Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Between work and trips out of town, my wife and I didn't have time to celebrate our anniversary in July.  After checking our calendars and securing babysitting, we did finally have a belated anniversary dinner at John Tesar's new steakhouse, Knife.  Knife opened in May and has been receiving a lot of press lately.  You may or may not be following the feud between the very talented and sometimes controversial chef, Tesar, and food critic, Leslie Brenner.  Having sampled some of the restaurant's goods at a media event I attended, I was quite anxious to have dinner at Knife.  
Knife's Dry Aging Room
Soon after we arrived and ordered drinks, a relish tray arrived with a variety of fresh vegetables, beef jerky, and Green Goddess dressing.  Never being people to shun bacon, my wife and I started with the bacon tasting.  The bacon tasting consisted of five varieties of bacon served on a wooden board.   I enjoyed this unique experience and would have to say that the applewood smoked bacon was my favorite, but my wife preferred the Benton's bacon. We also enjoyed the cherry cured bacon and the bacon jam.
Bacon Tasting
As great as the bacon and relish tray was, I was here for the beef. There are so many cuts of beef available it was hard to choose which steak I wanted to try on my first visit to Knife.  After being somewhat indecisive,  I finally ordered the 44 Farms long bone ribeye (medium rare).  My bone-in ribeye was cooked to perfection, was extremely flavorful,  and very tender.  I shared some of this large steak with my wife and she loved it as well.  It was unquestionably one of the best steaks I have had in DFW.
44 Farms Long Bone Ribeye
My wife elected to order one of the "new school" steaks on the menu.  Not knowing a great deal about these steaks, she chose the chuck flap (medium rare).  When cooked, this steak is similar in appearance to a filet or a thick-cut sirloin.  My wife only took a couple of bites of this steak because she thought it had an awful flavor.  I took a couple of bites as well and found it almost inedible.  I am not sure if the cut of steak did not agree with our palate or if we just received a bad piece of meat.  As perfect as my ribeye was, the chuck flap was beyond disappointing.
Chuck Flap
For sides, we chose the onion rings and the avocado fries.  Both of these arrived several minutes after our steaks arrived, which was not ideal.  The tempura fried onion rings and the avocado fries both had a light batter that was very crispy and tasty.  I really liked the unique taste of the fried avocado, but I would have preferred them in smaller  slices.  A flavorful remoulade was served with the avocado fries and I thought it was a perfect complement to this dish.
Avocado Fries
Onion Rings
I will admit that I was more than stuffed after an appetizer, steak, and two sides, but I couldn't leave Knife without having dessert.  While at the media preview event, I sampled the dark chocolate dessert and fell in love with it.  Although several desserts sounded great, I felt compelled to get this dessert again.  This particular dessert is a flour-less chocolate cake with blonde, milk, and dark chocolate.  You also get to choose a flavor of ice cream to go with it and I chose the dark chocolate.  The dessert was just as amazing as I remembered and I savored every bite. 
Dark Chocolate
My first official trip to Knife was mostly a good experience.  All of the food was great, with the exception of the chuck flap.  Our waitress was very attentive and was very informative when we asked questions regarding the menu, but I wished that we would have received our sides at the same time as we received our steaks.  The dining room is very appealing to the eye, but the chair I had could have used a little higher back to make it more comfortable for men that are 6'5" like myself.  The tables at knife are large and perfect for sharing large plates with your dining partners, but their length makes it hard to carry on conversations.  Despite a few minor glitches on this visit, I think Knife is a very nice addition to the Dallas steakhouse scene and it's menu is unlike any other steakhouse in DFW.  I believe that Tesar has another winner in Knife!

Livin the Good Life Rating=7
Knife on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Harry's at the Harbor

Adriatica Village is one of the most scenic areas in McKinney, Texas.  The area is still developing and construction is everywhere, but it is easy to see that this area will be a local gem once it is finished.  The area has homes, apartments, businesses, and restaurants.  My family and I visited one of these restaurants, Harry's at the Harbor, during a recent visit to the area.

Harry's is a pub-style restaurant that is located adjacent to the parking garage at Adriatica Village.  Since we arrived for an early dinner, we were seated immediately and ordered an appetizer of potato skins.  You can choose between a topping of grilled chicken or fajita beef.  We chose the grilled chicken, which was also topped with chili, cheddar cheese, and Jack cheese.  All four of us enjoyed the potato skins and they were quickly devoured.
Potato Skins with Grilled Chicken, Chili, and Cheese
For my main course, I ordered the chicken fried steak.  The chicken fried steak itself had a very crispy batter and good flavor, but it was a very tough piece of meat and it didn't include enough gravy for my taste.  The sides were mashed potatoes and red beans.  Neither of the sides impressed me on this visit and both were very bland.
Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Red Beans
My wife ordered the bacon egg burger and fries.  Usually she is a big fan of fried eggs on a burger, but she was unimpressed with this particular burger and the fries.  She allowed me to try a bite of her burger and I had to agree with her that it was a rather insipid burger.  Harry's does have a kid's menu and both of my kids ate the hamburger sliders without complaint.
Bacon Egg Burger
We definitely enjoyed our appetizer at Harry's on the Harbor, but the entrees were a letdown.  The portions were more than adequate and the service was good, but the food failed to impress.  I think the location of the restaurant will provide plenty of business and it provides for a terrific view if you decide to walk off some calories following a meal.
Scenic View at Adriatica Village
Harry's at the Harbor
Livin the Good Life Rating=3
Harry's at the Harbor on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes

Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes has been on my foodie wish list for a couple of years now.  A couple of my friends highly recommended this steakhouse that is located in Decatur, Texas.  This restaurant is owned by the same family that owns the Babe's restaurants scattered across the Metroplex.  Since Babe's is one of my favorite places to eat some "home cooking," I was excited to try a steakhouse in the same family of restaurants.
Dining area of Sweetie Pie's and one of my little sweetie pies
Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes is located on the square in downtown Decatur.   Parking in front of the restaurant can be hard to find, but we were able to find ample parking behind the building.  Our waitress took very good care of us from the moment my family arrived at the restaurant and was extremely attentive throughout our visit.   While we perused the menu, she brought our drink orders and a big basket of  some fantastic hot rolls.
House Made Hot Rolls
Several items on the menu looked appealing, but I was here to eat steak.  I ordered the 8 oz. thick cut ribeye, cooked medium rare, with fresh cut fries and mac n' cheese.  My steak arrived cooked to order  and was as good as advertised.  Even though it was a small cut, the steak had excellent marbling and was very tender.  The fries were also fantastic and I wished I would have ordered double fries rather than the mac n' cheese, which was a little runny for my taste.
Ribeye, Fries, and Mac n' Cheese
My wife had the chicken fried ribeye with a lunch salad and mac n' cheese.  She ordered her lunch salad with bacon vinaigrette dressing.  I tried some of her salad and I absolutely loved the dressing.  Although I was unable to try her chicken fried ribeye, she assured me that it was very good.  She also liked the mac n' cheese much more than I did.  Both kids had the chicken strips from the kids menu.  Since they both had clean plates and faces covered in ketchup, I can only assume they enjoyed them.
Chicken Fried Steak, Mac n' Cheese, and Gravy
I couldn't leave this place without trying a dessert of some sort.  On this occassion, I decided to order the apricot fried pie and forgo the vey tempting pecan pie.  The apricot fried pie had one of the best crusts I have ever had on a fried pie.  It was very sweet, yet perfectly flacky.  The apricot filling was commendable as well.
Apricot Fried Pie
My family thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes.  The restaurant is very causal for a steakhouse and very kid friendly.  Our waitress was spectacular and even did magic tricks for my daughters.  The food was excellent and a great value.  Next time I am passing through Decatur, I will be stopping for another meal at this local jewel.
Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes
Livin the Good Life Rating=7

Sweetie Pies Ribeye's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pizzeria Testa

Neapolitian pizza restaurants seem to be trending in the DFW area.  It has become a pretty common occurrence to see a new Neapolitan pizza restaurant opening somewhere in the Metroplex.  Pizzeria Testa opened up last year in Frisco and has been getting some very good press lately.   Although the restaurant has been open for over a year, I had not tried it until just a couple of weeks ago when I met my wife there for lunch.
Lunch Salad
Pizzeria Testa has lunch specials where you can get a salad and a personal pizza for under $10.  My wife ordered the special and got a Margherita pizza with a house salad.  The personal pizza was larger than what she anticipated, so she gave me a slice as well.  We both liked the taste of the Margherita pizza and she enjoyed the salad as well.
Margherita Pizza
For my meal, I decided to forgo the lunch special because I wanted to try a pizza that was not an option on the specials.  I ordered the Affumicata pizza, which  had smoked Mozzarella and Speck.  Smoked cheeses are an Achilles heal for me and this pizza lived up to my expectations.  The Mozzarella had a great smoky flavor and the large pieces of Speck covered each slice.   This pizza was absolutely perfect and tasted just as I had hoped.
Affumicata Pizza (Smoked Mozzarella and Speck)
Even after eating an entire pizza by myself, I still wanted dessert.  My wife and I ordered the Tiramisu and loved every bite.  This classic item is one of our favorite desserts to order at Italian or pizza joints, but the Tiramisu at Pizzeria Testa is simply outstanding.  It had a perfect texture, outstanding flavor, and looked as good as it tasted.  I can't think of any Tiramisu that was better than what we had at Pizzeria Testa
I feel that Pizzeria Testa deserves the praise that it has received.  Their pizza ovens combined with fresh ingredients really turn out some excellent Neapolitan pizza.  The service was commendable on this visit and the dining room was very comfortable.  This restaurant would be a great place to go on a romantic date or a fun place to dine with a group of friends.

Pizzeria Testa
Livin the Good Life Rating=7
Pizzeria Testa on Urbanspoon