Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rodeo Goat

Many of my friends from the Fort Worth area have been raving about the greatness of the burgers at Rodeo Goat.  Although I rarely travel to Fort Worth these days, the restaurant has been on my radar, especially when I found out that the owners were going to open a Dallas location of the popular burger joint.  The location in Big D finally opened in mid-January and I actually dined their on the first weekend they were open.
Kitchen Area
My brother was with me on this visit to Rodeo Goat and we decided to start with the Cheese Fries No Surprise, which includes cheese, bacon, and jalapeƱos (which we asked for on the side).  They also have a Cheese Fries Surprise, which also includes brisket chili on top.  The cheese fries were awesome and were better than any I have had in the last couple of years.  
Cheese Fries No Surprise
The restaurant has a large selection of burgers and several that are not on the Fort Worth Menu.  The burger I ordered was called the Terlingua and was topped with Havarti cheese, brisket chili, onions, corn chips, and garlic-herb mayo.  I rarely get burgers topped with chili, but this burger was highly flavorful and was easily one of the top ten burgers I have had in DFW.  My brother ordered the Nanny Goat (basic burger) and gave it a big thumbs up as well.  The hand cut fries were also delicious.
Terlingua Burger
I also ordered a Pecan Fried Pie, which was another good decision. The crust was perfectly cooked, flavorful, and topped with powdered sugar.  The pecan pie filling inside was piping hot and had great flavor.  I quickly devoured this delectable treat, even though I was stuffed from the cheese fries, burger, and more fries.
Pecan Fried Pie
Did Rodeo Goat live up to the hype?  Absolutely.  I foresee many future visits to this burger joint and there are many burgers on the menu that I want to try out.  The service was very good, especially considering the fact that it was opening weekend.  I can't wait to go back to Rodeo Goat.

Rodeo Goat
Livin the Good Life Rating=8
Rodeo Goat on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


The Plano location of Smoke is finally open.  The original location has been highly acclaimed by critics and made the D Magazine list of the 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas.   The location in Dallas has been on my short list of restaurants to visit, but I decided to forgo the trip to Dallas and just wait for the much closer location to open in Plano.  Although it opened a few months later than expected, I was excited to give the restaurant a try.

The new restaurant took over the building that formerly housed a Snuffer's.  The layout, furniture, and decor has changed dramatically from the style of the former occupant (which is a good thing).  Smoke is laid out beautifully and has an open and warm feel to the restaurant.  
Smoked Sausage (pork, beef, lamb, and rabbit)
For an appetizer, my wife and I ordered the house-made smoked sausage.  Their sausage included four different varieties made from beef, pork, sausage, and rabbit.  When they arrived, I asked our waiter which sausages were made from which meats and he admitted that he did not know.  I could positively identify the pork andouille and the beef paprika from the taste, but I admit that I could not tell the difference between the lamb and the rabbit.  Of the four sausages, the beef was really good and one of the two sausages that I was unable to identify was also good.  The other two sausages didn't exactly appeal to my tastebuds.
The Big Rib
For my entree, I ordered the Big Rib.  The large beef rib, which was the size of my forearm, was perfectly smoked and had a delicious bark on it.  The fresh herb chimichurri was flavorful, but not necessary when a piece of meat is smoked to perfection (and this rib was perfect).  The hominy casserole was flavorful and made for a nice pairing with the beef rib.
Coffee Cured Brisket
My wife had the Coffee Cured Brisket and it was simply outstanding.  It had a nice smoke ring, a flavorful bark, and practically melted in your much.  This was one of the better pieces of brisket I have tried in the DFW area and I had to beg my wife for another piece.  As good as my rib was, this brisket gave me some serious entree envy.  Potato salad came with the brisket and while it had a decent flavor, I definitely preferred the hominy casserole that came with my entree.

We couldn't leave without trying at least one dessert.  My wife and I debated ordering the dark chocolate ice cream, but we finally decided on the Hummingbird Cake.  Although it had good flavor, it was a little dry and did not have icing like the Hummingbird Cake that my grandmother used to make.
Hummingbird Cake
Overall, Smoke gets a thumbs up from me.  For the most part, the food was really good.  The service was lacking at times and the waitstaff needs to better familiarize themselves with the menu, but the servers were friendly and seemed eager to please.  When we dined at Smoke, they were just doing a "soft" opening and were still trying to work some kinks out, so I can forgive the service on this visit.  Given time, I have not doubt that owner/executive chef Time Byres will have this place running smoothly.  Smoke combines barbecue and fine dining, which sets this eclectic restaurant apart from any other restaurant in the area.  I loved the uniqueness of the restaurant and I think this place will be a welcome addition to Collin County.

Livin the Good Life Rating=7
Smoke on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill

While visiting Winstar Casino, some buddies and I grabbed a bite to eat at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill.  Having never dined there before, I was surprised at the large selection of items on the menu.  With country music playing in the background, I scrutinized the menu to find something that would hit the spot.
Cheese Fries
My friend and I decided to split some cheese fries for an appetizer.  I liked this appetizer, which had plenty of cheddar, Jack, green onions, and bacon.  The plate was absolutely huge and could have easily fed 4-5 people.  One thing I liked about this dish was that the fries were spread out and every bite had plenty of cheese, bacon, and green onions.
16 oz. Chicken Fried Steak, Okra, and Black Eyed Peas
For my entree, I chose the 16 oz. chicken fried steak with black eyed peas and fried okra.  The waitress told me that it was every bit of the advertised 16 oz. and she was not kidding.  Although it was a huge chicken fried steak, the batter was almost flavorless and it was a tough piece of meat.  The black eyed peas and fried okra were pretty basic and neither really stood out in the flavor department.  The slice of corn bread that was on my plate was the one bright spot on this plate and it was very good.
In my opinion, the cheese fries were the highlight of this visit.  A buddy got the cheeseburger and he said it was "okay".  The service was more than adequate and the wait staff was very friendly.  The restaurant is also pretty pricey for the quality of food that you receive.  Having had the buffet at Winstar, I prefer it over this restaurant and will visit it before I go back to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill.

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill
Livin the Good Life Rating=2
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 11, 2015

White River Fish House

On our last full day at Big Cedar Lodge, my family and I decided to go up the road a little ways and visit Branson, Missouri.  We explored the downtown area for a while and made our way to Branson Landing.  While visiting this outdoor shopping area, we decided to grab lunch at White River Fish House.
Dining area
After our waiter took our drink orders, he also brought  us a pan of homemade corn bread.  The corn bread was pretty basic, but it hit the spot and helped tide us over while we waited for our entrees.  The butter served with the corn bread was very good and helped the flavor of the somewhat dry corn bread.
Corn Bread
Walleye is one of my favorite freshwater fish to eat, so I was  happy to see that walleye fingers were on the menu.  The walleye fingers were every bit as good as I had hoped.  The batter was fantastic and the perfectly white walleye pieces were fried to perfections.  As good as the fish was, the fries were a huge disappointment and the cole slaw was unimpressive as well.
Walleye Fingers
My wife ordered the Ozarks-style catfish, which was served with cole slaw, tartar sauce, and onion rings.  Neither of us were impressed with the catfish and it was nowhere near as good as the walleye, but her onion rings were better than expected.  The kids ordered chicken strips and the kid's hamburger, both of which were only halfway finished due to the large serving.
Ozark-Style Catfish
White River Fish House was a mixed bag for us.  Some items were very good, while others were lacking.  The service was mostly good, but on one occasion, we did have to wait quite a while for drinks to be refilled.  I also felt it was a little too pricey or the quality of food that we received.  While I loved the walleye, I probably wouldn't visit this restaurant again if I ever visit Branson again.

White River Fish House
Livin the Good Life Rating=4

White River Fish House on Urbanspoon