Friday, January 22, 2010

CAFE DU LUXE, Denton, Texas

Cafe serves up fine vintages, fresh joe and bites to savor

By Ellen "EJ" Sackett (written for Denton Record-Chronicle)

Cafe Du Luxe isn’t Denton’s best-kept secret. Since it opened five months ago, the word is spreading: It’s a great place to meet friends for conversation and a cup of coffee, a light meal or a glass of fine wine. Owner David Carles describes his cafe as “upscale casual” and says it “provides a choice that raises the quality” in the area. That choice includes freshly roasted coffee beans, both familiar and relatively unknown wines, and healthy yet inexpensive menu items for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. "We appeal to the North Texas business and medical professionals and give them another alternative to Starbucks and coffeehouses that largely appeal to students,” he said.

Cafe Du Luxe is located in Market Square at Unicorn Lake, where it’s a logical stop for a bite before or after a movie at Cinemark Denton. In addition to convenience, the cafe offers happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, featuring half-price appetizers and $1 off house beer and wines.

Commuters can whip into the drive-through for a specialty coffee fix, brewed “the old-fashioned way,” Carles said. “We use authentic Italian espresso equipment. We grind and dose and tamp and pull the shots by hand. None of it is automated.”

The coffees are designed around a music theme, named after the voices in a choir — the lighter the roast, the higher the voice. The beans come to the cafe extremely fresh.

“We order our coffee from our roaster on Monday; they roast for us on Tuesday; our coffee arrives here Wednesday or Thursday,” Carles said.

Cafe Du Luxe specializes in some “high-quality but relatively unknown” Chilean wines that can’t be purchased at the local grocery, Carles said. The wine list offers a variety and appeals to those who lean toward the familiar as well as aficionados who are more adventurous. Beer drinkers shouldn’t feel left out: Domestic and imported brews are available, too.

Food and drink aren’t the only reasons to come to Cafe Du Luxe; another is the atmosphere. One wall is dedicated to displaying work by regional artists. The exhibit changes monthly, with an artist’s reception every third Sunday. On Saturday evenings, Bill Metzger and Perrin Grace perform light jazz on electric guitar and upright bass. Book clubs, church groups and writers meet regularly to exchange information and ideas.

People can “come in jeans or come in a suit, either way,” Carles said.

It took four years from conception to completion to create Cafe Du Luxe, and it came out almost exactly as Carles envisioned it.

“People are still trying to figure out who we are and what we do,” he said. “We want the word to get out [because] we have something unique to offer.”


3101 Unicorn Lake Blvd.
Hours: Monday through Thursday ~ 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Originally published in Denton Record-Chronicle, DentonTime, January 21, 2010.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FARE SQUARE - Dohl-sot Bibim Bop

Royal East Asian Cuisine, Dohl-sot Bibim Bop

Korean Rice Dish Bops!

By Ellen "EJ" Sackett

Try a food that’s as fun to order it is to eat! “Bibim Bop (BEE-bim-bahp) served in a Hot Stone Bowl” is a traditional Korean all-in-one meal, and it’s also Royal East Asian Cuisine restaurant’s most popular dish. It’s more accurately called Dohl-sot Bibim Bop—not to be confused with Bibim Bop—which is not served in a hot stone bowl.

There’s lots of ways to spell it: Dohl-sot, dolsot, bibimbap, bibimbab, bibimbob, bibimbop--even b-bop, for short! It’s all the same thing. Literally translated, “dohl-sot” means “stone pot” and “bibim bop” means “mixed rice”. Even though there are as many ways to make it, the basic recipe includes three main ingredients: rice, vegetables and meat.

Royal East’s stone bowl arrives at the table too hot to touch. White rice is mixed with thin shreds of bulgogi (beef marinated in soy sauce), carrots, potato, spinach, soybean sprouts and the root of royal fern. All this has been added to sizzling sesame oil that carmelizes with the rice along the bottom of the bowl and turns it a crispy brown. On top sits a fried egg, over-easy. (Some versions use a raw egg.) The server breaks the yolk and combines the ingredients, still cooking away inside the hot stone bowl. He adds red chili sauce for spiciness, and I add a little soy sauce for flavor.

But that’s not all. Dohl-sot Bibim Bop also comes with banchan, typical Korean side dishes served at every meal, especially Kimchi, Korea’s famous pickled cabbage with a kick, and often times Cucumber Kimchi, another variation on that theme, as well as other seasoned vegetables.

Dohl-sot Bibim Bop, priced at $10.95 at dinner ($8.95 at lunch), doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee, but no worries. Even the pickiest eaters will come back for more of this warm and wondrous Korean comfort food.

Royal East Asian Cuisine (Korean, Sushi, Japanese)
1622-A W. University Drive, Denton
(940) 383-7633
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Published Denton Record-Chronicle, January 14, 2010
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