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Scott -- DFW

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  1. I heard the rumor of a rumor at: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=42506 . Perhaps others can provide more detail as to what they've heard and from whom. Ideally, we could get an answer from Achatz himself. Scott
  2. I've only been to Jasper's once, shortly after their opening last year. I, too, was disappointed. And I've heard similar reports from others I trust. With the talent they have, you'd think they could do much better. Then again, I haven't seen much progress at Abacus in the past year and a half or so. Shortly after the DMN awarded the restaurant five stars, the menu became much more static, service began to slip, quality became more uneven. I haven't had a great meal there in over a year. The only improvement I've noticed was bringing in Rick Griggs as pastry chef. Though I haven't had any great desserts there in my past couple of visits, on the whole he has done very good work there. I'd really like to see Rathbun get hot and start pushing Abacus forward again. Scott
  3. I just read on another thread that there are "credible rumors" that Achatz will be leaving Trio later this year. How credible are the rumors? When is he supposed to be leaving? Where will he go next? Since I had planned to revisit Trio (from out of state) for the kitchen table in early September, this rumor is distressing, if true. I already have reservations that week for the kitchen table at Trotter's. But, frankly, I was looking forward to the meal at Trio with even greater anticipation. Hoping it isn't true (and, failing that, hoping Achatz moves to Dallas), Scott
  4. [edited to delete duplicate post]
  5. After a dinner last week at Ciudad, I was telling ExtraMSG that it is, for me, one of the most frustrating restaurants in Dallas. On some days, I feel like I've paid way too much for my meal. On others, it seems like a great bargain. While I've never had anything *bad* there, about 65% of what I've ordered over the past couple of years is just mediocre. (And $20-$30 is on the steep side for a mediocre entree.) It's that other 35% that keeps me coming back. Some days, some dishes, they flat out nail. And when they nail something, it's as good as I've had anywhere. But I still haven't figured out how to determine which are the good dishes on any given night. (While menu selection is part of the equation, I think there are also quality control issues. ExtraMSG has written about his one meal there, for instance, in which the duck flautas--recommended above by Theabroma--came out almost burnt.) I still go back to Ciudad, but only when I'm in a gambling mood. If I want a sure thing, I go elsewhere. For moles, I would suggest Nuevo Leon (which has multiple locations in the area). I won't say they're better than Ciudad on the occasions when Ciudad is on its game. But they're more consistent. The best green mole I've ever had was at Ciudad. But the green mole (with salmon) I had there last week wasn't nearly as good as one I had (with chicken) the next day at Nuevo Leon. The Ciudad entree was $22, while the Nuevo Leon one was $8.50 (on the lunch menu). If I were to order a green mole at Nuevo Leon today, it would be just as good as the one I had there last week. If I were to order one at Ciudad tonight (or tomorrow, since they're not open on Mondays), I just wouldn't know. Maybe it would be fantastic. Maybe it would be just okay. If Ciudad could weed out those inconsistencies, I'd be a regular. As for their desserts, the Edificio is probably the most impressive presentation. But I think, flavorwise, it's in the lower tier of their offerings. I'd recommend the corn cake, warm cookie pudding, or the pumpkin cheesecake. Steer clear of the off-menu "warm Mexican chocolate cake." Since it's their only dessert that I hadn't tried, I ordered it the other night. Two circular cut-outs of a dry sheet cake with a glob of vanilla beaned whipped cream. Boring and not very good. As a chocoholic, it's unusual for me not to favor a dessert menu's chocolate offerings. But, so far, I haven't had a good chocolate dessert at Ciudad. (I just realized, too late, that I'm responding to an out-of-date post. Oh, well.) Scott
  6. I vaguely recall ExtraMSG having Nuevo Leon's cabrito al horno. One of their better dishes. It comes with your choice of quail or carnitas in mole. He probably chose carnitas. Their carnitas con chipotle is also a very tasty dish. Scott
  7. Raynickben, Cafe Azul recently closed. See the following thread from the Pacific Northwest board: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...=0entry504983 . Unfortunate. It was a great restaurant. Scott
  8. Theabroma, A recent entry in that category is Fort Worth's Lanny's Alta Cocina: http://www.guidelive.com/profile/102896/ . I haven't been there yet. Don't know anyone who has. I'm skeptical of anything Fort Worth (having lived there). And I'm even more skeptical of any review that includes the words "Joe T. Garcia's." But, if we can get an e-Gullet group together, I'd be willing to give it a try. (There's a minimum party size requirement.) The lack of good Mexican fine dining options in Texas is an utter embarrassment. Scott
  9. Glad to hear you had a good time. As for Lola...yeah, once you've been there, you never make the mistake of doing anything less than 15 courses thereafter. Sorry about the Sunday dilemma. There are a few good places open, if you know where to look. I should have paid more attention to the days you'd be here. Thanks for the report. Take care. Scott
  10. Are you talking about chocolate for cooking? Chocolate for eating out of hand (e.g., in small consumer-oriented bars)? Or chocolates, as in truffles and other confections? Scott
  11. I picked up a few different brands of tamarind pulp sticks, last time I was in Nuevo Laredo. My wife doesn't understand the appeal. That, happily, leaves more for me. Scott
  12. A few additions to Richard's useful comments: 1) York Street continues to get attention from national critics. Hage is very much in the Alice Waters school--seasonal menus driven by the best, freshest, local and regional ingredients. It's not quite Chez Panisse, but it's a very good restaurant in that genre. Richard's admonition about getting reservations is especially true of York Street, a shoebox of a restaurant with a very loyal following. 2) The steakhouse in the Stockyards that Richard refers to may be H3 Ranch. The nearby Cattlemen's has a longer history, but isn't as good. As Richard said, these are largely "connecting with history" choices. They aren't the best steakhouses in Fort Worth (which would either be Del Frisco's or, according to some, the Chop House, both downtown) and certainly not in the Metroplex (since Dallas has a plethora of solid steak places, such as Pappas Bro's, Bob's, Del Frisco's, Morton's, Smith & Wollensky, Chamberlain's, III Forks, et al.). Be aware that most of the steakhouses in Fort Worth don't use Prime beef; if it doesn't say Prime on the menu, you can safely assume it's Choice or less. However, food quality isn't the only element in a dining experience (though my prejudice is to treat it as such). A meal in the Stockyards can be fun, just for the atmosphere. 3) Speaking of steak, Texas is the epicenter of the rising trend of Brazilian steakhouses (or churrascarias). If you've never been to one, it's worth considering, just for the unique experience (i.e., a wide variety of spit-roasted meats carved tableside on demand). The two main players in the field are Texas de Brazil and Fogo de Chão. (The former has a downtown Fort Worth location, in addition to two in Dallas. The latter is only in north Dallas.) Lunch or dinner at either will be near the limits of your "per meal" budget. 4) If you're concerned about pricing at the Mansion, consider lunch there. For a fixed price of about $35, you get your choice of soup/salad, entree, and dessert. The lunch menu isn't quite as ambitious as the dinner menu, but it's still very good. This remains one of the underexploited fine dining values in town. (And it's a snap to get in with last minute reservations on Saturdays.) 5) If you can spare the time while you're in Dallas, be sure to pay a visit to the Mozzarella Company's facility in Deep Ellum. Paula Lambert's artisanal cheeses have won countless national awards. The storefront attendants are happy to answer questions and are staggeringly generous with the samples. For locally produced foodstuffs, it doesn't get any better than this. (I just polished off some of their pecan-shell-smoked mozzarella last night. Time to go back.) Scott
  13. Richard, Price: By ordering conservatively, one can eat at either of the restaurants I suggested for around $50. Ten courses at the Tasting Room are available for $55 (without wine pairings). And at the Mansion one could order one of the less expensive appetizers (e.g., the signature tortilla soup) and an average priced entree. Or an inexpensive appetizer, inexpensive entree (e.g., the vegetarian one), and a dessert. With generous portions, great rolls, and complimentary amuse bouche and mignardises, there's little chance of going home hungry. And since most of the Mexican and BBQ lunch options will come in well under the alotted $20 budget, there could be even more wiggle room at dinner. Texas: The Mansion is a primary wellspring of Southwestern cuisine, as well as being the most famous restaurant in Texas (and, to my knowledge, the only restaurant in the state ever to have had five Mobil stars). While Uygur's work at the Tasting Room doesn't draw heavily from indigenous regional cuisines, it is, nonetheless, food that one can only get in Texas. I'm unaware of anything quite like it in the haute cuisine degustation format. And, since it is consistently excellent (on par with and often exceeding my meals at some of the most respected restaurants in the US), I can't *not* recommend it. Mr. Perlow, What you've termed "Texas flair" abounds in Fort Worth. Lonesome Dove Bistro has it in spades, as do the Chisholm Club and Reata. While there's a certain appeal to that (particularly for out-of-state tourists), the food quality doesn't measure up, in most cases. It's faux cornpone style over substance--more caricature than authenticity. I'm not trying to talk you out of Lonesome Dove, just giving you a heads up on what to expect. Like I said earlier, Fort Worth has some very real strengths--but fine dining isn't one of them. Note that the Mansion usually has several game options (e.g., pheasant, venison, bison, et al.). Check out their menu online to get an idea of what it's like. ( http://www.mansiononturtlecreek.com/dine_menus.cfm ) Also be aware that jacket is required (and tie recommended)--a mild inconvenience, but one worth enduring. A good meal in a sport coat beats a mediocre one in shorts. Enjoy your visit. The Kimbell Museum is a jewel. Scott
  14. Frankly, I don't think any of the "fine dining" options in Fort Worth (e.g., Lonesome Dove, Chisholm Club, et al.) are worthwhile. If you want upscale, you're better off traveling to Dallas. Fort Worth does, however, have better BBQ than Dallas (though not on par with the Central Texas all-stars, which, if you have time and a car, you should visit). In addition to Angelo's, I would suggest Railhead (which I prefer, slightly). For Tex-Mex, my absolute favorite (anywhere in the state, actually) is Mi Cocinita. It's located in a greenhouse-like shed in a residential backyard a ways south of downtown. They don't have dinner hours and aren't open on weekends. But their beef enchiladas are sublime. Well worth the effort. For other options, consider Los Molcajetes (north part of town), La Familia (west of downtown), or reliable mid-range chains like Mi Cocina (downtown) or Abuelo's (northeast, towards the airport). (Mi Cocinita would be a must. I often take guests there, even though it means a long drive from Dallas on a business day. Los Molcajetes would be a respectable fallback.) If you haven't been to Dallas before, consider taking a dinner or two there. The Mansion on Turtle Creek remains the quintessential Dallas dining experience. The Tasting Room at Lola (a ten table, one seating a night "restaurant within a restaurant") offers a fixed price tasting menu of 10 or 15 courses (with wine pairings, if you desire), crafted by the young and prodigiously talented David Uygur. (If I were one of the many on Texas' death row and could have a last meal at any restaurant in the state, it would have to be the Tasting Room.) There are a number of other solid upscale restaurants (e.g., Nana, Abacus, Aurora, York Street, etc.). But if I had to pick two dinner destinations, they'd be the Mansion (for its quality and distinctiveness) and the Tasting Room at Lola (for pure foodie enjoyment). Scott
  15. Thanks for the replies! I made another batch last night, achieved the right consistency more easily, and got it to roll out wider. I cooked it all, so I didn't get to try the nest-making tips. I'm loving this! And thanks for putting on the great stuffed pastas class, Moby. Scott
  16. Some of these questions may be answered in the upcoming eGCI pasta session. But, to get a head start, here are some questions that have arisen as I've made my first attempts at making fresh pasta. Any help is appreciated. 1) I've been using Hazan's recipe of 1 cup of flour (unbleached all purpose) to 2 large eggs. Doing so leaves me with a very sticky dough. I end up having to work in a lot more flour to get it to a rollable texture. So far, this has been a very time consuming process. Is there a faster or easier way to combine the eggs and flour? Or is a half-hour hand workout what I can expect every time? 2) I'm having trouble producing sheets of pasta, rather than long 1.5" to 2" strips. (I'm using the Kitchenaid rolling attachment, widest setting, low speed.) While the strips taste fine when cut and cooked, they pose some problems. First, they're very unwieldy (as in 5 to 6 feet long). Second, when fed through the cutters, because they're so thin they result in a lot more waste (because of the long irregular edges). And, third, their narrow width makes them unsuitable for lasagna, pappardelle, and all but the smallest ravioli. How can I produce wider sheets of pasta? 3) I've tried forming the "nests" that Hazan recommends for drying pasta. But, when I cook the nests, parts of them tend to stick together (and, therefore, remain undercooked and unattractive). I've tried letting the pasta dry a little longer before forming it into the nests, but tend to get the same result. Suggestions? 4) What about refrigerating unrolled dough for later use? Are there any problems (health or taste) with that? Should it be refrigerated before or after kneading? Would it need to be kneaded again before being rolled? How long will it keep in the refrigerator? Any info along those lines would be great. Thanks! Scott
  17. Great class, guys. I love the helpful table/chart of ingredients. I made the kiwi-apple salsa over the weekend, with a few modifications to fit my palate. I roasted the tomatillos (instead of using them raw), used chipotle as the pepper, and honey as the sugar (though it didn't need much). Wow! It may not be a traditional salsa, but it's a winner. Can't wait to try some of the other recipes. Scott
  18. I just returned from the New Orleans trip last night. The quick rundown: Prejean's in Lafayette. Smoked duck and andouille gumbo. Catfish Chenier (with shrimp & crab stuffing, heavy sauce and crawdads). Pepper-jack shrimp (fried, stuffed with tasso and jalapeno jack, with a rich sauce and crawdads). Bread pudding. The gumbo was good, the entrees great, and the dessert just okay. Good value, for the lunch menu. Complimentary bread and salads (with a nice parmesan vinaigrette) were both good. This is food I could get fat on. Brigtsen's for dinner. Appetizers of fried rabbit tenderloin (cleverly presented so it looked like a shrimp) on a firm grits cake with a creamy creole mustard sauce; then a smoked salmon salad. Both were very good. Entrees were the seafood platter (with baked oysters, filet of Sheepshead with grilled shrimp, crawfish gratin, another oyster dish and ratatoille) and roasted duck with a honey pecan sauce, veggies, and mashed potatoes. The seafood platter was lackluster--handily the weakest seafood dish we had on the trip. The oysters, in particular, were very disappointing. The duck, however, was very nice--not an imaginative dish, but a tasty one. For dessert, we had the excellent pecan pie ala mode. Service was acceptable, but not stellar. Overall, a good dinner, but not a great one. Cafe Beignet. Had beignet's here. Light, fluffy, scone-like. Central Grocery. Mufalleta. A pretty good sandwich, but nothing to knock our socks off. I'd be interested to try some of the competition in this category. Cafe du Monde. Beignets again. Perhaps it's because we don't know what "good beignets" are supposed to taste like, but we both preferred the lighter texture of the Cafe Beignet version. Cafe du Monde's beignets were tough and bready--less like a dessert pastry. Bayona for dinner. Starters were a five bean andouille soup and goat cheese crouton with mushrooms in Madeira cream. Both were very tasty. Not as strong as Brigtsen's appetizers from the night before, but still solid offerings. Entrees were Alaskan halibut with a corn relish and grits patties and rabbit (grilled tenderloin with herbs and fried boneless leg) with greens--both very good. Desserts were where Bayona really shined. A five spice dark chocolate delice with sesame seed touile and candied cashews was complex, exotic, and surprisingly good. And a milk chocolate and raspberry napoleon redeemed that tired dessert category. This was probably our most even dinner experience on the trip. I'd be happy to return. (Oh, they also had two tasty, interesting breads.) Brennan's for breakfast. Started with turtle soup. Tasty, but not the best I've had. (Tomato was much more noticable than turtle meat in it.) Next was grillades and grits--sauteed veal with a sauce and grits. The veal was bland and the sauce nondescript. It's sad when the best element in a $36 breakfast entree is the side of grits. Desserts were creole chocolate suicide cake and bananas Foster. The former was a very good, moist chocolate layer cake served in a pool of vanilla infused cream. The latter...well, I'm not a banana fan, but this was a very good dessert. I can see how it's a part of their reputation. When the $65 check arrived, I definitely felt stung. No value here. They did, however, have by far the best service of any restaurant we visited in this trip. Mother's for lunch. Had a very tasty jambalaya and the Ferdi's special po'boy. The jambalaya was excellent. (There are probably better representatives in that category in NO. But, still, I loved this dish.) The po'boy was also very good, though I have to say the cold-cuts didn't add anything to it. (If I had to do it again, I'd stick with roast beef and debris.) Saw a lot of great looking fried seafood moving around the room. Unfortunately, I didn't have room to try any of it. Maybe next time. Finished with their bread pudding. Heavy on bread, light on custard, giving it a nice, rustic texture. A worthy dessert. Of all the meals on the trip, this one gave the most bang for the buck. Nola for dinner. Started with ancho-bbq pork and smoked cheddar flatbread with creamy Gulf shrimp and green onion slaw. Half pizza, half salad, this was an excellent dish, with great play between sweet, spicy, and tangy elements. Next was a roasted garlic and parmigiano reggiano bisque with foccacia croutons. Ultra-rich and creamy with almost overwhelmingly intense flavor. This is a dish that would have been better presented in a smaller format (e.g., in a shot glass on a tasting menu). It was just too much of a good thing. (But it *was* a good thing, which is very much to their credit.) Entree was hickory roasted duck with whiskey-caramel glaze, buttermilk cornbread pudding, a salad of haricot vert and roasted corn, and candied pecans. Wow. This was, hands down, the best entree I had on the trip. It's also one of the best duck entrees I've ever had (and I've eaten a fair amount of duck). Rich, sweet, fork-tender duck with crisp skin. The creamy sweetness of the cornbread pudding. The perfectly al dente beans and corn. It all worked wonderfully. Desserts were their signature banana pudding layer cake with housemade vanilla wafers and a peanut butter pie. Here's where the meal turned ugly. The banana dessert had a nice presentation. And obviously a lot of effort went into it. But it was ho-hum in the flavor department. The chocolate covered peanut butter pie was even more pedestrian. Both desserts would be more appropriate at a TGI Fridays. Had the desserts not been such disappointments, this might have been the best meal on the trip. I wasn't expecting much from Nola, on the basis of e-Gullet and Chowhound criticisms. Maybe I caught them on a good night. Or maybe I was lucky in my choices. But, with the exception of the desserts, this was (foodwise) an upper Mobil 4-star quality meal. Man, I wish I could have boxed that duck up and brought it back to Texas. (I also wish I'd skipped Brennan's that morning. It would have left room for the better food at Mother's and Nola later in the day which I had to leave on the plate.) Tastee Restaurant. Okay, I know this is totally incongruous with the rest of the trip. We were on our way out of town, hit with a doughnut craving, and decided to give it a try. Boy, was that a mistake. These were school cafeteria quality doughnuts. Revolting. Never again. Prejean's, revisited. On the drive back through Lafayette, we hit Prejean's again. (We were pressed for time, so we couldn't scout out other options. And, since we'd had a good experience there the first time....) Started with the chicken and sausage gumbo. Very good, though the richer, darker roux flavor of the smoked duck andouille gumbo appealled to me more. Entrees were blackened chicken with a tomato chutney (for lack of a better word) and red beans and rice, and the "Cajun surf and turf." The chicken was pretty unremarkable, but the red beans and rice were very tasty. (I wish I could have sampled some of the better red beans and rice offerings in NO. So little time. So little stomach volume.) The Cajun surf and turf consisted of heavily seasoned grilled pork medallions, dirty rice, and two large shrimp stuffed with (I think) the same stuffing as the earlier catfish Chenier, topped with a buttery sauce with crawdads. The pork was good; but the standout was the stuffed shrimp. Wow. I could eat those again and again. Desserts were pecan pie and strawberry shortcake. We should have stopped while we were ahead. The pecan pie was church potluck quality. The shortcake was even worse. (What kind of place makes a strawberry shortcake using Cool Whip instead of real cream?!) Not as even an experience as our first visit. But we were still happy with the meal. As this was the dinner menu, however, prices were much higher than they had been at lunch. Prices were still fair. But it wasn't quite the value it had been at the lunch prices, where the entrees had been every bit as good with no noticeable reduction in portion sizes. In all, it was an excellent trip (especially given how late I was in trying to get reservations). You guys have some really wonderful, distinctive foods down there. I can't wait to come back. Thanks to you all for your participation on this board, which makes it easier for us outsiders to steer clear of places like the Tastee Restaurant. Scott
  19. The best pizza I've had in DFW was at Chicago St., in Plano (almost to Frisco). I've had their deep dish pizzas several times and found them to compare favorably with many in the Chicago pantheon (e.g., Giordanno's). (I've heard their stuffed crust pizzas aren't quite as good.) I went there on a recommendation from Kirk (a former Chicagoan) on Chowhound. It's one of the best food tips I've gotten in the few years I've lived in Dallas. Scott Chicago St Pizza 8000 Coit Rd Plano, TX 75025 Phone: (972) 335-7273
  20. I spent much of the morning calling around trying to get reservations for March 11-14. To my surprise, many restaurants (including Commander's Palace and Gallatoire's) are already booked solid for each of those days. I was able to land some late reservations at a few places. My current dinner line-up is: 1) Brigtsen's 2) Bayona 3) NOLA Should I make any adjustments? (From what I gather, opinions are mixed on NOLA.) For lunches, we'll probably do low-end local specialties (at Coop's Place, Central Grocery, Uglesich's, Cafe du Monde, etc.). I'm still not sure where anything is. We'll be staying in the French Quarter (Marriott New Orleans), so recommendations for good breakfast, lunch, and snack spots within reasonable walking distance would be greatly appreciated. (We will have a car, though. So if something's worth the drive, do let me know.) Thanks for the help! Scott
  21. Hey, I'll be headed to New Orleans late next week. I'd appreciate recommendations for best dinner destinations (money no object). Thanks. Scott
  22. Theabroma, You wrote: "For Tx/Mx, El Ranchito on Jefferson and Llewellyn in Oak Cliff, Herrera's on Maple Avenue, Cuquita's on Henderson (MxTx), Las Cazuelas on Main Street, La Acapulquena on Columbia, Los Huaraches and Los Alebrijes on Northwest Highway (MxTx)." If you wouldn't mind, could you (a) give us a rough ranking of those establishments (so that someone who would only have time to try one or two of them would hit the best) and (b) tell us the strengths and weaknesses of each place (i.e., what to order and what to avoid)? I, and others, would appreciate it. Scott
  23. Finally tried the roasted cauliflower recipe last night. Followed the basic instructions (seasoned with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper). Removed the cauliflower and spread thinly sliced pepperoni (from a local Italian deli) on the same sheet and put it under the broiler until they were nice and crispy. Put the pepperoni and cauliflower together in a bowl and tossed with some of the rendered fat from the pepperoni. Made a bechamel (with a little more pepper than usual) and poured it over the bowl, placing one of the lacy presentation slices of cauliflower across the top. Placed matchsticks of Fuji apple in a ring around the edge of the bowl. Turned out great. The flavors and textures came together brilliantly. If I were to do it again, though, I'd add a touch of sweetness, perhaps with a dice of roasted red bell pepper. That would round it out nicely. Thanks for the roasting idea! Scott
  24. Thinking of buying a rice cooker. I've read a few online reviews, without seeing any clear winners emerge. So, two questions... 1) What are your experiences with particular rice cookers? Are any brands/models worth seeking out or avoiding? 2) What else do you successfully use your rice cooker for? Quinoa? Lentils? Barley? Any problems with brown or wild rice? I'd appreciate any input you can give me. (And thanks to all who gave me info on countertop rotisseries!) Scott
  25. ExtraMSG, With tax and tip, it ended up being around $150. Scott
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