Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rathbun does it again!

In our holiday traditions, one is particularly important - a visit to the Dallas Symphony to attend their annual Holiday Concert.  It's a fabulous way to spend a Saturday in December getting into the Christmas spirit.  Since the concert ended about 5:00 pm, and we were downtown, it gave us an opportunity to try a restaurant that normally would take an act of Congress to want to drive to for a meal that will take as long to eat as it takes us to get there in traffic.

Sideways view of the restaurant
 As one of our favorite restaurants to eat is Jasper's (especially on an expense account), and since Kent Rathbun is the proprietor, we figured we would look at his other offerings.  He has a range of options from chic chic fine dining (Abacus) to a down-home cousin of Jasper's called Rathbun's Blue Plate.  IceDaddy being who he is, we felt that both from a price perspective and appeal of the food, Blue Plate was the preference.

Getting there just before 5 pm, we were THE first people to enter for the evening service.  The decor was like an upscale bar - taupes, with accents of black and chrome.  Very soothing, romantically lit palette.  The restaurant has a focus on sourcing ingredients "locally" (translation: Texas) and features products in that manner.  For beverages of the alcoholic variety, for example, all beers on tap were Texas beers.  IceDaddy enjoyed a Shiner and I took advantage of one of their signature drinks - a concoction of house-made sweet and sour mix combined with both orange and lemon vodkas.  Yummy!

The menu is an interesting mix of gourmet "country grub" and healthier fare.  That's likely a reflection of Rathbun's weight loss success and his ongoing efforts to maintain it juxtaposed with creating indulgent food he loves.  Since we needed to objectively cover the menu, we chose appetizer, entrees, and a dessert.

For starters, we chose something slightly outside of Ice's typical fare - Texas Blue Crab Gratin.  It was basically a crab dip with crab and garlic/herb cream cheese topped with crispy breadcrumbs and served with crisp toasted bread.  A mini Tabasco bottle was provided alongside to add to taste.  The dip was rich, and the hard toast was  needed for a textural contrast to the soft dip.  Before adding the Tabasco, the flavor was good, but that hint of spice elevated it much more.  Perhaps my only complaint was that the breadcrumb topping was a bit too towering - they could have nixed about a tablespoon of the crumbs and I would have been fine.

For entrees, we decided on the indulgent fare.  Ice did Grandma Minnie's country fried chicken with chunky red potatoes and maple cream gravy.  I chose the Ancho barbequed pulled pork with Cabrales blue cheese grits and crispy tortilla strips.  The country fried chicken was a crispy breaded drumstick, boneless breast, and tender piled on a bed of absolutely heavenly mashed potatoes.  The breading had a peppery bite (which is to our taste), the mashed potatoes were hands-down the best mashed potatoes this side of Ice's stepmom's and the maple cream gravy was a great riff on a classic.  It wasn't overly sweet - just a hint of maple flavor and sweetness paired with a peppered cream gravy.  The ancho pork was delicious and tender shredded pork with a vinegary bbq sauce.  By itself, it was a bit puckering, but when you eat the grits with the pulled pork, it really offsets the richness. 

Since one of our Jasper's favorites is their ham and gouda mac and cheese, we had to try the Brazos Valley cheddar mac and cheese as a side.  I have to say, it was good - homemade pasta, sharp tangy cheddar, and bits of mushroom and shallot detectable in the baked goodness, but it just isn't the same as Jasper's.  I'm sure if I hadn't tasted the Holy Grail of mac and cheese at Jasper's, my opinion would be higher.

We rounded out the meal with a decadent chocolate lava cake and a side of ice cream, both very good.  The chocolate cake was moist with the lava-like fudge center and a definite taste of espresso to enhance the dark chocolate all nicely offset with the vanilla ice cream.

The verdict?  If you're in the area, Rathbun's is a must-visit, especially since you can spend half the prie of Jasper's and still have a belly full of goodness.

No comments:

Post a Comment