Episode 9 Reviews

Cook Hall
2440 Victory Park Lane Dallas, TX 75219

The Cook Hall is the newest Dallas Gastro pub located in the W hotel in the Victory park area.  Up to a few months ago the W was host to Craft, a Tom Colicchio restaurant. It was intended to be a classic American fine dining restaurant with classic French Techniques (Lots of butter, wine reductions, foie gras, and lots of meats) executed Sans the pretentiousness. The W’s latest offering Cook Hall has taken a more casual approach to dining in this hip little area.  Cook Hall has done a great job in creating a full-fledged Gastro pub. This restaurant’s concept focuses on pub-style décor with high end beers, cocktails and food. The term gastro-pub first hit the dining scene around 2005 in the London area (The Eagle, has been crowned the first gastro-pub which is located in Clerkenwell, London.)  Rick Graff has again taken charge of this restaurant. He had this position when it was Craft, prior to be promoted to banquet chef at the W. The menu at Cook Hall is packed with small plates meant to be shared and is power packed with a nice collection of craft cocktails.  The ambience is dark but inviting. They have a great happy hour specials called “Five at Five.”  Basically, several of their small dishes are discounted to 5 bucks and so or the cocktails. Their featured food items included: Radish Toast, Beef Sliders, Popcorn Shrimp, Deviled Eggs and Cook House Signature Chips. The cocktails included Aligote, Agodello, Gaglioppo, Bobs 47 and a grapefruit cooler   For 20 bucks you can get two cocktails and two small plates which for Dallas is DAMN cheap.  Unfortunately, we were not there for happy hour so we paid the full price which was about 8-13 dollars for the small plates and about 9 dollars for the cocktails.

We started off with two of their specialty cocktails.  A French Pair: Made with Dom Pierre de Blancs, St. Germain, pear bitters, and Clear Creek Poire Williams. The second cocktail was called the Port Manhattan: It was made with Buffalo trace bourbon, fine ruby port and walnut bitters. Both were very tasty, but the French Pair was certainly the winner of the two cocktails for me.

After the cocktails we ordered the Charcuterie plate with homemade Mostrada.
Mostrada was something that I was completely unfamiliar with.  After a few questions, I learned that it’s a condiment made of fruit preserved in syrup that gains quite a kick from a healthy jolt of powdered mustard seed or essence. Apparently, it is one of the standard condiments served with boiled meats in northern Italy. The two meats that came on the plate were of good quality (Prosciutto and salami). The plate also contained pickled orange rinds, pickled gherkins and the Mostrada (chopped meat, lard, and pear jelly).

Our second small plate was the crab meat deviled eggs. The eggs were very fresh and there were very large pieces of crab meat. Unfortunately, the chef was a little heavy handed with the salt for my taste.

The star of this meal was dish number three. We ordered the pork belly sliders, and they were very, very good.  They came out 3 to the order and were served on what I believe to be a mini brioche bun.

This mini sandwich was power packed with fresh veg and a crispy patty comprised of a sumptuous pork belly. Although the pork was the star, the mint, carrots and spicy mayo put this sandwich right over the line to awesomeness.

Overall, the food was 4 stars, Service 4 stars Ambience 4 stars.  Would I go back? Yes, but next time it will be during happy hour.  I really didn’t want to spend 60 dollars for 3 small plates and 2 drinks but I’m not sorry that I did.  Besides, I was in Dallas, so to go anywhere good for less than 30 dollars a person is unlikely.


Mooya Burgers:  3 out of 5 stars

2530 West Universtiy Drive, Suite 1100

Denton, TX, 7620










This was my first trip to Mooya’s and I really enjoyed the burger at this non-traditional chain fast food restaurant.  It’s a build your own burger concept.  You fill out an order card when you first walk in and give it to the cashier when you pay.  Every Mooya burger comes with a double meat so you definitely won’t leave hungry.  On my Mooya burger ($4.95), I got cheese (.75 cents), bacon (.85 cents) and avocado (.85 cents) for a total of $7.40 for my burger.









The kitchen is open, so you can watch all the employees (and there are a lot of them) build your custom burger.  Sparkles ordered the Ice Burger, which is a burger that uses lettuce instead of a bun.  It was also $4.95 and she added avocado and cheese which came to $6.55.











I also got a small order of fries ($1.95) and Sparkles  got a small order of sweet potato fries ($2.45) and we each got a Coke ($1.95 each). The small fries were huge and we couldn’t finish them…next time we’ll just get one small order.  I liked both versions of their fries, but I’d probably stick to the traditional potato fries, although Sparkles preferred the sweet potato.










Our total bill came to $22.45 before tax.  You can decide for yourself what you think about the pricing, but it seemed kind of high to me for two fast food hamburger meals.  Next time I go back, I may not order the bacon and avocado…the burger add-ons seem to really add-on to the prices.  The service was friendly and helpful and there were plenty of employees working to prepare the food and keep the dining area clean.  We didn’t wait long for our food and it was super fresh and hot when we got it.  The ambiance is typical strip center upscale hamburger joint…nothing out of the ordinary other than the open kitchen.  It’s not my favorite hamburger spot in town, but it’s not bad at all.  Food-3 stars, Service-4 stars, ambiance-3 stars, Value-3 stars.

Villa Grande

2530 West University Drive

Denton, TX, 76201


Maybe the best Tequila selection in Denton










Denton resident Lori McClain is competing in the World Food Championship in Las Vegas with her Sticky Chicken Naan Sandwich.  Click the link below to see the recipe:

Sticky Chicken Naan Sandwich

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