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Al Biernat’s

February 11, 2015

For the last night of our quick weekend getaway trip to Dallas, I asked my husband to find a restaurant for us with food that I would like.  I’m definitely the pickier eater of the two of us, so it’s usually a question of whether or not a restaurant will serve food that I can order and enjoy because my husband can always find something that he can eat.  He asked me to take a look at a steak & seafood joint to see if it might be something I would go for.  We’re in the heart of North Texas, not too far from the stockyards at Fort Worth, and I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl, so steak in Texas seems like a no brainer to me.  Besides, it’s different from any of the other food we’ve had while we’ve been in Dallas, so why not?  In the end, this turned out to be the meal that almost didn’t happen.  This was a Saturday night, and we weren’t naïve enough to think that we wouldn’t have to make reservations in advance, so about 2 weeks before we traveled I made and confirmed dinner reservations.  On the night of, we arrived at the restaurant just on time and discovered that this is a really happening restaurant.  And I mean really happening to the point of being jam-packed.  When we stepped into the restaurant, my husband and I were a bit dumbfounded because the only entrance to the restaurant dumps you into their bar which was packed 3 and 4 deep with people trying to order drinks, people sitting down at the bar to eat, and people milling about waiting for their table.  It was so full we couldn’t make heads or tails about where we were supposed to go to check in for our reservations or which way the hostess stand even was.  I’ve never seen a set up that was quite so bad.  Finally, after having turned the wrong way, we made our way to the hostess stand who told us that there would be a bit of a wait, even with our reservations, so we should just mill about the bar and someone would come find us when our table was ready.  No buzzer to hold on to, or no phone number to provide to receive a text message or anything.  How they would ever be able to find us in a bar that crowded, I had no idea.  Not interested in getting pre-dinner drinks, my husband and I just had to mill about the bar while we were getting squished left and right by people trying to find a seat, people trying to order drinks, or other people just walking in and out of the restaurant.  After almost an hour wait, my husband was ready to give up and just leave.  We decided to check in at the hostess stand one last time to see what the status was on our table before the hostess apologized and told us that it should only be a few more minutes as we were next on the list – whether or not that was true, who knew?  My husband and I agreed to wait a few more minutes and eventually were called to a table within a couple of minutes.  Again, by this time, it was late, we were starving, and it had been over an hour that we had been waiting for a table, even with a reservation.  A little nuts if you ask me.  This restaurant better be worth it as I’ve never waited this long before for a table when I had a reservation.

Well known and well established as one of the best steakhouses, if not one of the best restaurant’s in Dallas, Al Biernat’s, named after owner Al Biernat, is where business people wine and dine clients and the elite of Dallas go to be seen.  It’s a place where you can expect to see anyone from the likes of sports icons Troy Aikman to Mark Cuban and every other well-known sports athlete from the Dallas area dining on the best steak and seafood in the city.  The walls of the bar are adorned with larger than life framed and signed sports jerseys from every walk of the sports world.  You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Dallas who hasn’t heard of, or been to, Al Biernat’s.  After an hour plus wait for a table, this girl is prepared to be impressed with a meat and potatoes dish that better knock my socks off.

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To their credit, the minute we were seated, our waitress and assistant were immediately over at our table making sure we were settled, explaining the evening’s specials, taking our drink orders, and presenting us with a bread basket full of assorted breads.  Our service throughout the evening was amazing and efficient and our food orders came out accurately and promptly as well.  So, no complaints whatsoever regarding the service we received at the restaurant once seated, it was just a lesson learned that Saturday night dinner service at Al Biernat’s is packed and a wait well beyond your reservation time is to be expected.

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For the evening, my husband ordered his usual gin and tonic with his preferred Bombay Sapphire gin.  Meanwhile, I ordered the considerably more childish drink of a Shirley Temple.  The sweet grenadine lures me right in every time.  And after a long hour-plus wait for our table, we needed the drinks to coat our parched throats.

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To start our now-late night meal, we each decided to order an appetizer.  For me, I chose the wagyu carpaccio with pine nuts, parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil.  Served with flat thin cracker bread, the carpaccio was fantastic.  The wagyu beef was tender and flavorful with the olive.  I thought that the pine nuts was a fantastic touch that I hadn’t seen and the nuts were perfectly toasted, giving the dish an extra subtle touch of nutty flavor.  The capers also provided a nice salty touch to cut through the leans of the wagyu.  Though, I’m not the biggest fan of whole capers in any dish, it actually worked well in this dish.  The only thing I didn’t like about this dish was the thin cracker bread.  I would much rather have preferred to have the carpaccio served with a thick crusty crostini.

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My husband immediately gravitated toward the baked brie cheese with sweet garlic appetizer.  Also served with the general accompaniments of grilled crostini, sweet red grapes, sliced Granny Smith apples, a ramekin of olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture, and a small side of some sort of berry jam, this dish was quite tasty.  My husband ate it all up right away, but not before he offered me a little taste.  I’m not the biggest fan of brie cheese, but I must admit that this cheese was quite tasty.  The cheese was perfectly baked and the sweet roasted garlic gave the dish great flavor.  Brie pairs so nicely with each of the accompaniments provided on the plate, but my favorite was a slice of Granny Smith and some brie cheese atop the crostini.  A terrific, flavorful bite of creamy, soft cheese amidst the tang of the Granny Smith.  My husband thought this was a great start to his meal.

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For his main dish, my husband ordered the wagyu angus bone-in ribeye steak.  Our waitress explained that this particular wagyu steak is provided from a nearby farm exclusively for Al Biernat’s.  This huge chunk of meat was perfectly grilled to a nice medium rare, exactly as my husband requested.  My husband told me that the wagyu ribeye was tender, much more tender than any previous ribeye he’d had before.  Also, the bone-in ribeye was much less fatty than he expected, which meant it was much meatier, which is terrific, especially since the meat is so tender and flavorful.  My husband couldn’t get over how tender this ribeye was.  Almost to the point that a butter knife could have cut through it.

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To go with our dinner entrees, my husband and I ordered up a couple of side dishes.  It’s hard to go to a steakhouse and not get the classic macaroni & cheese as a side.  This mac & cheese was fantastic.  It was well cooked and well prepared and somehow tasted ultra cheesy, which you can’t go wrong with when you’re talking about mac & cheese.  It was bubbly and hot when it was brought to the table and I couldn’t stop myself from having a bunch of it.  It seemed as if I couldn’t stop spooning this into my mouth.  My husband also wanted to order the steak fries as a potato side dish.  Again, perfectly fried and crispy on the outside and still steaming hot and soft on the inside.  Some of the best cooked steak fries I’ve ever had.  My husband agreed as he couldn’t stop his hand from grabbing these fries and popping them into his mouth.

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My entrée was actually a special for the night, the surf and turf with a peppercorn crusted 8 oz filet and a 6 oz lobster tail to go with it.  All of this was served over mashed potatoes and asparagus.  Like any good steakhouse, as soon as the dish was brought to the table, the assistant waiter was there to help remove the lobster meat from the shell for me so I wouldn’t have to figure out how to do it.  One bite of the lobster tail and I knew right then and there that this was the best lobster I’ve ever tasted in my life.  I had to tell my husband that he had to try some because it was so good.  It was so buttery and tender I almost didn’t even need the clarified butter it was served with.  The lobster was lightly grilled, but perfectly cooked to draw out the sweetness of the meat.  I could have finished a lobster tail twice this size with how good it was.  The peppercorn crusted filet was pre-sliced and perfectly cooked to a medium rare as requested.  The peppercorn crust was delicious and just a touch spicy with pepper heat, which I like.  The filet was just the right size for this meal to go with the lobster tail.  This was quite simply the most flavorful surf and turf I’ve ever enjoyed.

By this time, my husband and I were stuffed.  However, after having waited so long for our table, we wanted to make the most of our dining experience and decided we’d order dessert any way.  After having looked at the dessert menu, we couldn’t agree on just one dessert, so against our better judgment, we decided to each order our own dessert.  We tried a bit too hard to completely stuff ourselves to the gills, but oh did we enjoying doing it.

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Chocolate fondue cake with black raspberry chocolate chip gelato was my husband’s dessert.  I was a bit surprised at first as my husband isn’t much of a chocolate guy, so to get a chocolate fondue cake is generally more chocolate than he’s usually willing to eat.  However, I realized that what my husband really wanted was the black raspberry chocolate chip gelato, which my husband absolutely loved.  The flavor of the gelato was spot on and was a good compliment to the sweetness of the chocolate cake.  The addition of the biscotti to use to dip into the chocolate fondue in the middle of the chocolate cake was a nice touch.  As full as we were, I was surprised to see my husband eat up his whole dessert in no time.  That tells me that he really enjoyed it.

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My dessert was the peanut butter, chocolate and banana cream pie served with chocolate-banana gelato.  Our assistant waiter told me that this was his favorite dessert as he thought it was so unique, the most unique dessert on their menu.  One bite of the dessert and I was completely impressed.  You could completely taste the peanut butter, chocolate and the banana.  Not one of those flavors overpowered the other flavors, and they were all subtle enough to create a terrific combination.  There was even fresh banana slices in the pie itself, which was a nice touch.  The chocolate-banana gelato was also fabulous.  Again, the gelato was well made with a perfect mix of banana flavor and chocolate flavor without the chocolate being too sweet.  The pie was more like a mini tart with a thick, buttery crust which actually worked quite well with the chocolate and peanut butter as it cut through some of the sweetness of the dessert.  The dessert, however, was twice as large as I was expecting it to be, and no matter how hard I tried to stuff myself, I just couldn’t finish it.  Luckily, my husband, who was already stuffed himself, stepped in and helped me out.   I didn’t want to stop eating this as it really was one of the most unique deserts I’ve tasted, specifically with this flavor combination, but I just couldn’t put another spoonful of food into my mouth.

So our initial dining experience at Al Biernat’s started off a little rocky, and we were this close to just leaving the restaurant to find something else to eat.  I think that the front entrance of the restaurant is poorly designed and that a 1st time visitor, like myself, not knowing if I should be going left or right when I walk in, or even wondering if I’m in the right place to start with, gives a bad first impression of the restaurant.  Of course, the second impression of waiting more than an hour beyond my reservation time was a pretty poor impression as well.  However, all of that aside, from the minute we were seated until the time we left the restaurant, Al Biernat’s was a fantastic dining experience.  The service we received from our waitress and assistant waiter was spot on, they were there for all of our needs and we never had to wait for anything.  And of course, the most important aspect was the food, and that was beyond excellent.  I don’t remember walking out of a restaurant as stuffed as I was that evening.  I literally could not put another bite of food in my mouth, and yet, I badly wanted to eat more because the food was so delicious.  I’d never had more flavorful, succulent and tender lobster in my life, and my peanut butter, banana and chocolate cream pie was fantastic.  For anyone who is a steak or seafood lover, I would recommend Al Biernat’s, just perhaps not on the busiest night of the week.

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