Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.
If every night ended with buckle, the world would be a better place.
Photo by Leslie Minora
So, we're new around here. And in an effort to assimilate us into both Observer culture and make us less alien to the Dallas food scene, we were sent to the City of Ate-sponsored Supper Club at the Kessler Theater last night.
This week, Tim Byres of Smoke served up a menu that riffed on the theme "Texas roots," a homey mix of spice, barbecue and fresh ingredients -- four courses, each paired with a different wine. Herein, we recap our excellent meal with our excellent dining companions...our boss, Observer editor Joe Tone, and his boss, his lovely wife.
I am one of those irritating vegetarian types. So from the start, I was pretty much useless at this event. Highly decorative. As we sat in the Kessler's bar, waiting for the doors to open to the dining room, we had a drink and Leslie ate a delightfully orange-colored ceviche thing.
I ate on her behalf. Grapefruit ceviche -- why is this not a thing? It may sound like a fad diet, or a breakfast Rocky's wife would eat, but no, this is the best way to wake up your palate after a long coffee-fueled day of work on a hundred-degree day. Like the way you feel after a pack of Skittles, but fresher.
Whatever. My ginger ale was just as awesome. Anyway, at that point our boss showed up, and we both immediately tried to look busy and reporter-ly. Drinks were pushed to one side. Notepads were produced. Brows were furrowed. "Stop that," Joe said pleasantly. So we dropped the act and the carnivores grabbed the next appetizer that strolled by: fried balls of goat meat. "I love goat balls!" Joe exclaimed.
Leslie: Ball jokes aside, I had seconds. I could have made a meal on it. The crisp golden shell filled with savory spiced meat and green chile sauce -- Byers had me at hello. Then it on to dinner, where he hooked up a salad...
Back off, Minora. Salad is my territory. The salad was totally awesome. I would be a terrible food critic, because everything, unless it is on fire or covered in arsenic, is "totally awesome." Especially when we sponsor it. Then we had an amazing gazpacho-inspired soup, which was filled with a roasted vegetable medley and pleasantly fiery, like Tabasco, if Tabasco was actually delicious.
The Austin-based string quartet, MilkDrive
, really set the tone for my Grilled BBQ Cornish game hen. The Kessler is a great space, but I felt like I was on my grandma's patio -- if my grandma had a smoker and made perfectly cooked chicken. It was very smoky, maybe too smoky, if that's possible in Texas. While the one guy plucked the strings of his violin to my amusement, I wanted to throw down my fork and gnaw at the chicken bone. But the buckle was coming, and I needed room. And anyway, we were talking about Dallas being the strip club capital of the universe and I was momentarily distracted from my plate.
Who knew, right? Anyway, at this point our waiter was seriously disturbed by the fact that I was not eating the meat dish. "Some shrimp?" he asked anxiously. "No, I'm good, thank you!" I said. "We'll make something for you," he said mysteriously, over my protestations. A couple minutes later, he re-emerged from the kitchen with what tasted like the most sublime onion ring in the world, over a bed of zucchini, butter lettuce, and walnuts that tasted like they were rubbed with sage and red chile. It was incredible. I felt like such an asshole for not eating what everybody else was, but seriously, it was pretty awesome.
Then, there was buckle. We debated -- does that term imply a dough pocket? No one opposed. Or is it just a cobbler? Odd name, but approachable.
Anna: Whatever the hell it was called, there were blueberries in it, a crumbly, crispy top, and what looked like ice cream, but was actually a rich, thick, slightly sweetened whipped cream side. We all went totally silent for a moment, contemplating our buckles. Who cares what defines a buckle, anyway?
In all, it was a lovely evening. Thanks, Tim Byers! Thanks, Smoke! Thanks, lovely mystery waiter who brought Anna the divinely-inspired Onion Ring of Succulent Bliss! And thank you, Amsterdam Bar, for allowing us to sit here at midnight, hogging all your wireless internet and your cheap beer to write this post. Sorry, everybody else who doesn't get to eat that buckle. You're missing out.