Daddy dates. Not to be confused with Sugar Daddy dates. I really mean those dinner outings a girl goes on with just her dad (or for this review those dinners where the name of the restaurant coincidentally has the word "daddy" in it). Before my dad passed away two years ago, he'd often drive to Dallas from New Mexico to spend time with me. On most of those visits he'd do something to drive me crazy, or we'd find ourselves arguing about something insignificant, like where to get the car washed. But no matter how many ridiculous arguments we'd get into, we could always agree on going to dinner. Those dinners were the best, especially when we chose to go to Daddy Jack's New England Lobster & Chowder House.
Daddy Jack's is hands down my favorite restaurant in Dallas, and it soon became my Dad's as well. From the friendly valet to the amazing wait staff, who remembered us every time we dined at the restaurant on Greenville Avenue, each visit proved excellent. The cozy restaurant has snug red vinyl covered booths and traditional red checker tablecloths. There's a blue steaming bowl of chowder that flashes like a beacon out of the restaurant's right front window. Dad and I succumbed to that light on more than one occasion. Dad even started making sure his visits included a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night stay. You cannot beat the amazing Monday through Wednesday lobster madness, when a 1 pound whole Maine lobster cull with a baked potato and vegetables costs only $13.95. It may be a cheap date, but there's nothing cheap about the service or the quality of food.
Make sure you bib up when you eat at Daddy Jack's -- the lobster and its clarified butter can get messy. Plus, there's nothing more glamorous than a plastic white bib with a bright red lobster on it. Some girls might shy away from tying a bib on if they were on a real date, but I say if you're going to order lobster then play the part. And I wasn't on a romantic date; I was with Dad. He used to have to feed me while I wore bibs and onesies, so I never felt any shame in tying one on -- a bib that is --plus, I got added bonus of saving myself a hefty dry cleaning bill.
The first time we ate at the chowder house, Dad selected a sea scallops special rather than the lobster. I thought he made a mistake until I tried a bite. The scallops tasted delicious, just like the lobster, the mussels, the field greens and blue cheese salad with sun-dried tomatoes, hearts of palm and roasted walnuts and lobster bisque I'd tried. Every dish looks and sounds amazing, but I'll admit I've only ever changed my appetizer or salad. I can't not order the lobster special. Dad would suggest we get dessert. I'd say "I'm too full" or "Dad, you're really not supposed to eat dessert. Remember what the doctor said about diabetes?" But Dad would ignore me insisting he'd only have one bite of the Key lime pie. So we'd order it. Neither of us was upset in the end.
One of the best things about Daddy Jack's is how at home you feel there. No matter the day I've had, the minute I pass through the swinging wooden doors into the dimly lit restaurant, I feel better, instantly. I've found myself driving to Lower Greenville just to eat at Daddy Jack's even if I'm alone. Recently, I met a friend there on a Tuesday night after work. Before she got there I sat in a booth facing the kitchen buttering my hunk of sourdough bread. One of the servers came up to me and asked, "How've you been? "Where's your Dad, I haven't seen him here in a while." I managed to hold back my tears long enough to tell him that my dad had died. And then he said, "I'm so sorry to hear that. He was a nice man. I remember him. He was always very good to me." All I could do was shake my head yes and barely whisper, "Thank you. I know."
So for all you Dallas daughters out there, I don't know who's your daddy, but I can tell you if you take him to Daddy Jack's he'll love the food and have a wonderful time that you will both remember. And if you're lucky, the wait staff will remember you too.
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