Friday, October 2, 2015

Big Daddy's Ribs and BBQ

Big Daddy's Ribs and BBQ is a relatively new barbecue joint that has opened in Little Elm.  Having read a couple of reviews on the place, I felt it might be worthy of a visit.  The ribs came highly recommended, so I was anxious to try them.

I ordered the three meat combo with brisket, pulled pork, and the baby back ribs.  Be warned that there is a $4 up-charge when you order ribs with the combo.  The brisket was a huge disappointment due to the fact it was tough, too lean, and was lacking in the smoke department.  The pulled pork was much better than the brisket.  It was very moist with a nice smoky flavor and had a nice bark on several of the pieces.   Since ribs cost extra, I anticipated getting  more than two baby back ribs.  While they were very tender and had a nice rub on them, I didn't think they were special or worthy of the extra $4.
Three Meat Combo-Brisket, Pulled Pork, and Baby Back Ribs
Fries and corn casserole were ordered as my sides and both were excellent.  The fries were some of the best I have had in recent months and were fresh cut and just out of the fryer.  The corn casserole was very flavorful, moist, and top notch in my book.  Combos are also served with Texas toast and I thought it was very good as well.
Fries-These were terrific
The sides here were impressive, but even they couldn't save this mediocre barbecue.  Other people I know really like this place, but I just was not impressed.  I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here again.

Big Daddy's Ribs and BBQ
Livin the Good Life Rating=2
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RIck's Chophouse

Although I have never blogged about it before, Rick's Chophouse is my favorite steakhouse in Collin County.  With a number of high-end steakhouses in Plano and Frisco, I believe that this is high praise for this restaurant situated in the historic McKinney Square.   When looking to show off McKinney's dining options to friends from out of town, this restaurant is always towards the top of my list.  I have dined at Rick's over a dozen times and I have never had a bad experience there.  Although I prefer some menu items over others, I am still yet to try anything that I just didn't like at all.

On a recent Friday night, my wife and I chose to dine at Rick's prior to taking in a movie.  We started with the Crab Dip and we were not disappointed.  The lump crab meat, goat cheese, and Texas caviar (aka black-eyed peas) combine to make a fantastic crab dip.  The thick tortilla chips had a little too much seasoning on this visit, but they were the perfect thickness for dipping into the crab dip.  Rick's has several delicious appetizers and we are also big fans of the calamari.
Crab Dip
The menu boasts delicious steaks and other entrees.  Although I am a fan of their bone-in ribeye and their filet, the restaurant also serves ups some delicious delicious wild game items that include black pepper crusted elk and buffalo tenderloin.  My wife really enjoys some of the seafood options on the menu and she chose the Shrimp and Grits on this visit.  I sampled some of her dish and was very impressed with the flavor.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the grits held their own as well.
Shrimp and Grits
On this night, I chose the Cowboy Bone-in Ribeye.  My steak arrived with a loaded bake potato and topped with three giant onion rings.  My steak was perfectly cooked to a medium-rare and was tender, perfectly marbled, and flavorful.  The baked potato was fantastic and the onion rings had a terrific batter.  I have had this ribeye several times and I can honestly say that it is one of the best in DFW.
Cowboy Bone-in Ribeye, Baked Potato, and Onion Rings
Being a little too full for each of us to have our own desserts, we decided to split a dessert.  On previous visits, we have enjoyed the bread pudding, the Amaretto creme brûlée, and the key lime pie.  On this visit, we decided to try the Pecan Pie.  The pecan pie filling and whiskey chocolate sauce tasted great, but the crust was a little too dry for my taste.  I am not usually a fan of vanilla ice cream, but the ice cream served with this pie was the best vanilla ice cream I have ever had.  
Pecan Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream
If you are in the McKinney area and looking for a great steakhouse, then I highly suggest that your take a look at Rick's Chophouse.  The service has always been spectacular, the food is terrific, and the old building has a lot of character.  The restaurant also has a large bar area in the back where you can listen to live music and a patio where you can enjoy the sights of the McKinney Square on a beautiful day (or night).  Sunday mornings are great here as well, because Rick's offers one of the best brunch buffets in DFW.  This restaurant continues to be one of our go-to restaurants and is always a quality experience.

Rick's Chophouse
Livin the Good Life Rating=4
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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Del Frisco's Grille

Del Frisco's Grille recently opened a location at the Shops at Legacy.  I heard good things about the Dallas and Southlake locations, so I have been wanting to try the Plano location ever since it opened.  My wife and I had the opportunity to meet for lunch there one day and it just so happened to coincide with DFW Restaurant Week and their lunch special of an appetizer and entree for $20.
Cheesesteak Egg Roll
The DFW Restaurant Week lunch menu had several items to choose from and I chose to order the Cheesesteak Egg Rolls and the Grille Prime Cheeseburger.  The egg rolls were great and I liked the crispy egg roll and the flavor of the cheesesteak. I also appreciated the fact that the onions were finely chopped and didn't overpower the dish.  The cheeseburger was okay, but not earth-shattering awesome in any way.  The fries were bland, but that was easily remedied when I added some more salt to them.
Grille Prime Cheeseburger and Fries
My wife went rogue and actually ordered off the normal lunch menu instead of the Restaurant Week Menu.  She ordered the Chicken Avocado Wrap with sweet potato fries.  It was a very large wrap, so she gave me half of it and I loved the flavor of the chicken, avocado, thick-cut bacon, and the chipotle aioli.  Usually I am not a fan of wraps, but this one was huge and I actually preferred it to my burger.  Her sweet potato fries also tasted much better than my fries.
Chicken Avocado Wrap and Sweet Potato Fries
We enjoyed our meal and the service was decent enough with no real complaints except having to wait a little longer than we should for drink refills.  I really liked the laid back atmosphere of this high-end casual restaurant and plan on going back.  Their dinner menu is intriguing and I really want to try out some of the items that were not available for lunch. 

Del Frisco's Grille
Livin the Good Life Rating=3
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Saturday, September 12, 2015


DFW Restaurant Week is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  Think of it as Christmas in August for foodies.  This event is a week where participating restaurants offer a prix fixe dinner of three courses (or a two course lunch) and donate a portion of the proceeds to the North Texas Food Bank.  Over the last few years, my wife and I have made it a point to visit a restaurant or two for the benefit of charity and our bellies.  For the first night of DFW Restaurant Week, we chose to meet some friends at Abacus, which is a restaurant that I have wanted to try for quite some time.
Comanche Buffalo Potstickers
Between the four of us, we tried Comanche Buffalo Potstickers and the Cornmeal Crusted Calamari for the first course.  The potstickers were flavorful and tender, with the buffalo having a texture close to barbacoa.  The calamari was outstanding as well and I particularly liked the crunchy batter which was a nice balance to the tender texture of the calamari.  This dish was also served with thinly sliced fried green tomatoes which I also loved.
Cornmeal Crusted Calamari
The table also decided to order a side of the Lobster Scallion Shooters, which were served six to an order and were not included as part of the three-course dinner.  This dish was a fried lobster dumplings which were served in a shot glass and topped with a red curry-coconut creme.  We all agreed that this dish was incredible and even asked for a second order prior to our entrees.   The curry sauce was extremely flavorful and went well with the lobster dumplings.  
Lobster Scallion Shooter
Abacus had six different entrees available on the prix fixe menu and I went with the Beef Tenderloin, which was served with a Black Truffle Potato Puree and Brussels Sprouts.  The tenderloin itself was somewhat lacking in flavor, but the sides were both great.  I particularly enjoyed the Brussels Sprouts, which were amongst the best that I have ever had.
Beef Tenderloin
My wife ordered the 44 Farms Flat Iron Steak, which was served with Green Beans and Sweet Potato Gratin.  While not as tender as my tenderloin, her steak was better seasoned.  Both sides were good, but I was particularly intrigued and pleased by the unique flavor and texture of the sweet potato gratin.  
44 Farms Flat Iron Steak
For dessert, each couple was given a dessert trio that included a slice of Salted Caramel Tiramisu, a slice of Blackberry Upside Down Cake, and a Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart.  My wife liked the blackberry upside down cake the best and I preferred the tart, which was extremely rich and bursting with the flavor of dark chocolate.  Neither of us particularly cared for the tiramisu and we both agreed that we would have preferred a more traditional tiramisu.  
Clockwise from Top Left: Salted Caramel Tiramisu, Blackberry Upside Down Cake, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
We had a great time catching up with friends and enjoying the menu at Abacus.  I preferred the appetizers and dessert to the entrees, but none of the food was bad.  The service was more than adequate and the entire staff was friendly and welcoming.  The restaurant has a nice atmosphere that would make it a fun place to dine with friends or a great place for a romantic night with a spouse or significant other.  

Livin the Good Life Rating=3
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