Several days into the annual charity event and we've finally had a chance to poke through some menus.
Now, we weren't looking for the best item or the most original. What we want from KRLD Restaurant Week--aside from a cheap three or four course dinner--is something that jumps from the list and causes one of those "that's interesting, I'll have to try it" reactions.
With more than 100 kitchens participating, there were plenty of candidates. We considered the confit pork belly at Abacus, an entree of Kobe meatloaf prepared by Roy's or even Tramontana's grilled pear salad. Eventually, however, we decided on the following:
10. Turtle soup (Randy's Steakhouse)
It's just a dish you don't see very often, especially in the rarified steak palace world. Of course, Randy's is in Frisco and can slum it a bit. For this year's Restaurant Week menu, they follow a New Orleans recipe, so expect some Cajun or Creole seasoning.
9. Ginger snap cookie sandwiches with cardamom-almond ice cream (Fuse)
Desserts are part of the week's flair, right? Stephan Pyles is whipping up a goat cheesecake with cherries jubilee, but this spicy ice cream sandwich seems more intriguing. Bold, cleansing and mellow flavors in one fattening bite--love it.
8. Chilled mango & Texas clover honey soup (Culpepper Steakhouse)
You have to drive to Rockwall for this, but it sounds worthwhile. We especially liked the pairing of trendy mango with the equally trendy local ingredient thing. Besides, the peppery bite of tropical fruit against bittersweet honey works.
7. Vichyssoise with buttermilk froth, lardons and white cheddar (Bijoux)
Another cold soup and another traditional dish appearing far too infrequently on local menus--hence its appearance in this list. Potatoes and leeks, some onion, hearty stock...yes, Bijoux dresses it a bit, but this is an oft-forgotten classic.
6. Pear onion soup (The Second Floor)
Participating chefs put a lot of thought into their soups this year, or so it seems. Bijoux's Scott Gottlich heads up this operation, as well, so you know the focus will be on quality ingredients. If we hadn't already booked at Fearing's, we'd head to the Galleria for this.
5. Tamarind glazed chicken breast with barbecue baked beans (Nana)
How did something so tame make it to number five on our countdown? One, you know Nana can coax mesmerizing flavors fromt the most simple combinations. Two--and far more important--we love the idea of eating baked beans at one of the city's fanciest venues.
4. Braised rabbit & ricotta cavatelli (Craft)
Local chefs complain, from time to time, about the lack of interest in game meats here. Put rabbit or pigeon on a menu and most diners will scorn it and head straight for the sea bass...which is why we appreciate this basic meat and pasta dish.
3. Kobe flank steak sous vide (Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House)
Some people make a big deal out of sous vide cooking. There's a new book on the topic, chefs have gathered to learn the technique and Nany Nichols made it the focal point of the first SideDish Supper Club event. Here's a chance to try it on the cheap.
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2. Texas quail General Tso style (Five-Sixty)
We've raved about this dish before--first in the review of Wolfgang Puck's giant erection/restaurant. Chef Sarah Johannes nods to local ingredients and the Puck empire's Asian theme, and does so with great aplomb. Simply put, this is one of those 'must try' dishes.
1. Chicken fried bacon on a bleu cheese biscuit (Hattie's)
Yeah, yeah--you can wait and get CFB at the state fair. But last year's talk of the fair met with more 'eh' than anything else. We suspect that Hattie's will get it right--crisp all the way through, smoky and tart. The bleu cheese biscuit and honey-chile sauce are bonuses.