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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

RW #3: Abacus

4511 McKinney Avenue
Dallas, TX 75205
(214) 559-3111
Price: $$$$+

Oh Abacus, how I've missed you! I went to RW at Abacus 2 years ago and I've been wanting to go back ever since. Sooo excited that I was able to get a reservation for a large party of 9 at a great time, 7PM! :)

We decided to go there a little earlier to hit up the bar because they had happy hour until 7pm. We arrived around 6:30PM and went to the bar. My friends got a couple of drinks and were charged full We didn't really pay attention until after the fact so oh wellz.

Anyways, around 6:55PM I went to the hostess and told her that my reservation was at 7. She just stared at me and said "uh huh." ooo..k..? So I was like "can we go ahead and be seated?" She said "is everyone here?" Me: "7 of us are, 2 are running late." Hostess: "oh. tell me when they are here." (then continues to stare at me...) Stupid, mean old lady!! Soooo unfriendly. OMG. I was shocked!! No smiles and curt responses. WTF!! The majority of our group was already there, why can't we be seated?!?! So i went back to my group at the bar. I guess I'll wait a couple more minutes and then check back. In the mean time, I texted my friends and they said they were 5-10 minutes away. I waited until the old lady stepped away and went up to one of the younger hostesses. Apparently they don't seat you until the whole party has arrived, but this she told me in a friendly way. But i informed her that the last 2 were only 5-10 minutes away and she said she will check on our table for us. UGH....what an ordeal. I don't want to deal with crap like this as soon as I walk into a restaurant!! Abacus needs to do something about that snooty old lady....she's totally hurting the restaurant's image!!

The entire interior of the restaurant has been redesigned since the last time I was here. It felt bigger and more open now. And the bar area is really cool! We were seated in a large table facing the kitchen. Cool!! It was kind of blocked off from the rest of the dining room so it felt special, like we had our own dining area.

The waiter was super cool and informative. He updated us on how they don't do any promotions while RW is going on, which explained why the drinks at the bar were full price earlier. He also told us that Abacus now ONLY does RW during this time (no longer offering the regular menu as well). This was easier on the kitchen. And they have more options on their RW menu because of this. Most places have 2-3 choices per category, but Abacus offered 6-7 options each. He also gave us some recommendations on which dishes were popular and other details.

We were given a bread basket after we ordered. It's got wheat, raisin nut, white, and green onion/nut breads.
I was starving....totally eating more pieces than I should. haha.

These are some of the small plates that we ordered:
I got the Crispy Pork Belly Steam Bun (Thai Chile Black Soy, Savoy Cabbage Slaw). I can't say no to pork belly...and 2 years ago at Abacus, their pork belly was the best dish of the night. The steam bun was pretty good. The pork belly was awesome. Great flavor and texture. The bun itself with the greens were ok. It was a good dish, but I wish I could've gotten the dish from 2 years ago...haha

Ancho Chile Seared Diver Sea Scallop (Fresh Corn Succotash, Texas Peach BBQ Sauce). This was highly recommended. The portion was soooo small...but beautifully plated. The scallop was cooked nicely. I wish it could've had more of a seared crust though. And I really liked the corn succotash.

Seafood Gumbo (Grilled Andouille Sausage, Cornmeal Crusted Okra). This was a pretty hefty bowl! There was so much stuff in it. I thought that was pretty cool. It tasted a little burnt though. I think the sausage was a little burnt and that was infused into the rest of the soup. The okra was a little dry... The dish looked really good but didn't fully deliver...

Mizuna-Napa Cabbage Salad (Crispy Wontons, Yuzu Sweet Soy, Rice Wine Vinaigrette). This was super light and minty. My friend said it was kind of like eating an air freshener, but I liked it. If you don't want anything heavy to start, this is definitely a good choice.

The pork belly bun was my favorite app of the night.

After the small plates, we were given an Intermezzo. A shot glass filled with Violet Granita, Gin, and Citrus Soda. The color was really pretty and flavor was light and floraly. It was really refreshing and I liked the bit of icy granita at the end of the shot.

We also had a couple of the Central Market 4th Course coupons. Each coupon gets you 2 of their Lobster-Scallion "Shooters". And we had 4...which meant 8 shooters! Woot! And 2 of my friends don't eat seafood so it worked out perfectly! :) The shooters are fried lobster balls in a sake glass with a lemongrass, curry-ish sauce poured over it. It was tasty! I felt like it was better 2 years ago though. But I still highly recommend everyone try this at least once!

Time for the entrees. Initially I was planning on ordering a fish, but the waiter talked me into the pork chops. haha. I'm easily persuaded when it comes to pork! :P I had the Herb Marinated Pork Chop (Smoked Cheddar White Polenta, Grilled Asparagus, Apple Cider Reduction) 12 oz. The pork chop was delicious! It had a great crust on it and was cooked really well. The polenta was nice and creamy and with the asparagus it was a very cohesive dish. I shared some of the chop with my friends and then cleaned the plate!! YUM! It was my favorite entree of the night. I made some great choices that night! :D

Wood Grilled Scottish Salmon (Chipotle-Key Lime Butter, Charred Corn-Green Chile Grits). The salmon was pretty good, but kinda generic. But I loved the chile grits and the chipotle sauce was pretty dang awesome. The portion size was pretty good too.

Port Wine Braised Beef Cheeks (Roasted Baby Carrots, Goat Cheese Whipped Potatoes, Natural Jus). This was highly recommended by the waiter as well. I think he said they braised it for over 10 hours so the meat is super tender. And he was right! The meat was super tender and juicy. YUMMY. However, I'm not a fan of goat cheese and the little bit of whipped potatos I got was just overpowering. My friend that ordered it doesn't like goat cheese either, but he said he didn't think it was that strong. So good for him I guess. haha.

Hickory Grilled Strip Loin (Oven Roasted Marble Potatoes, Aged Sherry Chimichurri). This was kind of a disappointment. When you think of steak, you think of a big piece of meat. This was tiny....haha. One guy inhaled it in just a few short minutes. I was able to get a couple bites. The flavor of the steak was really good, but it was overcooked and dry. I really liked the roasted potatoes though.

On to the desserts. They offered a Shared Sampler of Goodies, shared between 2 people. From left to right:
- Dark Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Mousse Filling, Raspberry Sauce
- Deconstructed Blueberry-Lemon Cream Pie
- Peanut Butter Mousse Cup, Peanut Butter Cookie, Marshmallow Fluff
The chocolate cake was by far the best one on there. It was rich and creamy and chocolatey. Soooo delicious! I liked the deconstructed pie, minus the lemon. The lemon sauce was a weird addition to the mix, but I really enjoyed the blueberries. Also, the scoop on top was whipped cream...could've been better if it was ice cream. Lastly, the peanut butter overload! I really liked the cookies and the fluff. But the mousse cups were wayyyy too thick. It was like eating pb out of the jar. Still delicious, but needs to be tweaked texturally.

Overall, it was a great dinner for me...I think I made all the right choices. Compared to my memories of 2 years ago, it wasn't as good...but maybe that's because I've created such a high expectation in my head? not sure... The waiter was great. He was able to give us separate checks with no mistakes and in a timely manner. Mad points for him. But to the rude lady in the front, you just lost some cookies for the restaurant!!

Still a great place to go. I definitely recommend this for RW. And I've heard the regular tasting menu is absolutely amazing!

Quality of Food:



Value (for RW):

Overall Experience:


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