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 The Schooner Restaurant

Hello, hello!  This weekend, Dad and I went to Port Neches for the book launch of Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 3.  It’s down by the coast, so we were looking forward to the prospect of amazing seafood.  We asked around about the best place to go and the consensus seemed to be a place called The Schooner Restaurant off 69 right where Nederland and Port Arthur meet.  So, after the event (which was cozy, lovely, and hosted by the awesome little book store Fleur Fine Books), Dad and I headed toward the restaurant.  It was a building in the middle of a strip mall parking lot and when we got there around 6:00, 6:30 there was no wait.  On a Saturday night.  Granted, a dreary and drizzly Saturday night, but still.  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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A picture of the menu that I borrowed from Google because I didn’t take any.

Accessibility: standard.  There were no steps or ramps required to get in, which was interesting.  We don’t often run into places without at least a sidewalk around them around here, so going to a place even with the parking lot was cool.  It did have two sets of doors, but the hostess was right there holding the inside door open, removing any potential hassle.  There seemed to be multiple paths to a number of tables, so it wasn’t difficult to maneuver around the place.  The tables themselves were not my favorite.  They were the kind with a thick leg at each end, which meant I couldn’t pull in all the way.  It makes things annoying, but not impossible.

Service: amazing!  The hostess greeted me before Dad even finished coming inside.  The waitress, Raven, treated me like a person from the get-go.  She was super nice and helpful when we had questions about the menu.  If she didn’t know something, she was honest about it.  She was attentive, but not overbearing.  It was one of those places where everyone seemed nice and no one ignored my existence just because I’m cripple, so they get some bonus points.

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A neat old picture (1955) I found on Google.  It’s from the UNT website.

Appetizers: pretty good.  We ordered the oyster Rockefeller, which turned out to be cheesy, spinachy goodness.  Pretty sure that was my first time eating cooked oysters and, I have to say, they were really good.  We also got some alligator.  It was fried and tender, so it was also good.

Entrees: this is where things go south.  I ordered the Schooner deluxe platter, which was a bunch of fried things (shrimp, scallops, trout, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab, a frog leg, and crab).  But I asked for everything that could be grilled to be grilled.  Nothing was grilled.  The shrimp and scallops were lightly breaded and pan-fried instead of deep fried, but that’s not grilled.  And the trout coming out deep fried made me wonder if perhaps it was a pre-made and frozen thing, because why else couldn’t they grill it?  And don’t get me started on the fried crab.  They fried it in the shell!  What was the point of that?  It appeared to be a dungeness crab, so you can’t eat the shell.  And frying it made all of the meat stick to the shell, which meant if you didn’t want to sit there for hours picking at it, you couldn’t even get half the meat out.  It was all super disappointing.  Plus, the stuffed shrimp tasted like it had soap in it.  Dad ordered grilled flounder (came out pan-fried) Greek-style.  The seasoning was good.  That’s about it.  Everything, including our sides, was over-cooked.  I never thought seafood could become shoe leather.  I was wrong.

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Picture stolen from their website.

Dessert: not bad.  All of the desserts looked delicious (even the carrot cake), but we decided to split a chocolate eruption.  Needless to say, a lot of chocolate erection jokes were made.  But it was pretty good.  A chocolate mousse cake with chunks of cheesecake in it.  Worth a try.

Price: for good seafood, the price wasn’t bad.  For the seafood we got?  Totally not worth it.

My rating:
MM

If it had just been a crappy appetizer or a bad dessert, I’d say a MM was harsh, but when it’s both entrees (and not just a small part of them, but all of it), I’m okay with this rating.  If that’s what passes for the best seafood so close to the coast, I’d rather stay in Dallas for fish.  And that’s really sad to me.

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.

Mariscos3
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.

Mariscos1
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.

Mariscos2
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

A Look Inside St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin

Hey there!  It’s been another week, so I suppose it’s time for me to start rambling again.  Instead of the usual, I’d say it’s about time to do another food review!  This month, I think I’ll give St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin over in Deep Ellum its due.  It’s on Commerce for all those familiar with the area.  Everyone else should check their website (linked above).  Now, I know I promised you something different in the last food blog, and it is different.  I swear it’s not JUST seafood.  They have all sorts of things.  At least it’s not another oyster bar.  Anyhoo, here’s your reminder of the 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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These stirrers used to say St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin, but I suppose times change. Still pretty neat!

As usual, let’s start with accessibility.  It’s a bit of a tight fit navigating the tables for larger wheelchairs (like my own), especially if the Dancing Marlin is packed.  We usually go on Sunday evenings or late afternoons during the week to avoid crowds.  Aside from that, the tables are a great height.  Most of them are rectangular, but they do have some round tables if those work better for you.  Occasionally, the floor feels like it’s going to give way (not technically an accessibility issue, but extra scary when you’re in a heavy chair), so it’s kind of an adventure!

The service.  The wait staff at the Dancing Marlin gets bonus points because they don’t normally act like I’m invisible.  That’s always a good thing.  The waiter today was attentive (kept our drinks full, answered questions, etc.), didn’t bring our food out too fast (we had time to finish things), and never once made us feel rushed.  The staff also consisted of people  who calmly dealt with someone who was sitting outside complaining about a fly in their drink (it’s summer in Texas and you’re drinking wine outside.  Put something over your glass if you don’t want flies in it. C’mon, now).  No complaints there.

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Calamari and me!

Now, the important stuff: food!  For an appetizer, we got calamari.  It was good.  Not too chewy.  Had a nice crust.  It wasn’t my favorite thing there, but it was tasty.  Now, if you like garlic half as much as I do, I definitely suggest the baked garlic appetizer.  Yes, they bake garlic.  For the not-so-garlicky people, there are other delicious choices as well.

As far as entrees go, they have a decent selection from pizzas to pastas, burgers to hot dogs.  The Dancing Marlin also has a tuna steak (it comes in a number of ways).  Dad got the grilled tuna salad (tuna steak on a salad) with grilled mushrooms, onions, and jalapeños.  They sure know how to cook a tuna steak!  Dad always gets it rare (how else would you eat it), so it’s pink and tender and delicious.  And the salad definitely wasn’t skimpy.  It was a real meal.

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Dad’s salad.

I usually get penne with red clam sauce (highly recommend it), but I decided to get something different this time.  I went with the F. B. Combo (catfish fillet and shrimp) with pasta salad instead of fries.  The fish and shrimp were crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.  The breading wasn’t salty, but seasoned nicely.  And the pasta salad… I normally don’t like pasta salad, but I figured I’d give it a shot.  It was actually pretty yummy!  I was impressed.

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My meal.

Dessert.  The selection here is pretty strange.  Baklava, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and ice cream bars.  Personally, I suggest the baklava.  It’s a tiny serving, but super sweet, and a perfect little end to a wonderful meal.

And, of course, we must talk about price.  It’s actually not too bad.  It’s not often we look at a check expecting it to be a certain amount and have it turn out to be less.  It happens at the Dancing Marlin.

My overall rating:
MMMM

See you next week with more writerly randomness!

A Look Inside Big Shucks Oyster Bar

Hello again!  I haven’t done a food review in a while, so here you go.  Yes, it’s another seafood place (I’ll think of something different for next month).  Big Shucks is a place we’ve been to a fair amount and we always have a good experience food-wise.  Here’s a reminder of the 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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Borrowed from their Facebook.

Normally, we go to Big Shucks in Dallas, but this last time we went to the one in Richardson.  Locations can be found at their website, linked above.

Let’s start off with accessibility as usual.  The very first time we were going to try this place, we actually wanted to go to Aw Shucks (they’re sister store) in Dallas.  At the time, Aw Shucks was inaccessible (they may have upgraded by now, but I have no idea), so they sent us a couple of blocks over to Big Shucks after explaining that it was the same thing, only accessible.  Since, we’ve been multiple times, plus twice that I remember to the Richardson location.  The tables at the Dallas store are a mish mash, so some are perfect and some are knee bangers.  The Richardson tables aren’t as eclectic, and they’re pretty nice height-wise with legs that don’t get in the way.  Both locations have outdoor seating as well.  I didn’t check out Richardson’s patio, but Dallas’s has picnic style tables.  The ends are usually long enough for me to get under them, so it’s pretty nice.

A brief mention of service.  It’s basically self serve.  You go to the counter and give your order, sometimes they bring it to you and sometimes they just call your name and you go to the pick up area, then you go back and forth if you need things.

Onto the food!  We always get oysters as a start.  They also have shrimp cocktails and ceviche, which are delicious.

Oysters at Big Shucks
Yup, I ate half of them. Be jealous.

It’s one of those places where the food comes out as it’s ready, but I’ve never felt rushed.  Their pacing is pretty nice.  So, we were able to savor the yummy oysters before our entrees arrived.  Now, I admit Big Shucks has a fairly limited selection, but what they do have, they do well.  I almost always get the scallops.  They’re grilled with a little seasoning.  No fuss, no muss.  None of this fancy bacon-wrapped special sauce crap.  You get pure scallop goodness.  Dad usually rotates through a few selections, but this time he got the salmon.  Again, there’s nothing fancy to it.  Just lovely, cooked to perfection fish.  That’s the great thing about this place.  You get to taste the seafood instead of a bunch of sauce and toppings.

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Dad’s Salmon and veggies, and my scallops with rice and veggies.

Dessert… It’s less than spectacular.  All they have is “homemade” key lime pie that is almost certainly from a box.  It’s not bad, it’s just not great.  Luckily, Dallas’s Big Shucks is just down the street from TCBY and a few streets over from Pinkberry, so if key lime pie doesn’t blow your skirt up, you can go get yogurt!

That brings us to the price.  It’s actually really reasonable considering it’s seafood in North Texas.  Also, remember that they use the honor system.  It’s your job to keep track of what you ordered.  So, I suggest bringing a pen and paper if you order a lot.

Overall Rating:
MMMM

Back to answering questions next week!  See you then!

A Look Inside Half Shells Oyster Bar & Grill

Hi all!  I’ve decided to go ahead and review another restaurant.  Once a month seems like a good number for the moment.  Today, we’re going to look at one of Dallas’s seafood joints, Half Shells Oyster Bar & Grill.  There are a number of locations for Half Shells under a couple of different names (see their website for the one nearest you), but I’m lucky enough to be near the original in Snider Plaza (across Hillcrest Ave from SMU, next to Kuby’s).

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Borrowed from the website above.

Half Shells Oyster Bar & Grill – Snider Plaza
6617 Snider Plaza
Dallas, TX 75205

First off, 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.

 Accessibility-wise, this place is a bit of a tight squeeze, but if you can get in when it’s not too busy and can snag a table by the door, it’s perfect.  The table height is mid-normal, which is great for me.  There’s also outside seating (again, tight but not impossible).  My biggest problem with the outdoor tables are that they have a lip underneath, so I can’t pull up to them properly (my knees are too high).  Personally, I don’t mind putting the plate in my lap, so I can make it work.

Next up, service.  The service at Half Shells is almost always good.  In all the times I’ve been, I think a waiter ignored my existence once and only until he realized I was capable of speech.  There was one rude hostess who caused us to leave, but that was an unusual experience.  Otherwise, they’re usually very good about not bringing things out too fast or rushing.  Some are better than others about keeping up with drinks, but the food makes up for it.

Speaking of food, when Dad, a friend, and I went last Thursday, we had blue point oysters and crab bisque to start.  Delicious!  If you like oysters on the half shell and they have blue points (a special usually), it’s worth it.  The bisque was amazing as well.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, but there are pictures of the entrées.

Half Shells has twice daily specials (lunch and dinner).  Dad and I usually order off the board, but the things I’ve had from the menu are equally as good.  They have one of the best selections of fish we’ve been able to find in Dallas because of the specials.  This time, I got the trout special, Dad had red snapper, and Sarah (the friend who didn’t warn us she was now vegan) had french fries.

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Dad’s salad, asparagus, and snapper. My green beans, mashed potatoes, and trout.
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The lovely Sarah and her waffle fries.

  As always, the food was superb.  I don’t think we’ve ever run across a bad entrée here.

Dessert is a little less than thrilling.  They have it listed on another specials board, so a few things usually change.  It’s always been good, especially when they have one of their berry cobblers (divine!), but otherwise it’s pretty ordinary.  Dad got a chocolate cherry mousse cake and I got a pecan cobbler (they didn’t have anything vegan for dessert).  Both were good, but definitely not the highlight of the meal.

Price:  It’s seafood in Dallas.  In other words, a little pricy, but for the quality and selection of the fish, totally worth it.

Overall rating:
MMMM