A funny thing happened on the way home from The Oceanaire … which is why I’ll keep my recap about it short (well, short for me).
I was excited about the seafood fine dining destination in the Galleria ever since there was a chef from another outpost on Top Chef! I walked in, and the hustle and bustle of the oyster bar and dining room piqued my anticipation.
Once seated, my guest and I were brought some hot bread and soft butter (soft, spreadable butter is, to me, the mark of a restaurant that cares about the little things) that was terribly addictive. Carboholics R Us ended with the arrival of our first course, and the Central Market fourth course.
This New England Clam Chowder (above) marked the second such soup I’ve had in as many months that was knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark outstanding. Jaxx Steakhouse had the other one (and I have to give Jaxx the slight edge). The oyster crackers brought a hint of salt that cut through the cream nicely. Big juicy clam pieces were tender and blessedly clean — not one grain of salt I could discern.
The fourth course was a smoked salmon crostini drizzled with what seemed like an aioli and accompanied by a mini garden of basil. It was divine, with the seafood perfectly smoky and not too salty. I could eat a plate of them for lunch — but we had two courses left, I needed to save tummy space!
Our entrees landed. My friend opted for the grilled Norwegian salmon and was wowed by its buttery texture and delicate doneness, as well as the accompanying spinach, tomatoes and artichokes.
I had the Alaskan rockfish “dynamite,” though if it was named for the popular shrimp dish, it was way off the mark. The “spicy” butter sauce, melted butter with a stream of red sauce running through it, was way too much butter and too little sauce. The creaminess completely overwhelmed the delicate fish, yet I couldn’t avoid it, as it was all over the plate. When I dipped my fish into an isolated little puddle of red sauce, however, it was delicious. The crab crust on top was also heavy with butter, and didn’t taste much like anything. Not what I expected from this dish.
Dessert consisted of my friend’s key lime pie bar (which PALED in comparison to the decadent one at Al Biernat’s) and my so-called “bananas foster split.” Having recently visited New Orleans and eaten bananas foster at the restaurant that invented it, I found this weak imitation to be barely edible. Note to the dessert people: bananas foster isn’t achieved by pouring caramel sauce over raw bananas!
Once the dessert dishes were cleared away, a strange feeling overtook me. Was my tummy too full and getting upset? A bit, but it was more than that — I felt lightheaded and my limbs suddenly felt immobile. So much so that I wondered if I’d even be able to get up from the table. I eventually did, but I had to lean on my friend to do so — she even drove me home, I was so out of it (alls I had was one glass of wine at dinner, I swear!). Later that evening, I fell really ill, and the next day, weird symptoms persisted: I was severely drowsy and couldn’t stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time. I mean, I fell asleep in the middle of writing texts! Too, I was lightheaded and could barely walk straight — I had zero appetite, and didn’t eat anything till around midnight.
Any doctors out there, feel free to clue me in as to what happened. Was it my dinner? I can’t say, I don’t know … the symptoms hit awfully quickly after eating, but I s’pose it could’ve been any cause. Still, since such a horrid health episode is now irrevocably tied to the place in my mind, I will need to muster up some courage to try The Oceanaire again, but I likely will eventually … you can’t keep a good seafood lover down!Read the rest
odd, bizarreinteresting night at local fave steakhouse Al Biernat’s, my first Restaurant Week destination.
I say “interesting” because while the food was overall pretty good, our service was excruciatingly bad. So bad that it colored my thoughts on the restaurant and experience as a whole — yes, that bad. Our server was a clownish boor who suffered from acute annoyance and verbal diarrhea. He kept hounding us with the same questions over and over — the way he was hawking the cappuccino after dinner, I wondered aloud if there was crack in it because he sputtered over and over and over, “You sure you don’t want some? Cappuccino for anyone? Anyone? Cappuccino? No? No takers?” Groan. Now, the server did do something nice for the table, as you’ll see below, but it still didn’t diminish his too-casual behavior — all the other tables had professional-acting waiters, why couldn’t we?!? Let’s just move on to the food.
I selected the shrimp tempura for a first-course — my friends chose the romaine and rocket salad or the shrimp gazpacho. My dish arrived hot and fresh — the light tempura coating crackled at every bite, mmm! It was drizzled with a sweet glaze that made the dish even better. Great start!
The choices for the Central Market Fourth Course were steak tartare and stuffed tomatoes. I don’t like either raw beef or raw tomatoes, so I ordered the latter for the table. It was well-liked, didn’t last long!
I ordered the prime rib with twice-baked potatoes and broccolini — I requested it served at medium, but my first bite told me perhaps I should’ve ordered it medium-plus! It was still fantastic, though, but too big! My dinner of leftovers will be nice tonight
My friends reported really enjoying their dishes, a chicken parmigiana with spaghetti (directly below), a salmon fillet with blueberry sauce (far below), and chopped steak (not pictured).
When our server found out we were celebrating a birthday in the group (which we really weren’t, I just took the occasion to hand her her belated gift), he brought two huge platters of seemingly every dessert the restaurant serves!
Cake, brulee and pie, oh my! Even candles for the “birthday” girl. We all sampled everything on the plates, and my favorite was the to-die-for key lime pie, rich with sweetened condensed milk. So creamy and so smooth and decadent.
The special birthday presentation was the truly lovely thing our server did for us; unfortch, it wasn’t enough to help me forget his cloyingly obnoxious behavior the entire night. I reflected that in my tip — I believe my whole party did. And who was waiting at the door as we left to heckle us about it? OUR SERVER!! He spewed a couple of sarcastic remarks then disappeared. Overall, Al Biernat’s? I hate that from now on, my strongest memory of the place will be of a service disaster. This was the first time in a long time that it wasn’t the food that left a bad taste in my mouth.Read the rest
It’s the most. Wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeear … for Dallas foodies. Yes, KRLD Restaurant Week is back, and, as usual, I use this event to sample local veterans that I’ve never tried before — the stalwarts of cuisine that maybe aren’t the buzziest spots but are well-liked and serve solidly good food. After last year’s personal high of four RW outings, this recessionista is scaling back: I’m hitting Al Biernat’s off Oak Lawn tonight and the Oceanaire at the Galleria on Wednesday night. Woop woop! I’ll return, of course, with deets on the eats.Read the rest
So Friday night was my last hurrah at Restaurant Week 2010: dinner at The Place at Perry’s. The Uptown spot helped me fulfill my goal for this year of hitting established veterans in the restaurant scene that I’d never tried before. And I have to say I saved the best for last!
Gaze upon the creamy-fluffy slice of cheesecake that was my dessert (above). Then behold the warm, gooey wedge of chocolate cake (left) that served as dessert 2, once I switched plates with one of my two guests. Yurrrmm.
But, wait — what about the starters and mains?! Well, I’ll consider our first starter The P at P’s bread basket. My. God. That loaf was everything bread dreams of being — warm, crusty on the outside, steamy and pillowy on the inside. It was served with a darling little dish of softened butter, which to me is the ultimate sign of thoughtful restaurant service. ‘Cause who wants to tear up some bread with a cold pat of butta? Butta I digress …
My real appetizer was the crazy-delish wedge salad (above): a crispy triangle of lettuce topped with a bright champagne vinaigrette (seriously, I need to learn to make that stuff), crumbles of Maytag blue cheese and absolutely deluged with smoked-bacon bits. The dressing against the pungent cheese against the salty fried pork made my tastebuds sing. I would be happy to eat this salad for lunch every day of the week. Hell, even my fork was happy — look at that shine on that thing!
Next up was my main, which was a pepper-crusted New York strip under a rich gorgonzola sauce, with creamy mashpots, haricots verts and a crab-stuffed mushroom on the side. And that last component was the only downside of the entire evening: this sad, old shroom looked and tasted aged, and not in a fine-wine-type way. “It seemed like an afterthought,” I sniffed in my best Top Chef judge voice. Too bad, cuz it sounded so divine on the menu.
Again, it was a tiny miss in an evening of hits. Great food, great atmosphere, great service. Bravo!Read the rest