Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Ascension Coffee Shop

After hearing so much about Ascension Coffee House, I decided to go try it out once the clock hit 5 p.m. As expected, it did not disappoint.

The vibe of the space is very hip and modern; the cash register is simply an iPad on a little stand which the cashier navigates expertly. The menus are on natural-looking paper attached to a tiny clipboard. Simplicity definitely works to Ascension’s advantage, adding to the overall vibe of modern efficiency.

I ordered the tomato-mozerella-pesto panini, which is my go-to panini order no matter where I am. I have to admit, this had to be one of the best panini’s I’ve ever had. It came with crispy, natural-tasting potato chips and a tiny salad (arugula, I believe) tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. My dad came with me to check the place out, and he nearly finished half of my plate. The food more than exceeded my expectations.

In addition to the great food, the staff was exceptionally attentive. They helped explain the menu, probably realizing that I was a first-time customer. They have obviously been trained to be mild wine connoisseurs; each waiter that I spoke with had extensive knowledge of the subject.

My father ordered a glass of one of their wines, which we both found to be above par. The great thing about Ascension was the atmosphere- people were there doing work on their laptops, like in a regular coffeehouse, while others were simply unwinding with a glass of wine and delicious meal, like my father and me.

Ascension Coffee House delivers in all the aspects that it is trying to succeed in. The only caveat is that it is slightly pricier than a normal coffeehouse; however, the atmosphere and customer service more than makes up for that. I have no doubt that I will be frequenting the coffee shop on my way home from work the next two weeks that I am working here!

“Diamond Dick: The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921” Returns to the Green Zone this Weekend

Diamond Dick: The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 is part of a 17-play series, Soulographie, written by Erik Ehn, that intends to portray “a spiritual history of the United States in the 20th Century from the perspective of its genocides, in which it was directly involved or in which it abetted.”

Each of the 17 plays are currently showing around the country under the direction and production of independent theater companies and artists; Diamond Dick, which originally premiered at The Green Zone in April of this year, is back in production for a special 3-performance-only weekend, right before the cast and crew join the rest of the series in New York.

Project X: Theatre’s Raphael Parry directed Dallas’ installment of the series, which details the false arrest of Dick Rowland, an African American shoe-shiner accused of sexually accosting Sarah Paige in an elevator, and the riots that followed his arrest. The play  merges documentary-like testimonies with dreamy readings, live music and film.

Earlier reviewers praised Diamond Dick when it first premiered in Dallas, saying:

“Much of the play is like an intricate dance, and…represents Erik Ehn’s vision beautifully…The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 cannot be accurately described in words – it must be seen and felt to obtain its full effect on you.”  – Mary L. Clark, Pegasus  News

“When Project X: Theatre takes Diamond Dick to New York in November, Dallas will be represented by some astonishing stagecraft. The show also reasserts Raphael Parry’s status as one of our great directors of contemporary experimental theater.” – Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News

“It stirs emotions from sorrow to anger, and keeps the audience engaged throughout its 70 minutes. Simply put, it’s powerful theater.” – Mark Lowry, Theater Jones

If you’d like to see what’s it’s all about, stop by The Green Zone at 161 Riveredge Drive at one of the following times:

October 26, 8 p.m.
October 27, 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Advanced tickets are $20 and General Admission tickets are $15 at the door. The box office opens 45 minutes prior to show time, or you reserve your tickets by calling Connie Gold Parry at 214-697-1995.

Also, if you happen to be in New York in mid-November, the entire Soulographie cycle will be playing at La Mama in NYC from Nov. 11 to 18.

‘Melancholy Play’ at the Green Zone won’t leave you melancholy

Melancholy Play is a self-proclaimed “farce” written by contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl and put on by Dallas’ Upstart Productions. The play features a sad, young girl named Tilly to whom every other cheerful, happy character is inexplicably drawn. The play will run through Feb. 4 at The Green Zone, 161 Riveredge Dr. in the Design District.

So far, the play has been received with mixed, though mostly positive, reviews from a number of Dallas publications; here are some of the theater-goers comments:

Melancholy Play (appropriately) has everything to do with gravitas and how it works as currency in the pursuit of attachment and romance. If that sounds pretty dry, don’t fret. Melancholy Play is unapologetically, drop-deadpan silly, and just loves to tickle you. Emotionally, spiritually and cerebrally.” – Pegasus News via Examiner

“Things go way off the rails in Ruhl’s weird world, and director Jonathan Taylor is comfortable enough there. The tone is spot on, silly, surreal, and yet just grounded enough.” – D Magazine

“Melancholy Play is from 2001, early in the Ruhl oeuvre but a clear indicator that she is ham-handed at writing humor. It’s not a “contemporary farce,” no, not at all. If it’s something label-able, it’s absurdist. Sloppy, unpolished, excruciatingly unfunny absurdism. With a cello.” – Dallas Observer

“Giddy as it is, Melancholy Play actually affords considerable psychological insight. Vulnerability, even sorrow, can be a powerful aphrodisiac.” – Dallas Morning News

If those reviews intrigue you, you can buy tickets here, and even watch the trailer beforehand. If they didn’t do the trick, then perhaps this refreshing quote from Director Jonathan Taylor will: “Plays need to stop competing with film and television, which is a losing battle. Enough realism already, give me magic!”


Tillman’s Road House

The Friday before Labor Day, part of the JLC family decided to take a trip over the bridge and through the woods… (ok, only North Oak Cliff) to Tillman’s Road House in the Bishop Arts District.  The Bishop Arts District is located a mere 5 miles from the DDD, so it’s worth checking out – especially for the good eats you’ll get over there!

We arrived around noon and were seated immediately.  As soon as you walk in, the dining area is to your left, the bar area to your right and they have a nice patio in front of the restaurant as well.  Tillman’s has a lodge type feel – lots of warm colors and woods but mixed with some flair – like the chandeliers that line the dining area.

When we were seated, our table had chips for us to munch on, along with cute golden birds.  I ordered the Orange & Mint Lemonade (sounds interesting, huh?) as my beverage and it was so good!  Plus, they give you free refills on this special lemonade, which isn’t usually typical.  We decided to order the Trio of Fries for an appetizer which consists of Sweet Potato Fries, Purple Peruvian Fries and Parmesan Black Pepper Fries served with housemade ketchup and horseradish pickle mayo.

Our appetizer arrived fairly quickly and we all placed our orders.  While we waited on our food to arrive,  we enjoyed munching on our fries – which are so yummy!  My personal favorite are the parmesan black pepper fries.  Our food arrived shorty after and we had quite an ensemble of food on our table.

The first orders are from the Hand Helds portion of the menu.  From left to right – The Chicken Salad Sandwich with pistachio and apricot served with the soup of the day (cream corn).  Next is the Grilled Chicken Sandwich served with fresh fruit and last but not least is the Killer Grilled Cheese Sandwich served with the soup of the day.  They were all very good and filling!

The other orders were The Chicken Fried Hanger Steak (this is an ACTUAL piece of steak, fried) served with bacon braised green beans… SO good!  Next is The 8 oz. Angus Burger shown here with fresh fruit (but is also served with your choice of chips or fries) and lastly, the Chef’s Chopped Cobb Salad.

I saved the best for last – this was my number one pick of the day and it is not served regularly.

The Special of the Day was the Trout served over Orzo – and it was delicious!  I cannot even begin to describe the way the fish and the Orzo tasted… the Orzo was so good, I could have just eaten that and I would have been a happy camper!   We were stuffed, so we didn’t have room for dessert, but I totally recommend the S’mores!  They make their own flavored marshmallows (orange, maple & coffee flavor) toasted over chocolate bark served with cinnamon graham crackers.

Tillman’s offers a beautiful private dining area that can seat up to 24 people ~ the room is very magical, almost hard to describe in words, so I will let the pictures speak on the room’s behalf!

Tillman’s has a very cool/hip and eclectic ambiance.  The food is great, the people are friendly and you are in the middle of the Bishop Arts District where there are so many fun shops to walk to when you are done eating.

Just for the fun of it – check out this before and after pic of the bar area in Tillman’s!

Tillman’s has been a long term favorite of the JLC family and will continue to be.

Overall Rating:  9.1 out of 10

~ R

Buck’s Prime … Or is it?

Buck’s is a good, casual, lunch spot serving an assortment of BBQ and Burgers. Salads and loaded baked potatoes were also available. The restaurant has a nice patio and it is located on the North side of the Dallas Design District. There was a good lunch crowd when I visited and the service was quick.

The sign on the outside of the building near the parking lot, reads ‘Best Burger in Dallas’ so I decided to order a burger. I ordered the “Mesquite Burger” with cheddar cheese and grilled onions. I also ordered a basket of onion rings. One disclaimer before reviewing this burger… I am a bit of a Burger Snob/Burger Connoisseur… I’ve eaten at some of Dallas’ finest establishments (i.e. Burger House, Angry Dog, Chip’s, Jake’s, Maple & Motor, etc.) and I grew up in Texas – so with that being said, I have a very sophisticated burger pallete.

So here goes the review of my burger…”average.”

Ahi Sushi

Location:  3211 Oak Lawn Ave #A

When we stepped in the door, we entered into a very cool atmosphere. Dim lights, black and red interior and the two bars (drink and sushi) gave us the feeling that Ahi is really more of a dinner place. There were maybe 10 customers in there with us for lunch. Even so, Monica and I felt invisible while waiting to be seated.  Ahi Sushi just opened up shop in Lower Oak Lawn, and I feel like they should be all over their customers when they walk in the door, making them feel welcome.

I waited almost 20 minutes before I had a salad brought to me. It took about 40 minutes for our meal to arrive. I counted about 10 people on staff, so it should have been out much quicker.

However, I am currently working on practicing patience. Everyone that worked there was very nice, and our waiter did come and apologize specifically to me for the wait. I assume that he could sense my frustration.

When the food finally did show up, we were pleased. The tiger and spider rolls were unbelievable. We were suddenly not as upset as we were while waiting and thinking that we may miss a 1:30 meeting we had scheduled.

The food was great,  the staff was very pleasant, but the service was lacking.

What I had:

California, Spider, and Tiger Rolls- Spider and Tiger rolls were worth having again, and again, and again

Edamame- great, but VERY small portion

Ginger Salad-, if you like salad

6.5 out of 10


Meddelsome Moth

I decided today was a ‘Moth’ kind of day.  First off, could the location be any more ideal in the District (right at the intersection of Oak Lawn Ave & Hi Line)?  Everything about the exterior of this place is quite inviting, from the friendly valet workers to the beautiful simplicity of the greenery that hugs the brick walls.

Two of my co-workers and I arrived at exactly Noon.  When we walked in, my initial feel was that I had just been transported to a high-end dinner party.  Everything inside of the Moth, from the colors of the wood, to the bar and the interesting art pieces scream trendy-upscale eatery.

There were two things that did not appeal to me initially.  One was the different dress of all of the servers.  It was hard to distinguish who was a server and who was not from the waist up.  The only way to distinguish who was a server was to look for a black apron.  The other not-so-appealing element was the paper liners atop the tables.  I expect this at a more casual establishment or one where families with small children would frequent.  Since everything else was so chic, I would have expected fine linens or a bare table-top, but nonetheless…

Riverside Grill

I usually never give out tens, but today I was tempted. Notice how I said tempted. I’m not ready to do it yet.

But I really want to just cut through all the bull and eloquent speech to tell you that this place is good. I mean, it was really good.

Two of my old high school buddies and I walked in the door and received a kind greeting the moment my foot touched their floor’s surface. We were sat down by a waitress and brought drinks immediately.

Our food came out pretty quickly after we had ordered, and as you may already know, we were blown away. When our waitress gave us our food, what was once flowing conversation turned into complete silence. The only sounds my friends and I could muster were mumbled yumms.

It was a wham, bam, thank you Riverfront Grill kind of feeling we had as we walked out the door. But we were all very sure that we would be back on another day.

I want to be clear, THIS IS A BURGER JOINT. You come here for the burgers.

9.1 out of 10

Located @ 940 N Inustrial (now Riverfront) Blvd.


The Cosmic Cafe

We decided to go out on a limb today and try our first ever vegetarian restaurant on Lower Oak Lawn. Enter The Cosmic Café.

I walked in with extremely low expectations, mostly because I despise the thought of a vegetarian lifestyle. While I love meat and would never give it up, I do respect more sensitive people that choose not to eat tortured animals.

My low expectations were quickly lifted the moment I sat down. The waiters were incredibly nice and our appetizers, food and drinks came as quickly as we had ordered them. The strangest thing was that I actually enjoyed the food so much that I couldn’t shut up about it.

However I did feel very out of place and cramped. I could hear every word of every conversation around me and also felt like someone was going to try to convert me to Buddhism.

The Cosmic Café did have some good reading if you like Kundalini, a book on self-realization, or if you enjoy Nirvanasara. I’m no Buddhist, but there is nothing wrong with achieving perfect peace of one’s state of mind.

If your looking for Jerry Garcia in a bottle, frog statues of Buddah or elephants staring at you while you eat, then please believe me my friend, this is your kind of restaurant.

What I had: Veggie Delight Quesadilla, naan & hummus, and a mango/peach smoothie.

Monica had: Boca burger and an herbal iced tea.

I hate to say it, but everything I ate knocked my socks off. The food was very good at the Cosmic Café.

Rating- 8.5 out of 10