C+J Dallas
surf globally, pour locally, drink responsibly
May 2013

Coffee, Tea … or Vino?
New breed of coffeehouses supplies all
By Farah Fleurima...The Dallas Diva!



Dallas has a new kind of coffeehouse that not only can satisfy your java jones but cater to your inner oenophile, all under one roof.


Mudsmith on Lower Greenville and Ascension in the Design District both sling coffee drinks and pour wine or beer, as well as serve up tasty dishes. Let’s take a bite into the two eateries.

Mudsmith
Opened in late January 2013, Mudsmith sports a unique vibe, perfect for its East Dallas home: casually rustic with a hipster edge, which is what I’d hope for from Brooke Humphries, who also brought us Henderson’s uber-popular Barcadia Bar & Grill. I could tell from its big, bold signage that I should expect a ton of personality on the inside. Mudsmith’s décor is seriously fun – I’d call it woodsy chic, with thick wooden stools and tables dominating the space punctuated by numerous stuffed-animal heads on the wall. There are outlets everywhere, and with free wifi, Mudsmith makes an ideal space for mobile workers. Once you walk in, the temptations begin. Not only is the menu a heady mix of sustainable joe from San Francisco’s Four Barrel Coffee beans, espresso from La Marzocco and fresh bevs from Dallas’ own Roots Juices, but each hot beverage is lovingly handmade by Mudsmith’s specially trained baristas.

The joint also keeps eight craft beers and four wines on tap that rotate occasionally. Edible temptations grab you at the food case, where daily-made pastries and huge, meaty sandwiches are on display.

On a recent visit, I had a chai tea latte with almond milk and a perfect croissant, easily one of the best versions of the bread I’ve had around town. Flaky, buttery, slightly sweet – full of ooh-la-la, and all that you want in a croissant. My chai was hot and potent, with the spicy nutmeg making my nose tingle. I also sampled a pastrami sandwich from the case; even cold, the pastrami sandwich was a wonder – the silky meat stacked between rye bread was so delightfully tender, I wanted a plate of the stuff by itself! Accompanying veggie chips added a salty-crunchy component.

With a huge front room anchored by the bar, a sizeable front patio and a back room where guests tapped away in peace at their laptops, there’s space aplenty to find a corner to get cozy at Mudsmith. Pro tip: If you can’t snag parking on the street, there’s a lot behind Mudsmith.




Ascension
Adding to the burgeoning smoking-hot scene there, Ascension brings craft coffee to the Design District mix in a modern, airy space just off Oak Lawn and Interstate 35. The light-filled restaurant is dotted with chalkboards and blond wood seating and tables under funky exposed ductwork. Bright and pleasant, it’s a terrific place to get in a few hours of work – but note that there’s only two spots to do so: a communal table at the back of the eatery, and a couple of high-top tables by the coffee bar.

Ascension prides itself on making pour-over coffee, which means employing a funnel-type device called a dipper that results in extracting more flavor from the beans. Among Ascension’s type of coffees are a cortado, cappuccino and Kyoto brew as well as my favorite, the tea-based chai latte. Theirs is not only spicy at its base, but sprinkled with fresh nutmeg that jumps out at the tastebuds.

Ascension has a lovely food menu; in addition to morning pastries, oatmeal and breakfast tacos, there’s a lunch menu of tasty panini (I highly recommend the chicken and manchego) and sandwiches, and even a dinner menu with small plates and full-size entrees. Unlike Mudsmith, Ascension doesn’t serve beer, but sources wine from boutique wineries, selling by the bottle or the glass. I can’t wait to land here one afternoon to write and enjoy a glass of bubbly alongside my panini and chips! Service here is friendly and tremendously knowledgeable, so I imagine I’ll have all the help I need in pairing food and wine.

Pro tip: Ascension asks laptop users to put away their computers at 6 p.m. for dinner service, so consider pulling a late-nighter elsewhere, or, better yet, tucking your iPad away for a delicious meal!







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