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.

D-Magazine-Nightlife-Trinity-Hall-031717-Bret-Redman-045-677x452
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.

Trinity_Hall_Irish_Pub_an-Trinity_Hall_Irish_Pub___-20000000001612219-500x375
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.

IrishPubs_103
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.

15 Things About Me That You Never Wanted To Know

Howdy, howdy!  As some of you might know, tomorrow (January 12th) is my birthday.  I’ll be 31, or for those of you who have gerascophobia (the fear of aging), it’ll be my third 29th.  Birthdays around here are quiet events that usually consist of a nice dinner with friends.  This year, the destination is Texas de Brazil!  Yummy!  I’ll make sure to do a full report on that next week.  This week, I thought I would share a list of 15 things about myself that you may or may not already know.  I was going to do 31 and make it a whole nod to my age thing, but no one’s that interested in me.

aging_o_583536
Pretty much.

1. My current diagnosis is Ulrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (UCMD), but it’s not my first.  There was Floppy Baby Syndrome, which I was supposed to grow out of.  When that didn’t happen, it was Congenital Myopathy.  I didn’t grow out of that either, so I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2 (SMA2), which came with a series of death guesstimates that never panned out.  That was all by the time I was five.  I was 23 or so when they decided SMA2 was definitely wrong and tested for UCMD (a relatively new disease at the time).  The doctors swear UCMD is the correct one, though.  We’ll see what happens.

2. I like Nickelback.  Make fun of me all you want, but they aren’t a bad group.  They’re not my favorite or anything, but I never really understood why they’re so hated.

3. I don’t have a favorite TV show.  I have shows I love, but if you asked me to pick one I like best, I couldn’t even narrow it down.

4. I’m a firm believer that “growing up” and “acting your age” are scams developed by people who aren’t young at heart.  Besides, I’ve never been this age.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like.

5. My favorite things about the Christmas season (aside from family and joy and all of that) are eggnog and peppermint bark.

6. I’m quietly competitive.  I try not to compete with people for things, but when it happens, I will silently plot your overthrow.

7. One of my favorite memories from my time at SMU was when my physics teacher decided to make class grades “public.”  There was a spreadsheet on the class website with our grades listed under nicknames.  I swapped back and forth with a guy (I overheard the guy tell a classmate his nickname, so I know it wasn’t the other female in class) for top marks as the semester went on, ultimately earning the highest grade.  That was the best motivation ever.

8. I started listening to James Blunt and Lifehouse and sappy music in general for a male.  I keep listening to it because I’m apparently a big old softy who enjoys that kind of stuff.

2572cb80efb8ba52518cbe588d2c0cf4
Maybe.

9. I can go weeks or more without talking to people.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you.  And I don’t avoid people very often unless I’ve had too much social interaction (a rare occurrence).  I’ll answer you if you message me.  I’m just really bad at keeping in touch.

10. My favorite colors are purple and green.  My favorite color combination is purple with black and silver.  Most people don’t seem to know about the green part.  It’s weird.

11. I have to drink booze through a straw.  I don’t really understand why this amazes people, but it does.

12. I want to go to Japan some day.  There are other places I would like to visit, but Japan will always be at the top of my list.

13. A friend once told me that she loved me because I would tell her the blunt truth and she’d still walk away feeling special, even if I was telling her she was doing something idiotic.  She’s not the only one who has said something similar.  I guess it’s a weird talent I have.

untitled
Seriously.  Don’t do the thing.

14. I don’t read nearly as much as I should.  I know writers are expected to read a lot, but I don’t.  It’s just not that high on my list of priorities, so I tend to keep putting it off.

15. I’d love to move to the northeast.  Somewhere on the water.  Closer to my Stonecoast people.  I really miss Maine, especially while residency is going on, like right now.

I’ll stop boring you!  Feel free to share some facts about yourself in the comments or on my social media pages.  See you next week!

A Writer’s Tale

Hello, hello!  I was at a loss over what to write for today.  My usual plea for topic ideas proved unfruitful this time.  Then, I realized that I have never shared my journey to writerhood on here.  At least I don’t think I have.  Feel free to stop reading if you’ve heard this story before.

I’ve always written.  Stories, poems, the occasional attempt at a comic strip (but my drawing skills failed me there).  I never really wanted to be a professional, though, so I’m a little different from my friends and fellow writers who have wanted to do this forever.  My crazy job goal was always a fashion designer, but when I figured out that wasn’t going to happen, I set my sights on more obtainable professions.

southern-methodist-university-beautiful-college-universities
Dallas Hall at SMU.  This campus is where my plan tumbled down.

 I went through most of my time at college (both community and university) waffling between psychology and English.  With psychology, I could help kids like myself.  After all, all the psychologists I saw walked into the room and presumed to know how I felt.  It never seemed right to me.  At least I would appear a little more relatable than they did to me.  I also kept returning to English because it was easy and I enjoyed it.  In fact, by the time I transferred to SMU (I went in as a Junior), the only degrees I had time to finish were psychology and English.

Since I had a semblance of a plan with psychology, I initially decided to go with that major.  It was going well.  I passed all my classes with fairly high grades (never less than a B).  I really got into abnormal psychology, especially the class that focused on disorders in children.  I aced my research class paper.  But I still kept taking English classes as well.

2c5377c130a4205d2afe15b420112a517aafe30bee6ac6c260d13f0888601e6b
Try having the debate with yourself.  I still secretly prefer APA.

 Then, that fateful day came.  Dad was walking me to class after a stop at the campus coffee shop and we were talking about majors and what I was planning to do, when he asked the question that shattered my little plan.  “How’re you supposed to be a psychologist when you don’t like people?”  He was right.  I’m not a people person.  I don’t like to pry.  I’ll offer advice when asked, but beyond that you’re on your own.  What kind of psychologist would I be?  I could go into research, but I don’t even like that.  Thus, I became an English major.

35
Don’t fall for the hype!

 What was I supposed to do with an English major?  I had zero desire to teach.  So, I took some creative writing courses, found out that I still enjoyed writing, and dipped my toe into the big bad world of writerhood.  And that’s how I found myself on a path that would take me to Stonecoast and onto a place where I could live with the voices inside my head without having to worry about people.

How did you decide to pursue the path you’re on?  Did you always know you wanted to do it or did it spring itself on you?  Tell me your story in the comments or on my social media pages!

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.

12316640_194164357590304_6101460755969440238_n
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.

Fancy_Molds_large
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.

Perseverance_large
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.

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Hello, hello!  Thanksgiving is over (though leftovers still remain), so it’s officially time to get into the holiday spirit.  In fact, just this past Monday, my minion (he knows who he is) posted on Facebook that people were talking to him and smiling at his job (apparently this is unusual behavior).  Our exchange went something like this:

Me: “It’s called the holiday spirit. You’re in for about a month of it.
Him: “Ack! Does it wash off???
Me: “No. And it’s highly contagious.

Later that evening, he and his family were supposed to join Dad and I for SMU’s Celebration of Lights.  The minion ended up having to work, so we kidnapped his kids and girlfriend and took them anyway.  ^__^

23451882755_21a6b5c078_o
Forgot the camera, so all of these pictures are stolen from the link above.

The Celebration of Lights was one of very few events I actually enjoyed attending as a student (and still enjoy as an alumna).  It takes place on the front steps of Dallas Hall.  People gather in the quad and sing along to Christmas carols.  President Turner reads the Christmas story (which I still think Linus does better).  And they light up the tree for the first time.  It’s just a really nice way to start off the season.  The free cocoa and cookies are a bonus.

22824741863_e0c4740b5f_o23343397682_1bd8b5c5f1_o

 

The performances all change a little each year.  Students and student groups volunteer to sing different carols, so things rotate as people graduate and new people enroll.  Some are better than others, but SMU has a decent music program, so everyone is (usually) pretty good.

However, I suppose my favorite part of the celebration is the fact that something always goes wrong.  Little things.  One year, the microphones kept cutting off.  This year, they were supposed to the flip the lights on after the first verse of Silent Night (like usual), but apparently the switch flipper wasn’t paying attention or they had technical difficulties, because the lights didn’t come on until the song was almost over.  Not to mention the fact that they always run just a couple of minutes late (it wouldn’t be SMU if things started on time).

Don’t get me wrong, all of that was entirely serious.  I go to this thing knowing that there will be something worth laughing about each year.  That’s why I enjoy it.  That sounds kind of mean now that I think about it, but it’s true.  The hiccups make it exciting, even though I’m sure all of the people who are “back stage,” so to speak, are freaking out about this stuff.

23369362431_2ea306bff3_o

All in all, it’s a nice way to open the holiday season.  Plus, the kids seem to have a good time.  It’s open to the community, so if you’re in the Dallas area next year, consider checking it out (or drive by some time between now and January 3rd while you’re out oohing and ahhing at all the lights to get a look).

I hope the holiday cheer finds you soon, if it hasn’t already!  See you next week.

Moving Forward and Looking Back

Howdy, again!  It’s May 12th, as I’m writing this.  According to Facebook’s “On This Day” thing, I graduated from Southern Methodist University exactly three years ago.  I never really put much thought into this supposedly momentous occasion.  I had my issues with SMU (some of which I will probably complain about here), but it was always just a necessary stepping stone to me.  It wasn’t a big deal for me or anything.  It’s funny how time changes your perspective on things like this.

027
The obligatory fountain picture, again.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that SMU held a lot of firsts for me.  It was my first major unpleasant experience with lack of accessibility issues.  It’s a major university with millions and billions of dollars being sunk into its sports programs and stadiums, so of course I assumed it would be entirely accessible.  But you know what they say about people who assume things!  Yeah, I learned my lesson.  (Major eye-twitch inducing moment for me.)

It was the first place where some of the classes actually challenged me.  That was an impressive experience.  My first C+ on a test, however, was not as impressive.  And yeah, I know that sounds cocky, but it’s true.  School was always a place where I excelled.  The real world, not so much.

It was also the first place where my graduation day was uneventful (like no broken bones and no family squabbles).  Yeah, I had serious bad luck with my previous two graduations.  I really didn’t want to go through another, but I did, and it wasn’t bad.

002
Dallas Hall… I could get in the basement, but couldn’t fit in the elevator. Good job, SMU! Also, the date is wrong. This was some time in April of 2012.

Anyway, it’s three years later, and I’m still in touch with a number of the faculty (I fully admit SMU had an awesome faculty and staff, despite my other issues with it).  I didn’t come away with many friends (one who I keep in regular touch with, and two I fall in and out of touch with every now and then), but I wasn’t looking to make friends at that point, so I’m okay with that.  For someone who was in “get in, get degree, get out” mode, I’m impressed by the connections I did manage to make. 

Now, I’ve got a Master’s degree, which I wouldn’t have gotten without my SMU adviser’s advice, and letters of recommendation from others at SMU.  I’ve made a number of connections during my time in my Master’s program, some of which actually tie in with my SMU connections.  I’m in the process of cleaning up a novel that started as a short story in one of my SMU fiction classes.  I learned very quickly what kind of critiques to take to heart, and which to brush off thanks to my writing classes at SMU, which made my time at Stonecoast that much easier.  So yeah, I guess SMU was more than a stepping stone after all.

034
SMU Mustangs. Pretty sure this was the day or so before graduation.

Why am I rambling on about all of this?  Honestly, because I couldn’t think of anything productive to write about.  But sometimes it’s good to take a look back, especially at things you took for granted.  It often gives you a new perspective to move forward with.  And moving forward is all we can really do, right?

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).

feb4274796d93ff716e9650163a77fb8_M
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.

060
Dad’s salad, asparagus, and snapper. My green beans, mashed potatoes, and trout.
063
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