Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FOOD CZAR REVIEW #53: PAPPAS BROS STEAKHOUSE

What constitutes the best? When it comes to restaurants, most people would immediately say "great food". Others would put service or atmosphere a little higher on the list. May I offer another consideration? Attitude. Treat all customers as important, regardless of their dress or financial or celebrity status. Oh sure, we all know that anyone with a black American Express card or name-droppable name may get better treatment than the average Joe, and I for one have no problem with that. My simple request: Don't forget about me or treat me as if I'm not here. I'll never forget many years ago traveling to a well-known restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, the kind where all the waiters wear tuxedos. My family was dressed in touristy clothes, myself in T-shirt and shorts. Still, we were treated like royalty. I've never forgotten that night, and I still often use it as an example that to be recognized as the best, a restaurant must always remember that every guest is important. In this regard, I'm happy to report that Pappas Bros Steakhouse treated my lovely wife the Rock Star and myself like first-class citizens, even though we were KRLD Restaurant Week guests, and that the food, service, and decor all played a part in delivering one of my most memorable meals of the year.

I've seen reports that describe Pappas Bros atmosphere as clubby and masculine, befitting a traditional steakhouse. My report is that yes, it is very much like a steakhouse, with the requisite woods and black chairs and things, but that the plum booths, yellow circular columns, white ceiling, and plants soften the look somewhat. Although the place was about half-full when we arrived, it filled up nicely as we continued to dine. Such is the power of Restaurant Week to fill such a good-size establishment on a Monday evening in the dog days of summer. (The guests may or may not have been regulars, but my lovely bride was quick to note that these people did not have the look of expense-account diners.)

When dining during Restaurant Week, I've always felt that it pays to take careful notice if the establishment offers wine pairings and that if they are fairly priced, you should take advantage. They were, and we did. We started by sharing the Central Market fourth course, a silky, sensuous lobster bisque with good-size floating chunks. I knew right away that we were in for a special night. For her next course , my bride chose the house salad, which was distinguished by a supremely tart vinagrette dressing and full rashers of bacon on top. Quite lovely, even though said bacon was a tad undercooked for my crispy-loving wife. Mine was the Caesar Salad, and while I felt anchovies might have made it even better, still the fact that premium Parmigano-Reggiano cheese sat astride the leaves of lettuce made for one superbly delicious salad. (If that wasn't PR cheese, I'll eat my hatte!) These were paired with Rocca Pinot Grigio from Italy, which added the slightest whisper of lemony sweetness. On to the main course. My baby loves beef and since she had first dibs, she declared that the char-broiled flatiron steak medium-rare would be a perfect fit for her on this night. (At the risk of sounding sexist, there is no law that says that ladies have to order fish or chicken in a steakhouse. I've checked.) Served with a rich, triple-peppercorn sauce and blue-cheese potatoes, this dish was positively swarthy in its robust appeal. (I know because she actually let me have a taste. She does that sometime.) For myself, I've found that at premier steakhouses, rare beef is the best way to go, and the dry-aged, prime New York strip was both beefy and buttery, clearly not needing an extra adornment of sauce. Sided with excellent mashed potatoes, this dish sated my taste buds quickly, an indication of its high quality. Pappas Bros paired all beef entrees with the Finca El Portilla Syrah from Argentina, a very wise choice which met the needs of both palate and price point quite well, thank you. Finally my wife finished up with a nicely tart lemon sorbet, while she inveigled me into spending $5 extra for the chocolate peanut butter cake with chocolate ganache just so she could have a bite. Garnished with real pieces of peanut brittle, this dessert was so sublime that the accompanying glass of Moscato d'Asti Sarocco was almost unnecessary.

Service was quite excellent as well, attentive as needed but not intrusive, and in no way were we made to feel like second-class citizens. Website is www.pappasbros.com, where you will note that Restaurant Week is prominently advertised, proof of the restaurant's deep commitment to hospitality for all.

In all, what can I say? Again, one of the best meals of the year, and my wife and I will definitely be back, reinforcing the idea that Restauant Week serves as a spotlighting showcase for participating establishments, not to mentioned its espoused charitable function. (I would feel remiss if I did not mention the latter, as RW raises a lot of money for worthy causes The North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home.) Discover your own Restaurant Week nirvana soon, and remember:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

2 comments:

Margie said...

I was so afraid at the beginning that you were going to say they were rude or something. I'm so glad that wasn't the case! I've heard so many good things about Pappas. Hub and I just have to go sometime.

Food Czar said...

No, Margie, it wasn't the case. I was actually referring to our trip to another well-known Dallas steakhouse during Restaurant Week several years ago. We were seated in the worst possible location and the waiter treated us quite coldly.
Needless to say, we have not been back since. On a brighter note, you and Hub really should try Pappas Bros. Side note: When a certain former restaurant reviewer for the Dallas Morning News was treated by his staff to a going-away party, where do you think they took him? Hmmm? You get three guesses, and the first two don't count!