Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fort Worth Date Night: A"Smokin" Date Night

by Michael Bloomberg
May 20, 2010

Their motto is "You've tried the rest, now try the best!" O.K., don't mind if I do. With bold words like that, they better be able to back it up. I'm pretty sure every restaurant doesn't open up thinking they are just fair or mediocre. Although, and it's not a restaurant, but, I always get a kick out of an alteration place on the west side of Fort Worth called, "OK Tailor." Seriously? A business with low self-esteem?

So, I was happy to find a barbeque joint who was proud of their product and eager to stand behind their motto. I have heard about Hickory Stick BBQ for years. My parents and their friends have been several times recently and couldn't sing their praises enough. As a lifelong Fort Worthian and lover of the smoked brisket, it was time to head to Forest Hill to see what all the fuss was about.

Apparently, the fuss has been going on a while. Hickory Stick has been in existence for over 34 years. A feat that is not often seen when it comes to a business, much less, a restaurant. Now I'm understanding their confidence. Hickory Stick is actually in Everman(900 E. Enon Ave., Everman, TX 76140). Not a far drive from the southwest part of Fort Worth. I love that when I pulled up to the parking lot, it looked and smelled like "this place has some serious BBQ."

You'll find your typical BBQ selections on the menu. Some in our party went with the chopped beef and kept saying it was the best they had eaten. I opted for the sliced beef and will say that it was very, very good. I also didn't leave hungry. The portions are huge.

We inquired about dessert. Everything sounded great. But, something at the order counter caught my eye. This was homemade peanut brittle. While they don't make it there, it is made locally and can honestly say as a peanut brittle officianado, could be the best peanut brittle ever.

It's getting to be that time of year. The weather is heating up, the outdoor activities are increasing and your grill starts to get used a bit more. Don't feel like cooking? Need to fulfill your BBQ fix? Hickory Stick would make the perfect place for you two to hit up when looking for that casual, hole-in-the-wall, "can I go like this?" kind-of-place.

Fort Worth Date Night: A "Sweet" Date Night

by Michael Bloomberg
May 14, 2010

Do you remember how simple desserts were when we were kids? The ice cream truckmusic could be heard for blocks away and we couldn't get there fast enough. Or, maybe it was Dairy Queen. Some of our options were a Blizzard, a Dilly Bar and, if you were feeling daring, the Peanut Buster Parfait. I can still taste my sweet grandmother's homemade chocolate milk shake. It had particular meaning when I got one when I was sick. And, now that she is no longer with us, it is even that much more tastier in my head and special in my heart (and belly).

But, something has happened to dessert. It's gotten...oh, what's the word....frou-frou. Frou-frou meaning "something fancy, elaborate, and showy." Just watch the Food Network or the umpteen cooking shows on any given weekend. One of the popular trends is spicy seasoning mixed in with chocolate. LEAVE MY CHOCOLATE ALONE! The chocolate was fine before you chefs had to come along and "Pimp my Brownie." Nuts are o.k. Chile powder is not.

Which is why I love a new addition to Fort Worth so much. Sweet Sammies is about the greatest thing to hit Fort Worth since the Chisholm Trail. Great in several aspects. First and foremost, it's scrumptious! Next, the prices are really reasonable. And, finally, it's easy and when we were kids. Let me explain.

Sweet Sammies offers up fresh baked cookies, scoops of ice cream or both. Both? Stay with me. It's brilliant. If you are opting for the ice cream sandwich, you pick out two cookies you'd like. One chocolate chip with nuts and one without. Done. Two oatmeal raisin. Done. One chocolate chip and one Oatmeal Toffee. You get the idea. Then, it's down to your choices of the fresh Blue Bell ice cream. On my first visit, I went very conservative. Twochocolate chip cookies and a scoop of vanilla. Before I knew it, I'm the proud owner of one of the best ice cream sandwiches I've ever eaten.

Are you sitting down? This "Sweet Sammie" is only $1.75. That means two of you can each get your own dessert (sharing is optional) for well under 5 bucks. Sweet Sammies is surrounded by all the new "goings on" down on the University/7th Street corner. It's located at 825 Currie St., just down from the Movie Tavern.

You could easily hit up Sweet Sammies after lunch or dinner. Even better, you could simply have a Date Night, Date Day, Date Morning or Date "whatever" centered around it. There is seating inside, but, plenty of tables and benches located up and down the street should the weather be nice. And, did I mention that the cookies are usually out-of-the-oven fresh? Alone, they would be fantastic. But, isn't it the ice cream that is somewhat the star of most dessert shows. After all, it was Voltaire who said, "Ice cream is exquisite - what a pity it isn't illegal."

Fort Worth Date Night: Simply D'Vine

by Michael Bloomberg
May 7, 2010

It's no secret that I am a planner. This is true in my professional life, as well as, in my personal life. I'm not sure why. I just feel more comfortable when I know what I am going to be doing. That's not to say that I can't be sporadic, too.

In reality, some of the best outings are the times that aren't planned and you just see where the night takes you. This actually happened to me recently. A good friend called and asked, "Want to run an errand with me?" Me: "Sure." Little did I know this errand would take me toGrapevine. But, not to worry. This just gave me another excuse to hit my favorite pizzeria inLas Colinas, Cavalli Pizza.

After a quick stroll through the ski store and an exchange, we decided that since we are nearMain Street in Grapevine, it was worth a visit to see what was going on. It was bustling onthis Saturday afternoon. One of the first places we walk upon was D'Vine Wine on Main Street.

An hour and half later, we found ourselves still parked at a table inside. What a great place! Here's out it played out. We walked through the store and quickly checked out the wines. Great choices and reasonable prices. As we were heading back out the door, we stopped at an empty table to read the menu on the table. This was the tasting menu and the "by the glass" menu." It was also the reason for our extended stay.

D'vine Wine offers tastings of some of their popular wines. You can pick 3 wines in a particular category for $5 dollars. I believe we went went with 3 from Reds, 3 from Whites, 3 from Sparkling and 3 from dessert wines. These are generous pours. Should you find one you like, you are more than welcome to order another glass or a bottle. We weren't that brave. There was one that stood out. It was an almond sparkling wine. So good that we both bought a bottle. At under 15 dollars a bottle, it was a bargain.

D'Vine Wine also hosts monthly events. I'd suggest signing up for their e-mail newsletter for updates. Recently, they hosted a Paella Night. Some upcoming events are Barrel Tasting Night, Wine & Cheese 101 and Flight Night. They are also available for private parties. Even more impressive is that if you choose, you can actually make a batch of your own wine. This is not done in a day. But, you can create your own private label. How cool would that make you? Their website has all the details.

I'm quickly realizing that errands aren't always bad. If all future ones end like this one, I'll be the first to volunteer for being a Plus One on your trips to wherever. That is the beauty of wine. It brings people together. After all, it was James Joyce who asked, "What is better than to sit at the table at the end of the day and drink wine with friends, or substitutes for friends?"

There are several D'vine Wines throughout the DFW area. For complete details, please visit:

Fort Worth Date Night: Heaven in a Basket

by Michael Bloomberg
April 30, 2010

It would be great if I could write every week about chocolate. Much like the shrimp speech from Forrest Gump, I prefer chocolate cake, chocolate pie, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate, chocolate martinis, and so on and so on. You get the idea. Which is why I'm switching things up this week. I'm turning over a new leaf; no mention of chocolate (except for what you just read).

You see, I may have found a new dessert obsession. We'll get to that in a minute. The issue is that I'm still trying to figure out if it falls in the dessert category, the vegetable category or simply the "best comfort food ever" category. It's so good that a Date Night should be centered around this basket of deliciousness.

In the location formerly housed by Deuce and, then, Fuego, now resides Jake's Hamburgers. I'm probably much like you. Born in Fort Worth and very loyal to my Cowtown favorites, I've always been partial to Kincaid's, Tommy's and Fred's. I know there are others, but, go with me here for a minute. So, when a new burger joint comes to town, I'm very apprehensive.

Ironically, it wasn't even the burger that got me there in the beginning. Which is where my new obsession comes into play. I kept hearing about Jake's Sweet Potato Fries. When not deep fried, a regular sweet potato is not my tator of choice. However, I had to suck it up and do my research like any good journalist would do. It only took one bite.

What came out was the following. A basket of crinkle cut sweet potato fries. But, that wasn't all. There was a sweet, subtle smell to them. Not to mention, a side of some "white stuff" that apparently accompanies said fries. Upon further inspection, it's a sugary, cinnamony concoction sprinkled on these bad boys right out of the fryer. And, the white stuff? That would be marshmallow for dipping. Somewhat reminiscent of Thanksgiving and sweet potato pie. Only way better and you can get them all year long.

Jake's has a great selection of burgers, but, that's not all. Chicken, sandwich classics and salads are also an option. I love the Chicken Tender Salad. I'm also a huge fan of their appetizers. Besides the sweet potato fries (which can be ordered first or as a side), the fried pickle chips are great, as well as, the jalapeno bottle caps. These are "coins of jalapenos, battered and served with a side of Ranch to cool off your taste buds." Feeling brave? You might opt for the Jalapeno Bottle Cap burger. Another fav if you like spicy and are not trying to watch your girlish figure.

Besides several in Dallas and the Camp Bowie location in Fort Worth, Jake's can also be found in downtown Fort Worth on Main Street. As I mentioned before, I'm very loyal. And, now I'm loyal to those sweet potato fries. The sweet coating, the golden fried potato and the absolute icing on the cake, the marshmallow sauce for dipping just keeps playing over and over in mind. And, when I get down to my last fry, a sense of sadness usually comes over me. But, then, I think of Mason Cooley's brilliant advice, "Cure for an obsession; get another one."

Fort Worth Date Night: A Star-filled Party

Fort Worth Date Night: Good Grief: A "Wild" Date Night

Fort Worth Date Night: Appreciating the grape

Fort Worth Date Night: A taxing date with a huge refund