Yay! Arlington has a new mall! Sorry – “mixed-use development.” Arlington Highlands (I-20 and Matlock Rd.) opened in May, though it looks nothing like the drawing on its website, which shows trees.
A couple of the restaurants on the “Open Now!” list looked promising, but after driving around the desolate blocks for an hour, with no hint of a Scottish Highlands breeze – or anything else Highlandish – we couldn’t find a one. (Some mixed-use developments have directories. And maps. Just saying.) So Chow, Baby wound up, already in a bad mood, at a chain restaurant called BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse (201 I-20 E, Arlington). Chirrupy hostess, crap-covered walls, big-screen tvs, an 18-page menu that forced Chow, Baby and the beloved to keep crying, “Where? What page are you on?” And on top of all that – really good food. Really. No, really.
As tested and standardized as these recipes were, they still had flavor. A cilantro pesto appetizer pizza ($8.95), loaded with caramelized mozzarella and feta, got extra zest from marinated roma tomatoes. Avocado egg rolls ($8.95) were an appealing blend of crispy and creamy. Chow, Baby’s half-pound bacon cheeseburger ($9.20), served on a toasted French roll, was cooked to order and very juicy. The beloved, who has the same impossible standards for Chicago-style food that Chow, Baby does for New Orleans cuisine, applauded the deep-dish pizza (large with two toppings, $18.55). BJ’s prices are high, but the meal seemed worth it, except maybe for the watered-down wine cooler that called itself Berryburst Cider (unfinished pint, $4.95).
If the trees ever grow in, at least this corner of the Highlands would be worth the trek. Some Keepers, Some Not Chow, Baby expected to like the attitude at Flying Fish (2913 Montgomery St.) – the joint is owned by Shannon Wynne, who also honchoes the Flying Saucer and 8.0 mini-chains – and was not disappointed. There’s crap all over the walls (including singing Billy Basses), but they know it’s crap. It’s, like, ironic, or at least droll, and Chow, Baby took the décor as one big nose-thumb at Razzoo’s. Fishing-camp banjo music is the perfect finishing touch. This Flying Fish (there are three others in the Metroplex) has been open only a week; on Chow, Baby’s one lunch visit so far, the service was overwhelmed and the food was inconsistent.
So Chow, Baby is reserving judgment, somewhat, until it goes for seconds. In the meantime, perhaps Flying Fish could consider stuffing a few more oysters into the oyster po-boy ($6.59) and not pre-slathering the bread with whatever that sauce is. And maybe not take “red beans and rice” quite so literally; you’re allowed to have juice in there too. Also, and Chow, Baby didn’t think this was possible, the bread pudding ($3.29) is way too sweet. But let’s not mess with the crispy fish tacos ($7.99); they’re perfect as they are, with the pico and coleslaw adding a nice crunch. And the grilled plates ($8.99-$9.99) are just right, with flaky fillets and snappy veggies. The shrimp-crammed, thick-rouxed seafood gumbo (bowl $4.79) was a zesty surprise, and not-from-powder lemonade ($1.99) made the perfect coolant. Fried baskets, grilled-fish salads, and boiled-shrimp platters are waiting for Chow, Baby’s next visit. Which will probably be about 15 minutes after Chow, Baby finishes this last perfect fish taco.
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