been planned long before his delivery date was set.

The night before he was supposed to pick up the car, Bill drove to the dealership to see if he could lay his eyes on his coming attraction, but it wasn’t visible.

It’s a Car

You can see from the photo above how happy Bill was to get his car.  I think it’s a beautiful car with some wonderful features, but it is still a car.  (I mean it’s not a Jaguar after all.)

Kudos go to Curt Wiley at Mercedes Benz of Plano, the salesman who nursed Bill through this ordeal.  We also appreciated Heidi Clements who showed us all the bells and whistles.  Bill particularly appreciated the attractive blonde and her demonstrations.

We had a little more waiting, though – the joy of visiting the finance department.  You know about the finance department.  Lucky us, they had a brand new paperless computer system and they were working out a few glitches before they could see us.

I have to admit, the new paperless system was cool.  The top of the guy’s desktop was some kind to touch monitor.  The documents would appear and you signed them with a funky electronic pen.  Finally, something I could appreciate – that and the Nissan Altima which is now mine – all mine.



DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Sippin & Savorin’ in Plano


My two besties are both named Deb. When the three of us get together, fun is in the house.  Though we’re tightly woven in our hearts, the things that originally brought us together no longer exist, so we have to make sure we squeeze in some friend time every once and a while.  That usually, though not exclusively, means a meal.  Most recently, the meal was dinner at Sip and Savor.

Sip and Savor – Restaurant and Wine Bar

Sip and Savor is in an old two story house in a mostly residential area of Plano Road.  It’s on Coit, which is one of the busier thoroughfares, but it’s still sort of off the beaten path.  The point is, you’ve got to be headed there to find it and I think you need to find it.

A few years ago, when the place had another name, I visited for lunch.  Then it sat empty for a while.  I’m not sure how long the new manifestation has been around, but with your help, maybe it will stay around for a while.

There’s plenty of space for parking and even a few tables outside, but the Texas heat drove us inside.  The old home is very charming.  I stepped up on the front porch and walked in the front door.  A hostess met me in the cozy vestibule and took me to one of the dining rooms, where one of the Deb’s waited for me.

The decor is elegant in a country sort of way.  The wooden tables are covered with a white table cloth and Lone Stars grace the backs of the wooden chairs.  The room where we were, has a fire place.  The floors are wood and soft yellow paint covers the walls.  The lace curtains are a nice touch.

The menu posed a problem.  We wanted one of everything.  The delicious sounding entrees hovered around $25, which suggested they might be more food than any of us wanted to eat.  We nibbled our way around the menu instead.  One Deb had crab cakes and potato soup.  The other Deb and I had Crab Salad Louis. Then we shared three side dishes: some mixed vegetables, sauteed mushrooms and stuffed potatoes. All delicious – and some wine.

But we saved room for dessert.  We ordered up one of their wine brownies and a slice of coconut creme pie.  What makes the brownie a wine brownie?  Instead of water they mix Chianti with it.  It was good, but I’m not sure what the wine did for it.  I think I might have used Cabernet Sauvignon instead, but that’s just me.

The coconut creme pie looks very homemade, but it had a whipping creme topping instead of the meringue my mom used to put on hers.  It looked strangely familiar – sort of like the coconut creme pie the previous manifestation of the restaurant served.  Hmmmm.  Their website says the house is still owned by the original family.  Are they also running the restaurant?

One thing the website doesn’t mention is that there is supposed to be a ghost.  I’d heard about it when I visited for lunch at the location’s old incarnation and one of the Deb’s mentioned it, but it didn’t show up for me either time.  Not that any ghost has every shown up for me at any of the ghostly places I’ve visited.  I must not have the right aura.

You should go try Sip and Savor.  The food and wine are great, the service is good and you might even meet the ghost.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Katy Trail Ice House Outpost

Hangin' in the burbs
Chillin” in the burbs


It had been a tough weekend. I took my Mom home after almost three months of medical problems – broken arm, congestive heart failure, emergency rooms and rehab, among other joys. She was glad to be getting home, but I felt like a was returning a much reduced lady to fill the shoes of my Mom.

How could that much change in three months?  And while she was gone, several more of her friends had moved into the independent living facility where she lives.  I grew up with these people as my mentors and Sunday School teachers.  They were vibrant, capable, funny people that I adored.  How did they turn into these old guys?

Time for an Attitude Adjustment

When I got home, I fell on my sofa in a blue funk.  If that had happened to the people I had known, loved and admired, how would I turn out? Bill moved into third gear to cheer me up.  First order of business – The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp as Tonto. What an attitude adjuster! I loved it.  Next: The Katy Trail Ice House Outpost!

The Outpost is fairly new to the neighborhood.  One day it was Banditos Tex-Mex and then all of a sudden they took the sign down and were planting a forest.  When another sign came up, I wondered if they could really pull off a Katy Trail Ice House in the burbs.  See, I’d been to THE Katy Trail Ice House.

THE Katy Ice House in Dallas

Our first visit was on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Fugeddaboutit! You couldn’t get anywhere near it. The line was endless and growing.  We made another visit a few months ago and we loved the atmosphere, but couldn’t find a seat.  Will we ever make it back to find out if the third time would have worked the charm?

With the Outpost virtually around the corner, we won’t have to!

THE Outpost

As Bill and I chilled in our iron yard chairs, I kept thinking about the Hula Hut in Austin. Yes, I know the Hula Hut is over the water and has a tiki theme, but the atmosphere was the same.  Everybody of every age was hanging out under the misting fans and everybody was there to have fun.  Sawdust covers the ground, the newly planted forest cuts you off from Plano’s Park Boulevard and multicolored lights hang from the light poles.  It just so happened that when they delivered my Coors Light in a huge icy schooner, Jerry Jeff Walker was crooning Love Changes Everything.  Jerry Jeff was right.  Bill’s love had changed my depression into joy.

Words are good at conveying many things, but even if I tried to describe exactly what was going on, it would lose something in the translation.  There was some kind of game being played on a court – horseshoes maybe.  It wasn’t in my line of sight. Dogs were making themselves at homes.  Lovers were loving.  Kids were playing.  Singles were on the hunt. Waitresses were delivering schooners of beer and longnecks.  Fun was being had.

It was just what I needed after too many doses of skilled nursing and retirement world.  What  I didn’t need was the cheeseburger Bill and I shared – especially since I’m supposed to be dieting, but when I hit the scales I hadn’t gained anything, so I didn’t do much damage.  I’ve read the conflicting reviews on Yelp.  All I can tell you is that Bill loved it and I would have rather had half a Snuffer’s burger.  That being said, most meals I’d rather be having a Snuffer’s burger, so maybe my opinion shouldn’t count.

Do I think you should visit The Katy Trail Ice House Outpost.  Heck, yeah.  But if you do, call me – I’m just around the corner.  Precious and I will come hang.  OH and Bill will probably come, too.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Brick Oven Tavern in Plano


To me, Brick House is the name of a Commodores song.  In Plano, it’s almost the name of a tavern restaurant.  Bill and I tried to go on a recent Friday night, but folks were literally hanging off the rafters and we weren’t in the mood for that.  So we made a Sunday evening visit to this popular joint, instead.  First I have to confess, my vivid imagination replaced “house” with “oven” and I thought we were going to a pizza joint.  They do have pizza, but it’s not the main attraction.  Once I re-oriented my brain I was able to move on.

Dining Alfresco

We were greeted by a hostess and seated on the patio before I had time to get my bearings.  The sun was already down and I was a little concerned that I’d get chilly out there, but before I had time to formulate a complaint, I realized each table had a heat lamp over it.  Not only did the lamps provide plenty of light for reading the menu, but they kept us toasty warm on a chilly evening.  I’m wondering about what they do in July, but I guess I’ll go back and find out, because the restaurant certainly deserves some return visits.

And speaking of menus – you get two.  The food choices are on a clipboard, which I thought was sort of clever.  The cost of reprinting the menu is minimal, but the customer has something more substantial to hold than a piece of copy paper.  The more important menu is the drink menu and they literally tear it off a paper towel rack.  I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it’s certainly different.

Beer is the main attraction at this tavern restaurant.  Looking through the large opening between the patio and the restaurant proper you see a bar with a wide variety of fancy beer taps.  Bill chose a wheat beer and I got an old favorite, Stella Artois.  For the beers on tap you have a selection between large, small and ridiculous.  Ridiculous being some portable, table-sized tap of your favorite brew.  Several tables were demonstrating how much fun they were.  Bill and I wondered if the beer stayed cold.  None of the tables we saw were giving it much time to warm up.

Bill was in the mood for a burger, but I wasn’t really as hungry, so I picked a bowl of mac and cheese – that’s what my cool nephew likes to eat.  They asked if Bill wanted his burger medium well, which we thought was odd, because most burger places recommend it a little less done.  Bill ordered medium, but said that the burger was actuallymedium well in his book.  He still liked it, but would have liked it better if it had been on the grill just a tad less.

When I ordered the mac and cheese, the waiter asked if I knew it was hot.  First I’m thinking temperature hot and I’m wondering why they would tell me something like that.  Then I realized they were talking hot taste-wise, but that sounded like it might be good, so I told him to bring it on.  The mac and cheese was hot both ways.  Totally delicious.  I loved it.

As we waited for our meals to come, I got to looking around and realized there hadn’t been very many people inside.  It was all happening outside.  You couldn’t see much beyond the bar, but I did see some ironic saying on the wall, like “we haven’t been around long” or something like that.  I couldn’t figure out exactly what the message was supposed to mean.

The unsung heroes of the meal were the tater tots.  Hubby loved them and I confess, I ate a couple.  The mac and cheese really was very hot and it was nice to have something to neutralize my tongue.  Hubby loved them because they were hot inside, crunchy outside with just the right amount of spices.  No ketchup needed.

After the meal we wandered around the almost empty interior and found a party just waiting to happen.  No wonder this place was filled past capacity on a Friday night.  I’ve already mentioned the huge bar with the fancy taps.  A sign above it reads, “Temple to Beer,” and I believe them.

There’s  TV lounge with multiple TV’s, so you and your buddies can cozen up to your favorite sport, not just be satisfied with whatever is on the megatron TV. We also loved the seating in the center of the restaurant – comfy loveseats pulled up on either side of a table.  We’ve got to try that next time.  Around the walls are funny food and alcohol related quotes.  The place is built for a good time.

Should you go to Brick House Oven?  Of course you should, especially if you have some time to hang out at the bar or want to catch the game – any game.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Urban Rio is Urban Hip


It’s no secret that Friday night happy hour is not my regular scene. It used to be. Wellington’s, The #3 Lift, Pappagallo’s, Arthur’s , The Bijoux, Daddy’s Money, The Currency Club, elan and The Point were my regular hangouts – along with a list of places I can’t even remember.  Then came a new wave of clubs, Studebaker’s was one of my favorites and though I didn’t go for happy hours, later in the evening you could find me at the Stark Club or Beethoven’s.  But not so much this day and time.

Meeting for Dinner/Happy Hour

Once in a great while, someone will drag me out of my lair on a Friday night and on a recent Friday night it was to Urban Rio.  Maybe I was still feeling frisky from my cruise or I just needed some Tex-Mex, but when my best friend suggested I should join her and another friend there, I did.  I also thought a Tex-Mex Cantina in downtown Plano seemed like a safe place for an old fuddy duddy like me to hang out.

My first ah-ha was that downtown Plano is a pretty happening place.  A mixed-use neighborhood has been growing up around the DART station there, but I’d never been when things were really hopping. Well, they were hopping on Friday night.  DART delivered week-weary professionals to the stop on a regular basis, but people were also headed there in their personal vehicles.  I got there about 5:30 and parking was challenging.  Who knew?

My friend expected to get there around 5:30, also, but when I got there, she wasn’t. This is one of my least favorite situations.  I go all awkward when I’m waiting for someone.  I’m not really egotistical enough to think anyone is paying any attention to me, but this weird demon sits on my shoulder shouts, “Everyone here is watching you.  They think you’re fat and that your clothes are frumpy.  Your friend isn’t coming.  She doesn’t like you anymore.  In fact, no one likes you.”

As the demon assails me, I try to sit nonchalantly and observe the decor and clientele.  About 90% of the folks who walked in were way cool.  The women had really huge designer handbags, their shirt tails hung out beneath their jackets, their necks were draped with those huge scarves everyone else seems to think are so attractive and there was a lot of air-kissing going on.  The other 10% looked as frumpy as the demon was telling me I was.  The decor was definitely hip. Sleek wood, multi-patterned upholstery, lots of noise.  That kind of place.

Finally, to shut the demon up, I called my friend.  She was just minutes away and she still loved me.  When she arrived, she looked pretty cool, too.  Friday-casual denim and she’d changed the part in her hair.   I swung my large designer bag onto my shoulder and hoped no one would realize my snakeskin printed jeans were over a year old.  I think  I might need a cool monitor.

On the Rocks

Deb didn’t see her friend in the downstairs area, so she started texting.  Deb also has an iPhone, so she looks cooler than me when she does that.  Maybe I’ll grow up someday and have an iPhone, too.  Her friend was upstairs in Urban Rio’s cantina, On the Rocks.  Seems the building holding Urban Rio used to be an ice house and the bar’s name is a nod to the past.

Upstairs was loud.  I’m convinced that most of the noise downstairs is just overflow from upstairs.  The hip factor went down a bit, though.  The unhip held a larger margin upstairs than they did down below, but the energy level was almost as high as the volume.  Deb ordered a carafe of margaritas on the rocks to share with me, but her friend was already sipping frozen ritas. Deb and her friend ordered various skewers, which were delicious.  I ordered nachos.  Little did I know they’d need heavy equipment to deliver them.  We three girls nibbled on them forever, but there was still at least a quarter of the plate left when we begged them to take the debris away.

For the next few hours, Deb and her friend caught up with one another and I had plenty of time to remind myself why I don’t go out for happy hour very often.  Yelling to be heard is not as much fun for me as it used to be.  My life is pretty boring, too.  I’m just an old married lady and Deb’s friend was living The Young & The Restless.  Eventually, it was time to go home.  Drat those margarita carafes.  I pretty much fell asleep as soon as I got home.

But I recommend Urban Rio for the hip and the unhip, though in the future I’d probably stick to the downstairs.  You young’uns can have the noise.  The food is very good and I enjoyed those margaritas when I was drinking them.  So, yes, do go to Urban Rio!

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Seasons 52 in Plano

All dressed up with someplace to go: Season 52
All dressed up with someplace to go: Season 52


Concept is everything!  But if somebody doesn’t get the concept, then the restaurant is in trouble. We tried something new to us: Seasons 52. And it has a new concept.

The Season 52 Concept

I confess, I didn’t quite get the concept when my mom told me there was something new coming to The Shops at Legacy.  She’d read about it in the Dallas Morning News and whatever she said they said just didn’t stick.  The next time I went to The Shops on Legacy, I saw the sign and thought the 52 was a 32.  So basically, I was running around clueless.

Let me explain the concept to you, in case you were clueless, also.  Seasons 52’s name comes from their menu.  They have four seasonal menus and fifty-two weekly menus.  That’s seems simple enough, but between my mom and misreading the sign, I was trying to figure out which thirty-two seasonings these people put in their food.  Now that this is straightened up, let me tell you about my visit.

The Restaurant

I immediately noticed how dark colors created a warm and cozy interior for Seasons 52.  I suppose it could be a little oppressive, but a big fire was roaring and lots of people were wearing sequins, so it didn’t seem that way on my visit.  As we settled in our seats, I realized there was live music in the bar and it set just the right tone.  The booth was a little tight for four of us, but the hostess took our coats and then we were fine.

When we looked at the menu, our first surprise was reasonable prices.  Entrees start in the mid-teens.  From the location and the rich atmosphere, I was expecting it to be more expensive.  Then I turned over to the wine list and had the same pleasant surprise.  Very decent wines-by-the-glass started around $7.25 and the bottles were comparable.  Knowing we weren’t breaking the bank made the whole thing even more enjoyable.

So what did we order and how was it?  I had the lamb.  It had been ages since I’d eaten lamb and Seasons 52 didn’t disappoint.  Cooked to perfection, seasoned just right and very tender.  Yum, yum, yum.  Two folks at the table opted for trout, one of them  being my husband.  He raved throughout the meal about freshness.  That’s high praise.  After ten years in the restaurant business, he’s a tough customer.  The other member of our party had salmon.  He’s another finicky eater, but from a different standpoint.  He doesn’t like fussy food.  He just wants the basics and that’s what he got, so he was very happy, too.

So, yes you should go to Seasons 52.  It’s delish and you won’t break the bank.  Browsing the website I saw there’s one at Northpark, too.  I was embarrassed, because I’m at Northpark weekly and hadn’t noticed it, but you can bet I’ll be looking for it.  I’m Seasons 52’s newest big fan.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Cafe Istanbul is No Turkey

The bellydancers always find Bill!


Well, Cafe Istanbul is not a turkey in the derogatory sense of the word or even in the holiday bird sense, but it is a little bit of Turkey right here in the Metroplex.  Let me tell you about our latest visit.  You may want to visit as a deviation from traditional holiday fare.

Getting Out of the House on Friday Night

Dragging Bill out into the world on a Friday night is not something I accomplish with any great regularity.  When I do, we scoot over to someplace close to the house for a quick bite, from which Bill can get home in time for his Friday night ritual – enjoying a bowl of apple tobacco in his hookah with wild Arabic music throbbing from his iPod.  The smoke irritates my lungs and even though I understand the music is sung by a virtuoso, I haven’t developed a taste for it, so I usually read or play computer games in another part the house.

But for Julie’s birthday, he roused himself from his ritual.  Julie’s in our small group from church and has us over all the time, always treating us to some delicious creation from her kitchen.  She rates with Bill.  I had no difficulty getting him away from his computer and out into the car in what we thought was plenty of time for a 6:45 appointment.

Since we don’t get out on Friday nights, we didn’t know The Shops at Legacy were such a happening place.  Oh, we knew it was happening, because we go there a lot, but not on Friday nights.  “Hah, I’m here with three minutes to spare,” Bill smirked, as we approached the corner of Legacy and Parkwood Boulevard.  The light turned red, so he made a right and snuck up a side street. (Yes, I know snuck is not proper, but sneaked just doesn’t sound right.)  Then we found chaos.

Whatever suits your culinary fancy, you can find it at The Shops at Legacy.  We’re regulars at Gordon Biersch, Taco Diner and Main Street Bakery.  When the cool nephew came in, we took him to Jaspers.  This was our first visit to Cafe Istanbul, but to get there we had to park.  Sure there’s valet, but Bill’s not about to use it, even if it meant being late.

Unlike a lot of hot spots, The Shops at Legacy have a lot of parking, but on Friday nights, I think they need to start a shuttle from Cowboy Stadium.  That’s the only place I can think of that might have enough spaces.  You’ll see all kinds of cars from Maserati to milquetoast and the real fun begins when you try to match the hordes of people to the cars they might have gotten out of.  The Maseratis and Mercedes will be be pulling up to the valet parking, but the rest of us peons will drive in circles around and around the parking garages.  Here’s something you may not know.  The view from the top floor of the garage is outstanding.  We wouldn’t have known it either if we hadn’t been the ones to get the last available spot there at the upper reaches of the garage.

Cafe Istanbul

But Cafe Istanbul?  Outstanding.  It really is a little bit of Turkey right there in Plano.  The mezza is marvelous!  They have this delicious large pita-ish thing for the bread, that’s not exactly pita, because it’s lighter.  We scarfed down the hummus and baba ganoush with it in no time flat.  Dolmas? Delightful!  In truth, Bill and I would have been satisfied with the mezza, but had to keep ourselves entertained while everyone else had dinner.  So we shared the Adana Kebob.  My eyes had been on the kofte, but when a waiter heard me exclaim over it, he said I’d like it in the kebob format better than the cheesy meatballs.  Maybe I would have liked the cheesy meatballs and maybe I wouldn’t, but the kebob was great.  Later some baklava appeared on the table and Bill declared it sumptuous, but it’s always sweeter than my sweet tooth, so I save my calories for other things – like the wonderful chocolate cake someone had made for Julie.

And then there was the bellydancer, but the picture tells it all.  Excuse the shiny eyes.  Someone in the group took it with their phone, but I thought you guys might enjoy it.  So, do go to Cafe Istanbul, but if you want to find a place to park, don’t go on Friday night.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Jasper’s Gourmet Backyard Cuisine

Valet Parking, just outside Jasper’s. Not our car, by the way.


So my cool nephew was coming to town – the investment banker who lives on the Left Coast. He and his new wife were returning to Dallas for a visit, the first one since their amazing wedding at the DMA. We were taking them out to dinner and it couldn’t be just any old restaurant. Hubby asks me where we should go and my easy answer was Jasper’s Gourmet Backyard Cuisine at the Shops at Legacy in Plano.

Choosing Jasper’s

Back in March, my best friend and nearly sister took me there for my birthday.  We loved the chic interior and the delicious food.  My nephew has one of those lifestyles that would look good on a character in a romance novel, so I’d never be able to impress him.  I just don’t want to disappoint him.  Hubby agreed Jasper’s sounded like the right choice.

It was a Sunday night, so we didn’t make reservations, but we were surprised by how very busy Jasper’s was on what should have been an off night.  (Note to self:  Next time, reservations.)  When you enter the restaurant there’s a slick-looking bar to the right and dining to the left.  Lights are dim and the feeling is both modern and warm – lots of wood, dark neutrals and luscious upholstery.  I’m particularly fond of their light fixtures.  My favorites are large, round, black and metal.  A compliment to the waiter revealed the materials used are not what the sleek appearance suggests, but chicken wire and Austin stone.

So far, so good, but then there’s the wine.  My husband and I like a good wine as much as the next guy, but our trope is finding spectacularly good wines at minuscule pricing.  The nephew plans his honeymoon around wine tastings in a South American country.  Would the wine list hold up to his very sophisticated tastes?  Absolutely!  We tried two different bottles of Napa wines, both favorites of the nephew and both delicious.

Appetizers were the next hurdle.  My nephew’s job puts him in all the best eateries.  Some are his clients, others he takes his clients to, and if I were a name dropper you’d recognize a few.  So would Jasper’s have anything my nephew would like?  I’d tried the crab cakes when I’d been there before, and they were so good, my friend and I joked about continuing to order them until we were too full to walk out of the restaurant.  Nephew chose Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips – and we’re not talking Lay’s here.  Sliced thin, but not too thin, then deep fried, the potatoes were drizzled with a creamy sauce and chunks of blue cheese.  We didn’t clean out the basket, because if we had, that would have been the end of the meal.  Very good,  but also very filling.

For our main course, I returned to the Texas Peach Barbecued Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Creamed Sweet Corn I’d had before.  Not because the rest of the menu is not delicious sounding, but because once is just not enough for this entree.  I split it with Hubby and he agreed it was a stunning treat for his mouth.  Nephew and wife shared the filet and made moaning noises similar to ours, so I can only assume it was delicious.  As sides we tried the mac-and-cheese and some spinach.

To top off the night, we ordered dessert, a “Mini-Trio” with Dark Chocolate Torte, Butterfinger Crème Brulee and Rocky Road Ice Cream Sandwich.  Back in March, my friend and I had gotten pretty much the same dessert, except that we’d had  Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle instead of the Ice Cream Sandwich.  Bad choice.  Go for the Ice Cream Sandwich.  Not that there is anything wrong with the Buckle, it’s scrumptious.  It’s just that the Ice Cream Sandwich could possibly be the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth and I’m not particularly fond of ice cream.

After the meal we took a stroll around the small lake that graces The Shops at Legacy.  It was still a little warm for my West Coast nephew to thoroughly enjoy the exercise, but he did like the banjo players at the far end of the lake.  We were tickled to see that the trash can on the north side was filled up with Cold Stone cups, just like it had been on a visit earlier in the summer.  Good ice cream, but not as good as the Rocky Road Ice Cream Sandwiches we’d just inhaled.

The Shops and Legacy Water Feature

So do go to Jasper’s.  Chic enough for a special  night out, but the meal won’t necessarily clean out your child’s college fund, unless you just made the first deposit.  People were wearing everything from the ever-ubiquitous blue denim to frothy sundresses that said ‘big date night.’  I’m sure we’ll be back, even if it’s just to share a bottle of wine over some of those Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips.  What about you?  Have you been to Jasper’s yet?