Let me start by stating the obvious. I love a good deal. And it’s no secret that when that deal involves great food and cocktails, I really love a good deal. I had the pleasure of attending Urban Rio’s November Cocktail Dinner in Historic Downtown Plano two weeks ago and let me tell you, it was a really, really good deal. Urban Rio’s monthly Cocktail Dinners consist of five courses paired with five cocktails for only $34.90. When I saw how low the price was for this dinner I thought to myself, “the portions must be tiny and hardly any alcohol in the drinks…”. Boy was I wrong! As you will see from the photos below, the portions were more than generous and you can take my word for it, they did not hold back when making these cocktails!
Our first course from Executive Chef Fernando Torres’ fall-inspired menu was the Butternut Squash Soup paired with the Pumpkin Martini. The creamy consistency of onion, celery and butternut squash was simple, delicious and the perfect start for a chilly, fall evening. If this was the only dish I had that night I would have been completely satisfied. (I definitely have my fingers crossed this one makes it onto their main menu!) The Pumpkin Martini was a concoction of spiced rum, pumpkin spice syrup, homemade pumpkin whipped cream, nutmeg and cinnamon. I loved this martini as it made me feel like I was eating a slice of gourmet pumpkin pie.
The second course was Berry Jalapeno Shrimp paired with the Berry Breeze. The tail-on shrimp was served on a bed of lettuce with a strawberry and blueberry pico and a berry-jalapeno sauce that had a great kick to it. The Berry Breeze contrasted nicely with the zesty shrimp as it was very light (Absolut Pear vodka, apple juice, and cranberry juice).
The third course was Roasted Ham topped with an incredible maple-mustard sauce served over smooth leek mashed potatoes. This was paired with a very strong and sweet Maple Old Fashioned (maple rye whiskey, cranberry bitters, maraschino cherries and orange).
The fourth course was Pecan Salmon served with sautéed green beans paired with the Pecan Dream. The Pecan Dream was so unique and a great example of the thought and creativity that goes into Urban Rio’s cocktail creations. This cocktail is made with a house-infused toasted pecan rum (they roasted pecans then infused in-house over the last month!), banana, vanilla vodka, sugar and walnut liquer. I don’t typically think banana would be great in a cocktail but it added a nice consistency and flavor to what ended up being one of my favorite cocktails of the night. The pecan crusted salmon was very moist with a nice punch of Dijon honey mustard flavor in its crispy crust. The Chef informed us he gets his salmon from Chile which is known to have less fat and be more like trout.
The fifth and final course was a light and decadent Chocolate Mousse paired with the “Chocolate Covered Raspberry” (Grapevine Brewery’s Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout and Lindemans Framboise garnished with raspberries). This drink was surprisingly light and complimented the chocolate mousse beautifully. If my jeans were not already busting at the seams at this point I would have finished this drink in a heartbeat.
Lucky for all of us Urban Rio hosts their Cocktail Dinners on a monthly basis (usually every 3rd Tuesday) and this next dinner is December 16th at 6:30pm inspired by “Holiday Cheer”. (Not a cocktail drinker? Urban Rio will begin hosting “Beer Dinners” in March 2015!) Just a few of the menu items to expect December 16th are Rio Crab Cakes, Pomegranate Pork Chops, Ginger-Chimichurri Steak alongside festive cocktails like “Strawberry Candy Cane” and “Winter Solstice”. This dinner may sell out quickly so be sure to make a reservation and call 972-543-8911 or email email@example.com!
Can’t make it to the December Cocktail Dinner? You can stop by Urban Rio any day of the week to enjoy great prices on their food and “7 for 7” deals. On the Rocks Cantina is located above Urban Rio and offers daily happy hour specials (served all day) along with a full Urban Rio menu and handcrafted specialty cocktails and margaritas, craft brews, wine and spirits. They are throwing a “Cocktails and Confetti” New Years Eve rooftop party featuring live music from the Josh Goode band, small bites from Urban Crust, and a cash bar with signature drinks from Urban Rio. Tickets are available for guests 21+ and only cost $50 which includes the concert, small bites, one (1) complimentary cocktail, and champagne toast at midnight. PURCHASE HERE!
To get you in the holiday spirit here are two recipes for Holiday Cocktails from Urban Rio! I recently purchased a couple of copper mugs so I know exactly what I will be making to break them in!
o 2 oz. Deep Eddy’s Cranberry Vodka
o 1 oz. fresh lime juice
o .5 oz. simple syrup
o Fresh mint
o Ginger beer
Fill copper mug with ice. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with fresh mint. Strain into mug and top with ginger beer (we prefer Gosling’s!). Garnish with fresh cranberry skewer, lime wedge and sprig of fresh mint.
Winter Vixen Cocktail
o 1 oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
o 1.5 oz. POM pomegranate juice
o Fresh pomegranate seeds
Fill the bottom of the champagne flute with pomegranate seeds (about ten). Layer St. Germain and pomegranate juice in the champagne flute and top with champagne.
From the waitstaff and the bartenders to the managers and the head chef, Urban Rio came together to create a wonderful dining experience for their guests. I am looking forward to going back soon to try their fajitas, tableside s’mores (they make their own marshmallows!), and of course, their happy hour specials.
Urban Rio Cantina & Grill
1000 E. 14th St., Ste. 100
Plano, TX 75074