[DFW] Impressing out of towners (long review)
so my parents were in town this past weekend, I thought I'd share where all I took them and our thoughts on what we ate.
I picked them up from the airports (yep, both) Friday night and took them over towards uptown. It was too early for our reservations at York St, so we stopped for a drink first. Cosmo didn't seem to be open (at 6 on a Friday night?) so we crossed the street to the Wine Therapist. Nice laid back atmosphere, good place for a quick drink if you don't need "atmosphere". $8 a glass. I had a pinot noir but I forget the name...Canasta, Carumba, Canadia...something like that. Not much of a pinot noir guy (ok not much of a wine guy at all). I can only say it tasted a lot like grapes. Anyway, it was a good place for a low key pre dinner drink.
Made it to York St a bit early and were seated promptly. Did take an extra pass to find the place...pretty uhhh unremarkable outside, but I thought it was lovely inside. They offered tap water (yes thanks) and then the pre dinner walnuts (devoured), olives (strong!) and a shot of sherry (tasty). We did two appetizers, the smelts which were simple smelts really excellently cooked and a salad with "bacon" (prosciutto?), something like swiss cheese, and a very very light vinaigrette. My mom would have been happy with the salad as a dinner. I seemed to have scored about half the bacon (or whatever) so I was also pretty happy.
We had the black drum, veal chop, and tarakihi on celery root salad entrees. The black drum and tarakihi were interesting because we'd never had them before and were both delicious. The extras combined well with the fish. The veal chop was deliciously tender and juicy. I'm surprised my dad didn't gnaw the bone...I was thinking about it :). We also had the golden beet salad as a side (my dad loves beets). These were very good, with just little pieces of tart (goat?) cheese to offset the sweetness. Desserts were the apple buckle and bread pudding. The bread pudding was really rich and the pineapple kind of stood out but didn't kill it like it could have. The buckle was nice but I may have been too well fed by that point to really notice much about it...I wouldn't necessarily say it was head and shoulders above my mom's apple crisp. Service was really stellar and the waiter made the bold prediction that the Patriots would go 19-0 next season :), I like when they're not too overly formal. Oh almost forgot we finished with an interesting darjeeling tea. Bill before tax came to ~$150, perfectly reasonable for what we got imo. I'd certainly go back if I could get a date :)
Saturday we finally managed to drag my dad away from his work by about noon and headed out to Big Easy in Plano for lunch. This is my standby for taking out of towners for Cajun/crawfish. My dad and I got crawfish po-boys and my mom wanted to try the muffaleto, which usually isn't one of my favorites. I definitely like it more than I remembered. The po-boys were solid, Big Easy has absolutely never once let me down on crawfish the 100 or so times I've been, even outside of crawfish season. Every single time I've been the crawfish has had snap and taste...not sayin its the best ever, but I'm confident that I can take somebody there and not have to apologize. My dad's opinion was "I'm glad I ordered the 10 inch" (I ordered the 5", since I had more food planned).
So after showing them touristy stuff downtown we headed up the tollway to Lovers Lane and Drip Coffee. I had wanted to take them out to White Rock but I knew they needed some coffee then and besides I wanted to take them by Doughmonkey. My mom had a chai tea concoction that was pretty tasty and my dad and I had plain coffees which were excellent.
We finished about half our drinks and headed over to Doughmonkey where we completely and utterly indulged ourselves in what can only be described as Sin. From now on I will only go to that place *after* I've run at least 5 miles because I don't want to have any reservations at trying anything there. The valhrona chocolate eclair was absurdly rich and delicious full but not overfull with custard. The Texas Pecan chocolate cake (Turtle pudding?) was so rich that I honestly felt like I needed to be flogged for penance. The blood orange poppy seed muffin was much less sinful, not quite as tangy as I'd hoped but the combination of flavors and texture was very nice. They also serve Drip coffee there although they didn't blink at my dad and I brining ours in. I think Snider Plaza is a great place to spend a nice Saturday afternoon...little coffee and dessert, wander around for an hour, etc.
Afterwards we headed up towards White Rock lake, I still needed a bag of coffee for the next week (Drip's coffee is good but WRL's choices by the bag are more interesting). My mom and I each got a bag, I could have gotten a cup and taken it with us to check out Sunset Bay but I didn't this time. Probably will in the future since it's close and fairly quiet. Nothing better than a nice quiet place to enjoy a great cup of coffee. After that we went by Penzey's at Preston @ 635, I wanted my mom to check it out since I buy her stuff there all the time (ok I also needed to replenish my cinnamon supply). While there I couldn't resist a bag of the dried chipotles.
So we finally headed back up to Plano for a few hours before heading over to Yao Fuzi for dinner around 7. Even with no reservations on a Saturday night the wait was still only 10 minutes although I think this will start to change soon. We had a new waitress who was competent but very green. The atmosphere in the place is different than I remember with cute hostesses in tiny skirts running around...I certainly can't complain about that. But yea the food, the food. Actually lets start with the drinks...my mom had a lemon-drop-tini (I couldn't bring myself to even taste it) which she liked as not being too overpowered with limoncello (makes it too sour I think she said?). My dad and I split what was listed only as "Nigori milky sake". Rihaku maybe? I wish I could remember, but I only have it about once a year. I...seem to have developed a taste for unfiltered sake.
We started off with xiao long bao and blue crab and cheese wontons (ie crab rangoon) appetizers. The wontons came first and were pretty good...real crab, and served with a mango flavored sauce. Good crab rangoon is actually pretty tasty, and these fit the bill. The soup dumplings were fun as always and good...as good as Shanghai Restaurant? Yes, pretty even with them I'd say. What I need to do is try both in one day (perhaps several times).
For entrees we got the "slow braised pork" (aka red cooked, 5 layer, etc), the shrimp with tea leaves, and the clay pot vegetable. I wish I'd asked if they had something interesting like chinese broccoli instead of the clay pot vegetable, which was fine but not terribly exciting (the slight spice in the sauce helped). The pork (a must-order) was delicious as always, my mom commented that it reminds her of eating duck because it was so fatty, and I instantly agreed with that comparison. For all the raves the critics give the shrimp with tea leaves, I kinda felt like it was "just shrimp"....I mean it was good and all, with a little of the sour sauce added to make it interesting...but it's not the best shrimp I've ever had by a long shot. I'd probably only order it if I really wanted shrimp. And it's not like I can't appreciate subtle flavors, although having only recently overcome a slight cold maybe I just didn't pick up on all it's delicacies. My parents weren't quite through having dessert yet so we split the tempura cheesecake and an order of green tea ice cream. The ice cream was somewhat better than you'll usually get although probably not the absolute best I've ever had (that being from Nobu in St. Louis). The cheesecake was really surprisingly good, especially where the inside had melted more. It had a strong cheesecake bite and came with lots of good chocolate and bits of flavorful fruit that really highlighted the cheesecake.
And finally before dropping them off at the airport Sunday morning, we only had time for a quick breakfast at the Original Pancake House in Plano although I'd wanted to take them to either Trece or La Duni for a more traditional-to-me Mexican Sunday brunch. After a relatively short wait we got in and quickly ordered migas for my mom and I and a spinach omelet for my dad. The migas were alright but nothing like what you'd get in Austin, kinda short on the chorizo and not really "messy" (greasy?) enough for me. The omelet was a bit of egg surrounding a molten cheese volcano that did at least come with plenty of spinach. The pancakes & salsa on the side were good but the coffee was weak, the worst we'd had all weekend (admittedly high standards). But it was definitely a step up from Waffle House.
So yea I don't know if this is useful to anybody but I felt like I ought to write it up at least.
luniz...great report...I live in Plano and have never even heard of good food at The Big Easy...Must try now...Love crawfish but just assumed that there was no place to get it....Love the part.."would go back if I could get a date"...I understand...that's why I just decided awhile back that if I wanted to go some place I would just go with friends, or get ready...yeah it can happen.....BY MYSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not so bad after a little practice!
Luniz, that's a great review. I have the exact same feelings about Doughmonkey. I told them I've been eating oatmeal and green beans and running more than ever just to have the caloric space that a trip there requires. I looked at the menu for this week and all I could think was, "I don't have the time to eat all that... what am I going to do?" I propose a Doughmonkey thread to review their weekly offerings.
Awesome review Luniz,
I had some of the same items at York Street. I had the tea at the end also. My opinions were mixed. I liked the side dishes more than the mains. I got a fish dish that really wasn't that great but that golden beet side dish and the pre dinner salad were awesome.
I will have to try Big Easy when I am on my Cassis run! Doughmonkey is a fave also of mine had the eclair and a mango tort one time both awesome. I would have stopped at Kuby's to send you parents packing with some brats in tow! Not sure about the selection in Detroit though?
I still have yet to try Yao Fuzi.....sounds tempting though!
Nice report, luniz. Hopefully your parents enjoyed their visit to Dallas. I need to quit being lazy and make the trip down to Doughmonkey sometime, perhaps after an entire loop around White Rock Lake.
I haven't had the tea leaf shrimp at Yao Fuzi, sounds like it's not as exciting as others have insinuated? Anyway, maybe if people don't mind the drive, we could do a XLB showdown between Yao Fuzi, Shanghai, and Jeng Chi sometime.