Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bonefish Grill

There are not a whole lot of good seafood options in Collin County, so I was pleased to see that a new option is now available in Allen.  I have driven by the construction site of Bonefish Grill for the last few months and my family decided to dine there when it was finally open for business.  Upon arrival, we were surprised by how nice it was inside and we second guessed our decision to bring the kids.  We looked around and saw several other tables with kids of the same age, so we decided that our kids would not make too much of a disturbance.
Wagyu Beef Ginger Potstickers
I started with the Wagyu Beef Ginger Potstickers, which came with crispy onions, Thai peppers, and green onions.  The large order of potstickers also sat atop soy sauce.  There were several different flavors going on here, but they all blended well.  Despite this being a seafood restaurant, this dish was more than adequate and the dumplings were entirely filled with beef.

For my entree, I ordered the chef's special of the day, which was Fresh Grouper.  The grouper was grilled, topped with a lemon butter sauce, and served with seasonal vegetables and one side of your choice.  Potatoes Au Gratin were my side of choice and I also added a house Ceasar Salad.
Caesar Salad
The salad arrived first, but was disappointing and lacked flavor.  Instead of freshly shredded or shaved Parmesan, it came topped with grated Parmesan that looked like what people sprinkle over pizza.  The croutons were few and far between.
Grouper with Au Gratin Potatoes and Zucchini
The grouper was actually quite good and I was happy that I added the lemon butter sauce as a topping.  The fish was flaky, moist, and had a very mild flavor.  The potatoes au gratin were almost too rich, but I enjoyed each bite.  Zucchini was the seasonal vegetable of the day and it was also quite good.  

My wife ordered the Lobster Rolls with fries.  While the fries were not great, the lobster rolls were terrific.  The lobster tasted fresh, the cole slaw had good flavor, and the bread was delicious.  These were some of the best lobster rolls I have had in several months.  Unfortunately, my wife thought they were great too and only allowed me one bite.
Lobster Rolls
I was quite full after eating all this food, but I didn't let it stop me from ordering dessert.  The four of us decided to split the Berry Shortcake, which was topped with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and an ample amount of whipped cream.  This tasty dessert had so much fruit that I almost felt like I was eating healthy!  We were more than happy with our choice of this seasonal dessert.
Berry Shortcake
My family enjoyed our first visit to Bonefish Grill.  The kids gave a thumbs up to their mac n' cheese and chicken strips.  Although this casual restaurant borders on being a fine dining establishment, the staff was more than accommodating to kids and the table is covered in butcher paper which the kids can use to color.  It was busy when were were there and I anticipate it continuing to be busy as there are not many decent seafood options in this area.  We arrived around 5:30 and by the time we left an hour later, there was a long wait (approximately 40 people) for a table.  The food and service at this place will certainly bring us back.

Bonefish Grill
https://www.bonefishgrill.com
Livin the Good Life Rating=3
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hickory

Kent Rathbun is one of the most highly acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs in DFW.  Both Jasper's and Abacus have been highly acclaimed by critics and diners alike.  He recently opened up Hickory, which is a causal restaurant that he describes as a "modern Texas roadhouse."  The menu is intriguing and serves up several Texas favorites, including barbecue, burgers, chili, and tacos.  Since it opened in June, I have dined there a couple of times and had the opportunity to sample several of the items.
Hickory Waffle Fries
For appetizers, the restaurant has several options with a twist on the traditional, including chili, fried green tomatoes, charred corn bread, Hickory waffle fries, and smoked sausage fondue.  I have sampled the Hickory waffle fries and the charred corn bread.  The corn bread is delicious and served with honey butter.  The Hickory Waffle Fries are topped with Maytag blue cheese, bacon, and scallions.  If you have ever had Rathbun's Maytag blue cheese potato chips at Jasper's, then you will notice that the Hickory waffle fries are basically the fry version of this dish.  The waffle fries themselves are excellent and have a very strong blue cheese taste.  I personally liked this twist on the traditional cheese fries, but would have preferred to have a little more bacon and scallions on my order.

I was also able to sample some of his smoked meat.  On my first visit, I ordered the Meat Lovers Combo with Wagyu Brisket, Smoked Turkey, and their sausage of the day, which was Chorizo.  The brisket was smoked well, had well rendered fat, and was better than I had anticipated.  Unfortunately, a quality bark was lacking on the serving I received.  The turkey had a nice smokey flavor, but was a little too chewy for my taste.  Perhaps my favorite of the three, the sausage had a nice little kick to it and I liked the texture of the course ground sausage.
Meat Lovers Combo
As much as I liked the barbecue, I was also impressed with the 44 Farms Burger.  This burger was served with a pepper crusted bacon, scallion hollandaise sauce, and an egg which I had cooked over medium.  The overall flavor of the burger was great, the bacon was top notch, and I liked the egg cooked over medium because it wasn't quite as runny as some other burgers I have had with eggs.
44 Farms Burger
Sides are impressive here as well.  Although I have only tried the Texas Cheddar Mac & Cheese and the Backstrap Molasses Baked Beans, both were terrific.  The mac & cheese was topped with Parmesan cornbread crumbles and somewhat spicy, but not so much that it overwhelmed the cheddar taste.  The beans were my favorite of the two dishes.  They had a very sweet taste and were topped with two slices of thick cut peppered bacon.
Texas Cheddar Mac & Cheese and Backstrap Molasses Bake Beans
The Texas Sized Chocolate Cupcake is the only dessert I have tried so far, but it had an excellent chocolate flavor, was very moist, and was served with a warm chocolate topping.   The restaurant has a warm and cozy feel to it and the servers work hard to please.  I had a few questions that they couldn't answer regarding menu items, but that is expected with a new restaurant and a staff that is still learning the ropes as well.  I think Rathbun has another winner with Hickory.   I wouldn't hesitate to go back here again and I know that I will have to go back very soon because I still haven't tried the burnt end chili or ribs yet!
Texas Sized Chocolate Cupcake
Hickory
http://www.hickoryplano.com
Livin the Good Life Rating=3
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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gourdough's

Austin is very well known for the quality of cuisine that is dished out from the city's food trucks and food trailers.  One can find anything from barbecue to sushi and I have thoroughly enjoyed most of what I have sampled from food trucks in Austin.  On my last full day in Austin, some buddies and I hit up Gourdough's for a gluttonous late night snack.  Who can't pass up a donut trailer that stays open until 3 a.m.?

When we first arrived I was in awe of the large menu and the different ingredients that topped their donuts.  Between the three of us, we ordered eight total donuts.  What we didn't know is that these donuts were gargantuan and piled high with toppings.  Never one to back down from a challenge (the three of us knocked out six pounds of barbecue plus sides at Franklin Barbecue earlier in the day), we sat down to indulge ourselves in these donuts.

I tried four of the eight donuts myself and have included their names and ingredients below:

Mother Clucker-Fried Chicken Strip Pieces with Honey Butter



Son of a Peach-Peach Filling, Cinnamon, Sugar, and Cake Mix Topping



Porkey's-Canadian Bacon, Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Jelly




Flying Pig-Bacon and Maple Syrup Icing
All four donuts I tried ranged from "amazing" to "I would drive three and a half hours just to eat these for breakfast."  My favorite was the "Mother Clucker", but the "Flying Pig" was delightful as well.  After eating at Franklin Barbecue and Gourdough's in the same day, I felt like I had experienced culinary nirvana.  If you live in the Austin area and have not been to Gourdough's yet, then you should be ashamed of yourself!


Gourdough's
http://gourdoughs.com/
Livin the Good Life Rating=5
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Micklethwait Craft Meats

In my opinion, Austin is now the barbecue capital of Texas.  With all due respect to the triumvirate in Lockhart, the city of Austin now has your beat.  One of the places that I have been wanting to try the last couple of years is Micklethwait Craft Meats.  For various reasons, my schedule has not allowed it.  Luckily, this was the year that I got to try the barbecue trailer that both the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman ranked in their top five barbecue joints in Austin.  I actually dined here twice on this trip because they had several menu items that my stomach could not make room for on my first visit. 
Andouille Sausage, Pork Spare Ribs, Lemon Poppy Cole Slaw, and Jalapeno Cheese Grits
Brisket
On my first visit, I ordered the three meat plate with brisket, ribs, and their sausage of the day, which was Andouille.  The brisket (both the lean and the fatty) was very good, with a nice hint of smoke, well rendered fat, and a very nice bark.  Cut appropriately thick, the brisket melted in your mouth.  The ribs were very tender, easily pulled of the bone, and had a dry rub that was peppery with a hint of sweetness.  As for the sausage, I can't remember ever having better Andouille anywhere.  The plate came with two sides and I ordered the jalapeno cheese grits and the lemon poppy cole slaw.  Sides usually take a back burner at barbecue joints, but the grits were some of the best I have ever had and the cole slaw was unique and refreshing.
Barbacoa
On my second visit, I ordered the three meat plate again.  This time I ordered the barbacoa in lieu of the rib and the sausage of the day was red curry sausage.  The brisket was once again very good, but I actually preferred the very tender and expertly seasoned barbacoa.  The red curry sausage was just okay, especially in comparison to the excellent Andouille I had on the previous visit.  For my sides, I once again ordered the jalapeno cheese grits, but also got the beans.  The beans were commendable too, but I actually preferred the cole slaw to the beans.
Homemade Moon Pie
After reading various articles and blog posts about Micklethwait's Homemade Moon Pies, I knew I had to try on of those as well and was amazed at how good it really was compared to the store-bought versions.  This dessert was the cherry on top of a terrific meal and was about double the size of the mass-produced ones you find in your local grocery store.  The line at Micklethwait Craft Meats is considerably shorter than some of the other barbecue locations in town.  Despite the shorter line, the quality of smoked meats is top notch and comparable to other Austin barbecue joints that I have ranked highly.  Due yourself a favor and try this quaint little trailer out, because you will not be disappointed.

Micklethwait Craft Meats
http://craftmeats.com/
Livin the Good Life Rating=4
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