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Monday, April 23, 2012

Dallas - Sun, Steak and Sauce

So I've been to Dallas about three times in the last year to visit friends and continue to be stunned by the amazing food I have each and every time. While I have to say on past visits I have been neglectful with taking photos and chronicling what I eat (I know bad me) I have attempted to redeem myself by highlighting my favorite places that I find myself continuing to return to.

Breadwinners is best known for brunch and dessert. This was one of the spots I hit up for brunch back in October. If memory serves me I ordered the veggie scramble and then removed half the vegetables and added meat. I had a hangover. I get to be fussy once in awhile. I still remember the perfectly toasted toast, the slightly soft piping hot eggs and the crispy potatoes. The vegies were fresh and also crisped making it a delicious brunch meal. Also if it's a nice day make sure to sit outside (oh and there is parking in back).

Photo Credit: Breadwinners Facebook Page

Perry's Steakhouse
Many have told the story of the famous Perry's Porkchop. And it is famous for a damn good reason. The beef is hand-selected for the restaurant and is cured and then roasted, smoked and caramelized (is your mouth watering yet?) to that it drips off the bone onto your plate. I'm making myself salivate just writing this review. Your dish is served with three pieces of meat carved at the table - four bone ribs, a leaner center cut filet and the softest part called the "eyelash." Add a side of mac n' cheese if you can manage. I could barely finish half of it!

I guarantee you won't have room for dessert so order the Dessert Trio to go along with an order of chocolate-covered strawberries if you feel so inclined (I did). The trio comes with vanilla bean creme brulee, Grand Marnier chocolate truffle and praline cheesecake.

The atmosphere is very chic, almost a little too much for me but I was too focused on my plate to care if I was underdressed. Definitely a martini business lunch or engagement dinner kind of place.

Photo Credit: Perry's Website

Photo Credit:

The Mansion at Turtle Creek
The Mansion restaurant ranks as one of my all time favorite restaurants in life ever. The atmosphere is elegant yet homey, the staff is formal yet friendly, and the food is gorgeous yet delicious. I could gush for hours but I'll stick to the basics. There are three main rooms - the main dining area (picture one), the outdoor patio (picture two) and the lounge (picture three). If it's nice grab dinner on the patio and after dinner head into the lounge for more drinks and live music. It's like living in Mad Men I kid you not.

Photo Credits: Mansion Website

I've eaten most of the menu but I thought I'd treat you guys to a detailed description of the latest chef tasting menu with wine pairings. The chef, Bruno Davaillon, is up for the James Beard award this year and if this menu has any bearing on him winning I'd say he is a shoo-in.

We started the dinner with an amuse bouche of fish with fruit (sorry I didn't catch exactly what it was) which was soft and flavorful.

The next dish was gougere with black pudding and lardo paired with a glass of Cava La Dama, Naveran, Penedes, Spain 2010. The gougere was fine (I didn't think there was much taste to it) but the wine was spectacular. I love Spanish Cava.

Next was a smoked consomme with pulled leg, fava, poached quail egg and ossetra caviar paired with a glass of Amontillado Los Arcos, Emilio Lustau, Jerez. Amontillado is a dark, sweet sherry that was perfectly matched with the savory, slightly salty consomme. The caviar was a tasty final touch and the temperature of the soup was ideal - not too hot, not too cold. It also came with a fair amount of meat which was nice.

The next dish was braised shoulder with vadouvan, green tomato chutney, yogurt and mint and a glass of Pinot Gris reserve, Gustave Lorentz, Alsace 2009. This was by far my favorite dish and one of the most memorable of my life. I wish it was a bigger portion! The mixture of the vadouvan with the meat was SO flavorful and tempered just enough by the yogurt.

Next was the slow roasted rack & loin with wild white asparagus, ramp puree and rhubard relish with a glass of Barbera, Palmina, Santa Barbara 2009. This is a wine favorite of mine but the meat was also delicious. I was still reeling from the last dish which may have overshadowed this one slightly. The asparagus side was slightly too mushy for me but otherwise another win.

The next dish was a mystery dish! I looked back at the menu and it seems that brought us out an extra (we know the manager pretty well - go us). It was some sort of meat with a sweet sauce and slices of green apple. Also delicious.

Last but not least - dessert. The whiskey molasses parfait with bacon nougatine and black sesame caramel was paired with Anejo Rum Anniversario, Pampero. The rum was too overpowering for me so I passed after a sip or two which was fine because the parfait took my full attention. They had me at bacon nougatine I'm afraid. My only wish as usual is that there was more ice cream!

Overall yet another incredible meal at this restaurant. Bruno I'm rooting for you!

So this restaurant is a little fuzzy for me in terms of remembering all the things I ordered but I do remember the appetizers! We had the trio of smoked sausage which includes pork andouille, all spiced rabbit and beef paprika with fennel seed. If I remember correctly I think I liked the pork the best because it was a little spicy and the rabbit was good as well. We also got an order of the mac n cheese which was incredible and the mescal and key lime meringue pie for dessert. The dessert was okay - I'm not a huge fan or meringue but I love key lime so I gave it a try. Also pretty positive I had some sort of meat dish like the pulled pork burger or the lamb chop since that's why we went. All I remember is the atmosphere is laidback but nice and the food was delicious so I wanted to include it.

Photo Credit: Website

Saint Ann's

Another favorite on the Dallas list, this restaurant/bar probably best fits the appeal of a twentysomething. I highly recommend just going with appetizers here because they are famous and delicious.

Photo Credit: Saint Ann's Website

Must-haves include the marinated chicken and jalapenos wrapped with bacon and served with ranch dressing and the dates stuffed with chorizo also wrapped in bacon and piquillo. The first is almost a little too spicy and the second a little too sweet so I order both and alternate. Highly recommended!

The pork tacos with guacamole, lime, and cilantro are also delicious as is the pasta which changes every so often. This time it was pappardelle with tomato, meat sauce and parmesan. The pasta was cooked perfectly but it could've used a little more sauce. As usual I was stuffed by the time we left!

Fearings at the Ritz
Another one that is from a past trip but I remember enjoying my meal here so I included it. Dean Fearing is also a pretty famous chef (probably why his restaurant is part of the Ritz - just a guess). They have a gorgeous patio to eat or drink on and the food was delicious even if the plates themselves weren't memorable. Whatever I had for dessert here was excellent. I would say that if I had to choose I'd pick the Mansion over Fearings ten times out ten just because it feels more boutique and the dishes are more interesting. However, I encourage you to try both and tell me which one you prefer!

Photo Credit: Ritz Carlton Website

Del Frisco's Grille
This was the one newbie to the group on this last trip and boy did it measure up! There's also a Del Frisco's in New York I just learned so I will definitely be visiting the sister restaurant. This place was pretty "sceney" as well which I actually don't mind especially since the service was impeccable. Our waiter even let me make my own dessert and then didn't charge me for it. What a champ!

Photo Credit: Del Frisco's Facebook Page

Yet again we just ordered a bunch of appetizers because we all know appetizers are more interesting anyway right?

First up were the pimento cheese fitters with chipotle ranch sauce. They were nicely crisped on the outside but the cheese was a little too bright orange Velveeta for me. I'm also not a huge fan of fried cheese things like cheesesticks, etc, so maybe it was just me.

The next one was the cheesesteak eggrolls with sweet & spicy chili sauce and honey mustard. Um HELLO you are tasty! I almost fought my friend for his half of the dish. Seriously was about to get the nails out. Hands down best "bar food" dish I've ever had. I'm still licking my fingers. I love Texan food oh god yes I do.

Next up were the lollipop buffalo-style chicken wings with avocado ranch dressing. The waiter said they weren't spicy at all as wings tend to be and I believed him. Turns out they were fairly spicy although not inedible. Goes to show that when you ask a Texan if something is spicy be warned that their palate is not the same as yours! As you can see from the picture they were aptly named "lollipops" too which I thought was fun.

Of course we ordered a round of mac n cheese in order to maintain the streak we clearly have going. And lastly we washed it all down with a carafe of white sangria made with pinot grigio, white peach puree, peach schnapps and fresh strawberries and blueberries. First off, I usually hate sangria because it is too alcoholic-tasting or too sweet. This stuff was PERFECT. I would've guzzled more if I didn't need to make my plane.

This place literally transformed me into high-level vacation mode. I will be back.

The Common Table
Another Dallas favorite of mine, this place has two appetizers that I love and a whole bible worth of craft beers to try. You could spend all day hanging out on the deck enjoy a multitude of different flavors. There's also live music (hello it's Texas) most of the time as well so it's a great summer hangout to waste away a Sunday in the shade.

Photo Credit: The Common Table Website

First up on the list of top appetizers are the pulled pork spring rolls with ponzu sauce and sweet chili garlic. Perfectly crisp on the outside and perfectly flavored on the inside. And the sauce adds an extra slightly spicy layer to a crunchy good time.

Second on the list are the tuna nachos with sesame soy ahi tuna, wasabi, pickled ginger on crispy wonton. The serving is a little small for my appetite but the wasabi added an extra kick that slows me down a little. The wontons are crunchy and the tuna is nice and soft.

Medieval Times
Yup it's on here simply because it is soo entertaining and I still maintain the food is pretty good - especially the whole chicken you eat with your hands! However, just to be jackasses we ordered "mead" not thinking that was a real thing. Next thing we know we have a bottle of mead which if you didn't know is 100% fermented honey and tastes AWFUL. It's like really really sweet cough syrup. GROSS. Still to the finger-licking good food and regular beer. It's also a ton of fun to adopt an Old English accent for the duration of your visit. Totally touristy and still makes the list!

Last but not least I was SUPER surprised by this restaurant which can only be found in the Delta Terminal at La Guardia airport in New York. I was hungry and a waitress was wandering the terminal seats and offered me a menu. It was pretty expensive so I went with the $4 piece of toast with ricotta and herbs. She brought me two relatively large crostinis heaped with ricotta. It was DELICIOUS. Kind of blew my socks off to be honest. I even looked to see if this was a real restaurant anywhere else and apparently it only exists at the airport. Open one in Manhattan stat!

Dallas Arboretum
For my last two entries I wanted to remind myself and you that this is afterall at TRAVEL blog so I wanted to recommend a couple other fun activities I got around to doing while in Dallas. The first is the Dallas Arboretum which has outdoor concerts throughout the summer even as late as October. The bands aren't terribly great from what I witnessed but you can bring food and booze and have a grand ole time outside with friends. Highly recommended as a cheap fun activity!

Katy Trail
The Katy Trail is a nice little trail that runs along the river with multiple entrances depending on where you want to start. It's peaceful and pretty and a nice respite from the downtown area without having to travel too far. Also it's concrete so you can walk, run or bike. A free, fun alternative to day drinking!

Photo Credit:

Overall I can't say I would ever want to live in Dallas but it is a very fun place to visit and to gorge yourself on incredible food. Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you hate it, rent a car because Austin is only three hours away!

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