365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
It was another difficult decision for Team Phipps regarding where to eat tonight. We are somewhat of an indecisive bunch. Well, Mina isn’t, she wanted to eat at Burger King. While I was chatting with my friends on the phone, Ogre discovered a place that serves Cajun food in Lake Highlands: Offshore’s Nextdoor. Neither one of us had heard of it before, but it has a patio (we obviously love patios) and it’s a nice night out, so we thought we go on this adventure. Of course, we needed to pick up Benji from Lala’s house. We drove over there, but my mom said he was asleep. Darn, another night with a missing family member at mealtime. I think Ogre is the only one with perfect attendance!!
I suppose the Y gene prevented Ogre from remembering to bring the address or specific directions to the restaurant. He just remembered that it was at Audelia and Walnut Hill. Getting to the intersection went well, but we didn’t see the restaurant. We thought perhaps Highland Cafe had moved into its spot since it had a little patio, but Ogre recalled that in the picture the patio was bigger. We drove around a little more because we looked at each of the corners: one corner had everything demolished (we hoped it wasn’t on that corner) and on the other side, the shopping center sign did not list a restaurant called Offshore’s Nextdoor. The last corner did not really have any restaurants that looked promising either. I finally used my trusty Crackberry to track down their number and called them. They were in the shopping center across the street from Lake Highlands where the old “Hog Wild” used to be. Ahhhh! The shopping center sign still says “Hog Wild”!
We walk up to a quaint looking small restaurant that Ogre said reminded him of a little bar you might see of the lake (I think they hit their mark with the ambiance). There was a nice little patio area off to the side and we sat out there. Mina was excited to play in the rocks and gravel. Carribean music was jammin’ and the landscaping was done very nicely. It made us feel a lot more secluded than we really were.
Our waitress quickly took our drink order and gave us menus to review. Mina played with her monster mash dog toy (yes, it was intended for the dogs, but Mina got her hands on it first and loves it) in the gravel while we looked things over.
When she returned with our drinks, we asked her about her favorite menu items, which she declared were the Buttermilk Fried Asparagus on the appetizer menu and the Artichoke Chicken. We told her we were leaning towards splitting the Blackened Ribeye Stuffed with Crawfish Etouffe and she said she had heard that was very good, as well. We told her we needed a few more minutes. We discussed the kids menu items with Mina. Ogre swayed her to the White Castle burgers (aka “sliders”).
When our waitress came back, we put in our order. The main entree came with two sides and we requested two salads since we were sharing the entree. While we waited for our food, we noticed that two more families had come to dine. There was already on other family seated when we arrived. All of the kids were running around playing. One kid was standing on the wooden posts pretending he was the Karate Kid (Part I for you movie buffs). When the asparagus arrived, I took Mina to the restroom to wash her hands. No changing stations here.
When we returned, Ogre had already partaken of the Buttermilk Fried Asparagus and he was apparently impressed -with both the asparagus and the Habanero Ranch. He warned me that I probably would not like the Habanero Ranch being the spice wuss that I am. I bravely tried it and it was definitely SPICY!! I asked for ranch and Mina wanted ketchup (of course). I agreed that the asparagus was excellent! Maybe the State Fair has it right, if you deep fry it, it will taste like heaven in oil. Mina disagreed. She started to cry at the thought of even having to try it.
Our salads came out and Ogre was excited to see the Habanero Ranch again. The blue cheese dressing I ordered with mine had the “look” that I love -chunky pieces of bleu cheese. Ogre and I ate our salads while Mina continued to pout at her asparagus.
Next came the entrees, it smelled great as she passed it below our noses! Ogre and I would have no problems splitting this large ribeye that sat atop Crawfish Etouffee. Mina was relieved to see her sliders show up but we warned her that she still needed to eat her asparagus. She was very reticent at dinner tonight. We had to have another “talk” with her about trying vegetables and having a good attitude at dinner. Initially, she was very resistant, but after telling her that she would have priviliges taken away each time she did not eat her vegetable, she decided she would go ahead and eat the asparagus in a timely fashion. By this time we had finished our dinner and received the painful blow that they do not offer desserts here. Our waitress told us it was because they are so new (only open for 2 months and are focusing on getting their lunch menu set and being open for lunch). We settled our tab and waited for Mina to finish her asparagus. She made a valiant attempt at having a good attitude, smiling through the bites of asparagus that I know pained her. We cheered her on and I would offer her “something cool” after a couple of bites. That “something cool” was pointing out the planet Venus in the night sky. After she ate most of what we requested, I let her off the hook and we headed out to pick up the Benj. We were at the restaurant for an hour and a half. 45 minutes of that spent watching Mina eat half an asparagus. Sheesh.
The menu here is small, but the items we sampled were stellar. The appetizers had some of the old standbys like Alligator Tails and Gumbo, but they also have Frog Legs and the very creative and tasty Buttermilk Fried Asparagus. Apparently, asparagus that is deep fried is crisp and flavorful!
I hardly ever talk about the dressing that comes on a side salad, but they deserve mention here. I don’t know if they make their own dressing or buy it, but the ends are the same: DELICIOUS! I’m speaking for Ogre regarding the Habanero Ranch because it was too spicy for me, but he said that for Chiliheads, you’ll love this one because you can actually tell that there is Habanero pepper involved and it has a very good flavor. My bleu cheese dressing was very chunky -more bleu cheesy than creamy.
Our Blackened Ribeye Stuffed with Crawfish Etouffee was also excellent. The roux was nice and dark. I would only suggest more crawfish! We ordered our Ribeye medium rare and the steak was done perfectly. You wouldn’t think this combo would work, but it really does!! Be careful, though, as there is a lot of food here and it’s rich!
Mina got the White Castle burgers (you know, the hamburgers are steamed on top of onion and put on a little bun). I think she liked them, but was so distraught about the asparagus that she didn’t really enjoy her dinner. If the kids aren’t into White Castle burgers, you could also get ‘em a po-boy, chicken tenders, mini-corn dog or popcorn shrimp.
We had great service tonight. Our waitress was laid back, but not lazy. Her persona fit well with the restaurant and we enjoyed chatting with her. Her suggestion of the asparagus was spot on and we would not have considered it without her recommendation. She kept our drinks filled and checked back with us frequently. The other waitstaff seemed just as attentive, as well.
They didn’t offer any crayons/paper placemats or activities for the kids, but if you sit outside, the kids will have plenty of room to entertain themselves and no one seems to mind. The kids menu offerings are also appropriate for this type of restaurant.
The total: $48.76 (includes two Red Stripes)
I don’t get “Northern Food” or maybe I should call it “Midwestern Food.” When Ogre and I lived in Nashville, I was exposed to a totally different food culture. If your driving from here to Indiana (where Ogre’s extended family lives), the first White Castle restaurant is in Nashville. Ogre’s family talks about this place with mouths watering. I gave it a try, eh, not so impressed. Then when we would actually head up to Indiana and Ohio to visit his family, I was forced to get Skyline Chili. They put cinnamon in their chili and eat it on spaghetti. I gave it a try, eh, not so impressed. In fact, I straight up didn’t like it. I’d just get the coney dogs sans chili -those Ohio folks would raise an eyebrow at me when I did that. Next stop? Frisch’s Big Boy. They put TARTAR SAUCE on their burgers. Huh? Why? I don’t know. But I gave it a try, and, eh, not so impressed. Ogre’s dad thinks I’m crazy because I order my burgers there without the tartar sauce. It’s not like these are secrets that the rest of the country hasn’t figured out. I think the rest of the country is selectively ignoring these culinary oddities!!
Come on, White Castle lovers, bring it on, I’ve got my helmet on!!
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!