Monday, November 24, 2014

Frezko Taco Spot ~ Southlake, Texas


Like Arezzo, another somewhat-new concept arrived in Southlake this summer that we're quite fond of. We first tried Frezko back in late September, and it's a place we've gone to a couple of more times since.

Food: Frezko is definitely a traditional taqueria in the sense that it uses only fresh ingredients, and keeps things simple with a small menu of primary tacos and burritos and there are no alcoholic beverages. You choose a protein (steak, chicken, pork (carnitas)), toppings (onions, cilantro, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc..), and that's about it. As mentioned, the food is freshly prepared, and the steak and chicken have a wonderful charbroiled taste (asada). The tortillas are fresh. Of course, no taqueria worth its chile pepper doesn't at least have one salsa to squirt all over the tacos or burritos with. They have both a red and a green (fresh and refrigerated), each with a slight kick, and a taste more similar than you might imagine at first - which is a good thing since it's an excellent blend (though I do wish for a spicier option). As for prices, they more or less hold to the $2 a taco verse $1 in the barrios.

Drink: No alcohol. Bottled soft drinks and water are available.

Location: Fresko's biggest challenge I think is its location. I imagine most people reading this didn't even realize it was there! So... Frezko sits on the south side of Southlake Boulevard, just before the 114 on ramp. Where the old First Financial Bank used to be pre-construction. Except tucked back a bit. If you're heading westbound, it's very difficult to find, but basically the first time you can turn left past 114, do so and U-turn back. It's much easier heading eastbound. Still, for those of us heading back home, we basically have to take a loop around via Hwy 26 as there's no outlet back west. This can't be a good thing for repeat visitors. But it's worth the effort. Once inside, I would call it "upscale" in the sense that the interior has a fancy post-moderne steel/chrome look, plays dance/electronica music, and most certainly doesn't have lingua and sesos on the menu. All of this of course befits the neighborhood, and thus the potential clientele it sits amongst. I would say this concept would seem a better fit in a hipster area like Deep Ellum or Uptown, rather than an upscale suburban warehouse district. But we'll see...

Notes: There is no place like Taco Frezko in NE Tarrant (that I know of), and if you're craving a more traditional taqueria, but in a more comfortable setting, then this comes as an easy recommendation. Mrs. RJG, native of Sonora, Mexico, loves it. Perhaps I could have kept the entire review as pithy as that, and served my purpose here.

Rating: 3.5

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Hours: Mon - Sat: 11:00a - 9:00p; Closed Sunday

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Arezzo, Italian Street Food ~ Southlake, Texas


If I were to name a restaurant - or perhaps a concept - I'm most excited about, it would have to be Arezzo. They describe themselves as "Italian Street Food", and I think that's an apt portrayal of exactly who they are. Named after a beautiful city in Tuscany, Arezzo tries to emulate the village experience as best as possible for the modern upscale automobile culture we live in. On the few visits I've been, the restaurant has been fairly empty. I hope this is a concept that doesn't fly by without notice. Definitely give it a shot and report back. The price is right, and the food is great. One of these days, I'll have to try something else, but it's really hard for me not to have a big ol' heapin' bowl of pasta. Especially on cold weather days.

Food: Somewhere between Fazoli's, any pizza-pasta shop, and a modern Italian cafe, is where you'll find the food of Arezzo. It's setup somewhat like the burrito places, where you order a type of food, and then start down the assembly line. I can't get past the pasta bowl myself, but they do have Italian Wraps (PaDeena), panini's, salads, and pizza. So the concept is unique (for America anyway), but that's not what has drawn me back multiple times already. It's the pasta, and the pomodoro sauce. Makes me once again ask the question: Is it really that hard to do this? No, it's not, but shockingly few do it as well as Arezzo. The pasta has been al dente on all of my visits. I presume they make sure that's a big deal - and I hope they do - because it is! The pomodoro is delicious. Not the usual overly sweet or sour marinara, but a true light colored red sauce that is absolutely delicious, despite it's relative simplicity. Now they'll bury the pasta in it if you let them. They give 3 full spoons per order. That's way too much. One is enough, and then ask for the same sauce as a dipping mechanism for the free bread sticks they throw in. That way you can add a little more if needed. Now their much ballyhooed meatballs were a great disappointment to me. Too soft, and not a favorable flavor. I didn't get the spices of Italy that's for sure. On the other hand, the Italian sausage is divine. It has to be homemade, or at the very least, they have found a wonderful local vendor. This is not the usual Lisanti's off-the-truck stuff. And you get plenty of sliced goodness per each bowl. As well, you can add veggies, cheese, and other toppings to your bowl. To top off the meal, you can help yourself to the soft serve ice cream machine. Mrs. RJG's only complaint is they give you plastic utensils, which isn't ideal for pasta. I have to agree with her. I think it's worth the expenditure to use real knives and forks.

Location: Arezzo is in the old Aleda's pizza place, next to Jersey Mike's near Bicentennial Park in Southlake.

Rating: 3.5

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pho Asian Star ~ Corinth, Texas

Time to blow the cobwebs of this blog, and let's see if we can get the engine cranked again! The holidays are coming, which should give me much more time, and I have a raftful of information for everyone. Which would make sense, since my last post was in January (Mr. Music had one in August for us). But we didn't stop eating out! OK - speaking of Mr. Music, he has once again given us a new review to see if this blog still works.

Take it away Mr. Music!

Mr and Mrs Music have resided in the Denton area for over 10 years and have been dreaming for a really good Vietnamese restaurant. A few places have come and gone, but none have really been that great. Recently, I was in Corinth and happened to drive by a place that used to hold a takeout Chinese food spot and noticed a new sign, Asian Star. What really got my attention is that when I got closer, I noticed pictures of Pho and Goi Cuon (Spring Rolls) on the window! And although the big sign just says Asian Star, on the door the sign reads Pho Asian Star!

I was getting a little giddy by then at the prospect of a good Pho shop 5 minutes from us! We decided to go there a few days later to celebrate Music Junior's birthday. Yes, at the tender age of 10, it was her idea! All of the Music clan enjoys Vietnamese food. The place is very typical of a Vietnamese restaurant - sparse decor with a few pictures on the wall. The place was clean, and tables each full of the ubiquitous condiments: Srirachi, Soy Sauce, ground chili paste, hoisen, dried ground chilies in oil, and fish sauce! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

We started off with some spring rolls and we all really enjoyed them. They were fresh and filled with all the goods: vermicelli, cilantro, bean sprouts, shrimp and pork. Mrs. Music usually doesn't care for the pork in the roll, but she said this pork was great and was glad it was there.

Music Junior had the wide stir fired noodles with chicken (a little like chicken chow fun) and loved it. I tasted and agree that it was yummy. Baby Music had Pho Ga (chicken pho). The broth was light and had a rich chicken flavor and the chicken itself was very moist - not always the case with Pho Ga! Mrs. Music had the Hieu Hu Tieu My Tho (seafood pho with glass noodles) with pork broth. I had a similar dish, my new favorite combination Hieu Hu Tieu (fixed per comment) which is the same thing but has pork in the soup as well as seafood. Both bowls were delicious. The broth was very tasty and light; no sugar and surprisingly not too salty. The glass noodles were toothsome with a nice chew. LOTS of hunks of pork and seafood (shrimp, fish balls and squid). The prices were on par with most Pho shops i.e. very reasonable. A few days later we decided to go again although Mrs. Music was not able to go. Music Junior and Baby Music had Pho Ga and I had Pho Bo (beef) with well done flank and brisket. Once again the food was great. The beef broth followed suit - rich with flavor and had plenty of meat. I will say that I didn't order the brisket and flank as they are really not my thing nor is well done meat of any kind, but it was still good. Once the owner realized they made me the wrong item, they offered to bring me a new bowl, but I didn't need them to.

The service is exemplary. The owner, a Vietnamese woman, takes care of all her customers and is very attentive and friendly. Her husband and son, man the back (so to speak)! Both times we visited, the owner offered Music Junior a free desert: Her favorite slush made with flavored gelatine, crushed ice, and coconut cream!

Pho Asian Star is on my return and "bring friends" list. The Music family is looking forward to checking out more of the menu! 

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