A Look Inside Trinity Hall Irish Pub

Howdy, howdy!  As you can probably tell from the title, this is another food review.  Two food related posts in as many weeks???  Yeah, I was surprised too.  It came about as a combination of sadness over my last two food posts (they weren’t very nice and I felt bad about that) and the fact that Dad and I tried out a new place (new to us) on Sunday.  So, why not have two food posts in a row?  Anyway, we went to the Trinity Hall Irish Pub in Dallas.  They’re located in Mockingbird Station across 75 from SMU.  Check out their website (linked above) for an exact address and hours and event calendar.  Now, on to the review!

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Once again, I didn’t think to take pictures, so I borrowed some from Google.

Accessibility: not bad at all.  Mockingbird station had both valet and parking garages, so that part was pretty easy.  The pub was on the second floor, right around the corner from the elevators, so that’s great.  Inside, it could potentially get cramped, but there were a number of easily reached tables as long as people were willing to scooch a little when needed.  They had two different types of tables that I noticed, square ones and round ones.  The square ones had one of those three or four inch hangy down parts that make for black and blue knees if you don’t notice them and try to pull in.  I noticed.  It’s annoying but not impossible for me to sit at that type of table.  BUT!  The round tables didn’t have that problem, so we moved to one of those.  They were the simple small round top on a central pedestal type.  It worked, so yay!

Service: awesome!  Our server, Jon, wasn’t too sure of me at first, but quickly warmed up once Dad pointed out I could talk for myself.  After that, he made sure to address me as well as Dad even when he was just asking how everything was, which is really rare.  Servers tend to address me when ordering then direct everything else toward Dad, so it was a little weird to glance up and find Jon waiting for an okay from me as well.  Good weird.  And he timed our orders so we had a little time between each course, which was perfect.  We never felt rushed or like we were waiting.  It was a great experience.

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A picture of the Dublin Bay Casserole that I stole from Google.

Appetizers: yummy.  We opted for the steamed mussels which were in a nice broth with carrots and potatoes and celery.  There was soda bread for dipping on the side.  It was delicious.  Though, one of the mussels didn’t open during cooking (which means don’t eat it), so we were sad about that.

Entrees: delicious.  Dad had the Irish stew, which was chunks of leg of lamb, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions in a lovely stock topped with some mashed potatoes.  Soda bread on the side.  It was great.  Dad commented on the amount of and variety of potatoes, then realized it was Irish.  Of course there’s a plethora of potatoes.  I can’t say much.  It took me a minute to understand the amount of seafood on the menu before I remembered Ireland is an island.  We’re not all that bright.  Stop judging us.  But speaking of seafood, I got the Dublin bay casserole.  It was cod, shrimp, scallops, peas, and carrots in a bechamel sauce, surrounded by mashed potatoes.  And, of course, there was soda bread on the side.  The perfect food for a chilly night.

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Stolen from Google.

Dessert: good.  We split the creme brulee.  It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was by no means bad.  It was a little loose, but I used the crackly top as a spoon so all was well.  I’m just happy we skipped the cheesecake after we noticed it was vegan (I’m sorry that I don’t believe in milkless cheese).  But hey!  They also have vegan and gluten free menus, so that was cool.

Booze: good selection.  Dad got a Guinness and I got a black and tan.  But they have a wide selection of beers, ciders, and meads.  They also have Irish coffee with brown sugar, whiskey, and whipped cream which I will have to try next time.

Price: not bad at all.  Even with two beers, our bill was only around $75.  Wonderful food, great service, a nice atmosphere.  It was definitely worth the money.

My rating:
MMMM

P.S. To be fair, I only knocked off that fifth M because the accessibility could be a little better, but that could be better just about anywhere.  If you’re an able-bodied person, this is an MMMMM place.

A Look Inside Seafood Shack Mariscos

Hello, hello!  Welcome to September.  It seems like forever since I’ve posted a food review (since January 2017 actually), so I thought it was about time for one.  Dad and I were going to go to Zenna  on Sunday, but they are temporarily closed due to fire damage.  So, we ended up trying a place called Seafood Shack Mariscos.  You can find addresses for all three of their locations on the website linked above.  It has a Big Shucks vibe.  Honestly, it’s super surprising to find a seafood place in Mesquite that isn’t a huge chain (Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc.), so Dad and I decided to check it out.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Didn’t think to take pictures, so I borrowed this one from Google.

Accessibility: not bad, not great.  Cripple parking is sparse, but it’s a small lot so what do you expect?  There’s a spot on either side of the loading zone right out front.  And it’s a loading zone that’s actually large enough for me to get unloaded in (yay!).  Getting in is easy enough.  But the tables are pretty tightly packed, so when it’s busy, you have to rely on the kindness of people moving and pushing chairs around so you can reach an empty spot.  It’s embarrassing, but you do what you have to do for the sake of food.  The tables themselves are easy to fit under and a good height.

Service: good.  You order at the counter, they give you a flag, someone brings your food and booze out.  Fountain drinks, tea, and condiments are serve yourself.  The cashier smiled at me when we approached, but seemed a little apprehensive to assume I would order anything.  After she realized I was going to order, she talked to me normally.  Some wires got crossed because I speak softly, but Dad helped straighten them out.  She also messed up some stuff with him, though, so I didn’t feel too bad about my mumbling.  The person who dropped off our food just asked if it was ours and put it down in front of whoever responded, which was perfect.

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Again, no pictures.  So here’s part one of their Mesquite menu from the website.

Food: fan-freaking-tastic!  We got a bowl of gumbo and a shrimp and octopus cocktail to share.  Both of which were amazing.  I had a little trouble chewing the octopus, but it’s supposed to be chewy.  I knew that going in.  Dad had the salmon, which came with rice and veggies.  Aside from the fish being a bit more well done than he usually eats it, he said it was really good.  I had the enchiladas de camaron.  Three shrimp and cheese enchiladas in a creamy sauce with a side of rice.  They were wonderful!

The only (not really) problem with the food was that everything came out at once.  It’s one of those things that happens when you have to order everything up front.  Is it inconvenient?  Yeah, a little.  Especially for those of us who enjoy eating at a slow pace.  Is it a deal breaker?  Nope.

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Part two of their Mesquite menu from their website.

I didn’t notice any desserts on the menu.  Sadness.  But they have mango margaritas (as well as other drinks).  Those things are addictive.  They coat the rim in Tajin (a seasoning containing lime, chili peppers, and sea salt).  It goes really well with the sweetness of the mango.  They also have tamarindo margaritas.  I want to try that one too, but it’s going to be really hard to beat the mango.

Price: normal.  Seafood is never going to be cheap, but the prices here are pretty good.  We walked away with around a $60 bill (not including tip).  That’s not bad considering all the yummy food we got.  We’ll definitely be going back and I suggest you give it a shot as well if you’re in the area!

My rating:
MMMM

The Bottle Above My Door

Hello, hello!  I have nothing writerly to talk about this week, so I thought I would share the (boring) story behind one of my weirder decorations.  Hanging above my door, alongside my collection of drumsticks and guitar picks, is a crumpled up plastic water bottle.  Whenever I’m hurting and need to lay back in the chair to shift my weight (or I get stuck on something while writing and just need a break), I usually end up staring at that bottle for a few minutes.  It has this weird ability to make me smile, despite being a piece of junk to everyone else.  I guess it’s because I get to think about that December night back 2011 when I got it.

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Yes, I’m one of those weird people who keep things like this 

That year was a year for concerts.  Miyavi came around in November (pretty sure one of the drumsticks is from that one), which was a no-brainer for me.  I was definitely going to that show.  Then, I found out that Dir en grey was coming through that December.  I admit that I struggled a bit with the decision to go to that show.  I knew Dad wasn’t a fan (screamy Japanese metal just isn’t his thing, though I knew he wouldn’t say no if I asked to go) and it was a little expensive, but I had never seen them live before.  And you never really know if Japanese bands are going to come back through Texas, so it’s best to catch them when you can.  Ultimately, I decided to go.

Dad, the Minion (yes, I call my friend a minion, except I think he still had the title of Puppet back then), and I piled in the van and headed down to Trees in Deep Ellum.  It’s one of my favorite venues down there, though we haven’t been in a while.  The owners were super nice.  I heard they’ve reopened two other venues since the last time I went to a concert out there, which is neat.  But I digress.

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The Minion!  And yes, I wore a Mudvayne hat to a Dir en grey concert.

The concert was awesome.  Sat by the stage, right in front of Toshiya, the bassist.  At one point, Dad leaned over and said that he had just realized that that guy (Toshiya) was wearing a skirt.  Given other bands I listen to, it wasn’t a surprise as much as an observation, but it was still funny.  Then, when the concert was over and the band members were leaving the stage, Kyo (the singer) stopped and gave me his crumpled up water bottle.  Still high on the live music buzz, it was the most awesome thing EVER!  A little later, when asked what I planned on doing with his garbage, I vaguely remember a plan to harvest his DNA and clone him.  That never came to fruition, but I did use it as a wall decoration.

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Kyo!

And that’s how one man’s literal trash became my treasure.  What’s something weird that you keep around?  Do you have anything other people would look at and automatically think it’s trash?  Share your story here or on my social media pages!

A Look Inside Texas de Brazil

Howdy, howdy!  How was everyone’s week?  As promised, I’m posting a review of my birthday experience at Texas de Brazil.  We went to the one out in Addison this time, instead of the one in Dallas.  Check out their website (linked above) for locations near you!  It’s a Brazilian steakhouse and churrascaria, so there’s a big focus on meat.  As carnivores, Dad and I appreciate that, as did Ed Baker who went with us and is a family friend from back when I was active with MDA.  I will say that this wasn’t my first time there, so this post will probably draw on my other experiences as well.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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A selection of their meats borrowed from their Facebook page.

First up is accessibility.  They don’t have many handicap parking spaces at either of the locations I’ve been to, but they do have valet parking to make life easier if the spaces are taken.  I admit that I like the Addison location a little better than the Dallas one because I can get in through the front door.  The only ramp on the Dallas location is in through the kitchen, which is cool (I mean, at least they made it accessible in the ways they could).  The Texas de Brazil in Addison did a nice job to accommodate wheelchairs.  It can be a tight squeeze around the salad bar, especially at the corners (we had to ask a nice man to move because I couldn’t make one of the turns), but otherwise it was fairly easy to manuever around.  The tables are a nice height, but they do have a small piece underneath that I would’ve banged my knees on if I hadn’t looked first.  It’s easily avoidable, though.  So, it’s accessibility is up to the usual standards around here.

Next is service.  The hostess and waitress were wonderful.  They both talked to me like a regular human being.  The people who carry the meat around and serve it focused mostly on Dad and Ed.  Only one or two of them looked directly to me when asking who wanted what, but since Dad grabbed a piece for me off of everything, it didn’t really bug me.  In other words, the service was great where it mattered.

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Dad, Ed, and I post-meat, but pre-dessert.

Now, the best part: food!  Once you’re seated, there’s a huge salad area you can hit up as often as you want.  There’re vegetables and cheese and fruits and fish and soup.  It’s delicious all on its own.  They do have vegetarian-friendly options in case you know some herbivores, but I’m not sure about vegan options.  My personal favorites were the cheeses and some kind of pineapple dish that was super thinly sliced and sweet.  It’s definitely got enough to fill you up even if you don’t want to eat the meat floating around the room.

As for the meat, I can honestly say it’s like a little slice of heaven.  Waiters carry skewers of everything from beef to chicken to pork to lamb.  There’s literally something for everyone.  Dad loves lamb, I loved the parmesan crusted chicken and pork, Ed kept going back to the sausages.  You can gorge on whatever you want or have a little bit of everything like we did.  They even have a couple of sides (garlic mashed potatoes and fried bananas) they bring to the table despite the huge salad area.  They also have bread.  Be prepared to stuff yourself silly.

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My birthday creme brulee!

Texas de Brazil also has a fairly wide variety of desserts.  I had the creme brulee, of course.  Dad had flan, and Ed had the key lime pie.  Everything we’ve had here has been yummy.  They don’t have specialty coffee cocktails, but the bartender will whip something up if you ask, which is how I like to end such a wonderful meal.

Now, onto the thing no one likes to talk about: the price.  At nearly $50 a person (not including drinks and desserts), it’s not cheap.  But for everything you get, it’s totally worth the splurge once a year or so.  Get dressed up and make a night of it with someone special.

So, here’s my rating:
MMMM

Labor Day Weekend

Howdy, howdy!  In the United States, this past weekend was Labor Day Weekend.  On Sunday, Dad made a baked ziti with a homemade ragù (yes, you should be jealous), and we had an impromptu thing.  Some people came over and hung out and we watched part of the UT/Notre Dame game.  It was a nice day all around.  But Labor Day Weekend wasn’t always just another weekend in this house.  It used to be a weekend spent at the ballpark or the race track or wherever the Dallas location of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon was being held.  It was a lively, busy weekend surrounded by a bunch of MDA volunteers and local celebrities and all that fun stuff.

Labor-Day

I hadn’t participated in the telethon for a few years before it devolved into the “Show of Strength” with the departure of Jerry Lewis, then faded away into nothingness.  I don’t know why Mr. Lewis and MDA parted ways.  I don’t know why they decided to end the telethon.  These things just happen, I guess.  But I do know that the money raised over the years helped a lot of people.  I know MDA continues to help a lot of people.  It’s something I’m grateful for.

I’m also grateful for the memories of those weekends along with all of the other fundraisers I participated in over the years.  I got to meet a lot of people I otherwise wouldn’t have.  As a kid, all I really cared about was the fact that the caterers usually brought delicious desserts even if the meals weren’t all that tasty.  Now, I’m happy that I was a part of helping others like myself.  I’m glad that I got to experience the behind the scenes of the telethon, even if it was only at the local level.  I was able to observe and learn.  It’s not something everyone gets to do.

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Always had to display the nails.

 Knowing that the money went towards research and helping families who couldn’t afford equipment and the like makes it worth it.  Even when I was going through that phase where I felt guilty for asking people for money, I at least knew it was helping people.  MDA has helped me on numerous occasions, especially when I was a kid and didn’t qualify for Medicaid because Dad made too much money.  But, there was no way we could’ve afforded all of my equipment (my chairs and later my breathing machines and all that) without MDA’s help.  That’s just part of what MDA does.  It’s part of what Jerry Lewis helped raise money for.  Without him and his telethon, MDA wouldn’t be where it is today.

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At the ballpark.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, thank you.  Thank you to MDA, to Jerry Lewis, and to everyone behind the scenes.  Not only did the telethon raise money for a great cause, but it also provided many of us with wonderful memories and fun stories to tell.  I’m sorry that the telethon is gone, but I’m happy to have been a small part of it.

A Day Of Art

Hello, hello!  Last week, my friend Marika invited Dad and I to go to the Dallas Museum of Art with her and the munchkins.  I’ve lived roughly half an hour away from this museum all my life and can only think of two other times I’ve been there, so we decided to go with them.  We spent the afternoon wandering around some of the exhibits.  Dad kept getting too close to the fancy furniture, so the staff kept a wary eye on him.  We got huffed at for allowing one of the munchkins to touch a sculpture (to be fair, it was outside and looked like a fancy garbage can, so yeah).  We also got to talk Masterpieces and Stephen King with the guy in the gift shop.  All around, it was a nice day away from actually writing (and yes, I’ve been a good little writer with meeting my word count lately).  Sometimes, getting away from your own artform and exploring others is healthy.

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And sometimes, it’s just weird.  All pictures courtesy of Marika.

 I’ve always liked art anyway, so it’s not hard to imagine me finding plenty of inspiration in a museum.  But I admit that I was a little surprised by just how much inspiration I came away with.  For instance, the  Irving Penn exhibit (open until August 14) had a few images that are still stuck in my brain almost a week later.  One of them, which I don’t have a picture of, was an eye in a keyhole that had a keyhole reflected in the eye, kind of like a tunnel effect.  I don’t know why it’s stuck with me, or if it’ll cause a story to blossom, but it gave me something to think about.

Aside from inspiring the writer in me, I was also tempted to draw again.  There was quite a bit of abstract work that was interesting, as well as some things that looked like they were drawn by a three year old (not my cup of tea).  But, it was actually the furniture on the fourth floor that really made me go “Ooo, I could do that.”  Meaning that I could draw similar patterns, not that I could build anything.  I’ll leave the woodwork up to Dad.

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I could definitely draw a swirly design like this.

 Then, there were all the things that weren’t exactly inspiring, but they were simply beautiful.  Not everything has to make you think or make you want to create.  Sometimes, we just need some eye candy.  On the second floor near the room where you can see one of the restoration areas, there was the Wittgenstein Vitrine (a fancy display case the DMA restored).  It’s a really ornate box decorated with silver and pearls and opals and moonstones, etc.  But I wouldn’t even know what to display in it, let alone what to write or draw about it.  It does nothing for me except sit there and look pretty, and that’s okay.  We need that just as much as we need the inspirational things.

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A corner of the Vitrine.

 So, what is this post all about aside from me telling you about my day at the museum?  Nothing, really.  I’m just saying that it’s okay to take a day off once in a while to explore creative outlets outside of your norm.  Put down the pen or step away from the keyboard and go explore a museum or go to the symphony or whatever.  It might help you recharge, and you could have fun in the process.  I know I did.

A Look Inside On The Lamb

Hello again!  It’s time for another food review.  For a belated birthday dinner, Dad (his birthday was July 18th) and I went to On The Lamb in Deep Ellum last Thursday.  You can find their address (they’re next to the 7/11 on Elm St. for those who know the area) and a sample menu on the website linked above, but be aware that it is by no means up-to-date (their menu and hours have changed, so check their Facebook AND give them a call before you head that way).  Also, fair warning, it’s Deep Ellum, so good luck finding parking!

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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The inside.  It’s tiny, so this is basically what you get.
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A better view of the bar.

 First up is accessibility.  Funny story, actually.  I messaged On The Lamb to find out if they required reservations (they don’t) and to make sure they were wheelchair accessible and one of the owners wrote me back to let me know they didn’t have an accessible table, but that they were working on it.  How does a place not have accessible tables, I wondered as I wrote back to express my sadness (answer: they only had the bar-top height tables).  A few days later, I received another message saying they had swapped one of the tall tables for a regular one, so I could come down any time.  Now, that’s service.  Ask and ye shall receive!  Otherwise, accessibility was decent.  The table is in a nook next to the door, so I didn’t have to fight my way down the aisle.  My chair is fairly large, and the table is positioned in a way that meant I had to sit on the corner (which I actually prefer), so I’m sure I was in the waitress’ way at times, but no one complained.  The height was great for me.  Getting in the door and around to the table is a clear shot with plenty of room to swing around.  So, despite the initial shock of no table that was taken care of swiftly, accessibility gets an A+ from me.

Service.  Our waitress, Sarah, was wonderful.  She immediately treated me like a human being instead of shying away or ignoring me, so she gets bonus points.  She was knowledgeable about the menu and answered all of our questions.  Don’t expect to understand the menu without some help.  It’s pretty cryptic if you don’t know what half the words mean.  Luckily, she knew.  Plus, she was attentive, but didn’t make us feel rushed at all.  She was good all around.

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I didn’t think of pictures until after the second course, so excuse the sipped on La Perla and half-eaten food.

 Before I get to the food, I want to recommend checking out the cocktails if you drink.  I had a La Perla (hibiscus infused tequila with passionfruit).  It was lovely.

Anyway, the menu is set up more like a high-end restaurant rather than a hole-in-the-wall place.  First, you have the “cured items,” which is a meat and cheese sampler.  You pick either three or five items and they come out with a few pieces of each.  Definitely shareable.  We got the biltong (South African style jerky, but it’s not tough to chew), duck ham, and the country salami (it’s made in-house, so we had to).  Plus, a couple of cheeses.  There were also a number of garnishments.  It was all absolutely delicious, except for the lamb pate they added.  A lot of people raved about the pate, so I’m sure if you like that kind of thing it’s great.  I wasn’t a fan.  My favorites from that plate were actually the biltong and the giant capers.

The “first” course is a small serving.  If they have the duck confit (my first course), I definitely recommend it.  The meat was tender and juicy and it was phenomenal.  Dad got the lamb boudin, which was also wonderful.  We ate it all, so I have no pictures to share with you.

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Lamb neck tagliatelle (left) and grilled merguez in its own little pot (right).

The “second” course consisted of lamb neck tagliatelle for me and grilled merguez (a grilled lamb sausage stew type thing) for dad.  Serving sizes were smaller than typical, but after the first two items, that’s okay.  Both dishes were delicious.  Dad’s had lentils and a duck egg in it, which was strange and delightful.  I admit that I preferred my own, though.  The lamb neck was tender and there was mint in it that just set the whole dish apart.  As someone who isn’t a huge fan of lamb (Dad loves it), I admit I was impressed by just about everything we had.

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Apricot.
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Mint chocolate stout with a bite taken out.

 Dessert was weird.  The menu was absolutely no help in deciphering what everything was and the waitress explained it as weird ’80’s artwork that you can eat (she wasn’t wrong).  So, just pick whatever sounds coolest to you and try it.  Dad got “Apricot” and I got the “Mint Chocolate Stout.”  There’re bits of cake and sorbet and fruits and a bunch of other stuff that I couldn’t name even if I tried.  Each component was good on its own, but I ended up mixing mine all together, which made it even better.

Last, is price.  It wasn’t cheap, but for the quality of the food, it wasn’t bad.  For Dad and I, it was about $120 without the tip.  Basically, you get Mansion on Turtle Creek quality with portions that are double (sometimes triple) the size for around half the price.  It’s worth the splurge.

My rating is:
MMMMM

Cripple Rant

Hi there!  So, you remember that post I made about three months ago, Murphy’s Law for CripplesWell, it’s been three months and nine visits later, and things still aren’t fixed.  They replaced the lift pump about a month after everything started (far too long), so that’s been working, but the new one is already clicking and catching and acting like it’s going to go out soon which doesn’t instill much confidence in the product.  But hey, at least they spelled “front” right this time!

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This will never cease to amuse me.

 The chair batteries, on the other hand, are still messing up, though not quite as bad as they were.  For the first month, month and a half, I couldn’t leave my room, let alone the house, because the batteries were dying so fast that I had to keep my vent plugged into the wall instead of the chair.  Originally, the excuse was that the company was using cheap batteries which they tried me on twice.  Batteries they KNOW don’t support a chair with additional functions (lay-back, vent support, etc.), but they use them to save money and because they have them in stock instead of having to order them.  But if you’re sending guys out to change them every couple of months instead of every couple of years, how is that saving anything?

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Then again, I’m not a business person, so what do I know?

 Eventually, they got the “good” batteries for me, but they still drained super fast.  Another check in revealed that the guy had wired my vent to them wrong (an honest mistake that he owned up to right away, so no bad feelings there).  The batteries were STILL draining, albeit not as fast, but faster than they’re supposed to, so they replaced them again figuring some of the cells had been damaged from the miswired vent.  Guess what happened?  Yup, the newest set are draining again!  But a least I can leave the house.  I did have to skip a few events because of the whole debacle though, so that didn’t make me very happy.

Anyway, this past week they decided to take the chair into the shop to tear it down so they could search for the real problem.  What did this mean for me?  Well, since my chair is one of the few things I don’t have a backup for (no place to store one), it meant that I stayed up all night on Thursday, slept all day Friday until they brought it back (they picked it up around nine, nine-thirty that morning and brought it back around six-thirty), then stayed up all Friday night and Saturday until around ten pm.  I haven’t done that crap since I was in my early twenties.  Needless to say, I am not twenty anymore.  But now, the problem is supposedly my motors.  They’re going out which is drawing more power from my batteries than usual.  Who knows how long it’ll take to get those changed out.  Hopefully not another three months.

But then, I woke up on Sunday, got on Facebook, and realized all my problems were insignificant.

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The Dallas skyline in support of Orlando.

Tremont St. Bath and Body: A Review

Hello, hello!  Since I haven’t been anywhere new to eat in a while, and I have no writerly topics to ramble about, I thought I would try my hand at a different kind of review.  Recently, one of my mentors/friends, Nina Schwartz, from SMU started selling her homemade soap.  You can find her story and products at her website, Tremont St. Bath and Body.  You can also keep up with her latest news by liking the shop’s Facebook page.

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All pictures are borrowed from the links above.

Back before Christmas, I messaged Nina to find out how her soaps worked on sensitive skin (before I bought some and had an unexpected allergic reaction or something).  Not only did she answer my questions, but she also sent me four bars to sample.  A Honey, Oatmeal, and Milk bar (currently not listed on the site), one called Perseverance (listed), an unscented/uncolored molded soap (see the picture of Clouds, Waves, Chrysanthemums below as an example), and one named Purple Zebra (also not currently listed).  As of today, I’ve only had a chance to try the first two, so I will be focusing on them.

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Clouds, Waves, and Chrysanthemums.

 

Aside from the beautiful designs, one of the first things I noticed about these soaps were the scents.  They range from no scent to a very mild aroma to more intense smells.  As I’ve said, I’ve only used the Honey, Oatmeal, and Milk bar, which had a subtly sweet smell, and the Perseverance, which is flavored with peppermint and rosemary, so it has a strong, in your face, kind of scent as you can imagine.  Personally, I enjoy the more intense aromas, but if you don’t, you might want to ask about bars that you aren’t sure of.

Another thing I tend to notice about soaps is whether they leave behind a greasy residue (I hate feeling slimy after a shower or after using a lotion).  I have dry skin, so I have to use moisturizing soaps, and it’s really difficult to find one that doesn’t leave me feeling gross.  Nina’s soaps didn’t have that problem.  In fact, most of them contain cocoa butter, shea butter, kokum butter, or some combination thereof to act as a moisturizer.  I was a little wary my first couple of uses, but to my surprise, the soap rinsed off easily and left me feeling moisturized, but not greasy.

I suppose my only complaints would be that the soaps dissolve much faster than the ones you buy at the store, and that the edges can be a little sharp in the beginning, especially on the large bars.  I got about seven uses out of the Honey, Oatmeal, and Milk bar, which is one of her medium sized bars, but I’m on my fourth or fifth use of Perseverance (one of her largest bars) and still have more than half left.  So, I guess the former complaint really depends on which soap you get and how often you use it (I use it once a week), and the latter simply requires a little user awareness.

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Perseverance.

 

Overall, I’m loving the soaps so far and plan on buying some when I come close to running out.  Check out the links above and see if you fall in love with any of the bars!  It’s totally worth it.

A Look Inside the Mansion Restaurant

Hello, hello!  As many of you know, my birthday was on the 12th (dirty thirty).  Dad encouraged me to pick somewhere extravagant, so I took it to heart and chose the Mansion on Turtle Creek.  We were celebrating mine and a friend’s birthdays.  I wasn’t planning on doing a blog post about it, so I didn’t get pictures of everything, but Lew Andrada insisted on hearing more about the place.  So, here it is.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Stolen from Google.

 

As usual, first and foremost is accessibility.  It’s not really accessible, but they try.  Parking is valet, so as soon as I was unloaded, someone led the way up the (heated) walkway into the foyer, which was where things got less than wheelchair friendly.  There were two steps up going into the dining area, so they brought out this three foot portable ramp and set it up.  The incline was so steep that my wheelie bars hung and I lost traction for a second.  But with the help of Dad and some of the staff, I made it up (and back down) safely.  Other than that, the tables were perfect.  Just let them know ahead of time that you need something accessible.  Also, request a table in the library if possible.  That has nothing to do with accessibility, it’s just a really beautiful room.

Next up is service.  The entire wait staff (from the bread person to the one who keeps your water filled to the waiter himself) was wonderful. Everyone was attentive and knowledgeable.  They didn’t act like I was invisible.  We got to hear all about the Mansion’s history and they gave us a mini tour after we were done eating (since we were pretty much the only people left).  I have zero complaints about the people there.

Food… this is where things get iffy.  The taste of everything ranged from really good to superb, so don’t worry about that, but the portions were super tiny.  They were the perfect size for me, but don’t go in expecting tons of food.  For instance, I got the shigoku oysters to start. There were half a dozen small oysters with some kind of foam and other fancy toppings.  They fell on the really good end of the yum spectrum.  Dad got quail (like a quarter of the bird came out on a huge plate).  That was delicious.  My friends who went with us are vegan, so they got a kale dish and beet gazpacho (it didn’t even look like soup, but they said everything was great).

Entrees were taking a while, so the chef sent out a taster of head cheese for Dad and I, and quinoa for my friends.  It was so tiny and cute that we had to laugh.  Dinner itself included tea smoked pheasant for Dad (about half a breast with a side of potato foam… yes, foam).  Maple leaf duck for me (three slices with some kind of blackberry sauce and citrus confit).  My friends were going to share something called textures of onion, but the waiter said the chef would prefer them to order two portions otherwise they would still be hungry when they left.  Again, everything was phenomenal, just really tiny.  Luckily, bread was being passed around the whole time.

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Cake!  It’s not the best picture.  Oh well.

 

After dinner, they brought out a palate cleanser of apple sorbet (I’m allergic to apples, but I ate it anyway).  It was so small it was adorable.  Then came time for dessert.  Dad ordered a special red velvet cake layered with raspberry creme brulee.  It was out of this world.  Best.  Cake.  Ever.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t vegan, so my friends got bowls of fruit.  Dessert was the biggest and best part of the whole meal.  Definitely.

Alas, we must mention price.  It’s the Mansion.  You don’t go there for a cheap meal.  You go for the ambiance and the ability to say “I’ve been there!”  That being said, we were expecting a five-six hundred dollar bill, but it was only around three hundred (plus the cake and the tip).  So, expensive but not as bad as we were expecting.

Final rating:
MMMM

Totally worth the experience.  See you next week!