The Blame Game

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Posted August 23, 2006 by Chow, Baby in Eats

One might think, given how picky Chow, Baby can be, that it requests kitchen do-overs all the time. But no, not so much. A consequence of eating at so many funny-smelling restaurants is that Chow, Baby often winds up with a plate full of what looks like dead alien babies suspended in gelatin. Is that the kitchen’s fault? Should a struggling restaurant bear the cost of Chow, Baby’s xeno-ignorance?


No, of course not. Chow, Baby sends back a dish only when the blunder was clearly the kitchen’s and can’t be easily scraped off. Onions on a BLT? Pick them off. Onions on a patty melt? If – and only if – Chow, Baby specifically requested no onions, the sandwich goes back (and the same one better not return with fingernail divots in the cheese). That’s Chow, Baby’s do-over policy in a nutshell: If it’s the restaurant’s mistake, they eat it; if it’s Chow, Baby’s mistake, the beloved eats it.

But sometimes it’s hard to tell where the fault lies. Hence Chow, Baby’s obsessively recurring thoughts the other night at Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse (3305 E. Hwy. 114, Southlake) as it stared at its prime New York strip: “Is it them or is it me? Is it them or is it me?” For $38 Chow, Baby wants to say “Wow!” with every bite, not “What an amazing lack of juice and flavor!” Was this cause for a do-over? The voices in Chow, Baby’s head debated, with most sticking up for Kirby’s.

For one thing, Chow, Baby tends to judge all steaks by two exalted standards: memories of the perfect crispy-edged, juicy, dry-aged prime ribeye it had in 2003 at the now-dead Chisholm Club, and the juicy steaks Chow, Baby pan-fries at home every couple of months. (Chow, Baby can follow simple recipes, and this one has just four components: a very hot cast-iron skillet, a half-pound of butter, a pinch of sea salt, and near-prime ribeyes from Country Meat Market, 6899 E Lancaster Av.) The constant here being “juicy ribeye,” maybe a less-marbled strip steak just can’t measure up. That’s hardly Kirby’s fault.

Another indication that the disappointing steak was a matter of taste rather than a kitchen error: Everything else we had at Kirby’s that night was fantastic. We began with a chopped salad, a miracle of diced iceberg, green apples, red onion, tomatoes, bacon, and walnuts in a Danish blue-cheese dressing. From the Restaurant Week menu (which Kirby’s is honoring until Sept. 3), the melt-in-the-mouth grilled filet mignon proved that Kirby’s has a way with meat. Sides of mashed potatoes and lightly grilled summer veggies were perfect. Again, judgment for Kirby’s.

But just as Chow, Baby’s out-loud voice was urging the beloved to trade entrées, wonderful waiter Alan popped up: “You don’t like your steak?” Chow, Baby launched into ramble mode: “No, well, it seems dry, but that’s probably because I’m more used to fatty ribeyes …” and before it could finish (nine minutes later), Alan was back with more fresh, hot sides plus a brand-new steak. Which, unfortunately, Chow, Baby didn’t like any better than the first one. Was the do-over a $38 waste for Kirby’s, then? Nope; it was a wise investment in customer satisfaction. Chow, Baby looks forward to returning to Kirby’s for stellar service and delicious sides – and next time, the ribeye.

Contact Chow, Baby at chowbaby@fwweekly.com

 


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