Monday, May 23, 2011

Continuing Adventures with Red and Barbara

Brio Tuscan Grill, Southlake Town Square, Dallas 817-310-3136

Southlake Town Square is a very planned, very themed community with faux brownstones to dwell in and a vast number of retail shops and restaurants. It has its own good-sized park overlooking a sort of hidden-behind-a-knoll business center. One could live in a brownstone, walk across the park and be at work. Yes, that kind of place - manicured down to the very last blade of grass. Depressing on some level, I thought.

Seated in Brio with our drinks, we had a magic moment (entirely fitting in this themed place) - a rain cell moved across, sending sheets of rain down the window across from our table. It was dim inside and out and we said, "London! In the rain!" And turned to our menus.

Red looked at it, put it down and said, "I want spaghetti and meat sauce." The rest of us searched the menu in vain - no such dish listed. Red was adamant. "This is an Italian restaurant, of course, they have spaghetti and meat sauce!" Barbara tried to entice him away -- "Look at this - Mezza Lasagna and Insalata - lasagna Bolognese with a choice of salad!" No dice. When our server (a good-sized Irish lass, tall and stately) came to take our orders, he very politely asked for spaghetti and meat sauce and to my amazement, she said, "Of course!"

Barbara ordered Pasta Alla Vodka ($14.95), Richie the Pasta Pomodoro with Chicken ($13.25) and I grazed, starting with Capaccio served with field greens in a sweetish dressing, capers, mustard aioli drizzled decoratively across the plate with a dusting of Parmisan-Reggio. Two triangular sheets of a thin flabread made sails over the lettuce ($10.95)

I knew that carpaccio was very, very thinly sliced raw beef, but I'd never seen it served before. It arrived on a huge oval platter that took up all of my side of the table. The platter was border to border raw beef, cut so thinly that you could have read newsprint through it.

I had no idea how to eat it and I said so to our server who smilingly picked up my salad fork, twirled it as one would for spaghetti and handed me the fork, meat curled exactly so around the tines. Spear a caper, stab some of the lettuce and pop it in your mouth! It was delicious! The tart salty capers made the dressing seem sweeter and the raw beef was just ... there, no taste I could discern. The meat was extraordinarily tender.

I forced a taste upon the others, but they didn't want any more than that. I think the raw beef might have alarmed them a bit. Distant memories of mad cow disease perhaps...

My bowl of lobster and shrimp bisque was very good ($5.95), the Caesar salad of cold Romaine leaves was a sensible portion ($4.95) and I enjoyed both very much. But the carpaccio stole my heart...

Happily, you can have some, too, if you live in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticutt, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, NJ, NC, Ohio, Texas, Utah or Virginia!

Brio is taking over our country! Hey, as long as they bring the carpaccio -- let 'em!

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