Envision standing beer in hand on a Saturday night, waiting for a table in a place overwhelmed by blubber-laden, hairy men in ball caps and T-shirts. Must've sauntered in from a nearby WWF match or truck race.
At a dining table near the bar slumps a guy with bulldog jowls, several layers of fat cascading over his belt and a thick cushion of black hair matted over his torso. We know these details because he spit up all over his shirt--then pulled it off. What's that line? No shirt, no shoes, no...hell, it's the first one. For a full minute he beached there, flashing bare unsupported man-breasts before hefting himself up and waddling outside. During that time, not a single restaurant staff member acknowledged the unappetizing occurrence.
This is all you need to know about Twin Peaks, the less glamorous version of Hooters lodged in a strip center near Vista Ridge Mall.
Must we discuss the food after an incident like that? The restaurant clearly found its niche, drawing strong crowds every night, serving plates for the undiscerning masses. A "tee-pee" of ribs was bone and gristle separated by a little bit of overcooked meat requiring a strong sawing arm. They were slathered in a more sweet than prickly barbecue sauce that congealed in some spots before it reached our table. The Philly cheese-steak was noticeable only for a vague taste similar to that found in a white box marked "cheese" in black letters. It resembled the East Coast original mostly in greasy-mouth feel. Chicken wings were plebeian--and for patrons of Twin Peaks, that means ordinary at best. Not bad, mind you, just acceptable by sports-bar standards. The kitchen douses barbecue versions in a sticky-sweet sauce, while the more "fiery" option sat in a tangy, predictable and not too threatening orange glaze. They somewhat cleverly served a Frito pie in a torn bag of the real pseudo-Mexican snack. Otherwise, it's a lackluster combination of chili powder and salt. Oh, meat and cheese and stuff, too--not that those things stand out, really. The establishment strives not to challenge palates but to meet expectations dulled by processed foods and chain restaurants.
Best to describe the, um, ambience. On our first visit, after watching the aforementioned mound of body hair spew and remove his shirt, we waited 20 minutes at the bar while four tables sat empty. Seems the staff couldn't quite figure out how to seat five people at those four-tops until we mentioned a radical, unheard-of option: push two tables together. Kinda fun to walk in and take over management of a restaurant. The wait staff, clearly hired for their anorexic waistlines and ability to squeeze into push-up lumberjack shirts, botched two orders on our first visit. Noticeable cleavage, mindless flirtation and little hearts scribbled on receipts fail to balance inept service. Not every patron is obese, but most are male (obviously)--82 percent on one visit, 93 the next and 70 at our third sitting. Midday crowds are mostly guys in uniform, which means the type with nametags, the "Las Colinas chic" look (khakis and polo shirts) or tees bearing NASCAR logos. Oh, mustn't forget the manager sporting visible chest hair and a gold chain. And during our third visit, one of the TV monitors displayed a competitive eating event. You know, gluttons shoving stringy wads of cheese fries down their throats for the amusement of the masses. Well, one of the televised contestants regurgitated while we sat contemplating our dinners.
Hey, a two-fer. If you can't see live vomit, Twin Peaks has it on TV.
Sometimes menu items are just as perplexing as the surroundings. The chicken-fried steak sandwich deserves placement in Ripley's. It's an oddity, a good size hunk of battered beef with lettuce and tomatoes between two thick pieces of crusty bread, yet the only thing you grasp on each bite is the faint taste of tomato. Just how does a thin slice of bulk produce overwhelm fried meat? We ordered tenderloin skewers medium, but the four pieces arrived rare, medium rare, medium and well done, in that order and on the same stick. The assortment sat on a plate of "cheddar glazed hash browns," which means even squares of cardboard...er, potatoes...drenched in the mildest so-called cheddar. It occurs to us that cheese runs counter to vodka. In the spirit world, less character means higher cost. Odorless, colorless, tasteless brands like Grey Goose earn accolades. With curdled milk, it's just the opposite: less character equals cheaper product. Twin Peaks spreads an inferior gooey mass of odorless and tasteless "cheese." They also sell a Kentucky bourbon pecan pie that reeks of molasses instead of the good stuff and sported only five nuts.
Sure, there are times when ambience and food mesh. We mentioned the waitress outfits, short shorts demanding a close bikini wax, revealing plaid shirts, that sort of thing. Well, the sundae resembles a pair of lily-white breasts--Dallas style, complete with a strong chemical essence. They use mundane ice cream, "whipped topping," and strategically placed cherries.
It sits on a nut chocolate chip cookie that's not too bad, by the way. Mall food court quality, anyway.
And yes, there's a highlight or two at Twin Peaks. The menu announces soups created on-premises. True, the backwoods gumbo was oily and salty, but it mimicked the Cajun staple. But the jalapeño corn chowder teased the taste buds with an initial wave of sweetness followed by chile, which emerges slowly at first then picks up steam. A slightly viscous base holds everything together, providing a placid canvas for natural sugars of corn and vegetal fire of jalapeño. The heat is not overpowering. Rather, the flavor of ripe chile lingers. Good stuff, in other words.
Just don't expect much otherwise. This is a place that advertises "no fart" chili in large chalk letters. No need to be alarmed when you order a white wine and the bartender pours it over ice and bounces the delicate alcohol in a bar shaker (happened on our first visit) or when waiting for the inexperienced staff of flirtatious teenagers to clear detritus from the table. Or even when they finally arrive with a bottle of Hellmann's mayonnaise requested 10 minutes earlier and leave guests to peel off its cellophane wrapper.
Hey, at least we know it's fresh...from the restaurant supply warehouse.
Essentially, Twin Peaks brings diner-quality fare to the Dallas area. Maybe that's a tad harsh, assessment-wise. After all, some of those rural diner jockeys are pretty damn talented. The new Lewisville site, on the other hand, prepares entirely familiar and often forgettable dishes. Fries? Somewhat crisp and salted lightly or heavily, depending on when you drop by. The experience disappears from your mind shortly after handing over the credit card. Burgers? The twin cheeseburger features two thin patties surrounding industrial cheese. Taken as a whole, it's a sandwich equal to anything plated for undiscriminating Denny's patrons.
Besides, who really notices the food? Twin Peaks is all about breasts, bikini lines and that strange fantasy unsightly men seem to cherish of amorous encounters with tiny, possibly legal-aged women. 2601 S. Stemmons Freeway, Lewisville, 214-488-7222. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bar open until Midnight.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Dallas dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.