22 comments on “2011 KRLD Restaurant Week Reader Reviews

  1. Stephan Pyles

    Opened restaurant week with a group outing to a stellar restaurant. Only too late did I hear that Stephan Pyles takes the “Oh, no, do we really have to do this again?” approach to Restaurant Week. All of our previous regular visits had revealed excellent dishes. Unfortunately, Stephan Pyles disappointed. Yes, it was a Monday night, and restaurant week, but the execution was horribly flawed. I didn’t know you could overcook a pork belly until it was dried and tasteless. The New York steak was oversalted to the point of almost being inedible. Other dishes, including the Fourth Course ceviche and the main salmon, were middling and unworthy of Stephan Pyles. The dessert semi-freddo was fine if not outstanding, but was still frozen on the interior. Only the sweet corn soup showed the kind sublime flavors that I expect from the restaurant. The service was not skimped on and treated a group of 8 without problems. But trips like this make me reconsider RW dinners in general. Had I not been previously to Stephan Pyles and loved it, I would not return.

  2. wow that is horrible. Why do restaurants do this. Either you want customers or not. If restauarant week is such a burden they should not participate… They should put their best foot forward

  3. Went to Steel last night to celebrate a birthday, and was pleasantly surprised. The servers’ attitude wasn’t hampered by it being Restaurant Week–in fact, our server was warm and friendly, and extremely knowledgeable about all the menus. We opted for the tuna maki roll and red curry coconut soup to start, followed by the crispy beef and sea bass. Paid extra for the dynamite mussels, which were a bit of a let-down (only 3 on the plate!). The chocolate lava cake with raspberry coulis and vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect ender. What really made the meal, however, was the sake. Our server expertly guided us through the drink menu, and we were extremely pleased with her recommendations–and the carafes were so large we were still socking back sake when the meal was finished! It was a great location for an intimate dinner, but even with the prix-fixe it was pretty pricey.

  4. I will say that I know Stephan and he has donated alot of time and money to feeding the hungry not just through North Texas Food Bank, but also Feeding American and Share Our Strength. His incredible commitment to the community is humbling and Dallas is very lucky to have Stephen. He is a true gentleman and he uses the craft for more than just being a celebrity chef. Thank you Stephen Pyles.

    As the wife of a chef who was trained by Stephen, I will say that yes, many restaurants do dread Restaurant Week. One reason is that if a restaurant were to do a cost benefit analysis on their profit, they usually lose money. In addition, restaurants are required by the food bank to pay an $800ish fee to participate. Yowza! This, stacked on top of the numerous requests they get from the food bank and other charities can be a bit much.
    You, the foodie guests, can be very demanding and even rude during RW and some of you treat the waitstaff terribly, so they dread it too. That being said…

    Please mind your manners, remember who this serves in the long end, and try and be grateful for every speck of food on YOUR table at home. And stop washing it down with Hatorade.

  5. We went to the grape last night and had a fantastic meal. I had the red fish with lemon risotto, my husband had the kobe beef. Both perfectly cooked. the mushroom soup for the appetizer is always wonderful. And for desert we had the peach desert and chocolate ganache. We finished every bite.
    We also went to alberniet’s for preview week. It was not up to par. the restaurant week menu was lacking to say the least. A lot of us got the pot roast which was very dry and not flavorful. The chicken pasta was not great either. The serving sizes were huge. maybe they should try and do less quantity and more quality. I would have liked to have seen a petite fillet on the menu. the manager did make up for the dry pot roast by bringing us a petite fillet to share. It was a very nice gesture and shows you they are still about customer service even during restaurant week. I will note previous restaurant weeks at Alberniets I remember as being wonderful. Maybe it was just because it was preview week?

  6. @liz, just a fluke I’m sure. I’ve been to Al’s for RW … gosh, four times? … and the experience has never been anything less than flawless. Al Biernat’s epitomizes the spirit and generosity of Restaurant Week.

    @Jane, obviously courtesy and graciousness should be expected of restaurants and diners, and I don’t think anyone in town would question Chef Pyle’s remarkable charity efforts. There’s nothing “wrong” with what you said, but you did fail to address Kyle’s complaints: bad food. Nothing you said is an excuse for that, as there isn’t one.

  7. @Jane – I think you are missing the point of this. Nobody’s launching a personal attack on your buddy, just giving an honest slice of one person’s opinion of their experience at the restaurant.

    No one is doubting that Stephan (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) does more than his share for the community. The bottom line is, you can give all the time/money/free food to charity that you want, but if your customers aren’t satisfied with your product, they won’t come back and they are entitled to express that in the appropriate forum.

    You bring up a good point that restaurants really do get the shakedown from a profit standpoint, but I didn’t realize they were being forced at gunpoint to participate in Restaurant Week. If a restaurant doesn’t think its fair or reviles the overtaxing or its staff at the hands of atypical clientele, then DON’T SIGN UP.

    I agree that nobody (servers, diners, etc) deserve to be treated rudely, but it doesn’t seem like service was the issue here for Kyle. It all came down to the food, which in one person’s opinion wasn’t up to previously experienced standards. Thank you Kyle Wedin for your courage and your commitment to the people of this great nation.

  8. We went to the Landmark at the Warwick Melrose Hotel. It was great! The waitstaff was fantastic amd the food was delicious. The pork belly was tender and flavorful, the salad was fresh, the desserts were delicious especially the banana foster’s cupcake and the creme brulee. I highly recommend.

  9. Jane, Kyle is entitled to his opinion, as is everyone who posts here, unlike alot of posts on blogs that sound like the blogger has a personal agenda that is meant to either tear down OR build up a restaurant), Kyle’s review just sounded like his experience at Stephan Pyles didn’t match the reputation Stephan’s restaurant has (I personally love the place). You’re taking Kyle’s post way too personally and seems to fit in my category of a personal agenda.

  10. The repetitive nature of RW reviews/comments/responses/replies is truly amazing. Like clockwork, year in, year out.

  11. Charlie Palmer’s was the perfect way to kick off RW. The wait staff was courteous and attentive, bringing featured appetizers by in addition to the posted RW menu. I started with the beet gateau salad with goat cheese followed by the maltagliati hand cut pasta with chicken liver. Both were fresh and flavorful. The highlight of the meal was the wine pairing the chef had selected, which could be sampled as a flight per course, or a glass with main entree. Dessert was the perfect ending, with a peach and blackberry crisp with brown butter ice cream.

    CP’s gets it right consistently and I’d hihgly recommend a visit if you can make it in. Looking forward to Perry’s this evening!

  12. @Sparky, I know we’re only a day in, not counting the preview weekend, but actually I’ve found the lack of Restaurant Week doom-and-gloom this year refreshing. Jane’s unwarranted comment aside, the sentiment has been generally pro-Restaurant Week this year, which I don’t think you could say for last year, overall.

    @K2, that’s great to hear! I’m headed to Charlie Palmer’s with my wife this evening. I had to cancel my reservation to CP a couple years ago when my wife lost her job, and tonight we’re finally making it back.

  13. Yay Gipson and wife! Have fun. Is RW week later this year or is school starting earlier?

  14. @Jane, the restaurants aren’t required by the NTFB to put up the $800 fee, it’s actually required by KRLD, which also collects a hefty amount in sponsorships, none of which (the sponsorship and fee $$) make into the NTFB coffers. I love the North Texas Food Bank and would love to see this event run without KRLD, as it does in other cities. Restaurants wouldn’t have to pay an up-front fee for limited advertising in the middle of the night on random radio stations and sponsors could truly sponsor on behalf of the charity, not on behalf of the media “partner”.

  15. @Larkspur and others — if I recall correctly, the donations from the restaurants to the NTFB are on the honor system, and at least some of them take that $800 fee out of donation amounts. Can’t say I blame them, but just a note (think I read this in D Magazine last year).

  16. Had dinner at Al Biernat’s tonight. Large, noisy crowd for a Tuesday night. I was informed most were there for Restaurant Week.

    My Central Market certificate entitled me to a small salad plate on which sat a slice of avocado, a demiglace sauce and two small tomatoes (about the size of cherry tomatoes) fill with caprese mozzarella and basil. It was prettier than it was filling, but served as a nice, light start.

    The waiter allowed me to have the famed crab and corn chowder as an appetizer, which won him much respect. Prime rib seemed larger than 6 oz, which is fine with me, as it was superb (just a little too much fat) with the housemade horseradish sauce.

    For dessert, the key lime pie never fails, and remains one of the best in the city. All in all, an excellent meal at a very fair price.

  17. Just had the worst experience at The Mansion at Turtle Creek. We made reservations a week ago. When we were seated and asked for Restaurant Week menus, the waiter asked if we had Restaurant Week reservations. Huh? Well, I explained, we HAVE reservations and it IS Restaurant Week, so yes. Two additional levels of management and 30 minutes later, we finally got menus. The dining room manager was as condescending as could be and implied over and over that perhaps there had been some “miscommunication” on our part and that he would make an exception and we would be allowed to “proceed in whatever fashion you may choose.”. I’ve never been so disgusted with a restaurant in all my life. I had heard The Mansion had service problems, but I always give places the benefit of the doubt. Compare this with the extraordinarily delightful time we had enjoying Restaurant Week at Grace in Fort Worth on Saturday. No comparison. Grace has grace. The Mansion does not.

  18. Hello all,

    Had RW dinner at Al Biernat Tuesday PM, it was packed. Lovely selection of RW food, graciously served. Food was delicious; portions were large. Noise level was high, but if you know this restaurant, lots of hard surfaces so talk bounces around. Great value for RW, would go back again.

    @ Jane – a few points: KRLD organizes, advertises and prints up all we anyone needs to know for RW. For many smaller restaurants, this is good publicity at an inexpensive cost, for the larger more successful restaurants, it’s a small price to lay out. The guests enjoy a $35.00 dinner – not expensive, but not exactly free either… $7.00 off the top is donated to the charities selected. Restaurants use their $28.00 to provide a 3 course dinner – of their own choice. 4th course coupon, if the diner has one, is a small add-on, almost an amuse bouche offering.

    Remember, RW was always planned for August, typically the lowest revenue month – the original idea was two-fold – charity to the community and also to boost business during this very quiet / low rev month.

    Sometimes this means extra work for the kitchen as well as the front of house… In some places, the employees may not clock a 40 hr. week when business is slow, and appreciate the full schedule / pay. Every restaurant should gauge their participation in terms of A) cost of event B) revenue earned C) some amount of value placed on serving one’s community / charties.

    Additionally, I believe almost everyone will have a cocktail or wine with dinner and order surcharge items along with their dinner…

    Essentially, I believe it is a fair deal all around; any restaurant that doesn’t agree doesn’t have to participate. Although I do believe there is some peer pressure or “face value” involved.

    It’s a week (longer if a restaurant chooses), smile, welcome customers, create good vibes and word-of-mouth, feed ‘em and move them along… its good to have business in August.

  19. Hello all,

    Had RW dinner at Al Biernat Tuesday PM, it was packed. Lovely selection of RW food, graciously served. Food was delicious; portions were large. Noise level was high, but if you know this restaurant, lots of hard surfaces so talk bounces around. Great value for RW, would go back again.

    @ Jane – a few points:

    KRLD organizes, advertises and prints up all anyone needs to know for RW. For many smaller restaurants, this is good publicity at an inexpensive cost, for the larger more successful restaurants, it’s a small price to lay out. The guests enjoy a $35.00 dinner – not expensive, but not exactly free either… $7.00 off the top is donated to the charities selected. Restaurants use their $28.00 to provide a 3 course dinner – of their own choice. 4th course coupon, if the diner has one, is a small add-on, almost an amuse bouche offering.

    Remember, RW was always planned for August, typically the lowest revenue month – the original idea was two-fold – charity to the community and also to boost business during this very quiet / low rev month.

    Sometimes this means extra work for the kitchen as well as the front of house… In some places, the employees may not clock a 40 hr. week when business is slow in August, and appreciate the full schedule / pay. Every restaurant should gauge their participation in terms of A) cost of event B) revenue earned C) some amount of value placed on serving one’s community / charties.

    Additionally, I believe almost everyone will have a cocktail or wine with dinner and some may order surcharge items their dinner, increasing the per person expenditure…

    Essentially, I believe it is a fair deal all around; any restaurant that doesn’t agree should not participate. Worse to have people in and treat them poorly! Although I do believe there is some peer pressure or “face value” involved.

    It’s a week (longer if a restaurant chooses), a week isn’t too long, only 7 days/nights… So, I suggest everyone smile, welcome customers, create good will, good vibes and good word-of-mouth, feed ‘em and move ‘em along… its good to have business in August, many of our restaurant friends are suffering in the current economic climate; and people want to go out and enjoy a nice dinner at a spot they might not usually visit. Win-Win!

  20. PAPPAS BROS STEAKHOUSE
    We ate here last night. We’ve never been and have heard great things about their wine list. It was a wonderful meal. My husband had the rib eye which was large and perfectly cooked. I had the broiled salmon which was a 8-10 oz portion! Both came with mashed potatoes and haricot verts. Desserts were also huge and beautifully presented.
    The service was outstanding. Our table was ready at reservation time, the sommelier was informative and interesting, water glasses immediately filled. They ended with a homemade truffle in a little box for me to take home. A manager proudly informed us that they contributed the most of any restaurant to the NTFB last year!
    Highly recommend.

  21. @Jerry

    You have to make reservations specifically for RW at all the restaurants I’ve ever gone to. That’s not a Mansion thing. I’m not surprised management steeped in and claimed a miscommunication, but I am surprised it took 30min to clear up.

    That said, most restaurants have a limited amount of tables at various times available for RW and some don’t allow RW menus at certain times. The rest of the tables are for their regular customer-regular menu people. If they fill the room for three weeks with tables that lose money, they will not be in a good position. The menus for some restaurants have been known to have different items and they have to be able to order and make enough food for the people who did specifically make reservations under RW.

    Not a judgement, but it seems like this might be your first RW. Just in the future know you have to make RW specific reservations.

  22. My group had the same experience with Stephan Pyles. Great 5 star service, steak overwhelmed with salt and frozen deserts all the way around. I spoke with the manager of SP after realizing this experience was being repeated with other diners. He was very gracious and stated the problems would be rectified. So hopefully everyone with future resevations during RW will benefit from the feedback.