Last night, the JohnnyCakes and I went to Stephan Pyles…Again!   It’s currently Restaurant Week (actually Restaurant MONTH for some places), which is always a good time to check out some really great restaurants for Cheap. 

Here is the menu at SP for RW:  http://www.stephanpyles.com/events.asp

Go ahead and look over it.  I’ll wait…

 

…And now that you’ve looked over the menu, let’s get on with the show…

(Note:  We got the wine pairings.  Because you just have to.  You do.)

 

First Course

Local Heirloom Tomato Salad with Paula’s Bocconcini, Fried Avocado and Balsamic Gelée*

 tomatoes

 Wine pairing:
Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch 2008

This was my choice for the 1st course.  It was amazing.  The tomatoes were perfectly ripe (Do they have a huge window that they set the tomatoes on to ripen every day?  Wouldn’t it be cool if they did?), and the panko-encrusted avocado provided a crunchy, sweet foil to the flavors of the tomatoes and the balsamic gelee cubelets.    The bocconcini was like a bonus layer of creaminess to the dish.  (Note to self: make panko-encrusted avocado. )

 

Scallop and Pork Belly Carnitas with Sweet Potato Hash, Smoked Onion Confit and Plum Purée

Scallop and carnitas

Scallop and carnitas

Wine pairing:
Catena Chardonnay, Tupungato, Mendoza 2007

This was Johnny’s first course.  But I tried it, of course…

The waiter had detailed the entire 57-step process of getting the pork belly just right, from the roasting, to the peeling off of fat and forming the pork into a Jimmy Dean Sausage-shaped Tube.  But whatever.  All that really mattered was whether all of that was worth it.  And it was…

I’m not normally a fan of cooked scallops (Although I LOVE scallop sushi!), but this was really tasty.  It had a perfectly bacony flavor, the scallop was not rubbery at all, and for me, sweet potatoes in general can do no wrong.  So no complaints on this one at all…

 

Extra Course – Central Market Coupon

Red Snapper in Thai-Red Curry Masa with Veracruzana Sauce and Caramelized Fingerling Banana

The snapper 4th course

The snapper 4th course

Wine pairing:
Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2006
 

We had to get this.  Even though we didn’t have the Central Market coupon. 

Holy crap it was good.

This was a slab of snapper, on top of coconut rice, with sort of a curry tamale on top.   On top of that was a Veracruzana (think sweet, oniony stewed tomato) sauce.  On the side was half of a carmelized fingerling banana, and then the whole shebang was drizzled with creme fraiche.

(Note to self:  Make bass or some other kind of meaty white fish with  carmelized banana.  And avocado.)

This was like another dessert.  And probably my favorite course of the evening!

 

Second Course

48-Hour Braised Beef Cheek with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Baby Squash

beef

Wine pairing:
Hook and Ladder “The Tillerman” Red Blend, Russian River Valley 2006

 This was the most yummy cowface I’d ever had.  It was like a carmelized pot roast. Sweet, fork-tender, and slightly crispy.  OMG I’m drooling just thinking about it…

Some people are afraid of eating Animal Face, but really, it’s usually the most tender and sweet meat on a critter.  Try this with fish (hamachi kama) the next time you eat sushi.  You will thank me.  Trust.

 

Pan-Seared Salmon with Hoja Santa Pesto, Corn Griddle Cakes and Clay Pot Black Beans

salmon

Wine pairing:
Latour “Domaine Valmoissine” Pinot Noir, Coteaux du Verdon 2007

 Meh.  Mine was better.  (Johnny got this, and it tasted pretty much like it looks.)

I could make this.  It’s like they didn’t even try.  And the streak of pesto just makes the salmon look, well,  diseased

 

Third Course

Mexican Chocolate Fondant with Fleur de Sel Caramel and Kahlúa Crema

chocolate

Wine pairing:
Marenco Brachetto D’ Acqui “Pineto” Piedmonte DOCG 2008

 For our dessert orders, I had asked the waiter to just randomly give us the chocolate dessert and the cheesecake.  So at first, this was my dessert.  Again, I can’t say I’m a fan of cake.

So we traded.

This tasted like a brownie.  (And that’s probably why Johnny LOVED it!)

The wine that was served along side the brownie was a Piedmont, which was sort of a fizzy Pinot Noir.  This wine might have done better with a ganache or something smooth like that.  Because again, I am not a fan of cake…

 

Unless it’s CHEESECAKE…

Deep Ellum Goat’s Cheesecake with Thyme-Infused Cherries Jubilee

cheesecake

Wine pairing:
Lillypilly Noble Blend, New South Wales (Riverina) Australia 2006

 Who but Stephan Pyles would think to make a cheesecake with goat cheese (and not screw it up)?  And then make it look like a cherry cobbler with ice cream?

To be honest, I was expecting the standard baked, triangular slice of cheesecake, maybe with some cherries baked into it.  Maybe a little browning or crustiness on top…  But certainly not this!

(I totally got the best dessert.  After I traded with Johnny, anyway…  Yay, me!)

The cheesecake was perfectly smooth and creamy, and the cherries were perfectly cooked and seasoned with thyme.  Accompanying the cheesecake/cherries was a liberal sprinkling of (graham cracker crumbs?) on the side.  It was basically a deconstructed cherry cheesecake.  And I need to remember to add more herbs to my cobblers…

And as for the wine, the Lillypilly rocked it.

 

All in all, the JohnnyCakes and I were once again very, very impressed by Stephan Pyles.   I’m pretty sure this is our new favorite restaurant. 

 

*All photos were taken by my iPhone, because although I was prepared to look sort of geeky taking photos of my food, I didn’t want to look Japanese Tourist geeky with my honkin’  big DSLR slung around my neck. 

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I have a secret.  When I need some Churchin’ Up, I don’t go to the Triple Rock.  I go to the Church of Food.  Soul Food.  Lemme ‘splain…

On Saturday night, Johnny and I were visiting with my sister, who is one of three people on this entire planet who actually Gets me.  Because she is nice enough to understand the Mystery that is Me, she is one of my favorite people to hang out with.  Well, tonight, she told me that she might be moving to Mexico next year.  

So sad.  So very, very sad.  I cried.  Really.  

So after we left, I told Johnny that I wanted to go for a drink.

Then I had a better idea.

I told him that I wanted to go to my very favorite Moroccan restaurant, Marrakesh Cafe.  

So after some driving around trying to find the place, we finally located it.  (In Dallas, at Beltline and Coit.  In a building that used to be a Taco Bueno (???) FIND IT.  You will not regret it.)

We took our usual seats, at a table in the back of the restaurant.  The drapes dividing the tables lent an air of coziness.  Ahhh…

Of course we ordered the Moroccan mint tea.  But this time, instead of having some poor woman running around the entire restaurant with a teapot in her hand to refill everyone’s cup, they just brought us a whole pot of tea and left it there.  Much more efficient.  Thanks!

We ordered the mixed appetizer plate, which consisted of a cucumber/tomato salad, lamb sausages, eggplant dip (zalouk), and phyllo dough cigars containing hamburger meat.  Everything was DIVINE, as usual.

For our dinner, we got the best thing EVER.  We got chicken bastilla.  This is chicken and ground almonds wrapped in phyllo dough, then sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.  Basically what this tasted like was chicken baklava.  Or maybe just baklava.  Trust me, this is the best thing EVER.  Absolutely amazing.  (And it went really well with the tea!) I would order it again in a heartbeat.

So thanks to the hospitality of the owner and waitstaff, along with the completely welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant, by the end of dinner, I was feeling much, much better.  I don’t know if it was the aromatherapy of the food, or if it was the slight buzz that I always get from the mint tea.  Or maybe, I was sensing the love that they put into their food.  

I told the owner that his restaurant’s food was Soul Food for me, and that I always felt better after going there. He gave me a hug. I LOVE this place!

http://www.marrakeshrestaurant.net/