Going the Extra Smile
In the two years since the founding of J.R.’s Steakhouse (5400 Hwy. 121, Colleyville), buzz has been building about its fireplace-graced bar/lounge with live jazz, its well-considered wine list, and its inspired not-just-steaks cuisine designed by executive chef Todd Phillips, ex of Reata.
So the only thing left to surprise Chow, Baby was the fantastic service. Our five-minute wait was spent most pleasantly with ultra-personable bartender German (pronounced in the Colombian manner, not like the Ol’ South pancake). Then to the pleasant suburban-upscale dining room, where Nick, our official waiter, and Daniel, who kept stopping by on his way to his own section, and Matt, the manager on duty, and assorted busboys (yay! busboys!) made quite sure our every need was taken care of before it even occurred to us. Drop a crumb of the marvelous warm bread – boom, it’s scraped up. Set down the cherry stem from your German-mixed fancy cocktail – blink, it’s gone. Get up from the table – your napkin is neatly folded on your return. (Normally Chow, Baby doesn’t visit the restroom six times during a meal, but this was so much fun.)
With Nick’s help and approval, Chow, Baby applied everything it’s learned over the years about ordering steakhouse steak: Ask for a half-step more done than you’d think (thus “medium-rare plus”); specify “seared” to get the edge-fat nice and crispy; and don’t bother with the $6 sides, because many steakhouses add unannounced vegetables to the plate. Result: Zero points for presentation – Chow, Baby’s steak had seemingly been Frisbeed onto the plate, divoting into the mashed; and there wasn’t even a parsley spring for decoration, much less any grilled goodies. But eight million points for flavor; the ribeye (a beautiful 14-oz. prime, reasonably priced at $28.95) was a savory dream. The beloved’s special, “Deconstructed BLT,” consisted of stacks of fabulous tenderloin, grilled tomatoes topped with applewood bacon and Maytag blue cheese, and a baguette slice. Nothing resembling an L (unless that was the tenderLoin), but whatever. A bit of a sticker shock at $32.95 (yeah, Chow, Baby should have asked when ordering, and/or Nick should have said), but amazingly good. The beloved was doing that little in-seat happy dance that after all these months Chow, Baby still finds more endearing than embarrassing.
The rest of Chow, Baby’s tab went for a rich and creamy lobster bisque (bowl-sized “cup” $9.95) and an appetizer of bacon-wrapped barbecued lobster ($14.95), which was less successful. Actually it was kind of pointless; as in Café Aspen’s chicken-fried lobster, the noble beast seems to be there mainly for marquee value. In J.R.’s dish, the applewood bacon and the superb smoky-molasses barbecue sauce overwhelmed any lobster flavor. Nice texture, though. We finished with Chocolate Dream ($7.95), a rich and dense chocolate layer cake with a ganache splatter and – finally, some presentation – two chocolate-dipped strawberries. Sated and very happy, we adjourned to the bar to catch some of Linny Nance’s funky-groovy piano sounds, where German – remember, the busy bartender we had met briefly two hours earlier? – greeted us by name. By name. Chow, Baby was tickled – not literally, though if that’s what Chow, Baby needed, the staff here probably would have obliged.
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