Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Royale Magnificent Burgers

February of 2016 saw the opening of The Royale Magnificent Burgers in Plano.  The name is somewhat cumbersome, so most people have been referring to it as "The Royale."  John Tesar's most recent brainchild is his contribution to the growing number of burger joints in DFW.  The restaurant makes fancy burgers and shakes, but is also kid friendly.  
Best Chocolate Shake EVER
I was finally able to try the restaurant in May, which was three months after it's opening.  My daughter joined me on my visit and she insisted on ordering the chocolate shake, so I allowed her to order it...if, she promised to share it with me.  It arrived in a huge Mason jar and was topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, chocolate chips, and a toasted marshmallow.  Simply put, this was the most incredible chocolate shake I have ever had.  It was so good in fact, that I ordered a second shake just for myself.  In case you are wondering, I didn't share mine!
The Royale with Sweet Potato Chips
The Wagyu burgers were also quite tasty, and not overly expensive, considering they were made from Wagyu beef.  I had the Royale which was served with Applewood-smoked bacon and truffle aioli and my daughter had the Americano.  Both were extremely juicy, but the Royale was the better burger of the two and I particularly liked the favor of the truffle aioli.  Each burger was served with sweet potato chips that were both crispy and sweet.  In addition to the chips that come with each burger, we also tried their fries.  The thick cut fries were good as  well, although I didn't care for the pomegranate ketchup that was served with them.
In addition to the food, the servers were prompt and knowledgeable of the menu.  Although the burgers were good, the shakes were absolutely fantastic.  On my next visit, I will also be trying the Queso Poutine Fries, which I drooled over when an adjacent table ordered them.  Even if you don't like burgers or you are a vegetarian, I would certainly recommend going to try the shakes.  The Royale gets a big thumbs up from me!

The Royale Magnificent Burgers
Livin the Good Life Rating = 3
The Royale Magnificent Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rotolo's Pizzeria

My brother and I have recently started playing tennis again for the first time in over a decade.  After intense competitions between two players that are considerably past our primes, we generally go out for a bite to eat afterwards.  Following another victory by yours truly, my brother took me to one of his favorite pizza restaurants, Rotolo's.
Garlic Parmesan Bites
This was my first time dining at this pizza joint and we ordered the Garlic Parmesan Bites for an appetizer.  These baked tiny pieces of bread were delicious and reminded me of miniature garlic knots.  The marinara dipping sauce was good, but could have been served a little warmer.
Italian Club Pizza
We also ordered two pizzas, the Italian Club and a Pepperoni-Hamburger pizza.  The crust was actually quite good and they had plenty of cheese and toppings.  I particularly liked the Italian Club, which had pepperoni, salami, Canadian bacon, and bacon.  There was not a single bite that didn't have multiple pieces of meat on it.
Pepperoni and Hamburger
My brother had been talking about this place for a while and I thought it was worthy of his praise.  I wouldn't put it in my DFW Top 5, but it was good nonetheless.  This place also has a patio area and would be a nice place to enjoy a pizza and a beverage if the weather is nice.

Rotolo's Pizzeria
Livin the Good Life Rating=3
Rotolo's Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Starwood Cafe

The much awaited McKinney location of Starwood Cafe finally opened in Adriatica Village.  My wife has dined at the Frisco location on several occasions, but I have never had the opportunity to dine their myself.  On a recent Saturday morning, we loaded up the 2 girls and ate breakfast at the new location.  We arrived a little after 8 a.m. and there was already a crowd and a 30 minute wait.
Bacon, Hash Browns, and Eggs
My family and I tried several items, including cappuccinos, bacon, eggs, cheese grits, chicken fried steak, hash browns, toast and pancakes.  The majority of the items were good and the cappuccino, chicken fried steak, and pancakes were great.  In fact the chicken fried steak might be the best I have had so far in 2016 and the pancakes were pure greatness themselves.
Chicken Fried Steak, Eggs, and Cheese Grits
The service was as good as the food and the price was about what you would expect for breakfast and not expensive.  It is certainly a welcome addition to the McKinney breakfast scene and a place where I will go back again.  I actually went back the following weekend, only to find that the wait was over an hour.  Since it really hasn't been advertised that much, I can only assume that word of mouth is singing the praises of this restaurant, because people are beating down the door to get in.  I will just have to wake up earlier next time I visit!
Blueberry Pancakes
Starwood Cafe
Livin the Good Life Rating= 3
Starwood Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

18th and Vine

The city of Dallas and the greater DFW area has really been upping it's game in the barbecue department lately and new barbecue restaurants are opening in an attempt to compete with the heavyweights like Pecan Lodge, Lockhart Smokehouse, and Hutchins.  One of the newcomers, 18th and Vine, had several critics, like Daniel Vaughn, raving about the place. The Dallas Morning News even awarded it as one of the Best New Restaurants 2015.  What separates this place from the others is the fact that pit boss Matt Dallman has opened a Kansas City style barbecue joint with influences he brought from his hometown.

On a recent Saturday, I was with a party of four and we were able to sample several of the menu items. Below is my opinion of what we tried:

Burnt Ends - We ordered these as an appetizer and they were incredible.  These delicacies are a favorite of mine and I order them whenever I see them on a menu.  The burnt ends were amongst the best I have had in DFW and were the best smoked meat we had on this night.
Fried Okra - This was also ordered as an appetizer and we loved this dish as well.  The batter was fantastic and the okra was perfectly seasoned.  The dipping sauce served with the okra was a prefect compliment.  
Brisket - Although we loved the burnt ends, the brisket left a lot to be desired.  The brisket had a smoky flavor, but it was tough, the fat was not well rendered, and the slices were much thinner than I prefer.
Pulled Pork -  This item was fairly pedestrian and I didn't get much bark, which is my favorite part of pulled pork.
Pork Ribs-  The ribs had a nice smoke ring and a tasty glaze, but, like the brisket, they too were a little tough.  
Jalapeño Cheese Sausage -  The house-made sausage had a good flavor, a lot of cheese, and the jalapeños gave it a nice kick.
Smoked Chicken - This meat was only surpassed by the burnt ends.  The chicken had a great smoky flavor and the skin was well seasoned.
Seasoned Fries -  The seasoning was good, but the fries were barely warm and tasted like they had been sitting out a while.  
Jalapeño Cheese Grits -  Grits are one of my favorite sides and these were really spicy and had a lot of cheese.  That gets a big thumbs up from me.  
Pit Roasted Mushrooms -  This was the first time I remember seeing mushrooms on a barbecue restaurant menu, but they were better than I expected.
Assorted Cookies -  Four types of house-made cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle, and sugar) were served and none were overly impressive.  
Fried Apple Pies -  This dessert was much better than the cookies.  The miniature pies had a great flavor, a nice dusting of sugar, and were served piping hot.
18th and Vine has a really cool atmosphere and the service is great. The meal started off with a bang with the appetizers of burnt ends and fried okra, but almost everything else was very underwhelming.  While a few of the other items were also good,  the rest was far from great.  This place is certainly a little more upscale than most barbecue joints, but I am sure that this place will do well amongst the other high end casual restaurants in Oak Lawn.

18th and Vine
Livin the Good Life Rating = 3

18th & Vine BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato