This past weekend was the start of KRLD's Restaurant Week. I've participated with either girlfriends or The Chief or both since I moved to Dallas. Every year at every spot I'm a little disappointed.
In case you're not familiar, here's the premise. Make a reservation at one of Dallas's hotspots and pay $35 per person for a 3 course meal, not inclusive of alcohol. So what this typically turns into for me/us is spending a fortune because naturally we go outside the lines in our wine, cocktails, after dinner drinks, additional hors d'oeuvres, ordering the more expensive dessert than what’s offered or succumbing to the wine pairings offered. Part of the proceeds go to local charity, so you feel at least decent about the gluttony. However, I read this year in D Magazine that there is a whole racket going along with this. There are several fat cats making large, and I mean large, paychecks on this deal. Okay, fine, whatever, I still go.
This year the foodie in my family (my brother) asked if we'd like to go with them. It kinda became annual after last year. When Alli was at this exact stage of preggers we went to Wolfgang Puck's 560 at the top of the Reunion Tower. This year I was given some options in which to choose, and I suggested Pappa's Steakhouse. Supposedly the best in Texas and strangely, we had never been. So we booked it up and looked forward to the evening for several weeks.
Our reservations were late so the parental units could also enjoy Restaurant Week and then pick-up little tyke for a 'spend-the-night' night. 9:15 pm was the time and the beginning of this year's experience.
Menu was good. Sometimes these places totally chinch you on the offerings. This one was good. Salad for first, two steak options, lobster or salmon for the main and several desserts for the last. In our family, we always start with cocktails and make it clear we'll be moving into wine with dinner. I don't think there was any mistaking this guy was getting ripped off on a bunch of iced teas and waters. There is a little bit of judgment by the servers at most of these places that because it's "Restaurant Week" you're skimming and trying to eat at an establishment that typically you would not or could not afford. That rubs me the wrong way. I’m not in a tank top and fanny pack straight from Six Flags.
We order up and mention that we have the vouchers for the 4th course (picked-up at Central Market with a $25 purchase) but 3 of the 4 were left in another car that was not valet parked out front. We asked if we could go ahead with the 4th course and drop the vouchers off tomorrow. Per our outstanding server, that wasn't feasible. Really? The 4th course was a Lobster Bisque. Come on, dude. Just bring the 3 cups of soup out here...it will buy you a much bigger tip in the end. Much bigger. But, no dice. No voucher, no soup. Big mistake man, big. Huge.
The four of us are fairly certain a vat of Lobster Bisque went out to the dumpster somewhere around 10:30 pm on Saturday night.
The meal goes on and none of us are impressed with his skills. He offers no wine suggestions and no real hospitality other than the constant offer of ground pepper on everything I ordered. Then it comes to dessert. As it turns out since we were the LATE seating the upgraded dessert that the brother, the sister-in-law and I ordered is no longer available. Well, of course it's not. So The Chief suggests he allow us to order off the regular dessert menu. That must have bugged because he flippantly came back with dessert menus for the three of us, but not Clint. We get it, he ordered a dessert that is available, but to be the kind of "Best Steak Restaurant in Texas" why wouldn't you bring out four dessert menus? Who knows. It's Restaurant Week. I guess they assume most of these peeps aren't ever coming back, so what do they care if they rub you the wrong way?
We ate our desserts, which were decadent. The guys ordered some brandy and we finished up our evening. The bill came and it was paid, which by the way, was no where near the $35 x 4 for dinner. As soon as the credit card receipts were signed, hotsy-tottsy picked them up and was never to be seen again. A little abrupt and rude, or so I thought. And yes, in case he was on the edge of his seat, he got 15%. Sorry. You could have scored yourself a good 20-25% if you had brought the damn Lobster Bisques and been cool about the dessert faux pas.
So...what's going to happen next year? Well, for me, I'm going to Fearing's NOT ON RESTAURANT WEEK. It's my favorite restaurant in Dallas and a close #2 to my favorite meal in the US. Second only to the Wasabi Crusted Filet at Buddakan in Philadelphia. Random, I know. Don't judge until you try it.
Fearing’s in inside the Ritz-Carlton, so naturally their service is impeccable. Your champagne glass is never half full, exactly the way I like it. Their wine list is top-notch. Their maître D's are great. The atmosphere is lovely. I'll order the Crispy Barbecue Blue Point Oysters for an appetizer and then move onto the Pan Roasted 'BBQ Spiced' Filet and Chicken Fried Maine Lobster served on Queso Fresco Corn Potatoes and Cynthia's Soft Spinach Taco. I’ll make a separate donation to the recipients’ of KRLD Restaurant Week and enjoy my dinner by leaps and bounds.
Next year I will probably be back to drinking my dessert, so I'll skip all this chocolate cake non-sense.