Monday night is the new Friday night! Want proof? Check out what’s going on in Addison with Best of Texas and our BestBuzz App this coming Monday – I meanFunday.

Join us at Bella 32 Ultra Lounge for the launch party of Service Industry Mondays in Addison, TX on Monday, March 28th.  Also, get ready to party like never before on a Monday night, with ultra-celebrity guest, Dennis Rodman and his special guests: Playboy Playmates, Tisha Marie and Lauren Waugh

Doors open at 7pm and guests will enjoy $2 Bellatinis and $2 Bellaritas until 9pm and $3 well drinks all night long with VIP Bottle Specials.  Live entertainment with Studio 54 will begin at 8pm, and DJ John Fox and a live remote broadcast from iHits – 93.3 FM will rock the house all night. 

 RSVP and be entered to win a VIP table with Bottle Service for 10 friends!  Download the free BestBuzz app and scan the code below with your phone to enter.  Deadline for all entries is Monday 3/28 at NOON.

To celebrate their move to a new Addison location, Greenz is having a house warming party and all of their Facebook Fans are invited!

Dine with us on Friday, July 9 in Addison ONLY from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM (open to close) and get a FREE ENTREE*!

The Rules:
1) This offer is for the Addison location only. Uptown and Equinox are not included.
2) You must show us that you are a Fan of our Facebook Page on your smartphone or by bringing in a print off of the page.
3) One complimentary entree per fan
4) You will be charged for your drink, dessert or any side items. This offer is only for your main entree – NOT the entire bill
5) This offer is for dine-in or to-go orders only. Not valid for delivery.

*Free entrees are for any soup, salad or sandwich on the menu – EXCLUDING seafood dishes.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

It’s hard not to sing Chef Gorji’s praises. Not only is he incredibly charming and handsome, he makes damn fine food at a reasonable price that will wow you with every bite.

This afternoon I took a peek at his Valentine’s Day prix fixe 3 and 4 course menus for February 12, 13 and 14 and I’m simply gutted with how delicious it all looks.

Take a peek:

$39 Three Course Menu

Caesar – prepared traditionally with fresh egg yolk
Spinach/Fresh Berries- pomegranate champagne vinaigrette & roasted pistachios

Prime New York Strip with garlic gorgonzola mashed potatoes
Prime Pork Chop with Gnocchi & gorgonzola creme
Texas Red Fish & Shrimp – white wine, shallots, unripe grape juice and capers

Chocolate Cake with raspberry puree

Four Course Option – $55 plus tax and gratuity
Three course menu plus:
• Grilled Chilled Avocado and Shrimp appetizer
• Port with dessert course

Regular Menu Also Available

Canary Café
5100 Belt Line Road, Suite 402
Dallas, Texas

Call for Reservations – 972-503-7080

This just in…The seventh in a series of Chef Gorji‘s cooking classes at Canary Cafe kicks off January 25th at 7 p.m. For a very low price of $59, these intimate, hands on classes always include a three course meal and wine pairing. This new cooking class exemplifies was Gorji does best: New Mediterranean.

Take a look at what you’ll learn to make and nosh on this month:

First Course:
Butter Seared Scallops with baby cucumber, tomato and soltana
served with Domaine Chiroulet La Cote d’Heux 2006 (France)

Second Course:
Beef Anar with Prime Tenderloin Tips and pomegranate cream sauce
served with Ercavio Roble 2007 (Spain)

Third Course:
Sesame Barazek Ice Cream Sandwich with melted chocolate
served with Orange Muscato 2005 (Texas)

Again, these classes are very intimate, so you’ll need to RSVP right away by calling 972-503-7080

Canary Cafe
5100 Belt Line Road – Suite 402
Dallas, Texas 75254

A handful of days ago, I had the absolute pleasure to sit down with Canary Café’s Owner/Chef Mansour Gorji, who just happens to ooze just as much if not more charm as his New Mediterranean restaurant in Addison. I’d been a fan of Chef Gorji’s fare for a while, so I was thrilled when he agreed to not only sit down with me, but to invite me into his kitchen.

Though Gorji got his culinary start as a child cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen in Iran, he left home to pursue his degree in Engineering in Scotland. After putting said degree to good use and traveling the world for nearly a decade, Gorji could no longer resist the siren song of the kitchen and found himself in, of all places, Dallas, Texas in 1987, “I wanted to have my own restaurant, so I went to work in both the front of the house and back of the house. I wanted to learn what worked and what didn’t and apply that to the place I would one day open.”

Fast forward to 2003 when Gorji opened Canary Café in 2003, taking inspiration from his Persian roots and European and U.S. travels and putting them to good use, “It is New Mediterranean. I’ve borrowed techniques, flavors. I do what I think tastes best I’ve taken all the good things, the best things, and I refuse to even debate the bad stuff. If it doesn’t work, I have no time for it.”

Trust me, everything Gorji does works, even the things he’s never tired before. Case in point: Hico, Texas’ Texas Steak Cookoff – a chef star-studded event that pits pros like Tim Love against one another in the quest for being named Champion. “When I learned that it was a blind competition, I said okay. I just did something that I thought would taste good.” Gorji went on to take the title two years in a row, and ultimately Texas Monthly published his steak recipe in their Best 38 Steakhouses. Laughs Gorji, “I’m not a steakhouse, and at the time, I didn’t even offer steak on my menu, just as a special from time to time.”

As for Gorji’s flair for flavor, a common staple found on the menu is the pomegranate, native to Iran. “I grew up with pomegranates, how to cook with them, and I love their versatility.” Chef Gorji loves them so much he guestimates that the restaurant goes through 500 to 1000 of them a year, “They were a staple for me as a child, and they are staple in my kitchen now.” And it was at that point in our conversation when a gorgeous plate of grilled pita and Bulgarian feta topped with fresh pomegranate arils arrives at our table, almost on cue.
“Eat,” Gorji implored.

The creamy sheep’s milk feta was surprisingly smooth – unlike it’s Greek, crumbly cousin. The pomegranate arils, resembling ruby hued caviar, made for a delicious pairing when they popped open in my mouth adding sweetness to the tart, tangy cheese.

While I sat stuffing my face, some of Gorji’s staff began to mill about as he began to explain his philosophy on restaurant ownership and kitchen management. “Most of my employees have been here from the beginning. Everyone cross-trains here, including me. Front of the house has worked in the back of the house and vice versa. And if I can’t be here, if I’m not here, the restaurant is closed. Period. Nobody else is cooking my food.” To illustrate his point, Gorji invites us into his kitchen, which is, like his wine list, filled with Texas grown and sourced items, another cause close to his heart.

“I do my own shopping, here’s my list,” explains Gorji as he begins to hop around the kitchen to prepare his New Mediterranean version of a famous French dish, Escargot. With flames licking the saucepan, Gorji adds butter, fresh snails, basil, mushrooms and his housemade pomodoro sauce and soon I become blissfully heady with the aroma. Deftly plating the dish with flatbread and topping it with gorgonzola, again, I’m asked to eat.

While I’ve always been an adventurous eater, escargot has always proven to be a tricky dish for me. Usually chewy, too garlicky and butter heavy, it can be quite difficult to find a good plate of mollusks. However, Gorji’s dish was heavenly, each morsel melting in my mouth. The sweet, fresh basil and mildly spiced pomodoro made the dish a perfect, rib sticking accompaniment on a cold day as I found myself wiping the plate clean with the remaining bread.

While feasting yet again, I watched as Chef Gorji began to prepare another signature dish and Texas Monthly favorite, his catfish. Taking the lowly fish fare to truly New Mediterranean heights, the dish, which consists of breaded, pan-seared catfish is plated on a bed of greens and artichoke salad with grilled avocado. Once the finished, it was glorious to behold and even more so to consume. The breading, made with Gorji’s handmade croutons crushed into a fine meal, gave way to perfectly cooked, flaky, farm raised fish. I quickly discovered the dish’s perfect bite, at least for me anyway: A forkful of fish, a bit of greens, an artichoke heart and a small dollop of grilled avocado. Hearing my squeals and exclamations of delight, photographer Jim Muise, fork in hand, promptly joined me in inhaling every last bite.

Sated, fat and sassy, I sat back down with the chef to finish up our interview with a few quick questions about his business and his home pantry. Looking around the restaurant, I pointed out the discreet shelves of his sauces and marinades and inquired about their creation. Gorji beams, “My customers kept asking me if they could buy my sauces, so I started making small batches a few years ago. It took off from there and now they are also sold at Whole Foods, too. Now I also have a New Mediterranean cookbook coming out later this year. I’ve also started giving small, intimate, monthly cooking classes here at the restaurant. We cook three courses and later enjoy them together with wine pairings.”

To say that Chef Gorji is passionate about his food would be an understatement, so I was curious about what he cooks at home. His response? “Nothing. We go out a lot.” Okay, so what are Gorji’s favorite things? “I love Jay’s Diner on Belt Line. There’s also a wonderful place where I get Pho. Pho with extra tripe. And I like pizza!” And while some people might think that diner fare, tripe and pizza might be a little unsophisticated for a fine dining chef, it makes sense to me. When you devote your life to concocting urbane dishes which incorporate ingredients from all around the world, a little comfort food at home is bound to hit the spot.

If you’ve yet to venture to Canary Café, I encourage you to do so. An always companionable Chef Gorji helms a fine dining restaurant, albeit a casual one, that’s easy on the budget and bound to impress both the stodgiest of foodies and those in need of just a really good steak. And Chef Gorji wants to make your visit even more budget friendly this year, just present the coupon below through January 2010:

Canary Café
5100 Belt Line Road, Suite 402
Dallas, Texas

Jerry and Brian Elliot ended up in the Dallas Restaurant business the old fashioned way, by destiny. Both came from a family that knows a thing or two about bars and food. Their parents owned and operated cafés, including the legendary Web Honky Tonk on Harry Hines, and even their grandparents were in the business. The family associations with food, music, drinks and even a guy named Jack Ruby goes back generations.

But at one point, Brian trekked to California to be a rock star and Jerry to university. A handful of years later, Brian was running the Harder Bar and Jerry had a freshly minted business degree, so the brothers decided to take their shot at opening their own club together.

Nine years ago they opened Zen as a Mongolian Grill, Bar and Night Club in Addison Circle. At the time, Addison Circle was the newest thing in upscale cool in the Dallas area and Zen, in the center of the new apartments and condos, quickly morphed away from the buffet line when the bar and night club side of the business took off.

zen-ms-6Finding the balance between the three themes of Zen is something Brian and Jerry managed to do, their initial menu choices blended Southwest and Asian influences, the sports bar became a destination for locals on game night, and live music and DJs provided entertainment late into the night.

The success of Addison Circle’s Zen Bar had its own stories. One neighbor was annoyed at being told she couldn’t smoke cigars in the bar and began an eerie campaign of putting curses on the Jerry and the bar by hanging Voodoo dolls on the door. I even had my share of run-ins with her. She’d sit on her balcony over the front entrance hexing patrons and passersby. But the neighbor’s curses and bad juju couldn’t stop the club’s growth and a few years ago Jerry and Brian landed a prime location in the new mixed-use development at Austin Ranch.

The new location is much larger and has some other advantages, namely the patio, which wraps around the eastern end of the building and houses an outside bar. With the Addison location, the patio couldn’t be properly utilized because of the way the courtyard of the building enclosed it. Any sound would just reverberate off the walls and even the sans voodoo dolled neighbors would complain. The new Austin Ranch Location doesn’t have that problem now and on warm nights live bands play late.

With over 500 rental and condo units in easy stumbling distance from their location in The Colony, Zen has been a survivor in the cyclical bar scene. The development is about to release the newly completed Phase 2 including more residential units, a martini bar, sushi bar, liquor store and more retail, and the Elliot’s are going to be releasing a new menu to keep their advantage going.

firecrackerchickenThough Brian is now responsible for developing the new items, one that will survive the switch, maybe, is the Firecracker Chicken. Medallions of chicken covered with Buffalo wing sauce and served with white rice and a tomato salad. The wing sauce has a bite, but not so much that you would need to carry an ice pack, and the salad has its own distinct crispness. Flavored with Italian dressing, cilantro and pepper, the tomato wedges and red onion slices actually carry their own spicy bite.

Over the years I have been a frequent guest at both Zen Locations and the Elliot’s newest foray, Ringo’s Pub at the Shops at Legacy. I have never had anything on the menu at any of the locations that disappointed, and one of my personal favorites has been the spring rolls.

The Elliot’s have evolved into a small business empire and Jerry says one key is finding the right people, “With three locations we couldn’t do it with out having good managers and staff.” He also says that for now, three is enough, “We have some changes to make and have to keep things fresh when we roll out the new menu we think people will really like it.”

Zen-ms-4With three successful locations around North Dallas, the Elliot’s are now going to be working on releasing the new menu in January and keeping the clubs rolling. Both Zen locations host events and the Ringo’s location now features a regular, Tuesday night, live team trivia competition.

As business partners, the Elliot’s have evolved into a well balanced team. With Zen they’ve found the balance between being a bar, lounge and grill and with three businesses, they’ve also managed to make a name for themselves in the North Dallas bar and restaurant scene.

Zen Restaurant Bar and Lounge
Austin Ranch / Addison Circle

ZEN in Austin Ranch is celebrating its 3 Year Anniversary tonight – Thursday, December 3rd!

My wife and I just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary and decided to try a place we had heard about in Allen. Nate’s Seafood & Steakhouse was a little hard to find, but worth the effort. We were surprised by the weeknight crowd – it was packed- and then we discovered and experienced the food.

We had the Blackened Alligator Nuggets for an appetizer. Then my dear wife had the Salmon with Pontchartrain Sauce and I had the Fried Seafood Platter. Everything was delicious and cooked to perfection. We were too full to try the desserts but everyone around us ordered the Key Lime Pie or the Bread Pudding. They looked great!

Word to the wise: Don’t wait until your 36th!

Nate’s Seafood & Steakhouse
190 East Stacy Rd, Suite 1800
Allen, TX 75002
(972) 678-2223

Alfredo’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs

alfredosThough Alfredo’s has been in the Carrollton-Addison area since the mid-1980’s, they’re still going strong because of their great food, handmade pastas, outstanding service and wonderful atmosphere.

I was reminded of this when we grabbed lunch there over the weekend. I went with a simple dish, the chicken fettuccine alfredo. The portion was so big I could only finish half, but I was able to take my doggy bag home and make a second meal out of it. My companion had two servings of the calamari, which I had a share in devouring. So the food is simple, yet excellent. You can have a beer with your pasta, as well, and I always do.

The location on Trinity Mills is convenient to many of the northern suburbs of Dallas and the restaurant has a warm, inviting atmosphere – nothing fancy, but clean and not crowded. If you have a hankering for some great, inexpensive Italian food, you can’t do better than Alfredo’s Pizza and Pasta.

Visit Alfredo’s online or in person today!