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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Restaurant Week 2011 @ Charlie Palmer

This past Saturday was Restaurant Week at Charlie Palmer in The Joule hotel. I thought their menu choices sounded really tasty and I've never been so it made my list this year. hehe.

Charlie Palmer @ The Joule
1530 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 261-4600

Price: $$$$+

Starting with the reservation process I've received nothing but great service. I was a little scared that I wouldn't be able to get my party of 10 in at a good time but they were totally accommodating and even gave us the private room that seats 10! :)

A few of my friends arrived early and they were seated first. I liked that they didn't make them wait for the rest of the party before being seated. We ran a few minutes late because the Valet service at the front was SUPER slow. The traffic was backed up and they couldn't get to all the cars in time. We actually arrived on time, but sat in the valet line for at least another 10 minutes or so... Walking in, the hotel is pretty awesome looking and the restaurant was very impressive with their glass wall wine displays. The hostesses were all smiles and really friendly and we were immediately shown to our room.

The private room was nice. It was brighter and more quiet than the main dining area. It was great to be able to talk to all my friends without distractions.

After making our orders, a waiter came around with a bread tray and we got to choose from 3-4 different types of breads. I liked my wheat bread. It was warm and had great texture.

We were also served an Amuse Bouche before the meal. It was a Wild Mushroom Arancini with Saffron Aioli. It's basically risotto with wild mushrooms formed into a ball and fried. It was fried perfectly. Delish!!

The great thing about dining with a bunch of friends is that I get to try all different kinds of dishes! :P

1st Course --
Cavatelli Duck Bolognese (wild mushrooms, fiore sardo). The waiter told us that the Cavatelli is made mostly with ricotta. I thought the texture was similar to gnocchi. I liked the pasta a lot. The bolognese was ok. I couldn't really tell the meat was duck since it was ground meat and it could've used a bit more spice. I feel like the sauce could've used a bit more punch.

Beef Tartare (capers, hardboiled egg, herb aioli, celery crisps). This was the best appetizer I thought. The beef tartare was fresh and had great texture. The meat was rich and velvety. The herb aioli was pretty awesome with the tartare.

Corn Salad (arugula, Van Sormon cheese, sherry-truffle vinaigrette, celery croutons). I didn't try this but my friend said it was really good. She finished it all.

2nd Course --
Chorizo Crusted Scottish Salmon (ratatouille, white beans, saffron foam, oregano). This was what I ordered. The chorizo was really the selling point for me. haha. It was interesting with the chorizo crust on top but I thought it should've had more of a crisp sear and more flavor. Typically chorizo has a ton of flavor and I didn't get it here. The salmon was cooked well, nice and tender and pink. Overall, it was good, but needed a bit more contrast in flavors.

Miso Glazed Cod (char siu pork cabbage roll, Chinese long beans). This was my other choice but my friend got it so I can sample. hehe. The cod was cooked well but flavor was just ok. The char siu pork on the other hand was pretty awesome. Great flavor and really tender. My friend thought the fish was a bit too salty but I didn't think so at all. We both agreed that it would've been good with a side of rice though! haha.

Grilled Hanger Steak (wild mushrooms, olive oil mashed potatoes, gremolata). This was agreed to be the best entree of the night. The portion wasn't that big but it tasted great. It had a great seared crust on the edges of the meat and was so tender. I loved the gremolata on top. The raw garlic really added a nice spice to the meat.

Maltagliati (oven dried tomatoes, basil, chicken liver, black pepper and truffle mascarpone). This was quite interesting. It was the biggest entree portion out of everything. Maltagliati is almost like sheets of lasagna that were cut into wide strips, almost like pappardelle the waiter explained. I think I would've preferred actual pappardelle though. The pasta texture wasn't that great. A little softer than I prefer. The fried chicken livers were pretty awesome though. I was surprised that the pieces were that large. The batter on them were so flavorful and crunchy. YUM. The dish also needed a bit more depth of flavor...a spicy element would've helped.

A friend of mine also ordered an additional side of Creamed Spinach $9~ I loved the little bowl it came in. It needed more cream though. I like creamed spinach to be thicker and it was a bit more watery than I prefered. But the flavors were light and fresh.

Dessert --
Ruben's Tarts (daily selection: Passion fruit & blueberry tart, Dark Chocolate Ganache). Their desserts were the best part of the meal in my opinion. Everything was good. The passion fruit and blueberry tart was one of my favorites of the entire night. Bursting with passion fruit flavors with the plump fresh blueberries and buttery crust. YUM-O! The chocolate tart was deep and rich. Also a great dessert.

Milk Chocolate Brulee Cotta (chocolate crystals, dried cherry cocoa nib compote). We didn't really know what to expect with this since the description was kinda hard to picture. It was a pretty small dessert and didn't look super pretty or anything. But it was delicious. Imagine a mixture of creme brulee and panacotta on top of a thin layer of chocolate wafer crisp. The milk chocolate flavor really tasted high quality and the texture of the brulee cotta was creamy and smooth. One of my favorite elements was the wafer on the bottom. It wasn't too crunchy to overpower the brulee cotta on top. It was just the right contrast in texture.

Texas Peach and Blackberry Crisp (brown butter ice cream). This was my pick for dessert. I liked it a lot. The fruits were chunky and fresh. I loved the crisp and ice cream on top, I just wish there was more of it! I devoured the whole thing!

Now I want to take some time and recognize our waiter, Shawn (sp?). He was freaking FANTASTIC!! I would say it was the BEST service I've ever received in my life!! And all my friends agree. First of all, he was super nice and friendly and easy going. None of that arrogance you often associate with fancy restaurants. He was really knowledgeable of every aspect of the restaurant and shared many fun facts and tidbits throughout the course of dinner. I also noticed that he was really aware of everything. A few times he would hear our conversation about things in the restaurant or the food and he would jump in and offer cool information regarding that topic. He also joked and chatted around with us about movies and other subjects. He took care of us with such ease. Changing the silverware after every course, refilling water, etc. without ever disrupting our conversations. I noticed that he had proper etiquette and took the orders from the ladies first. You don't even see that in nice restaurants anymore... He checked on us just enough. He was there when we needed him. There were many other little things here and there he did that were just so thoughtful. These are things where if he didn't do them, we wouldn't even think about it. But the fact that he thought about it just made the dinner THAT much better! He also came at the end of dinner with all the checks split, without us even asking! I heart him!!

I was also impressed with the overall service of the restaurant. We had several other waiters bring the food and fill the water glasses and they were all very friendly and efficient. The hostesses greeted us warmly at the beginning and end. Also, when I went to use the restroom, one waiter was obviously going the other way to do something, he just dropped what he was doing and escorted me to the restroom...instead of most people would just point. My friend said another waiter did the same thing. What great service! It just made us feel so welcome and comfortable. :)

Overall the food was good, could've been better but the entire experience was fantastic. I really have to thank Shawn for giving us a wonderful dinner experience and I hope the restaurant recognizes him for that! I think I'll give the restaurant a call and put in a good word too! This definitely makes it to the top of my list for great Restaurant Week in all my years of participating.

Quality of Food:

Service (I would give 10 if I could!):


Value (for RW):

Overall Experience:


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