Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nick and Sam's

I have a new favorite restaurant.

Let me back up for a second and give some history. Traditionally, Cody and I eat at a high end restaurant every year for our anniversary. We have had some incredible meals over the years. Usually, after eating our anniversary dinner, I proclaim whatever restaurant we just partook of as my new favorite. But this time, I really mean it.

Several weeks ago, D magazine listed the top 20 steakhouses in Dallas and gave detailed reviews of each. Based on what we read, we chose the restaurant they ranked number two...Nick and Sam's.

We drove up on an unassuming Sunday evening for our meal, and after handing off the car to the valet, stepped into the smooth, dark interior of the restaurant. I think the hostesses might be famous here for being young, attractive, and dressed in tiny (in some cases painted on) black dresses. After confirming our reservation with one of the beautiful hostesses, we were taken to a booth on the far side of the main room. At Nick and Sam's the choice is see or be seen. From a booth one can people watch and perhaps spot celebrities at the center tables. I've heard it can get noisy out in the middle of the room also, so we definitely preferred sitting by the wall. Our waiter was one of the best I've ever had. He was professional and friendly. It's not uncommon to get one or the other quality to some degree, but this guy had the right blend of helpful but unobtrusive, talkative but not overbearing, timely but unrushed...and he treated us like we were the most special people in the room.

Now, I'm pretty sure they do this for everyone, but the waiter asked if he could bring us caviar on the house. Cody and I confessed we had never tasted caviar, so when he brought it out he told us a little about it and told us to just experiment and play around with the various accompaniments on the plate: chopped onion, chives, egg yolk, egg white, sour cream. I took my little triangular piece of toast and smeared on those black beady fish eggs and a few random toppings. And I promptly discovered that I do not like caviar, at all. I gave it one more try with different toppings, just to be sure, and now I am 100% certain I don't like caviar. Cody, on the other hand, enjoyed it.

The waiter brought over a large tray of raw meat to show us some of the special cuts that were available. I'm glad we paid attention because we ended up choosing a 26 ounce porterhouse cut that was not listed on the menu. We skipped salad, but decided to try lots of their sides. They offered half size portions of sides for half the price so we got four half sizes instead of the two regular size we had been considering. We got garlic mashed potatoes (YUM), lobster mac and cheese (I'd probably get regular next time), asparagus (skip this, unimpressive), and sauteed forest mushrooms (WOW).

We also got portabello mushroom pot stickers for an appetizer and they were delicious. The best part was the sauce which we both ended up mopping up with our bread. I had looked at the wines by the glass and saw three shiraz types offered. I told the waiter that was the kind of wine I preferred, but I didn't know which of the three to choose. His response was to bring each of the bottles and 3 wine glasses to the table for an impromptu taste test. There was definitely a clear winner of the test, and I was blown away by the level of service.

Our steak arrived cooked to perfection. Nick and Sam's has their own special steak sauce, which is a rarity in high end steak places. Typically, it is thought that if the steak is good enough, one doesn't need a sauce to go with it. Sauce would just cover the awesome flavor of the meat. But Cody and I decided to try the sauce and I was so glad we did. It was crazy good. It had the strangest flavor, almost Indian, so I asked what in the world was in it. The waiter listed off ingredients like orange juice, bourbon, brown sugar, and more I can't recall, then stated that it cooks for three days then it is aged in a used Jack Daniels barrel. It is a nice, thick, wonderful sauce that I seriously wished I could pour into a vial and take home. It did overpower the flavor of the steak some, but it was so good. I finally compromised by eating one bite with, one bite without throughout the meal. I also had to continually decide whether to add those sauteed mushrooms to each bite as well. When it's that tough to decide, you know the food is all pretty amazing.

When we were thoroughly gorged, the waiter brought out the dessert tray. There were typical molten chocolate cakes, and creme brulee. Then, on a separate plate he brought out the piece de resistance, an enormous chunk of carrot cake that was about 10 inches high by 8 inches wide and probably weighed 15 pounds. One could also buy just the top half of the chunk o' cake for half price. Cody and I thought about it and decided we should take a half piece of the carrot cake home to eat later as we watched the Mavs game. So, the waiter bundled it up to go and brought it to the table in a nice paper sack. This turned out to be a great call which we greatly enjoyed about 2 hours later as we cheered the Mavs to victory.

At this point, the waiter assured us that we should sit and relax as long as we wanted, in fact, could he bring us some port on the house? Why of course he can! So, we sat and drank some smooth, delicious port (he even left the bottle on the table and told us to help ourselves to more). The only other time we have had port was shortly after we married when we spent a Thanksgiving at a bed and breakfast on the California coast. There was a complimentary bottle of port in the room. We loved it then, and we loved it now. It made me wonder why I had never thought of buying a bottle to have at home, and I resolved to do that soon.

Eventually, we paid the bill and headed home. It was two hours after we had arrived. I should point out that our waiter did ask us at the beginning if we had somewhere to get to or if we had time to spend. We had all the time in the world. It was such a relaxing, enjoyable meal.

I can't recommend Nick and Sam's, or our waiter (Dennis) enough. It was a perfect meal and a perfect way to celebrate 13 years of marriage with the man I love.


Rachel said...

I think you've convinced me to try Nick & Sam's at some point (not that I needed convincing, really). I am a HUGE fan of mushrooms and if theirs are as good as you say, I will be in heaven. Not to mention all the other great things you mentioned. Interesting about the caviar...I am not sure if I would like it or not.

Jenni said...

sounds like a lovely evening! happy anniversary!

Kaitlin said...

Sounds awesome! I'll have try it someday. I went to a restaurant in Allen called Brio and they too asked if we were there to relax or needed to get out quickly. It was very nice. I'm with Rachel on the mushroom thing, too!

Anonymous said...

Sounds great...minus the caviar (too salty) and the port (I got sick on port once...can't stand the thought of drinking it now!).


becca said...

Becky, N&S is my very fave restaurant too!! I've eaten there a number of times because when I worked at the Bank it was my boss's fave too (they knew him by name). Todd and I have been there a few times as well and the service and the food are always top notch. I always say you can get the best steak of your life at a number of restaurants in Dallas so it comes down to the experience. N&S has both....great steaks and a wonderful dining experience. The caviar..Even though I love sushi, I'm not normally a traditional caviar fan either. I do however typically enjoy it at N&S. Strange, I know! It's the port that I don't do (I like big, dry, not sweet reds) so
Todd gets his and mine. He's never complained! Glad you enjoyed your meal! Becca Pickens