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Making Dallas Even Better

Parsing the Aldredge House Controversy

I keep trying to ignore the Aldredge House controversy, because I guess I keep thinking it will just go away. In addition, people whose opinions I like and respect have come down on opposing sides of the issue.

As I understand it, the deal is that the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance, a fairly well-heeled group of individuals, owns a fantastic, well-preserved old house on Swiss Avenue. To support its mission, the Society has turned day-to-day management of the space over to a special events company, which makes it available for weddings, parties, etc., much to the chagrin of surrounding neighbors.

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Podcast: Meat Queen Alice Laussade on ‘Funlanthropy’ and Mommy Makeovers

The Dallas Observer‘s own Cheap Bastard, Alice Laussade, stopped by the Old Monk to talk about her upcoming Meat Fight fundraiser on the newest episode of EarBurner, and she brought plenty of salty language with her. Consider this your mature-content warning. Maybe skip this one if you’re listening with the kids.

Otherwise, on to the notes:

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Photograph Your Favorite Burger in Dallas, Win Big

Now that the Best Burgers issue of D Magazine has had more than enough opportunity to whet your appetite for ground-beef sandwiches, we’re inviting you to share a picture of your favorite hamburger in town via social media.

If you use #burgertownusa on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or the like, we’ll take a look. We’ll pick the best entry made before September 30, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 gift card to the soon-to-open Happiest Hour.

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Podcast: Burger Editor David Hale Smith Talks Books and Barbecue

D Magazine burger editor pro tem — and sometime literary agent — David Hale Smith stopped by the Old Monk to talk about all the hunks of meat he consumed for our Best Burgers issue and how his New York colleagues still can’t understand that Dallas isn’t a wasteland of wagon wheels and oil derricks.

A few notes for your edification:

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Bon Appetit Screws Small Brewpub, Luscher’s Red Hots

You will recall that two Dallas restaurants appeared on Bon Appetit’s list of 50 best new restaurants in America. Small Brewpub and Luscher’s were those two restaurants. Well, today the magazine winnowed that list down to the Hot 10, the best of the best. And neither Small Brewpub nor Luscher’s made the cut. I am so angry. To get back at them, I didn’t put the accent aigu in the magazine’s title. (Diacritical humor!)

Small Brewpub and Luscher’s Land on Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in the Country

Bon Appétit just released its list of 50 nominees for the best new restaurants of 2015; come August 18, it will whittle that list down and publish its “Hot 10.” On the list of nominees are four Texas restaurants: Gardner and Dai Due, both in Austin; and Dallas’ own Small Brewpub and Luscher’s Red Hots. Here are my knee-jerk, snap-reaction-response reviews of both restaurants:

Small Brewpub? Are you kidding me? That’s not a restaurant. They serves snacks. Last time I went there, they served me, like, three pieces of beef jerky tied together with responsibly sourced twine, served atop a slate shingle. Could this place be more Portlandia?

And Luscher’s? Really? REALLY really? I ate there last Wednesday. I had a hamburger. And a 16-ounce can of Lone Star. They were playing Cheap Trick or some other lousy metal band that Brian Luscher remembers from his youth. You know the staff has to say “pop” when referring to soft drinks, right? You know, because Luscher is from Chicago. How precious.

(I’m kidding. I consider Brian Luscher a friend. Our daughters attend school together. His Uncle Herky burger is a thing of beauty. And Small Brewpub makes me wish I lived in Oak Cliff. Love their selection of beer. If you’ve never been, it’s worth the drive from Frisco. Congrats to both joints.)

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On Microbrews, Food Trucks, and What Makes Dallas Special

I don’t remember a lot about Wim Wenders’ 1974 film Alice in the Cities. What I do remember my professor (himself a native German) emphasizing during the German film class I took in college was the way in which it portrays American cities as nearly indistinguishable stops along an endless stretch of highway, with virtually the same restaurants and shops found everywhere.

For some reason that outsider’s view of the United States stuck in my brain. While it seems most applicable when considering the ubiquitous national fast-food chains and big-box stores, in recent years I’ve felt the same irritating sense of sameness — more irritating, actually, since it is sameness disguising itself — in the collection of trends that have swept across our nation and that might be loosely described as the Triumph of Hipsterdom.

Today the New Republic retweeted this 2013 piece by Chuck Thompson. I’d not read it before, but it got me thinking. Thompson writes:

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New Podcast: Matt Tobin of the Blind Butcher and Goodfriend Plays iPhone Roulette

It’s an entertaining chat with the co-proprietor of Lower Greenville‘s Blind Butcher and East DallasGoodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House, on the latest episode of EarBurner. But if you’re short on time, at least jump ahead (somewhere after the 36-minute mark) to hear Tobin face up to the challenge of iPhone roulette. If you’re easily embarrassed on behalf of other people, as I am, you’ll need to gather your fortitude before giving it a listen. It’s worth it.

Now, notes on the show:

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The History of Dallas Urbanism in the Story of a Seafood Restaurant

Perhaps this is more of a Ghosts of Dallas thing, but I just thought I’d share with you some findings from a rabbit hole I slipped into this morning.

It began with this article about the closing of Vincent’s Seafood in Plano. I’ll be honest, I never heard of the place, which is why when the headline announced that it had been open for 117 years, I was really taken aback. How did a century-old restaurant escape my Dallas history nerd-o-meter? And how is it possible that a restaurant in a bland, concrete strip mall in Plano could be such a historic establishment? I started to dig.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: What’s the Right Way to Order an Old-Fashioned?

Firstly, my humblest apologies for leaving you all — devoted readers — in the lurch last week whilst I skedaddled to obtain a measure of recreation and relaxation. One of the prime benefits of noncorporeal existence is that there’s no need to pay those blood-sucking fares that the airlines charge. Believe me, instantaneous quantum transport is the only way to fly!

But I return now to my Sisyphean duty: solving all of the world’s most pressing quandaries.

Question: With so many cocktail variations popping up every day — the rise of the mixologist is upon us! — it’s becoming more and more difficult to order a drink properly, without fumbling around with a barrage of follow-up questions and combinations to consider. Since you’re staggeringly old, can you tell me the proper way to order an Old Fashioned, so as to minimize the drama? — Travis S.

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New Podcast: A Meaty Discussion With Chef Brian Luscher of the Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots

This week’s EarBurner guest is chef Brian Luscher of the Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots. At the Old Monk on Thursday he talked about his Deep Ellum hot dog joint (which also boasts one of the 20 best burgers in Dallas) and why the city’s business-friendliness doesn’t necessarily extend to small-scale operators. There’s also Chicago-accented talk of Joey Gallo’s recent heroics for the Texas Rangers and the end of the 5-cent bag fee.

Now to some corrections and notes to help you better enjoy the listening experience:

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#StayCoolDallas and Win a $200 Gift Card

Today could be the first 90-degree day of 2015 in North Texas, so there may be no better time to prepare yourself for the inevitable onslaught of summer’s heat than by reading the cover story of the June issue of D Magazine. There you’ll find ice cream and snow cones, water parks and “chill” patios.

But we’d also like to see your favorite means of surviving through the high temperatures: frozen cocktails, icy treats, pool pics, or wherever you like to settle down for a nap outdoors in the shade. Just share a photo on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using the #staycooldallas through June 30 to enter for a chance to win a $200 gift card to the Grove at Harwood.

And now, because I grew up with a mother for whom every sentence I said to her could become a Broadway song cue, I can’t help but post this in response to the hashtag for this month’s contest:

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