Monday, August 9, 2010

Jack Allen's

Way tardy on writing this one up! (Twenty lashes with a wet noodle!) I had been to Jack Allen's for happy hour once before, where we had decent food, and fairly mediocre service. I've had a number of friends who have been, and all reported good things about the food, but spottiness regarding the service. So three of us met for a 4:30 pm happy hour on a Friday afternoon; I hoped that it wouldn't be too busy on a Friday at that hour, and it turned out to be just fine.

Our initial reception by the hostesses was mixed though. The two younger 20-somethings seemed very affable, but the other 40-something was more terse. Two of us were there, and the 3rd was 5 minutes out, so we said there would be 3 of us, and said the 3rd person wasn't there yet. The hostess replied a bit snidely, well then, I guess there's only 2 of you, and we don't seat incomplete parties. But then proceeded to lead us to a table. So I don't know if she was politely trying to say, hey, I know you're waiting for another person, and while we don't normally seat incomplete groups, we'll happily take care of you for now. It's all in the tone, and hers was not the most welcoming.

Fortunately, that was all about to change as our fabulous happy hour waiter, Seth, immediately greeted us, reminded us that appetizers were half price, and he'd give us a few minutes to look things over. He couldn't have been more friendly and efficient during our time there. A little after 5 pm, there was one of those brief, but very heavy Texas-afternoon downpours where the sun is still shining. The staff, including a manager rushed to shut the side flaps along the back side of the patio where we were sitting against; he got fairly wet doing it, but it kept us dry! Five minutes later, the deluge stopped, and the sun was back out in full force, and the flaps went back up.

We had the Red Chile Fries, which are lightly battered, fried, and sprinkled with cotija cheese. Perfectly crisp, and incredibly addicting with the garlic aioli!  The Blue Crab Gratin, with spinach & artichokes, and a nice ciabatta bread, it was softer, so the crust didn't tear up the roof of your mouth. I wouldn't say there was a ton of crab in the gratin, but it was incredibly tasty, and I am sure low fat! (Ha.)
We also had the Spinach Gorgonzola Ravioli...that walnut cream sauce was killer! And opted for the "Wedgies" Salad, their spin on the iceberg lettuce wedge with blue cheese. Very artful presentation on the salad! And, they are sourcing a local (well, Dallas-based, but still pretty local!) blue cheese as well. JA's seems to be making a killing on happy hour specials, as the apps are half price, and there are drink specials too. Cheers to them!

As our various dishes of food arrived, we also noticed that the table of ladies next to kept expanding. I think when we sat, there were 3 of them, and before too much longer, 2 tables were pushed together, and it was a group of 9 or 10 people. So really, they don't seat incomplete parties? Doesn't matter, because we had wonderful food, and great service from Seth. Jack Allen's obviously is doing well for themselves, and I think the curse of that location may finally be over (it's been a couple different things in the past few years). As we were leaving about 6:30 pm, the valet parking guys (yes, they do have valet parking!) were a little harried and backed up, and they said a group of about 65 had been arriving for a wedding rehearsal dinner. There's obviously a private room somewhere inside, and it's now my mission to get back for a "real" meal and not just happy hour. Hopefully, Seth will be my waiter!

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