Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Dallas Roadtrip Part II

Photo courtesy of Rosewood Hotels
Our Dallas weekend adventure continued with an overnight stay at one of the city's best luxury properties, The Rosewood Crescent. Located in the tony Uptown Dallas area, this property features gorgeous decor and beautifully landscaped grounds. The location was perfect for easy access to many of Downtown Dallas's most popular attractions and restaurants. Although it's in the heart of the city, we felt miles away once we drove through the gates and entered the property. We arrived and were very impressed with the property, starting with check-in. I had a headache and inquired if there was a gift shop where I could buy some aspirin. The friendly desk attendant smiled, walked over to a wooden armoire behind the desk, and came back with complimentary meds for me. The armoire is fully stocked with a wide range of travel-size toiletries and meds that are complimentary for guests. Forget to pack your toothpaste? No problem...they've got you covered. We pay close attention to customer service, and little extras like this really impressed us! 
We hopped on an elevator and discovered that we'd been booked in one of their spacious bi-level Loft Suites. These suites features a spacious living area, a spiral staircase, loft bedroom and bathroom area, and Juliet balcony. All rooms on the property include complimentary WiFi, individual thermostats, and some of the most luxurious bed linens we've ever experienced! Other amenities offered at the property include an on-site spa, fitness center, and pool. Dining options include Starbucks and Nobu Dallas. All of these features combine to make the Rosewood Crescent the perfect home-away-from-home!
We relaxed for a bit, then it was time to get ready for dinner. We had a double feature planned: appetizers and cocktails at El Fenix, then entrees and dessert next door at sister restaurant Meso Maya. The original location of Tex-Mex chain El Fenix is located in Downtown Dallas. They invited us for margaritas and a sampling of their signature appetizers to start our evening! Their margaritas have been voted the best in Dallas for the past 3 years, and they are excellent! I had the Strawberry Margarita, while Michael opted for The Original. To go with our perfectly sweet-tart cocktails, we enjoyed two appetizers. We started with the Appetizer Combo, featuring homemade guacamole and fire-roasted queso. We followed it with the Assorted Botana Platter.

Everything was so tasty! The guacamole was creamy and perfectly seasoned, and the queso was flavorful with just enough spice. The chips were warm and crispy, and not the least bit greasy! The appetizer platter included a nice sampling of El Fenix's classic appetizers, including: Chicken Nachos with Sour Cream, Beef Fajita Quesadilla, Chicken Flauta, and Beef Flauta. These offerings paired perfectly with the margaritas and the guacamole and queso. These bites were the perfect start to our dinner! Before we knew it, it was time to walk around the corner to sister restaurant Meso Maya for the rest of our meal.

Meso Maya offers a different take on Mexican food, featuring dishes from the interior of Mexico. The flavors are quite different from Tex-Mex, but we loved all of the fabulous menu options. We started out with a duo of cocktails recommended to us: their delicious Hand-Shaken Pina Colada...and the uniquely delicious Avocado Margarita. This tasty (and very creative) margarita features fresh avocado and pineapple juice, for a creamy and tart take on the classic cocktail. We tried both a beef and a seafood entre. Ever the beef lover, Michael selected the Carne Asada, which featured a wood-fired marinated steak, homemade sweet corn tamale with crema Mexicana, queso fresco, and black beans. The steak arrived perfectly cooked, and the tamale was sweet and moist. 
I selected the Enchiladas del Mar, which featured lump crab, adobo shrimp, fresh avocado, and both Chihuahua and asadero cheese. The filling was enclosed in house-made white corn tortillas and topped with a creamy roasted tomatillo sauce. The end result was earthy and rich, with a generous helping of sweet seafood. Speaking of sweet...we opted to share the Postre Sampler, which featured small portions of their house-made pastel de moras, flan de queso, and pastel de chocolate. This was the perfect way for us to try all three signature desserts.
The pastel de moras was a skillet-baked blueberry cake topped with Mexican vanilla ice cream and a blueberry drizzle; the flan de queso was creamy from the inclusion of cream cheese; and the pastel de chocolate was moist and topped with unique sweet corn ice cream. All were fabulous, and I loved being able to have a taste of three dessert selections! From there, it was back to our suite at the Rosewood Crescent...where we enjoyed sleeping in the most luxurious bed linens we've experienced at any hotel!! The next morning, I met with the hotel's concierge. She and I chatted over breakfast at The Conservatory, located adjacen to the lobby. It was filled with lots of natural light, and the menu featured all sorts of yummy options to get your morning started. 
We had brunch reservations later in the morning, so I opted for something light: pain au chocolate and a bowl of fresh strawberries. Both were a lightly sweet and got my day off to a great start. Afterward, I was given a tour of the property and learned more about the hotel's history. Across the street from the main hotel is The Crescent Club, which hosts private well as offering guests a place to enjoy lunch, dinner, or an evening cocktail in a lovely setting. Just check out this view from a 17th-story window table!
It was time to check out and head to our midday brunch, so we bid farewell to the lovely folks at the Rosewood Crescent and made our way to SMOKE for one of Dallas's best weekend brunches. SMOKE features what they term "homegrown, homemade local eats" that take traditional BBQ to new, modern heights. This place was packed, with people waiting for a table while enjoying house-made mimosas. We were quickly seated and started out with some drool-worthy homemade biscuits and blackberry jam while we enjoyed our mimosas and looked over the menu. We let the chef select our menu items for us. Out first came a duo of eggs dishes:  Pulled Whole Hog BBQ Eggs Benedict and Smoked Salmon & Collard Green Eggs Florentine, served with Goat Cheese Potato Cakes. Both dishes were flavorful and perfectly prepared, but I especially loved the pulled pork benedict. The smoky and tangy pulled pork worked really nicely with the richness of the poached egg and hollandaise sauce.
The next items to come out of the kitchen were a duo of hashes: Smoked Brisket Cornbread Hash with Poached Egg and Chile Rajas...and Smoked Pork and Sweet Potato Hash. The brisket hash featured a base of sweet cornbread cubes topped with a chopped brisket cake, spicy and creamy chile rajas, and a perfectly poached egg. This dish has been voted one of Dallas's best brunch dishes, and it's easy to see why. It's a fantastic combination of flavors and textures: smoky, sweet, spicy, and rich. The smoked pork hash married earthy sweet potatoes with a smoky bone-in pork chop, two flavors that work so well together. Creative and flavorful! 
The chef ended our brunch tasting with a slice of their signature deep dish Key Lime Pie. Michael and I agreed that this is one of the very best Key Lime Pies that we've ever tasted. It was perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, and the meringue was light and fluffy compared to the usual heavy whipped cream. It was perfect for sharing...and the perfect ending to our SMOKE brunch. From there, it was time to say goodbye to Dallas...but not before stopping by to snap a picture of the bronze cattle drive statue at Pioneer Plaza in Downtown Dallas. 
This grouping of statues includes numerous longhorn steers being driven by three bronze cowboys riding bronze horses. The bronze statues were created by Texan artist Robert Summers. For those planning a visit to Dallas, Pioneer Plaza is located near the Dallas Convention Center, at the corner of Young and Griffin street. This statue is quite a site to behold, and the cows look so lifelike. It makes a great photo op, as well as representing the history of the city. With that, our Dallas roadtrip was over...and it was time to head back to San Antonio. There are many Dallas-Fort Worth adventures left on our to-do list, so stay tuned for more Metroplex adventures later this year!

Disclosure: The Rosewood Crescent provided us with a complimentary overnight stay to facilitate inclusion in this article. The restaurants featured hosted our meals as well. We received no further compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyrighted by Michael K. Garcia. They may not be copied or otherwise used without prior approval.

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