From Texas to Beyond

Local, Near and Far: Our journey of exploring the world.

Month: July 2015 (page 1 of 4)

Pacific Table Review – Fort Worth

After moving back from Chicago to the DFW area and with a newborn doing newborn things , Rachel and I were looking to have a nice date night. This was our first date night since the baby was born, so we wanted to do something special. Rachel did some research and we decided on Pacific Table.

Tucked away in the back of University Park Village, not far from Blue Mesa, is the wonderfully unique Pacific Table.  It is a restaurant that as you guessed, celebrates the Pacific Northwest. With a main focus on seafood, including sushi, Pacific Table also offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, and a few chicken and beef dishes.

Upon stepping into the restaurant, the modern interior and feel celebrates the Pacific Northwest. The option for  covered patio seating  is available which can be used in the winter and summer months as well as a communal table that is offered in case you want to get cozy with some strangers.

After arriving and being seated, we were greeted with wonderful service throughout the night. The waiter was knowledgeable and shared his recommendations. Because the sushi does not have a description of all that is in it, we had to ask several questions but the waiter was fantastic in knowing the answers and helping us decide. There were several people walking through the restaurant to make sure glasses didn’t get empty. Overall, the prompt and courteous service was a positive and helped make this an enjoyable experience.

Pacific Table sushi

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My First NASCAR Experience

A few months ago, some friends, James and Dixie, invited David and I to the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX.  I had never been to anything like that before, and loving to experience new things, we said we would love to join them.

With friends James and Dixie

With friends James and Dixie

I had no idea what I was getting into…Our friends are seasoned fans and had been many times before.  The whole day was new to me, the rules, the culture, down to the full sensory experience of actually feeling the vibration of the cars go by, which was so cool by the way.  It was a unique race because it was an evening race, which was great for us, because it was cooler than most races during the day.  The time of the day also affects the tires and how they grip the road due to the temperature of the asphalt.  Our seats, the cheap seats, were just a few rows from the bottom at the first turn as the cars exited pit row.  So when the cars entered back into the race, they used an acceleration lane right in front of us.  If you are a NASCAR novice like me, here are some tips for those who have never been before.

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

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Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company

What exactly is bourbon? Being a beer guy, I don’t know much about liquors. But on a Tuesday night, I was going to get a lesson in bourbon at a local distillery in downtown Fort Worth! Joining Chris, Ray and some other friends for a tour of Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company, I was ready to learn and in this amazing environment, I picked up a basic education in bourbon.

Column Distiller

Column Distiller

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company is housed in a renovated 1920s prohibition-era warehouse just south of downtown. This convenient location comes complete with plenty of street parking, making for easy logistics. The tour begins in the warehouse area, which is full of bourbon barrels, stacked neatly along the walls. The atmosphere is stellar!

It amazes me how distilleries operate. For at least 2 years, they don’t sell their product. After 2 years of aging, the product can be sold as bourbon. However, to be considered straight bourbon, the liquid must age at least 4 years. Firestone & Robertson (F&R) wants to bottle straight bourbon, so they must wait. FOUR long years.

The distillery opened its doors in 2012, and has since barreled their Texan take on bourbon. Outside of the staff, no one has tasted their aged bourbon since.

Before you can begin aging, you must first make the bourbon base. So, what makes bourbon, bourbon?

Fermentation Tanks

Fermentation Tanks

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Kids Who Care

Every Friday we take a break from our regular blogging schedule to allow the authors an opportunity to feature a certain topic they are passionate about. In the past you’ve read about art, studying abroad, experiencing culture through food, and the great burger adventure. Through this and other future posts we hope you’ll enjoy reading, we hope to share with you our personalities, passions, and interests on a more personal level.

When you can’t travel overseas, bring the world to you!

Here at From Texas to Beyond, we love to travel overseas; but as we all know, sometimes money, time, and other responsibilities limit these opportunities.  That does not have to stop you from experiencing and learning about our world.  In the DFW area there are hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to meet people from around the world, feast on their traditional cuisine, encounter art, and experience music and dance performances that introduce you to different instruments and rhythms.

Arrival of the International Students

Arrival of the International Students

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J.W. Chen’s Chinese Cuisine

As Rachel has mentioned in previous posts about trip planning, we (mainly she does) typically search sites like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and TripAdvisor for different restaurants that are popular “must go to” places. As we drove to South Bend in the snow storm, for some reason, we had not picked a place to eat upon our arrival mainly because we were not sure what time we would get there and what we would want to eat. So as Rachel drove trying to keep us alive on the snow covered roads, I was focusing on food. I know, different priorities! As I looked at Yelp for restaurants, I was expecting to see an Irish food restaurant or a bar/pub that caters to the university students near the top of the list. I was surprised to see that one of the most popular and highest rated restaurants was a place called J.W. Chen’s.

Not wanting to spend too much money and needing a fairly quick lunch so that we could get on with our activities, we decided to give this Asian bistro a try. I will spare you the suspense, it is without a doubt one of the best hidden gems we’ve ever found.. Upon arriving, the owner greets you and talks with you about what type of food you like and typically order. She gives you several recommendations or tells you that she will make you something special. I was not expecting this at all because VERY FEW restaurants have such generous hospitality. We looked over the menu and found a couple of options that sounded good, and the next thing we know, a plate is put before us. I am wondering what is this, this must be someone else’s food. Next thing I know, here comes the owner telling us to try it and if we don’t like it, we can order something else. In the conversation we had, I told her that I like sweet and spicy. Either Rachel or myself mentioned something about chicken. So the dish that was set before us was this wonderfully sweet and spicy crispy chicken that was phenomenal! So I loved it but still wanted to try something else to see what they had to offer.

Rachel ordered the chicken & broccoli and I went for a traditional sesame chicken. The portions were fantastic and honestly the prices were pretty good as well for Asian restaurants. We went for lunch and ordered the lunch specials which includes soup, egg roll, and fried or steamed rice.The egg rolls were nice and crispy with a good amount of filling and a nice dipping sauce that heightened the flavors of the vegetables. Rachel’s meal was flavorful and she was happy to find that the broccoli wasn’t overcooked (this is a big point for her when we go to restaurants where the vegetables are overcooked)! My sesame chicken was very good. It had a nice crispiness and the amount of batter wasn’t overwhelming. The sauce had a nice sweet flavor to it, but also a slight hint of spice that amplified the dish overall. The rice was wonderful. A funny thing though, even though I really enjoyed the sesame chicken, the crispy chicken that was specially made for us was by far our favorite part of the meal.

Everything tasted so good and while there are several Americanized dishes, there are a number of legit authentic Asian dishes that are worth trying. They do offer options that fill different dietary restrictions as well which is always a plus; just inform the owner or check their menu. .

Overall, the food was well done and very good and worth visiting. But, the service is what makes J.W. Chen’s a one-of-a-kind restaurant. The person taking your order is willing to talk and help . Your drink glass never gets empty. The prices are really reasonable and the portions are a good size as well. If you are in the area, this is a must try!

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