Actually it’s a corollary to an old peeve, the one where the server chants the night’s off-menu specials but doesn’t name the price, so you have to ask, and it’s 95 cents more than your credit limit, so you have to act like you suddenly realized you don’t like tournedos de boeuf on a bed of truffled mashed potatoes topped with seared foie gras and a pinot noir reduction all that much after all.
But everybody in the room knows it’s because you’re poor. This new corollary-peeve is when you go to a Japanese restaurant – in this specific case, Taisho, 4101 W. Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington, though this has happened to Chow, Baby many times before – and the server at the hibachi table asks if you want steamed or fried rice but doesn’t tell you that fried rice is an extra $1.50. Which, yeah, is 1/30th the cost of beef tournedos, but the principle is exactly the same. Hence Pet Peeve #107(a). Double penalty because Taisho’s fried-rice veggies were those frozen carrots/peas/limas out of a bag.
But everything else was great. The pay-one-price (not including fried rice) dinner included a rich miso soup and a small salad with an addictive tingly dressing. Chow, Baby noshed scrumptious scallops ($14.95) off the plate of its personal beef tornado and saved most of its own steak and calamari ($16.95) for a go-box, reserving tummy room for the long-craved banana tempura with housemade vanilla bean ice cream ($3.95). See, the last time Chow, Baby visited Taisho, nearly two years ago, banana tempura was denied-the kitchen had closed 10 minutes before, still-hungry customers or no. But this time … Dang it, denied again, by seven minutes! A painful reminder to follow Rule #1: Order dessert first.
Like the South Side’s 4117 Hemphill, currently home to the wonderful El Pollo Palenque (it’s still open, Chow, Baby did a drive-by just the other day to make sure), the East Side’s 5500 Brentwood Stair Rd. is one of those evil buildings that suckers in divine little restaurants and spits them out a year or so later. The former home, in sadly rapid succession, of Porche’s, Colette’s Café, and Poppa’s Kitchen now houses Rodney D’s Steakhouse. And Chow, Baby is trying hard not to get too attached this time, but heavens, just the hand-battered jalapeño poppers stuffed with chopped shrimp (half dozen big ‘uns, $5.95) are worth the risk of later heartbreak.
Oddly, considering “steakhouse” is in the name of the restaurant, the 16-oz ribeye ($16.95) made it easier to stay emotionally detached: more family-steakhouse quality than something you’d find in the Stockyards, perfectly cooked but not a drop of juice, and with all flavor coming from the peppery rub rather than the meat itself. Ah, but the cutie companion’s mildly spicy shrimp (eight big ‘uns, $9.95) were fantastic, grilled, as the saying goes, to perfection.
There’s so much loving attention to detail in this small room, from the no-ribs-in-the-lettuce salad to the perfect homemade lemonade to the waitress who asks “How you doing?” like she really cares. Here’s hoping Rodney D’s will break the curse of 5500 Brentwood Stair-at least long enough for Chow, Baby to try everything else on the menu.
Contact Chow, Baby at firstname.lastname@example.org.