Monday, April 22, 2013
Oh boy, now I'm in trouble. The Texas guys are out in front decrying that Memphis barbecue is flat out inferior. And the Memphis boys follow with the observation that Red Hot and Blue isn't real Tennessee barbecue as they're a chain from Virginia for crying out loud. And then there's perhaps the bigger problem with chaining a barbecue joint in the first place. Just how good can it be anyway?
Well if I didn't have any street cred with barbecue aficionados before, I'm really going to kill it now: I like Red Hot and Blue. And have so ever since I first sat foot in the NRH location some 10 years ago, not long after first arriving in Northeast Tarrant. Now it's not a place we frequent much - witness its debut into the RJG 5+ years later - but it's always been consistently excellent. And I've also been to the North Dallas and Las Colinas stores for business meets, and everyone always comes out happy. But it's the NRH location that we go back to during our leisure hours.
The one platter that I really enjoy is the 5 meat sampler - which used to be a pure Atkins play of meat, meat, and more meat. Now they've added beans and a side, which are really unnecessary. Especially considering their baked beans are of the Boston sweet variety, which I've never acquired a taste for. As for the side, I ended up with fries, which were good, but sort of defeats the purpose of a meat platter. Anyway, that's not the point here.. so let's get to the meats shall we?
And here's where Red Hot and Blue shines every time. I love their sausage, which features a great recipe. Even the barbecue snobs will acquiesce on this point. RH&B's dry rubbed ribs are fantastic. I love the seasoning and the fall-off-the-bone meat. Now I see plenty of folks go on about their brisket being subpar, but I have to disagree. Plenty of smoked rind goodness there - and tender as well. And probably the one thing they do that I think is fantastic, but have seen others disagree, is their pulled pork. Again, the flavor penetrates throughout, and it's always tender - never tough. The one downer is something they introduced recently: Pulled smoked chicken. What the heck? The smoked turkey was awesome! Put it back on the platter! The chicken was tough and dry - and lacking the great flavor of the other meats. The other aspect of Red Hot and Blue we love is the selection of barbecue sauces. Not that good 'cue needs it, but I like it as an option. And most certainly the chicken needed help. And there's no better sauce to dip in than the Hoochie Coochie sauce. It's a very spicy blend, that really adds up on the heat! Oh, and I forgot the mention the honey sweet bread that comes before the meal. Another huge plus. They have plenty of good beers to wash the meal down with - though don't go looking for local craft brews. But a few more than the usual options exist.
Red Hot and Blue is a chain that seems to be on the down slope of its lifecycle. The chain has closed many stores across the US, including the one they had in Southlake (which we also never stepped foot in). I think it's a matter of too much excellent local competition. And the RJG certainly applauds that. But we still drop by Red Hot and Blue on occasion. It's just too good not to.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Basically Jack and Grill is taking advantage of the nouveau version of a beer bar. An advanced tavern as it were. The food is definitely front and center, and shouldn't be considered an afterthought to the beer. And they certainly have more than beer for adult beverages. But for the RJG, the key is their beer selection, and then does the food quality inspire repeat visits. The answer is a profound YES.
The beer selection, while vast and clearly thought out, is surprisingly thin on Texas craft brews, and almost no local representation. I think they should add a few regional rotationals into the mix. But they do have some items you don't see everywhere, like seasonal beers from Dogfish Head (Delaware), Goose Island (Chicago), and Rogue (Oregon). As for the food, we (Mr. Music joined me on this visit) sampled some of their appetizers like the barbecue chicken pizza, chips and queso (made with hamburger beef), and chicken wings. The latter is their self-proclaimed specialty, and we decided to test their "jack it up" wings - which indeed packed on the heat as we munched through them. Mr. Music also had a garden salad. I will say that everything we had this day was excellent. Our waitress also did a fine job fielding our multitude of questions - and that alone should be worth combat pay. They have plenty of burgers and sandwiches as well, that I'm looking forward to trying.
Unlike Bayou Jack's, Jack and Grill does sit on the main downtown strip of Roanoke. In fact, if coming in from the south, this will be the first restaurant you see.
I definitely think Mrs. RJG will enjoy Jack and Grill as well, and as such, I see it as a regular place for lunch or dinner!
Sunday, April 7, 2013
And Trulucks did not let me down. Though it is, without a doubt, a pocket drainer.
Mrs. RJG and I both know that ordering a bottle of wine is the real culprit at these places. The markups on wine are ridiculous. However, neither of us felt like a beer, and we usually enjoy wine with our meal - so we went "dumb" and ordered a very nice bottle of Chardonnay from Oregon (for $60 - online price $30). Certainly it was an excellent wine, and is worth all $30 (wheez). They provide homemade bread (a darker cranberry bread, and a more traditional Italian white, with sweet made butter), both of which were delicious. As an appetizer, the hot n' crunchy shrimp proved to be a good choice. A tempura styled fried shrimp with hot chile flakes in the mix. 4 huge shrimp came out, and had to be considered a highlight of the meal. For dinner, Mrs. RJG started with a garden salad - which is the classic "backyard" mix of greens and a sweet honey vinaigrette. And I had the Lobster Bisque, which was stunningly good. So rich and creamy. For entrees, we each went with the Chilean sea bass. Hers was the Miso glaze with crab fried rice, and mine was pan seared with rice pilaf. Along with swordfish, Chilean sea bass has to be at the top for flavorful thick white fishes. Both of our dishes were expertly prepared, and delicious. Since the waiter figured out we were on our anniversary, something we weren't going to advertise, he gave us a free chocolate cake with a hot cherry jubilee. It was super rich - very good - but ultimately too sweet for us to finish. But it was extremely nice of the gentleman, and the restaurant, to do that for us. Mrs. RJG finished the evening with an Irish Creme. I usually don't comment on the service, one way or the other, but our server this night was exceptionally professional. Superb.
Overall, a sublime meal. Worth $240 (after tip)? Probably not, because I'm just not sure anything at that price is. Some of the best meals I've ever had came in under $20 after tip (for one). But if someone else is paying, or you are on an elaborate (i.e. Sales) expense account - then Truluck's is a must. I consider it better than most places in this category.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
We spoke about Bayou Jack's in last summer's Roundup, and this is our first opportunity to return back to eat. I hadn't given the restaurant a feature yet, so here's the official debut into the RJG. I don't have a whole lot to add to the below review, other than Mrs. RJG went for the Jambalaya this time. I tried a few forkfuls myself, and it's an excellent rendition of the classic Cajun dish. Definitely has a spicy kick, and the grilled andouille and boiled shrimp are excellently prepared. I had the blackened shrimp po'boy which is delicious, though I think they could have packed a few more shrimp into the fluffy toasted bread. I had the same dish last summer, and they certainly didn't skimp then (hopefully not a trend, but an anomaly). However, it does come with fries, which are more than enough to fill you up - and they're very good as well. We each had an Abita Amber on draught, which seems appropriate given the brewery's southern Louisiana heritage.
As I'm sure many of you will agree, good Cajun food has been tough to find in this part of DFW. You know it's bad when Popeye's is your best bet. But Bayou Jack's fills that void admirably. Blackened dishes, po boys, Jambalaya, bottom feeders, it's all here in an authentic seafood warehouse type setting (well as close as possible being in North Texas of course). So instead of detouring into the "unique dining capital" downtown of Roanoke, stay on the main highway (377) and have yourself some good Cajun food. Has a full bar too, with flat screens to keep solo travelers entertained.