By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
It's the kind of place where you'd expect to find obnoxious steaks and equally crude pork chops served with spuds the size of rocket-propelled grenades. But salmon draped in fussy fungi? "We call that shake 'n' bake," Thompson jokes of his porcini mushroom-crusted salmon. One thing this chef does is trim the piece of fish so that it is the same thickness from edge to center. This minimizes the risk of dry patches mixed with spots of pink mush. He seasons the fish with salt and pepper before covering it in a blend of buttermilk, egg, panko bread crumbs and ground porcini mushrooms. Then he slowly sautés it in butter and finishes it in the oven. The flavor is impeccably balanced, with clean marine notes beautifully offset by the dusky porcini earthiness. The mushrooms seem to yank the often-hidden natural sweetness from the salmon and frame it with dazzling precision. It was accompanied by white truffle whipped potatoes and a puddle of tomato broth--more like a purée than a simple stock. The resultant rich tang was the perfect canvas for this dish, pestering both the salmon sweetness and placid mushroom earthiness with a velvet acid punch.
Thompson works the same sort of wizardry with steak, a thick prime filet wedge. It's billed as "three peppercorn crusted filet of beef." But the peppercorns are finely ground and judiciously distributed, so you don't get numb-tongued by an outsized molten corn chunk before the meat richness has a chance to swamp the mouth. It's an effortlessly satiny and juicy beef experience. Thompson pairs his beef with an ingenious dab: shrimp and corn hash. It's a dainty mix of diced sweet and white potatoes, pepper and scallions slowly sautéed until they caramelize. To this he tosses in herbs and shrimp pieces. Thompson says the beauty of this Rough Creek standard is that it also doubles as a surf 'n' turf. "We use that as a selling point," he says without a chuckle. "You get a little bit of everything."
You do, at breakfast and lunch, too, the former with exceptionally fluffy scrambled eggs and supple omelettes. They also serve house-made pork sausage that's as coarse as 12-gauge buckshot (and almost as hard).
Rough Creek Lodge is easily among the best restaurants in Dallas--the top two or three. Or it will be as soon as the city annexes the place and gets to work paving that road.
County Road 2013, Glen Rose, 254-965-3700 or 800-864-4705. Open daily 7 a.m.-10 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch and 8 p.m.-10 p.m. for dinner. $$$-$$$$