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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dallas Restaurant Week 2013: Steve Fields' Steak & Lobster Lounge

This past Saturday was my 2nd Restaurant Week outing. It was also a celebration for my dad's 60th birthday! I chose Steve Fields' Steakhouse in Plano because it's close to home and has great food.

Steve Fields' Steak & Lobster Lounge
5013 West Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 596-7100
Price (for RW): $$$$

Steve Fields' was one of my first ever RW experiences almost 10 years ago! I can't believe it's been a decade I've been participating in Restaurant Week. Definitely have had some great food over the years! hehe. I remember that Steve Fields' was very good. The portions were big, quality was top notch, and service was great. I hoped that 10 years later, it would still be the same!

We arrived for our reservation at 6:30PM. Most of the restaurant is already packed with people. We were seated in a smaller side room (which happened to be the room I was in 10 years ago!) haha. And it's a pretty big restaurant, so business is going strong! And considering that it's been around for almost half my life. It's definitely an establishment in West Plano.

We were greeted by our waitress who was super nice. She took our drink orders and gave us a rundown on the menu.

I had 3 Central Market 4th Course certificates so I went ahead and gave them to her at the beginning. For those of you new to RW, some restaurants offer a 4th course that you can either pay for or get for free with a Central Market Certificate. To get a certificate, you have to spend $25 at Central Market. But make sure the restaurant you are going to actually offers that before you go spending lots of $$ at Central Market! haha.
Each certificate got us Two U-12 Wild Caught Jumbo Shrimp (topped with spicy cocktail and remoulade sauce). 
The shrimp were indeed jumbo!! Cooked perfectly with 2 different kinds of sauces. Both were good but I tend to prefer remoulad in general. My sister and bf loved the cocktail sauce. It was a nice intro into the meal.

We also got some Bread (rosemary foccacia??, with whipped butter and spicy oil) during our shrimp course. 
Holy crap! They basically gave us an entire loaf of bread! haha. The bread was warm and soft in the middle, nice crust on the outside. The spicy oil had a nice kick to it without being overwhelming. Yummy. But I tried not to eat too much since it's only the beginning!

1st Course
Steve's Caesar Salad (romaine lettuce, croutons, Caesar dressing, anchovies). 
My sister's bf got this. It was fresh and had actual anchovies on it, which makes me think that they made the Caesar dressing from scratch. Traditional Caesar dressing is not the same as the stuff out of a bottle.

Baby Spinach Salad (topped with toasted pecans, tangerines, onions, blue cheese crumbles, hot bacon dressing). 
My mom got this. I liked it a lot. The spinach was fresh and tender. The bacon dressing added a lot of flavor but got a bit greasy towards the bottom. But all the different elements worked together really well.

Blue Crab & Roasted Corn Chowder (velvety stew of sweet crab, roasted corn and cream). 
The rest of the table got this, which came highly recommended. I love chowder! This was definitely velvety and creamy. Very rich and luxurious. The small cup was plenty enough. I wish there was a bit more crab in it, but it was very good overall. Definitely filled me up a little.

Next are the Entrees, which were all served with roasted garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes and seasoned grilled asparagus.
"Center Cut" Filet Mignon (6 oz. Filet Mignon seasoned and broiled to perfection). 
2 people ordered this. My mom's turned out to be more rare than med rare which she was a little afraid to eat. But the rest of us thought it was perfect. It was super tender. The crust was nicely seasoned and seared. Very good steak. We all thought she lucked out that it was more rare. hahaha.

Pan Seared Sea Bass (fish filet topped with crab meat and bearnaise sauce). 
I opted for the fish since no one else was getting seafood. The fish had a nice seared crust on it and had good flavor even without the bearnaise sauce. But the sauce and crab on top were a nice touch. It was slightly greasy towards the end though. The mashed potatos and asparagus were pretty standard. The asparagus still held some of its crispness which I liked. It was a good dish, but definitely the weakest choice of the bunch.

Roasted Prime Rib of Beef (hand carved and served with Au jus and creamy horseradish sauce). 
I wanted to get this but since half the party was gonna order it, I changed mine to the fish. The prime rib was delicious. Super tender with just the right amount of fat (in my opinion). It had great flavor on its own. I rarely use the au jus or horseradish on prime rib. It is my favorite cut of steak and my first choice at any steakhouse. Steve Fields' did not disappoint.

It was a lot of food, but pretty much everyone cleaned their plates.

Then it's time for Dessert!
Carrot Cake (topped with candied pecans). 
Half the group got this including my dad. I had told the waitress at the beginning of the meal that it was his birthday and if they could put a candle on his cake for him. They did... and they even gave him a Happy Birthday card! He was surprised and very happy. :)
The carrot cake was a good sized piece. And normally I don't like carrot cakes because I don't like carrots (and sometimes they have shredded coconut, which I don't like either. haha). This one had BOTH, but I didn't mind either of them. The cake was moist and it had just enough cream cheese frosting in the middle and on top. The frosting and candied pecans paired really well with the cake.

Key Lime Pie (with graham cracker crust). 
The rest of us got this, including me. It was SUPER tart. We all made a pucker face as we ate it. haha. Even my mom, who likes sour things said it was a bit too much. I did like the raspberry sauce on the bottom and the graham cracker crust though. The pie consistency was also very good. I guess we just got a batch of super sour limes! XP

Aside from the puckering pie, haha, we had a great meal. My dad really enjoyed his birthday celebration. Everyone loved the food. Our waitress was great, very attentive without being overbearing. The courses were all served at a timely manner. Success!! :D

By the middle of our meal, the entire restaurant had filled up too. And when we left, there were a bunch of people waiting for tables in the lobby. Wow... business sure is good! And I'm happy to see that. I think Steve Fields' will be around for a really long time. :)

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sprinkles Ice Cream - Opening Night

This past Friday was the grand opening of Sprinkles Ice Cream shop. A few weeks ago we also got the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM! They are both located next to the original Sprinkles Cupcakes shop on Northwest Hwy and Preston.

Sprinkles Ice Cream
8413 Preston Center Plaza Drive
Dallas, Texas 75225
(214) 363-4050
Price: $

Now... I've never been a fan of Sprinkles cupcakes. And I don't understand the hype. AT ALL. I've had way better cupcakes in multiple shops and cities and states and at a cheaper price too. All I can say is that they have a killer marketing team and that impresses me. How else have they built such a successful empire on cupcakes that are just ok?

Anyways, ever since I saw a video of the ATM in action, I've always wanted to check it out for myself. However, after seeing the lines plus the frequent shortages, I've lost my interest there. I'll get it at some point. No biggie..

But I was super excited about the ice cream shop opening. I love ice cream and from the pictures and videos I've seen of the ice cream shop in Cali, I couldn't wait to try it. It's hard to disappoint me with ice cream. haha. PLUS... they have a red velvet waffle cone! Yes, you heard me right! I love me some waffle cone and add in red velvet?? NOM!

I went with a group of friends after we had RW at Nonna. It was about 10:45pm at that point and I knew Sprinkles was open til midnight. I also knew there was going to be a line. There's ALWAYS a line at anything Sprinkles, and this is opening night... Sure enough, as I drove into the parking lot I saw a ton of people. There was a line for the ATM AND ice cream shop! haha. Sigh.. I almost stayed in my car and drove away. But since I'm with some friends we decided to get in line. Luckily it was a very pleasant night, weather wise.

The line moved fairly fast. They had people handing out menu and flavor cards to people in line so we can make our decisions earlier. I think we waited about half an hour or so before we made it to the counter. The shop was nice and bright, consistent with their overall theme. I loved the display of cones and cupcakes at the counter. Looked delicious! They definitely overstaffed the place to prep for the rush. I'd say they were very efficient (for the most part). And all the staff were extremely energetic and friendly.

I wanted to try so many things but it was pretty late so I just got a Single Scoop Ice Cream (Vanilla Bean - sweet cream infused with pure nielsen-massey madagascar bourbon vanilla and sprinkled with flecks) $3.75~ Of course I had to get the Waffle Cone (red velvet or vanilla) $1~ RED VELVET! 
The cone was very thin and crispy, different than regular waffle cones I'm used to. It's slightly sweeter too since it's red velvet. I thought it was pretty good. The vanilla bean ice cream was rich and creamy. Nothing overly special about it but it was good. A little pricey for a single scoop, but at least the size was decent. A couple other friends also got red velvet waffle cones with single scoop. I got to try the Dark Chocolate ice cream and Mint Chocolate Chip as well. Both were good but very rich.

One friend got a Kid's Scoop (cup or mini cone) $2~ Blood Orange Sherbert (dairy-free citrus sorbet flavored by intense and zesty blood oranges). 
This was just sad.. how small it is. I guess in kids' hands it looks normal. haha. But the scoop of ice cream looked like it was made with a melon baller. XP However, the blood orange sorbet was killer. Really bold flavor and refreshing. I'd recommend that.

One friend loves ice cream probably even more than me! He got 4 Scoops of Ice cream $3.75~ Each additional scoop +$2.50~ 
The flavor on top was Rocky Road (dense dark chocolate ice cream loaded with crunchy toasted almonds, homemade marshmallow cream and housemade chips made from bittersweet tcho chocolate). So it was the only flavor I really tried. Really good Rocky Road! But this was an $11.25 ice cream cup!! OMG!! I don't think I'd ever pay this price just for a few scoops of ice cream. I can buy 2-3 cartons at the supermarket with this money!

Since we waited in line and all I decided to get some Cookies $3~ each. Peanut Butter Pretzel Chip.
Pretty hefty cookie. I loved the sweet and savory blend and the extra crunch from the pretzel pieces in the cookie. I also wanted the Oatmeal Cornflake cookie but they were kind of overwhelmed and gave me Chocolate Chip instead. Boooo... I waited over 10 minutes to get these cookies too. Cuz they had forgotten about me after I paid. But the chocolate chip was good. Although having either cookie again after 24 hours wasn't as good. I guess they don't last... just need to eat them when you get them.

My bf asked me later if it was worth it. I said yes and no. haha. Yes, because there's always going to be a line so at least I moved through it pretty quickly and got to try the things I wanted. No, because the sweets weren't spectacular. I'd pick the ice cream shop over the cupcakes any day. But I can also go elsewhere with cheaper and better stuff too. The prices were just ridiculous. For example, their milkshakes and cookie sandwiches are almost $9!!! OMG. Until the line disappears I doubt I'd be back any time soon. But seeing how the original cupcake store still always has a line.. that's probably not going to happen ever. haha.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dallas Restaurant Week 2013: Nonna

Week 1 of Dallas Restaurant Week is over... I went to Nonna last Friday with some friends for their last day of participation. I had never been there before, but it came highly recommended so I added it to my list of RW restaurants this year. 

**Just some brief info on Restaurant Week for those who don't know.. Restaurants across Dallas participate every August and this spans from 1 week to some places that do it for 3 weeks. It is $35 a person for a 3 course meal. Although this year a lot of the restaurants upped their prices to $45 a person (not including tax and tip). And 20% of each check goes to the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas and Lena Pope Home in Ft. Worth. It's my favorite "charity" event!! :D

4115 Lomo Alto Dr.
Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 521-1800
Price (for RW): $35 a person

The restaurant is pretty small. It's quite unassuming on the outside. Inside was rustic with a hint of modern. Dark mood lighting, seems like a good romantic spot. A little too dark for my preference though.

Most of us arrived on time for our 8:30PM reservation. There were people at our table so we had to stand around and wait for a little bit. The bar area was pretty small so we couldn't really all fit. We had a party of 8, and they only had 1 large table to accommodate. The table was located by the bar and right by the front door. Luckily the weather was really nice Friday night so the opening and closing of the door didn't bother us at all. I'm thinking in the winter, it'll be freezing to sit in that area...

The hostess was pretty friendly. We were seated immediately after the other party had left. We also got menus and waters very quickly.We were all chattering about what we're going to get so I didn't really pay attention to what's going on around me. But so far, I'm excited about the dinner and things are going well!

We were given some Olives for the table. 
And after our orders were taken we also got some Bread
The bread was yummy. It was like warm fluffy pita bread. Slightly brushed with oil (I think) and topped with some (sea?) salt. I loveeed the texture of the bread. But we all wanted something to spread or dip it into. Like hummus or tapenade or something would be cool. They kept refilling the bread btw.. we didn't really even have to ask! It might get deadly! hahaha :P

I believe the entire restaurant had the RW menu. The regular menu wasn't available for this week.

First Course
Sformatino (of Italian creamed corn with smoked prosciutto and frico). 
A few of us got this, including me. The creamed corn sold me on it. I wasn't super sure what a Sformatino was but oh well. Always up for trying something new. It was very interesting! In a good way. hehe. The best way I can describe it is like a corn mousse. And trust me, it tastes better than it sounds. haha. The corn mousse patty thing was seared on top (you can't see it under the frico), which I really liked. The frico was a tad salty but was nice against the light/fluffy and slightly sweet corn. The prosciutto added a level of smokiness to the dish. And then a genius idea!! I spread everything on the bread they gave us. Perfect!!! :P

Prosciutto Tasting (Americano and Italian speck with Texas fruits). A meat and fruit plate. I tried a piece of the speck by itself... very salty... My friend said the dish was good enough. haha.

Grilled Heart of Romaine (with roasted pancetta, avocado and parmigiano). Everyone else got this. The romaine had a nice char and smokiness to it. It's always good to have pancetta! Pretty good dish.

Second Course
Lasagnette (with ricotta stuffed squash blossoms and tomato sauce). 
This was my choice... mostly because of the squash blossoms. You don't see that on the menus very often. It was a very flat lasagna, hence the "nette" in the name I guess. haha. But I liked the charred/crisp edges on the pasta. The squash blossoms were stuffed full with ricotta and I really liked that. But it's definitely missing meat. If they had put some meat sauce in there, it would've been a great entree. I liked it enough though.

Pappardelle (al ragu Bolognese). This was the better pasta and my friends agreed. The pasta was freshly made, and quite delicate. The bolognese had the right amount of meat and flavor. It was delicious.

Wood Oven Roasted Halibut (with tomato, olives, capers and heirloom sweet peppers).
This was supposed to be a red snapper but they ran out or something and switched to halibut. It was a very small dish to be an entree... There was the fish and then nothing else really. The fish had a nice sear and was very tender. I thought it was pretty good. My friend thought it was just alright.
Porchetta (with Anson Mills polenta and cannellini beans). 
Porchetta is like boneless roast pork. It reminds me of pork belly with the layers of fat in it. It looked awesome. The meat was tender and, yes, fatty!!! The best kind! haha. The meat itself was a little salty, but I liked it paired with the polenta and beans a lot.

White Pizza (of littlneck clams, sweet onion, panna and fresh herbs). 
This sounded totally interesting. Clams on pizza? I haven't had that before... It was a pretty big pizza too. The crust was awesome... very similar to the bread we got. It had a hint of sweetness, not sure if it's from the onions or clams. But I didn't get any clams on the bite I got. I actually didn't really see any clams on the pizza either.. I guess it was all under the cheese. My friend said it was ok.

Praline Nougatine Semifreddo (with pistachios and Acacia honey). 
This was one of my choices but I ended up not getting it since I could try other people's. hehe. It was the biggest dessert out of the bunch. But it was super light. Semifreddo basically means half frozen. It reminded me of frozen whipped cream. So it was super light but still creamy. I loved the pistacios inside it. And normally not a fan of honey... this honey was a perfect pairing on top. Best dessert of the night.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
This is what I got. I thought it was very cute. The cake reminded me of the whiskey cake at Whiskey Cake in Plano. But it wasn't as good as WC. The parts with the caramel drizzle on top was yummy but the parts that didn't seemed less moist. I liked the whipped cream pairing.

Carrot Cake. Basically a carrot cake cupcake. Not bad. I liked the frosting a lot. Not as heavy as normal cream cheese frostings on cupcakes.

Fig and Raspberry Crostata. They messed up my friend's order and had to make him a new crostata. So he sat around watching us eat our dessert and then we watched him eat his. hahaha. I didn't get to try it. Looked like a pretty basic free form tart/pie.

It was a pretty good dinner. I enjoyed everything I tried but I wasn't blown away or anything... Everything seemed good quality and fresh overall. But would I go back and pay full price? For the portion... I doubt it. Our waiter was good. He was very efficient. He didn't interrupt us at all but got everything out quickly and had no issues with anything (including splitting the check). The water glasses were always refilled without asking.

Good start to my RW this year. I'm looking forward to my next location this coming Saturday!

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Dallas Restaurant Week 2013!!

It's Restaurant Week everyone!! 
We're actually almost a full week into it now. But mine starts tonight!!

Gonna go check out Nonna tonight for my first destination.

Next Saturday is my dad's 60th birthday at Steve Fields Steak & Lobster Lounge in Plano. And the Saturday after that is another big group at the Dallas Chop House!! :)

Super excited!
Where's everyone going this year? Have you had any spectacular experiences already this week??


Marquee Grill's Last Weekend...

I recently found out that Marquee Grill in Highland Park Village was closing its doors and changing to something else. I still had a giftcard for them to use so I wanted to make sure I got in there before they officially shut their doors. :(

Marquee Grill
32 Highland Park Village
Dallas, TX 75205
(214) 522-6035
Price: $$$+

Marquee Grill used to have Chef Tre Wilcox as the executive chef. Tre was one of my favorite contestants in Top Chef Season 3. But he left and they brought in Chef Andre Natera. I've been to the restaurant twice while Chef Tre was in charge, so I've never had the food since the new chef and menu revamp happened.

I made a reservation for Saturday night on the last weekend they were open. The place was packed! I wondered if it was due to their last weekend or business was usually like this... Which then begs the question why they'd be closing if business is booming? We had a party of 7 so we had a large round table on the first floor right in front of the kitchen. It was cool watching the cooks cook and plate and expedite.

The waiter came by for drink orders. One of my friends wanted to drink so I told her I'd order a cocktail as well. My friend had this last time we were there and I liked it. So I got it this time. Scarf Dancer (Aylesbury Duck vodka, black currants, lemon juice, St. Germain) $11~ Pricey cocktail, but it's good. And the colors are beautiful.

We took a long time to decided on drink orders so I feel like our waiter decided to not waste time with us and disappeared. It took a long time for him to come back and finally take our food orders. :( Luckily we got some bread at the table. It was pretty good. Had sun-dried tomatoes in it I think.

Asparagus Risotto (crispy artichokes, morel mushrooms, parmesan) $14~ 
I knew I wanted dessert so I opted for an appetizer and side dish for my entree. This was really good. I think the portion size was perfect for a risotto since they can be quite heavy. I loved the bright green color. It was creamy and luxurious and wasn't too too heavy. I liked all the veggies in there, but I did not get any mushrooms... Oh well.

Sticky Fried Brussels Sprouts with Spanish Chorizo $9~ 
I knew I was getting this as soon as I saw it. Love me some Brussels sprouts!! This was amazing. I don't know how restaurants get this perfect char on their brussels sprouts but they did it perfectly here. Super flavorful, I can eat this dish forever! Plus it paired super well with my risotto!

Baby Iceberg Wedge (bacon, cheddar blue cheese, tomato jam) $9~ 
My friend wanted a salad but didn't want the whole thing so I told her I'd share one with her. The kitchen split it for us. :) So the portion you see here is just half. It was fresh. I loved the big piece of bacon on top. And the tomato jam was killer. Kinda sweet, it went very well with the rest of the salad.

Supreme Breast of Chicken (grilled asparagus, bacon barley risotto, smoked tomato sauce) $21~ One friend ordered this. Looked pretty good. The flavors were good as well. I tried a bite of the barley risotto and it was nice.

Porcini Crusted Duck Breast (citrus glaze, roasted mushrooms and sunchokes) $29~ 
My bf and another friend ordered this. Winning dish of the night BY FAR! Even though everything was fantastic. So you can imagine how great the duck was! It was presented beautifully. I loved the color on the plate and the duck specifically. Cooked to perfection. It was super tender. The mushrooms and sunchokes were awesome accompaniment. The flavors were so cohesive and just delicious. It definitely had an Asian flavor profile but it's not like getting duck at a Chinese restaurant. The only complaint is maybe the skin could've been crisper but it's such a minor detail at this point. This is definitely the best preparation of duck I've had at an American restaurant.

8oz Flat Iron with Garlic Parmesan Fries $23~ So much fries! They were delicious too! haha. My friend said the steak was good. But seriously, nothing topped the duck. haha. I think another friend got the flat iron but with honey glazed vegetables instead of fries. 

14oz Niman Ranch Prime New York Strip $38~ Also looked pretty awesome. It was cooked well.

Mascarpone Fine Grits $9~ One friend got this as a side. It was eh. It had very light flavor. It needed something else in it. It's weird to eat grits on its own. haha.

Honey Glazed Vegetables (turnips, parsnips and carrots) $8~ Yummy. The veggies were cooked well, still had great texture. It was savory from being roasted but also sweet from the honey. A good side to pair with all the dishes we had. Doesn't top the brussels sprouts though! haha

So it's time for dessert. And one of the main reasons I wanted to come here... I'm not sure how many of you have heard of the Cronut. But there's a cronut craze right now in America. It started in New York and people line up hours ahead in the mornings at this bakery to get it. It's basically a hybrid of croissant and donut. Doesn't that sound awesome?? haha. I've been obsessed about it ever since I heard about it!! :P So I read an article of places you can find something similar in Dallas and Marquee Grill was on there. They called it the Croissant Donut (dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with spiced Mexican chocolate) $10~ 
I believe the creator of cronut already has that name trademarked. But this is slightly different than the original version since it doesn't have cream injected into it. I totally expected to just get one piece so I was happily surprised to see 3 on a plate. They looked and smelled amazing! I loved it. Layers and layers of crisp and buttery goodness, covered in cinnamon sugar. I liked peeling the layers off. haha. And the chocolate sauce was fantastic. Rich and decadent. I really enjoyed the dessert, and now I really can't wait to try the real thing in NYC!! :P

It was a FANTASTIC dinner. The only kink was our waiter disappearing on us through out the night. Although the other waiter staff were great. It was one of the best meal I've had in a while. I'm really questioning why they are closing now! haha. I'm sad to see Marquee Grill go. But the word is that they are opening 2 restaurants and a bar inside this space. Village Kitchen and Toko V (an Asian seafood/sushi place) is said to open sometime soon this month. It's still headed up by Chef Andre Natera, so I think it's definitely worth a visit once it opens. :)

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