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TheMaestro's Profile

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Twice Baked Potatoes in Dallas

have you tried a time machine?

Seriously a twice baked potato might be a stretch. Don't know of too many places that might serve that.

The last time I remember having a twice baked was at Jasper's a number of years ago. But they were really fingerling potatoes with the filling piped.

Help: Fatback in NH

Anyone know where I can purchase pork fatback in new hampshire? I would even settle for online shipping. The only place I've found so far charges $85 for 10 lbs of fatback.

Thanks in advance.

Dallas - molecular gastronomy/experimental?

Your best bet would be Nana. Its the most MG centric restaurant in the city, though if you are hoping for something comparable to Alinea or WD-50 you will be disappointed.

Abacus ** out of *****

Whether he should have brought profit margin up with you is debatable, but buying in bread might be the difference between being able to participate in RW and not being able to. And I would seriously doubt that any fine dining restaurant in dallas bakes their own bread...Fearings, Abacus, Charlies, Craft, Lola, etc.

What is the difference from last year? Cost of food. Flour alone (the primary ingredient in bread, as I'm sure you know) has, IIRC, has almost tripled in price from a year ago. That means a 50 lb sack that used to cost a baker or restaurant 12 dollars now costs 40 dollars. That is a huge jump. It is almost reaching crisis levels.

So yeah, Rathbun bought in less expensive bread. Big deal. He made the right call. You said he needs to take business 101? Sounds to me like he did and made the right financial decision for his restaurant.

Steaming a Chinese bun is a lot different than making artisan bread. And I'm quite certain that a big percentage of those places get in frozen buns or bread ready to bake. It's like boasting that Subway or Quiznos bakes their own bread.

What's changed since last year? The economy. Gas prices. Food prices. Abacus underwent an extensive (and I'm guessing) expensive makeover, which will cut into his already slim (and continually slimming) profit margin. So maybe now they offer cheaper bread and short ribs instead of filet (during RW). Makes sense to me.

I'm not excusing bad execution of food. There is no excuse for it. What I am asking for is a bit of perspective on RW meals versus regular meals. It may be consensus that Abacus has slipped in quality recently, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't compare apples to apples (RW = oranges). It would have been fine to report that the RW meal you had there was subpar, but to then introduce the idea that it should be better based on what you would pay normally isn't correct IMO. This is the part I specifically had a huge problem with:

I think that the chef's TV appearance got to his head. The atmosphere and service are still good as before but the food is not acceptable for a restaurant of this price range and supposed caliber. I was a loyal diner in and out of restaurant week all last year, but this year, I will steer clear of Abacus. I give Abacus of Dallas 2 out of 5 stars."

You gave it a review based on normal prices for a discount meal. It's fine that you didn't like it, and of course it is OK to write about it. Just please don't compare it with the normal experience. You sound like a person who eats out a lot but really has no clue as to how much work and effort go into running a restaurant on a daily basis.

But whatever. I'm beating a dead horse here, and I'm done with this thread. Just trying to add a little perspective to the situation.

Abacus ** out of *****

The OP made it a point to state that the food was "unacceptable for a restaurant that charges as much as they do" which is, as I stated, snobbish. Believing that he/she should be entitled to a great meal based on what the restaurant would normally charge for a plate vs. what he/she is actually paying during unusually busy and stressful times is out of whack, IMO. The OP poster only initially made reference to a previous RW meal last year, the rest of the post stated clearly how Abacus should have been better based on the normal menu prices.

That is not to say that the OP is not entitled to an opinion, or not invited to share the opinion here, I just think it needs to be tempered with a reality check.

I understand the points that the OP made, and don't disagree, I just think that RW week meals should be judged as such and leave the normal menu meals judged seperately.

And the bread's very hard (and expensive) for a restaurant to bake it's own high caliber bread. I can't think of ANY high end restaurant in Dallas that bakes it's own bread. I doubt very much that Abacus has the mixing equipment, space, time, and not to mention the steam-injected deck ovens necessary to bake artisan level bread on site. Buying in bread is a completely normal activity even for a high end restaurant. I don't know what or who the restaurant uses for bread, but I wouldn't doubt that the bread was subpar. Let me remind you, they are essentially giving away bread for over 300 people a day, and bread has greatly increased in price in the last year. Buying high quality bread for a normal dinner service, where the cost can be built in the menu price, is probably something they can do. Buying the same, high quality bread for a 35 dollar meal for 300 people a night is probably REALLY expensive...and the reason I would think that the bread was not very good.

Seriously, a little perspective would be nice.

Abacus ** out of *****

Are you serious? There has to be a qualification that you can't judge a restaurant's overall quality based on restaurant week....period. I'm not saying that it is acceptable to serve undercooked potatoes, etc, but please keep in mind that you were eating at a time when the restaurant is doing more than twice the normal business at less than half the price of what they normally serve.

The idea of restaurant week is not to do it as a promotion fro business, it's to benefit a charitable foundation, and yes, maybe get some good buzz and word of mouth in the process.

You are going to tell the owner (who owns like what, 4 successful restaurants now) to take business 101?

I think you need to get over yourself....If you somehow expect the 5 star experience for restaurant week, then you are sorely mistaken. I understand that places like Bijoux (for example) might pull it off, but they weren't doing 300 covers a night for 2-3 weeks.

You basing your 35 dollar meal as if you were paying full price is misguided and, IMO, snobbish to the point that it goes against the very point of RW which is to help a charitable cause.

[DFW] Best Salads at restaurants[DFW]

Maguire's has excellent salads...their "house" salad is made with a really sweet dressing, but it is tempered with toasted nuts and bleu cheese...very good. They also do a salad (I forget what they call it on the menu) with pearl couscous, raisens, arugula, shaved parm (and other stuff I am forgetting) and a choice of smoked salmon or chicken.

Best foodie first date in Cambridge?

Can't believe no one has mentioned Dali--it's actually in Sommerville. Great tapas and the atmosphere is both romantic and fun. I've been twice and service was great and with tapas (obviously) you can eat as slow/fast as much/little as you want. It's great for sharing plates on a first date and getting to know you, etc.

DFW - Charlie Palmer

Barigoule style artichokes are fresh articholekes that are braised in a mixture of (usually) garlic, olive oil, white wine, mirepoix, leeks, lemon juice, herbs (thyme), and sometimes chicken stock. It's not really a set recipe and can vary from preparation to preparation. Usually they are very good (the best way to cook an artichoke as far as I am concerned). If it tasted pickled they probably (obviously) overdid the acid.

The great thing about this preparation as well is that you can take the cooking liquid, reduce it WAY down, and then use it to flavor a vinaigrette or make a flavor base for an aioli. IIRC, the French Laundry cookbook has a recipe for this. I've made artichoke mayo with this before and it was excellent.

Glad to hear the meal was good. I'll have to give it a try sometime.

Jan 21, 2008
TheMaestro in Texas

jasper's at lunch

I've been to Jasper's a few times....thought it ranged from good to very good, but not really ever great. Haven't really had a bad experience there though.

Did it REALLY take 30 minutes for the chips to come? And another 45 for the mains? I'm not calling you a liar, but I find it hard to believe that some fried chips and goo took that long...are you sure you aren't exaggerating because you are angry? Like I said, I've eaten there (even did a shift in the kitchen like 3 years ago) and I can't imagine that the chips would take that long. I can't fathom even staying and continuing to order food if it took that long to come out at lunchtime. You're running into almost 2 hours for lunch if that is true.

Sorry you had a bad experience though. Like I said, I've been there several times, but not in a couple of years. The company is expanding and when that happens very often quality of the flagship suffers quite a bit.

Next time, if I may make a suggestion, TELL the server or the manager about it. If your chips are cold, soggy and burnt, tell them, and then they will most likely fix it. At the very least, you will get some hot, crispy chips. They will probably VIP your table and work their best to make sure the rest of the meal is as good as it can be. Nip it in the bud--I can tell you from experience of working in the industry for many years that we want the opportunity to fix the mistakes...but we can't do that if we don't know.

I would give them another shot though...maybe for dinner or again for lunch. Not a "top" restaurant, but certainly good and worthy of another chance, IMO.

Jan 21, 2008
TheMaestro in Texas

Dallas Steakhouses Review

While not technically a steakhouse, I have found Craft's steaks to be very very good, and they have better sides than most steakhouses.

I think Nick and Sam's is also one of the best and most often overlooked.

Fearing's Review w/ Pics

I ate at Fearing's a couple of weeks back. Thought the meal was good, not great. I had the chicken fried lobster and found it to be the weakest thing I tried all night...soggy, overcooked, tepid, and not well seasoned.

I too had the foie and thought it was the highlight. I had the chance to sample my companion's entrees and, again, thought they were good but not great.

Desserts were very good, and the service was nice as well.

One thing I was put off by was when we ordered the foie, they brought around a bottle of sauternes and poured each of us a taste...when no one at the table had ordered it. I just assumed they were being nice and giving us a little something extra, but it turned up on the bill for 24 dollars. I found that a little suspect.

The room(s) were all beautiful can tell a LOT of money went into the place.

Dec 22, 2007
TheMaestro in Texas

Nice Dinner in DFW

You might want to add Craft to the list as well--I've eaten there twice and both times were excellent. A bit pricey, but not against the other places you mentioned. I think they've got some of the best meat and fish in Dallas.

Dec 02, 2007
TheMaestro in Texas

Great bistro in N Dallas Area?

I second a recommendation for Maguire's. I've eaten there many times and found it to be really consistent and good. The food has always been good, and I've only had one bad service experience (but it wasn't enough to keep me away).

Another reason I would recommend it is because you mentioned that your Aunt and Uncle don't treat themselves often, so I assume they aren't used to "nice" restaurant meals. Maguire's is a nice place, but by no means stuffy and I think that the menu will be un-intimidating for a non-adventurous couple--they kind of specialize in upscale comfort food (think meatloaf, steaks, pork chops, pasta, etc) but all executed very well.

Lavendou is however, another excellent choice. I think Maguire's may be a little less "intimidating," though the only reason I think Lavendou may be considered intimidating is because it is French.

Good luck.

Dec 02, 2007
TheMaestro in Texas