KRLD Restaurant Week (DFW)
I visited two place for Restaurant Week - Abacus and Standard. If you want to know which was better, lets just say Standard took Abacus out to the wood shed. It was not even close.
At Abacus we had the scallop and dumplings to start. The scallop was over a nice corn puree and was solid. The shitake dumplings had a very strong flavor, were a bit greasy, and not very enjoyable. For entrees, we had the flat iron steak and bone in-pork chop. The steak was an average cut overwhelmed by a soy sauce dressing. It was accompanied by some blah gnocchi. The pork was seasoned pretty well but undercooked and rubbery. We didn't even finish it. It was accompanied by some nothing special potatoes au gratin. Desert was a forgettable chocolate tart and some bread pudding. I would not go back.
Standard was up there with the best meals I've had in Dallas. We were given a terrine to start made with tomatoes and goat cheese. That followed with a plate of meats and cheeses that were all outstanding. We also had a salad as well and it was very good and very interesting. For entree we had the filet of beef over blue cheese with bok choy and potatoes. The meat just melted in your mouth and was complimented perfectly by the blue cheese. We also had the tamarind bbq salmon which also was a big hit. It was tender and had a perfect sweet twang to it. It was accompanied by some nice greens. Desert was lady finger type cookies with some ice cream that was sensational and a chocolate mousse tart that was also very good. Every plate was completely wiped clean. Service was outstanding. Highly recommended.
Of those two choices I would chose Go Fish, it's more inventive, not a chain, and I have heard some so-so reports on Oceanaire recently. Take this with a grain of salt though: the founding chef at Go Fish hasn't been there for a while and neither have I, perhaps someone else could give a better recommendation.
If you want to stay in that same area, III Forks and Steve Fields Steak and Lobster Lounge are still open for RW. III Forks will serve a good steak, but none better than what you could get in LA for the right price . . . the atmosphere might be something fun for an out-of-towner to do as it propagates about every Texas cliché possible. I've never been to Steve Fields.
Of all the restaurants left open for RW, I personally would chose Standard if you don't mind heading closer to downtown. I don't know what the RW menu is like but every experience I have had there otherwise has been very positive.
Did Mansion for restaurant week tonight. I know this place gets a lot of crap for being overrated, but I thought it was an excellent value for restaurant week.
For full review, plese visit http://donnaaries.wordpress.com/2006/...
Sorry, I'm an amateur when it comes to fine dining, so excuse all the things that are perfectly normal but I found amusing.
donnaaires, thanks for the great report, I'll look forward to more posts on your website.
I too was at the Mansion last night and found my experience to very consistent with yours. I dined with a companion and we also tried both choices at each course. Service was impeccable and the food very good. My only complaint with the food was that I felt my chicken had been slightly overdone. And after visiting Abacus I was slightly dissapointed that there weren't more menu options, but I realize that Abacus is the exception in this case so it's hard to fault any restaurant in that regard -- especially for $35.
Also, it probably warrants mentioning that the lobster taco wasn't offered to our table or any others I saw -- I bet your friend in the kitchen was responsible for that touch. Lucky you.
JordanB, you are correct in your last statement, I didn't find out about that til this morning. It's a little disappointing because the lobster taco was my favorite item of the night and my review is biased towards that dish (so maybe not an entirely fair review for the restaurant week menu). But I think even without that course, with the quality of service and food, I would go back.
We went to Abacus last Friday. They did get us through pretty quickly but answered questions about the restaurant and special dining groups (we liked it enough to think of taking the whole family later this year) in a relaxed way (they said book anything there as soon as you are sure of the date). We got the flat iron steak and pork but though both were good I was sorry I did not get fish. Overall, it was very good value with many choices and tasty enough for us to want to go again and take family. We took the wine tasting, that was just okay, get one bottle. If they do a second week, it is worth a try. We liked the lobster shooters which had many layers of flavor but they said they never take them off the menu and once is probably enough.
Thanks for your review of Abacus, we are going there next week.
As for our first of 3 reservations, we went to Nobu last night. My first complaint was the service. Our group was greeted with a "Ohh you're here for restaurant week, well that menu is in the middle. Do any of you want a beer?" She continued to talk down to several of our party as if it was our first time to ever eat sushi. Ironic that it was only my first time to eat it this week and that I have not totally lost all my working knowledge of the sushi genre.
Five of the six in our group ordered off the RW menu. As suggested by Victoria, my girlfriend ordered the black cod with miso and I went against her advice and had the sushi. The black cod was indeed very good as we kind of "split" the two entrees. My sushi was very good, but it was not as exciting as I dreamt it to be. The fish was fresh, the pieces were very generous and the selection was broad. I am not a fan of Tamago, so I passed on that, but the rest was all very good. The Tuna Roll was good, but not spectacular.
We did order off the menu as well, more of to despise the waitress who I expected to offer me a rubber band for my first time navigating the chop sticks. I had the spicy fish soup and we shared the house roll. The soup was very very good and I would definitely get it again. The house roll, which contained tuna, salmon, crab, and avocado was very good and a good size for the price ($11).
Closing we had the ice cream and one person ordered a desert off the menu, but I don't recall which one it was, but it looked good in the 2 seconds it lasted on the table.
All told it was $441 for 6, not entirely outside of what we expected, but the service left me with little to desire to return. Maybe I have evolved into a sushi snob because our 3 favorites of Piranha, Sushi Sake and Sushiyama still outrank Nobu for us.
Next up, Abacus.
Went to Abacus last night and will say that our overall experience was very good. We had reservations for two at 7pm. We were seated within about 10 minutes of arriving and were quickly greeted by our waiter. Overall the service was attentive, but relaxed - we never felt that they were trying to turn our table quickly. Bread was delivered immediately with an herbed butter. There were three kinds: a sourdough, cinnamon raisin, and a denser cheese type bread.
We had the central market fourth course, the lobster shooter to start which was good, interesting as it was our first time to the restaurant though I can understand how the novelty of this menu item would where off quickly.
Next I had the soft shell crab which was very nice. It was very lightly fried with a plump juicy, sweet interior. It was complemented well with the crisp watercress along with some slivers of red onion, tangy lemon sauce and mustard. My companion had the seared scallop which was perfectly seared. The scallop was great though my companion didn't feel the sweet-corn truffle custard went that well with scallop. I thought the custard was quite good on its own, however.
Next I had the flat-iron steak. The meat was done perfectly medium rare as requested. The sauce it was served with was good but the beef, as excellent as it was, certainly didn't need as much. Thankfully it was mostly served around the steak so it was possible to avoid excess. The gnocchi along with it was good, if not slightly bland. The star of the night was my companions 'big plate': the seared long island lemon sole. The fish itself was perfectly done, moist and flaky throughout and ever so slightly browned from a quick searing giving the exterior a wonderful light crust. All of the vegetables in the dish (artichoke, pear tomatoes, and mushrooms) were excellent and paired perfectly with the fish. The sauce was nice, rich but not overpowering letting the fish and vegetables shine through.
For dessert, we had the bread pudding and the chocolate souffle cake. Both were good, especially the bread pudding, dense but not too heavy. The souffle was very decadent; thankfully at this point the portion was pretty small.
Overall, it was a very solid meal and an exceptional value.
On Tuesday, I went to Al Biernat's with my husband and in-laws.
Atmosphere: VERY loud - we could barely hear each other at the table.
Service: Extremely slow. We tried to have different wine/mixed drinks with each course, but it took so long to get our drinks that we had to drink them between courses. The waitress tried her best, but she was limited by the bartender/kitchen.
Food: Although a large portion, Caesar salad was unremarkable - and was lacking any anchovy goodness. The prime rib was good, but the mashed potatoes were just OK. The red snapper was overcooked and tasted just like catfish to me. The sweet corn risotto with avocado oil had maybe one lone corn kernel, and instead had lots of sour cream. The huge portion of pistachio-crusted chicken wasn't crispy, crunchy, or taste like pistachios. It was tasty, but not what was described on the menu. The red-pepper cream sauce that covered the grilled veggies and entire plate was good, but there was so much it that it drowned the flavors of everything else. For dessert we tried the pecan pie, 3 sorbets and berries, and coconut cream pie. Again, pretty large servings. They were good, but nothing spectacular.
Overall: It was OK, but I wouldn't go back. There's too many other good places to go to that are similar in their food offerings.
Last year we did:
Abacus - lots of sizzle, atmosphere, etc. Food was good, not great. Lobster shooters were a real let-down. Mac 'n' cheese (orzo with a variety of cheeses and truffle oil) was out of this world.
Al Biernat's - Disappointing. Service seemed overwhelmed.
Mercury Grill - Excellent meal. Excellent service. Really, REALLY excellent not-to-be-missed chocolate souffle.
Gunsmoke Grill - Class of the field last year. Chef Keith Hicks left and the restaurant wasn't the same afterwards. Closed a few months ago. Keith is now at Ovation in Fort Worth on Camp Bowie Road. The double pork chop (a steal at $16) is likely to be among the best you've ever tasted.
Iris - Struck me as a good neighborhood restaurant (if you live in the neighborhood), but not necessarily worth a drive.
Il Mulino - Biggest disappointment of the bunch. The original, in New York, is pretty darned good. The food at the Dallas branch was very ordinary and overpriced--even at Restaurant Week prices. It's demise is not surprising.
Fort Worth Chop House - Good corn and clam chowder. Very good Kobe Flatiron Steak with Chipotle Hollandaise. Chopped fingerling potatoes were nothing special. All of the desserts offered (we had them all) were very good.
Lonesome Dove - Service was uneven. Our waitron disappeared for 20 minutes at a time. Mac and cheese was orzo with manchego and white truffle oil and was pretty good, but couldn't hold a candle to Abacus'. Two salads were available: an anchovy infused take on Caesar with deep-fried herbed polenta cubes instead of croutons and another one that I can't remember. 'Extra' appetizer was very good - 2 small pouches of kangaroo meat stuffed with boursin cheese, each atop a nacho chip, served with a dollop of guacamole tarted up with a bit of habanero. Very nice combination of flavors. Main courses included a very good (and very rare-yea!) sliced pork tenderloin in an earthy anasazi bean stew with very good onion rings. Only a single dessert was offered - vanilla bean ice cream between two cinnamon cookies--not special at all. I'd go back at another time and order from the regular menu.
Yet to come:
Dragonfly @ Hotel Zaza
Mercury Grill (I hope that souffle is still available)
I enjoyed my meal at mercury grill...they had a nice well rounded selection for their menu. I had the pulled pork enchilada, petit filet dynamite, and tres leches cake. The steak was wonderful. portions were smaller, but who needs more food than they can finish anyway?
The place was very busy, but service was still great. We were seated immediately and out in a little over an hour.
I'd like to know how the other restaurants on the list fared.
Ok, I did York Street last night. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. Our table was ready when we got there, and we were handed a full menu. We were told this was the RW menu. So much to choose from.
I did the smoked blue fish appetizer. It was the hit of the table. Everyone wanted a bite. My friends had the ricotta and tomoato salad. It was simple and nice, but didn't stand up to my smoked blue fish, which was served mixed with avocado and arugula in a small tower. I hoovered that thing down.
Next I had the skate. I was in the mood for something different. This was delicious. It was served in a very favorable broth with mussels. I ate most of it and allowed the rest of the table to have a couple of bits.
Dessert was simple, blue cheese and figs. Couldn't have asked for anything more.
Next up is Lanny's.
i tried to make reservations at Stephan Pyles today...people sure do jump on these RW reservations! They only had 10 & 10:30 seatings left, which is just too late for me to have a 3 course meal.
I went ahead and made a reservation at Mercury Grill, which i haven't been to before, but read good things about on this site.
Do you all think that's a worth while RW dine, or is there a different restaurant on the list i should go with?
I LOOOOOVVVVEEE restaurant week. I've done it the last couple of years.
Abacus always gives a big bang for the buck.
Nana was a bit chinzy and it was hard to get a table before 9pm.
Hector's served mainly their most popular dishes. But there is a new chef in town. So, they might mix it up a bit.
Drae was only ok. I wouldn't really suggest going there. It ended up just being expensive chinese food.