I like Whitehall Exchange in Oak Cliff. The inside has a subtle New Orleans vibe imparted by owner Cretia Drydale, who also owns Cretia's Bakery across the street, and has spent a good amount of time in NOLA. When I've visit that spot at 550 N. Bishop, there's always a good mix of patrons that keep the place all loosey-goosey. I have dreams of spending an entire glorious sunny afternoon chilling at their inside/outside bar watching people plod along in the Bishop Art's District. But for now, I sit here and type.
See Also: Whitehall Exchange, Best Sliders 2012
For drinks, I started with a fancy drink written on the glass behind the bar called Trace of Autumn, which is made with Buffalo Trace (Kentucky straight bourbon), Mathilde pear liquor, pure maple syrup, Yuzu (an Asian cocktail mix), fresh mint and peach bitters. It had good balance, not too sweet and, yes, I could in fact, taste a trace of autumn. Just a trace, though. It wasn't like "POW! Here's autumn all in your face!"
Then, we shared a pizza and that was great, but the real jazzy part - jazz-hands worthy - was the white chocolate bread pudding. I talked to Cretia about it and she told me she brings over croissants from her bakery and they are the base of the dessert. The croissants are stacked and packed into these single serving bowls, then some kind magic happens. There was rich buttery moisture throughout. Even though bread puddings are usually dense, once my fork cut through it, I could see the flaky layers of the croissant.
A light sauce was drizzled over the top along with some berries for a few tart bites. It had only a hint of white chocolate (thankfully). I'm not too proud to admit that I ran my fingers along the side of the bowl to get every last drop of sauce.
So, then for a nightcap, I asked RJ the bar tender for a spiced rum. "Just whatever you got... whatever spiced rum you like... " That's a daring step that usually results in disappointment, but I didn't want to get up and look at what they had. (Possibly on account of the amount of Jager crossing the bar.)
Well, these kids don't play when it comes to spiced rum. I've never had a rum like this before. It was like a spiced holiday mulled cider. I made RJ fetch the bottle so I could take a picture of it.
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Crusoe is an organic rum with a tilt toward environmental awareness (for every bottle bought, they plant a tree). And you know what I always say: every day is a good day to plant a tree. But, it's made with spices that go so far beyond the typical hint of vanilla. It's replete with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove (oh, the bold clove) and vanilla. All the spices of the cocktail actually went great with the bread pudding. If I were cooking at home, I'd put a dab of that rum in my bread pudding sauce. Then, we'd be playing in a whole new ballgame.
Crusoe, named after the environmentalist Robinson Crusoe, is available at Select Sigel's.