A fork in the road

Food update time again, since it’s been at least a day since I’ve waxed poetic about something ingestible. We’ve found a few more hits, and a couple of misses, in the Great Dallas Restaurant Tour.

The latest double-thumbs-up? Blue Fish, a sushi place in North Dallas. It had been recommended by Dallas friends, so we went there with our bestie from Chicago. He and D mowed through some sushi and loved all of it. Now, I don’t eat bait myself, but I did have a yummy little roll with cooked crawfish that was pretty darn tasty. Mostly, though, I plowed through a mile-high plate of vegetable tempura, light enough that you’d think they cooked it in air and not oil. I also availed myself of a couple of their $5 martinis, which combined to almost make me willing to eat bait, lead a “how-to” Monster Dance session, discuss in Shimokita dialect the finer points of sushi-making with the chef, and agree to buy a dodo bird chicklet from a guy in Euless who says he’s been hiding the world’s last mating pair.

This weekend, we’ve had friends from Nashville in town for tomorrow night’s Lady Gaga concert. So I pulled some strings and offered to sell my firstborn to get us a table at Bob’s Chop House, a staple for Dallas meat-eaters. (That whole firstborn thing’s going to be a bit of a sticky wicket when they hear about my hysterectomy last fall. Cross that bridge when we come to it.) Bob’s deals with fancy rich people all the time, but you’d never know we didn’t fall into that category by the way they treated us, too. Super-friendly, and they even bought us a round when our table was a smidge late.

Great steaks, for sure. But they also serve these thin cooked potatoes covered with a healthy dollop of some sort of rich brown gravy. I think one of the secret  ingredients must have been magic fairy dust, because I’ve been dreaming about it for the past 26 hours. And they serve each plate with a full-length, melt-in-your-mouth cooked carrot with a sweet glaze. They could sell these things for dessert, they’re that good. Go, Bob!

Took the visitors this morning to breakfast at Brazil Cafe, which you’ll remember as one of our favorite hip-happening brunch spots. Never had a bad meal there — although today’s came close. My egg-white omelette wasn’t cooked all the way, so little dime-sized, gooey slime rounds kept plopping off of my fork. I was close to a grand hurl looking at them, so I covered them up with little bits of napkin. It looked like my plate had cut itself shaving, and pretty badly. Everyone else’s meals were good, as usual, and we a great waiter. So all in all, my slimy raw omelette was an exception, I’m sure.

Norma’s diner, in Addison, is another where you can’t go wrong with breakfast, unless you consider vast loads of plaque in your arteries a “wrong.” Good country breakfasts, funny waitresses straight from the 1970s. (They allow smoking in the daytime, but no on weekends. Thank

One of our favorite weekend breakfast places remains Benedict’s, in Addison. Still haven’t had a bad brunch there yet. We’re particularly loyal because they remain non-smoking, even though Addison defiantly continues to allow smoking in its restaurants, so they can lure in the young people who live in these huge apartment complexes and can’t seem to take a break from the cigs for the hour it takes to eat.

Some restaurants buck the trend, like Benedict’s, but most don’t, and are proud of it. It’s weird to walk into a restaurant and smell nasty cigarette smoke. It’s been years since I lived anywhere like that. Hell, they’ve even gone smoke-free in Tennessee, where as soon as you get out of Nashville proper, you quickly find mile after mile of fields full of huge burley tobacco plants. I especially resent the hubris of Outback, where the smoking section is the big square bar smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant. I mean, really?

I’ve always been cranky about about the smoke thing. But it’s possible, just possible, that I’ve gotten even crankier since the whole cancer thing. I think I’ve paid plenty for that righteous indignation, if you count each of the pieces of my body chopped away and each of the cells nuked by chemo and radiation.

But I digress… we were talking about food, glorious food! Had a lovely work lunch at Mi Cocina, although I missed out on the famous Mambo Taxi, for the picky little reason that it was the middle of the day and Children’s Medical Center frowns upon employees who can’t stand up. Their chips were really thick — tasty, but really hard to chew without putting your fillings at risk. I like places with really thin, light chips, like Chuy’s and Mena’s. Mmmmmm. It was loud and boisterous, too, which normally would make it perfect in my eyes, but made it a bit difficult for the job interview we were conducting. In a 90-minute lunch, I think I caught the words “would” and “blue” and “left” and “Fiji” and “aglet.”

I’m afraid that job candidate might avoid my phone call now, after I also inflicted an awful California Pizza Kitchen experience on her. It was late, we were en route to a meeting in Plano, and it was handy and convenient. Good reasons. Bad decisions. Unfortunately, it also was horrible. I’d have never bet you could screw up a wedge salad. You just hack off a piece of iceberg and slap it on a plate, right? But I guess you also can soak it and fail to drain it before you serve it, rendering it watery and diluting the dressing into a pale mess of tasteless goo.

(And yes, I ordered the wedge salad because of “Modern Family.” Don’t try to tell me you haven’t wanted one since that episode, because then “you a lie,” as we say in the bayou. If Skip Woosnam likes it….) I also didn’t think you could screw up spinach dip. But you apparently can make it also bland and tasteless, and top it off by serving it cold in the middle. Eww. That’s a meal out of my life that I’d like to have back.

But I also was introduced to a happy little lunch the other day at Bread Winner’s Cafe: a with half of a Caesar salad and a half-sandwich. They have a scrumptuous baked goods, too, although I somehow managed to avoid temptation that day, probably by repeatedly squeezing the little needle-stocked pincushion I carried in my pocket. The blood was a little messy, but I was able to beat back that chocolate croissant.

In a smaller happy little moment, lime-flavored popcorn entered my life last week. Who knew they made that?? (Actually, it may have been out for two years, but due to the wonders of Tivo, we no longer see any commercials, so I am a bit oblivious to major developments in the modern world like this.) I swiped a fluffy white kernel off of the desk of a colleague, planning a fast retreat that would get my thieving little self away scot-free. But I was stopped in my tracks by the lovely little limey-salty burst of deliciousness. So I had to sheepishly scuff my way back to my colleague (hi, Gina!), throw myself on her mercy and beg her to tell me what it was. So then I bought some, and as I salivate over it, it’s hiding in my pantry until our next DVD marathon. Can’t wait.

It’s spring, too, which means it’s time to tune, up the grill, hit the farmer’s markets and ethnic markets and then get to cooking on weekends! Yeehaw! Y’all come on over for a bite! (But only if you aren’t going to blog about it…)

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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