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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Restaurant Week #4: The Mansion on Turtle Creek

The Mansion Restaurant
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75219
Price: $$$$

So I've been trying to get into the Mansion for like the past 3 years. First they were booked before the Restaurant Week list was even released...then another year they weren't even on the list. Sigh~ But finally this year they had availability AND they extended it to the full 3 weeks!! YAY! :)

I called them at 10AM the Monday morning the list was released. Actually I called them the Friday before because I got the sneak preview list, but they told me they didn't take reservations until Monday. I asked for the last weekend of Restaurant Week...and they only had a table for 2 and an hour before the time I wanted. I took what I could get.

I've heard in the past 2 years that the Mansion is overrated and that I shouldn't try so hard to go there, but I wanted to see it for myself. They must be doing something right because why else is it sooo hard to get in?!?

Finally it was time! I went with a friend of mine. We did complimentary valet at the hotel. Upon walking to the front door, one of the restaurant staff held the door open for us. We were warmly greeted by the host and hostess and were immediately seated. The decor was wonderful...probably one of the best I've seen in Dallas. It had upscale, traditional decor with modern accents. The lighting was very warm and inviting, and the tables/seats were very comfortable. It was fancy yet comfortable, I was very impressed that they were able to achieve that ambiance.

There were hardly anyone there at 6:15pm. I was a little upset because the restaurant didn't start filling up until about I didn't understand why they didn't have any later times available when I called. OH well...

Our waiter was extremely friendly, so were the other staff members assisting us. Attentive, helpful and none of the snootiness that I was expecting.

After ordering we were given an Amuse Bouche of roasted tomato, anchovie and olive oil. It was interesting. The tartness of the tomato cut some of the fishiness of the anchovie so it wasn't overwhelming.

For appetizer, I got Corn-Saffron Soup (grilled shrimp, fresh herbs, chile oil). After missing out on the Corn Soup at the French Room I knew I wanted to try this. This one was less creamy and overall not as good as the one at FR. However, it was still quite good. I prefer more of a corn chowder -- creamier, thicker, and lots of corn. This was more soupy, but had a nice surprise with the chile oil. It gave a nice spicy kick at the back of your throat. I was pleasantly surprised by that, and it also had a good amount of stuff in it.

My friend ordered the Carpaccio of Venison (green tomato marmalade and pecorino). The colors on this dish were beautiful! The venison was very delicate and had light flavors...not at all gamey. I thought the pecorino overpowered it a bit, but I'm also not a fan of goat cheese. My friend is a fan though, and she really enjoyed the dish!

For the entree, I ordered the Braised Short Rib (tomato-thyme compote and balsamic glazed cippolini onions). I was surprised to see the short rib without the bone. Usually braised short ribs come with the bone attached and I think I prefer it that way because it makes the meat even more tender. This short rib was not as tender as I expected since I still had to use a knife. But it was super juicy and fatty! Just the way I like it! hehe. The short rib was lightly seasoned so it paired well with the salty and tartness of the tomato compote. The slight sweetness of the glazed onions added an element of sweetness. I think the components were meant to be eaten together for the best combinations of flavors. The dish looked quite small to me, but it was more than enough...very filling.

My friend ordered the Pan-Seared Trout (with grilled squash and barley salad, tomato oil). It looked like a lot more food than mine...and again, the colors were very nice on the plate. The fish was pretty good...not as good as the fish at the French Room though. The squash and barley could've used a little more seasoning but I kind of liked the light flavors of the dish in contrast to the heavier flavors in my dish. The barley was cooked nicely and had good texture. It was definitely quite a lot of food.

For dessert we both ordered the Peanut Butter Torte (with chocolate ganache, peanut feuilletine and malt ice cream). The dessert looked so pretty except for the brown smear on the bottom of the plate...hahaha. But since it's chocolate I'll eat it anyways. :P The chocolate ganache was pretty amazing. The texture was nice and thick. The peanut butter part was actually crunchy...that was a little weird. We were both expecting smooth and creamy like a peanut butter cup. At first it was pretty cool, but half way through I got tired of the crunchy peanut butter. The malt ice cream was a nice touch to the torte because it added some moisture like a sauce...unfortunately there wasn't enough ice cream to pair with the entire torte. Overall I liked the flavors but it could've been done differently in many aspects to make it better.

In summary, the decor, ambiance, and service were one of the best I've ever experienced. It truly exceeded my expectations since I was told it was overrated. However, the food fell a little short of the decor and service. It was good, don't get me wrong, but I've definitely had better food elsewhere. The food was not as good as the French Room but I would say the decor and service were a step above the French Room! It was a great way to round up the 2009 Restaurant Week! :D

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