Review: Smoke. Dallas, TX.

Smoke
901 Fort Worth Avenue
Dallas, TX 75208

During a brief twitter conversation about favorite Brunnch spots, I mentioned that my go-to in Dallas is probably Smoke. A big reason for that is that I live right off I30 and the other reason is that it’s really good.

When a co-worker wanted to meet for brunch one Saturday and then asked if I’d heard of Smoke, I smiled slyly and said “I’ve heard of it.” I didn’t want any backing out because I eat there so much.

The food here is all made in house with incredibly high standards. Chef Tim Byres’ dedication to quality and never taking the easy way out is quite refreshing. The dedication definitely comes through in the food.

Dining with me on this meal was Mrs. Roadrunner and little roadrunner. We ordered 3 plates with the intent of splitting them between us (like every loving family who enjoys variety does).

The first dish up was the Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla poached  apricots, blueberries and cream. This bad boy is what is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when the conversation of brunch at Smoke comes up. Rightfully so, the pancakes are light and airy and not too overly sweet. The apricots and blueberries always add a nice amount of tartness to the dish, making it a real winner.

The brisket hash was the low point of the meal. I enjoy it, but Mrs. Roadrunner doesn’t (and let me know it repeatedly). I think it’s good, not great though. The smoked brisket sits on top of a cornbread hash and is topped with a poached egg. The cornbread hash isn’t amazing and is probably what causes this particular dish to miss.

The Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict are probably my favorite brunch item in Dallas right now. The pork is juicy and has great flavor. The poached egg and hollandaise are both spot on. It’s a simple dish, but those are always the best right? On the side are goat cheese potato cakes. You can never go wrong with frying goat cheese and potatoes.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great brunch with some Texas flair, check out the Tim Byre’s Smoke. The place is about as good as it gets.

RATING: ****

Smoke on Urbanspoon

Review: Chicken Scratch. Dallas, TX.

Chicken Scratch
2303 Pittman St
Dallas, TX 75208

I should start this review off with a clarification: the original intention of this particular night was to go to Sissy’s. Unfortunately, we were spurned at the door (nothing available til 9:00PM…. it was 5:30 on a Wednesday). We quickly regrouped and decided to head over to Chicken Scratch (Side Note: the lady at Sissy’s told us they do To-Go orders, which was oddly annoying as well).

This was my second time eating here. My first experience was similar to Scott Reitz’s. The chicken was good, but the skin crumbled off the meat with any sort of agitation. I still liked it but definitely could have used some improvement. This time the chicken (and skin) were more on point.

Chicken Scratch is set up next to its sister bar the Foundry, and the two share a courtyard. What does this mean for you fellow texan? No Air Conditioning and yes I get as annoyed by that scenario as you probably do.

The whole bird fried was a lot of chicken (as expected).Tim Byre’s process of shallow frying the chickens lends to an extra crispy exterior. It’s an old school approach, which Byres seems to take in all of his restaurants.

There’s a certain sweetness to be batter, which I enjoy, though Mrs. Roadrunner is less a fan of.

One thing that we both agree on is that the chicken tamales are amazing. Probably my favorite tamales in the metroplex. One time I saw a video of Byres stepping through the process of making them and got really excited. I was quickly thwarted by the realization of the effort it takes to make them. I’ll just get mine from Chicken Scratch for now.

 The Mac n’ Cheese was good with the seasoning on top, but ordinary past that. The biscuits I found to be extremely dry and had me gasping for water after one bite.

The fries are delicious. I’m a sucker for good ones (who isn’t), and these are a favorite. Seasoned with a sweet and salty mix, I didn’t want to stop eating them.

The tenders appeared to be good. I tried to sample one, but little roadrunner bit at my finger (you’d think we never feed the kid).

Overall, this place is a solid meal and won’t disappoint. The chicken is different from most fried chicken you’ve had (which is a good thing to me), and the tamales are worth the price of admission themselves. The courtyard is a great place for kids to run around and play while you enjoy some food and beers from next door…. though you may want to wait until it cools down a bit.

RATING: ***
Chicken Scratch on Urbanspoon
 

Review: Lucia. Dallas, TX.

Lucia
408 West 8th Street
Dallas, TX 75208

For the food-loving contingent of the greater DFW area, Lucia is legend. The story of its creation is the sort of proverbial fairytale that those of us who romanticize about owning our restaurant (I include myself in that group, even though I have no training, experience or knowledge for that matter and should know better) latch on to and tell all of our friends about. A husband and wife team? He cooks? She runs front of house? What an amazing set up!

That being said, I’m not the only one who loves this fairytale and desires to be a small part of it. Eating here can be difficult. Getting a reservation requires about a month of preparation. I actually booked mine about 2 months in advance, so going in this place had a lot to live up to.

The first thing we ordered was the obligatory salumi plate. David Uygur, the Chef/Owner/Husband, makes all the charcuterie himself. It’s known somewhat as his signature. Ours came with sorpressata, black pepper sausage, chicken liver crostini, duck pate and lardo.

While the charcuterie was good, having just had the charcuterie board at Toro Bravo a few days previously, I wasn’t blown away with it. Unfortunately that would be a microcosm the rest of the meal.

Next up were the pasta dishes.First, spaghetti with sea urchin butter was probably my favorite dish of the night. A great smooth tasting butter sauce and the flavor of the sea urchin really stood out. I could have done without the garlic bread crumbs on top, but it didn’t take too much away from the dish.

The other pasta dish was a potato gnocchi with texas tomatoes. This was very good and the tomatoes were fresh and amazing.

For entrees, we ordered druck breast with pickled cherries, lady cream peas and foie gras. Though I’m not a huge duck man, I thought this was really good. The cream peas with the foie gras were outstanding. Definitely not something you eat everyday.

The next entree (partly eaten above), was a slow roasted pork shoulder with polenta and coppolini onions. I thought the polenta was ok, but the pork was a real disappointment. The cut was full of so much gristle (an estimated 50%) that it was just not enjoyable. This dish is the main reason I would consider this meal 3 star, instead of 4. I understand that that is a slim margin for error, but with great praise comes great expectations.

Being a bit disappointed in the meal, we decided to not order dessert and instead cut our losses and enjoy a little walk in the Bishop Arts District.

Overall, I should mention that this meal was not a bad one. It was good in fact. The problem is that a meal that requires a 2 month reservation, and is praised by every notable food authority you can think of, is expected to be more than good. It’s expected to evoke sweeping emotions, to inspire you, to challenge preconcieved notions you had about food. It didn’t do any of those things for me, it was just a good meal. If the pork had been delicious, this would have been a 4 star meal in my mind, but still a disappointment of sorts.

All that being said, I am completely behind what the Uygurs are doing here. Dallas needs more restaurants with an undying dedication to quality. They seem to slave over every detail of the restaraunt from the wine list to every last ingredient. These are qualities you want in restaurants you spend your money at. Maybe if we had more, you wouldn’t have to try so hard to get a seat at Lucia.

RATING: ***
Lucia on Urbanspoon