Ate at Jasper's in the Domain tonight. It is restaurant week, so we were able to try a number of different things for a relatively low price. $35 got both of us three courses. It was too much food for two people to eat, but we managed to get over that.
Service was solid. I think the multi-course setup during restaurant week plays in favor of good service and really gives a restaurant an opportunity to shine.
The ambiance is interesting. Its comfortably spaced, while the solid dark wood tables and comfy booths encourage lingering. The lighting is a little odd and dark in my opinion, and the conference/ dining room in the center of the space is strange. We were able to watch a power point display from our table if we wanted. It provided a lot of laughs for us, but I doubt they wanted us reading all their slides. It seems to be well soundproofed though and a cool space for dining or some purpose other than a meeting on trade secrets.
What we ate:
Shrimp and Grits: Very good. two large shrimp wrapped in prosciutto served over rich corn grits. The grits texture was a little weird at first, but the overall taste and creamy texture was a nice contrast to the salty bacon/shrimp. They were served in a crisp tortilla bowl we didn't eat.
Calamari: about eight pieces served on a soy/orange reduction. The calamari were fine, the sauce had a challenging punch to it that subsided quickly leaving the orange aftermath. I'm stil undecided on this one. It didn't suck.
Aged Gouda Ham Mac n Cheese: Overrated. I'd tell you why I think that, but you will probably try it anyway. (this was not on the restaurant week menu, but we had heard that it was a must eat.)
Pecan Crusted Rainbow Trout: pretty cool dish. The sweet potatoes served underneath were spectacular. I think they were prepared with molasses. The fish filet was pretty much perfectly fried and stacked in 4 inch pieces vertically over the potato.
Half Rack Baby Back Ribs: I am an avid smoker and highly critical of bbq. These ribbs were perfectly cooked. The bones just pulled out. I could have done with less sauce, but I think that is kind of a Dallas thing. They were accompanied by baked new potatoes smothered in baked potato toppings. very good, if not a little rich for my taste.
I'm not a good judge of desserts. The chocolate cake was a solid production. It came with a little container of sweet cream that was meant to be poured over it we found out. It came with a little straw though. if you see someone order this, don't tell them you aren't supposed to drink it with the straw. its a built in laugh. This ain't the french laundry, they should probably keep the desserts straightforward like the food is.
The Butterfinger creme brulee was pretty cool. Again, it needed a little instruction but we figured it out. After a couple of vodka's, a bottle of wine and sudden onset food coma, I guess figuring out dessert was above my pay grade.
All in all there isn't much I'd go back for specifically, but i wouldn't be pissed if it came up in restaurant roulette.
I am a fan of jasper's baby back ribs when done right. They do it right when the ribs are predominantly "fall off the bone" style YET they have a slight outer barbecue-filled char on the edges of the meat.
Thus far, jasper's has achieved this exactly once in my many visits.
Also, I've found that their sauce has gotten increasingly tangier which is not something I particularly enjoy.
If only they were consistent in making their ribs the way they made it that one special time many months ago...
That said, I still enjoy them even when they are not prepared "correctly" (to my liking) - I just don't enjoy them nearly as much.