Dare Call It Prime

The fare is disappointing at this upper-end steak house

But while it was a struggle to hang with this parsley, it was torture to stay with the red snapper, a special on one visit. Steak houses usually serve respectable fish; great sprawls of fresh, flaky fillets; massive loops of shrimp, moist and tender; lobster tails lush and rippled with creamy brininess poised for a dunk in melted butter. But this beast was distressed. It looked fine, primped and supple, dressed in a creamy dill brandy sauce that tasted of neither. The tapered fillet was drenched in the stuff, which isn't so bad except the fish was little more than sticky mush; a gummy strip with acute flavor deprivation if you don't count the carpenter's-glue aftertaste that lingered with unfortunate tenacity.

Yet maybe these were just aberrations. This isn't something to discount, though the stuffed mushrooms strived mightily to do that. Huge black caps are stuffed with shrimp, lump crab and bread crumbs, with beads of butter cream squiggling across the dome surface. The stuffing is pasty; the brutish caps watery and insufficiently cooked, fraying our willingness to commit to the chew.

Fried zucchini was also watery. It flowed profusely when the limp strips, coated with a bronze coating, were bitten. And like the parsley, they were promiscuously greasy, leaving a sheen on the fingers and a film on the tongue. Oil and water don't mix well, yet both may have saved the bacon-crusted spinach casserole. Served in a boat, this "prime addition" was rambunctiously enticing with lots of bacon, cheese and a cool dollop of sour cream in the center. Tortilla chips are placed at each end of the boat. The chips were stale. The casserole was stiff and pasty. You need to be afflicted with some serious thrill issues to eat stuff like this.

Prime salads, yes. Prime beef, no. Come again?
Tom Jenkins
Prime salads, yes. Prime beef, no. Come again?

Details

Stuffed mushrooms $8.95
Fried zucchini $6.95
Cobb salad $11.95
Spinach casserole $4.95
Snapper $21.95
Petite fillet $18.95
Prime rib $15.95
Iced oranges $1.95
Closed Location

It's rare that an upper-end restaurant so completely bungles execution that a wide swath of its fare is disappointing. It's almost unheard of when that swath slumps so badly it becomes inedible. Dare call it prime.

Yet not everything droops badly. Deep Ellum Philly was rich and robust, riddled with bell pepper slices and red onion slivers strapped to the meat shavings and bun, with gobs of melted white cheese. Those slices were fatty and gristly, but that just added to the charm. Plus you could eat it without invoking the forces of sheer will. Iced oranges were a relief. An orange, white with frost, was hollowed and stuffed with orange sherbet. The severed end was left on the plate as a decorative note, along with swirls of brandy and cream sauces. It was fantastic, this "prime finish."

5950 Royal Lane, 214-750-4520. Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday & Saturday. $$$

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