Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Texas restaurant reviews

Having been in Irving, TX for well over a week now, I would like to share some of my restaurant reviews with you. I've been to most of the places in Texas now, but if I've missed any please give me a hollar. Thank y'all.

Red Hot & Blue, Las Colinas
Grade: B+
Even though this is a chain restaurant, it had good BBQ ribs with an appropriately smoky flavor and meat that fell off the bone. I think I also got some other meat there but I forget what it was. The honey cheese biscuits are good. The sauce was OK. There seems to be a Texas thing where "potato salad" is really mashed potato with some crud tossed in it. Overall, it was good enough to go back and get a pulled chicken sandwich.

Sonny Bryan's, Las Colinas
Grade: F
I was expecting something resembling delicious BBQ when I went here. Instead, I got a plate of meat that tasted a bit too meaty, had no smoke flavor, and wasn't particularly tender. All covered with an acrid sauce and accompanied by a roll that tasted like it was made from parts of Poppin' Fresh with a yeast infection. I was tasting this all night, and the memory still haunts me.

County Line BBQ, Austin
Grade: B+
It's a bit out of the way if you're visiting Dallas, but County Line serves some real quality BBQ. I didn't like the beans that much; I think I ordered "cowboy beans" and they were just not rootin' tootin' enough. Afterwards you can go out back and see turtles and fish and crud in the river.

Popeye's, Las Colinas
Grade: A++
Brilliant! A taste sensation! Popeye's guarantees that you will not get what you ordered. If your order matches the stuff in the bag exactly, you get $1 off your next visit. Even for a Popeye's, this one served up a large helping of that delectable Popeye's grease. You know what you're going to get there. If you put the bag on the floor of the car, the grease will soak right through the bag and then continue through the floor boards to the center of the earth. So you have to be careful lest you confuse your car's translucence with a serious body problem. The rolls are just as grease-soaked, so when you reach for one in a desperate attempt to mop up the damage the chicken has done to your tract, you will get no relief. Highly recommended, and don't forget the apple pie.

Some Thai place, Las Colinas
Grade: C-
I forgot its name. Just avoid it. I wasn't at all happy with it. It's the place that was next to that store.

La Madeleine, Las Colinas
Grade: A-
I love going to La Madeleine, but haven't been to one in years. I got a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, and should've held the tomato. When you bite into the tomato, there is no way to engineer the rest of the croissant and chicken salad so that it stays intact. Your only hope is to be wearing chicken salad-colored pants to hide the damage.

California Pizza Kitchen, Grapevine
Grade: C
CPK is my favorite upscale chain eatery. Although it sounds pretentious, "upscale chain" refers to who wipes down the table. There's a sliding scale, where customers are at the bottom and employees are at the top. When you go up the scale, it means that they have actual employees wiping down the tables between guests. At a downscale place like Burger King, you are expected to wipe any stray shreds of lettuce off your table yourself, with a combination of napkins and spittle. I usually enjoy CPK, but I was disappointed by the freshness and presentation of my take-out order. Everything was a bit gluey. I hope they read this and give me a coupon for a free appetizer.

Bluefish, Las Colinas
Grade: B
Looked good, although I don't enjoy seafood. They should make it clearer in the name that it's primarily coming from the ocean. I had the non-seafood choice, which was a salad with ginger-miso dressing. Others in my group had something called a crab dynamite, which looked something like a baby Horta. Instead of precious silicon eggs, it was protecting a series of California roll slices. I swear that when I looked up, one of the sushi chefs was giving me a mournful "you don't like my sushi?" look.

Indian Bistro, Las Colinas
Grade: B-
I went here for lunch. Would it have killed them to have forks available?

Cattleman, Fort Worth
Grade: A
Great, great, great steak. Everything you could want in a steak, served under a blow-up photo of a prize cow from the 1950s. The meat was perfect: just slightly crispy on the outside, and buttery smooth on the inside. I had it with some horseradish mashed potatoes, which could've had a bit more horseradish in them.

Hyatt Regency, Austin
Grade: C+
Every Hyatt Regency makes the same $11 breakfast panini with ham, white cheddar, and a fried egg. This is the only one that served it to me with two vials of ketchup and asked if I needed more ketchup.

Mayuri, Las Colinas
Grade: B
Not the best Indian food I've had, but reasonably good. If you order the full meal, it comes with a bewildering array of little cups of curries. One of these is actually rice pudding, which is infused with rosewater and cardamom, and you're supposed to save it for after you eat the others. Depending on your tastes, it can either resemble a delicate, perfumed treat or that perfume you pick up as a gift at Walgreen's at 8 PM on Valentine's Day.

Sonic, Hamilton
Grade: F
This was the only place open after my car broke down in the middle of Bumluck TX. The meat tasted like it had been refrozen, nothing tasted good, and my car smelled like a pickle for three days afterwards. It actually made me long for McDonald's.

Microsoft cafeteria, Las Colinas
Grade: A++++
If you can't get to Popeye's, this is an awesome second choice. The ice machine is free! I figured out how to make sweet tea, too. You take regular tea and toss in a bunch of sugar packets. Wow! They also have three or four different stations. You can get a burger, or a sandwich, or a salad. Perfect for the busy employee on the go.

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