I believe the combination to a successful restaurant is pretty simple: drinks and food. I’m not talking about just any drinks and food either – too often restaurants are known for having really great drinks and mediocre food or vice versa. Isn’t the whole point to have exceptional food AND drinks? It never ceases to surprise me that so many restaurants get this combo wrong.
My sources (Susie Drinks Dallas) informed me that the drinks at the Renaissance hotel’s latest addition, Asador, were out-of-control delicious, so naturally I had to go make sure the food was at an equal level as well.
Believe it or not this shit my witty blogging doesn’t pay my bills so I have a day job. This day job of mine requires me to spend an uncomfortable amount of time in hotels so the lowest thing on my priority list is stepping into on of those comfy-night-sleep-blood-suckers. Because of this, I was a little hesitant to go to a hotel to eat while being at home but I will pretty much do anything (I mean anything) for a good meal so I got over my little diva moment real quick. Seeing as I’m a hotel restaurant eater connoisseur I went into my visit to Asador stern faced and ready to judge the shit out of their food.
One thing that I appreciated about Asador before even setting foot inside was the fact that they use social media. Der, I love that. I’m constantly seeing tweets about their happy hours and enticing menu items but they utterly surprised me when I sat down and my menu was placed in front of me. If you show your server that you “like” Asador on Facebook, you get a free glass of house wine! Offering me something free if I use social media? Brilliant! I’m not sure if this is was a genius ploy to win me over or to prevent people from grazing their misspelled beer list. T-A-C-A-T-E anyone?
Not that this has anything to do with what I consumed but the decor is awkward, the restaurant almost feels cafeteria like with a big open room overlooking the lobby of the hotel and lights so bright I feel like I’m 19 again being interrogated by the po-pos for drinking Apple McCormicks in my dorm room. Flashbacks?
Asador prides itself on using all fresh and local products which, although may not be innovative, is rare. In my opinion too few restaurants around town don’t give a fuck about that. Points for being hometown friendly!
Let’s get to the nitty gritty, or rather, the foods shall we? The menu is one of the oddest I have seen. From calamari to hot dogs, steaks to scallops, I was utterly confused and impressed. I love creativity as well as a wide array of choices when I’m dining out…but to an extent. If it takes me over 10 minutes to make a decision of what to order, maybe the “creativity” has gone a little far.
We started out with the cheese plate and the crab dip. Too many restaurants nowadays have cheese plates so I wasn’t expecting something particularly life changing but this one was rather impressive. The chef chooses 3 cheeses which vary daily, all of which are locally produced. Each cheese is perfectly paired with its own garnish or sauce making for a delicious combination….tripled. Yes please!
The crab dip, composed of a little spice and brilliant shredded crab meat made for a dip that was decent but nothing I would rush to order again. One impressive thing was that our waiter did bring over more crostini for dipping before we even got close to needing it, something that is always needed but rarely happens. I love when I don’t have to ask for something and my server goes all Miss Cleo.
Through my menu stalking I had heard rave reviews about Asador’s tortilla soup. Although it has pulled pork in it, I still tried it after making a point to fish around Babe’s face. Generally speaking I like soup, but to me it is just a waste of space for some other delicious food I could actually chew so I rarely care much about it. This tortilla soup however is a game changer. It is amazing – perfect in taste, texture and spice. It’s so delicious that I’m PISSED that there is pork in it!
When our entrees arrived I got a little more pissed off. I hate to do this, but I have to blow the whistle on the fact that the men in our party were served first. A huge no-no regardless of where you are in the country but even more apropos seeing as this is Dallas, the epitome of dining etiquette. Fail.
I ordered the flatiron steak with chimicuri. Forgive me god for I live in Texas and am not a steak person. Ya, I said it. Not only am I not a huge steak person but I eat mine medium WELL. Sue me. I like the animal I’m eating to actually be dead. Regardless I must have been in caveman mode or maybe I just had to settle on something after turning my waiter away at least 4 times not being ready. Holy shit. Perfectly cooked, check. Perfectly seasoned, check. Perfectly portioned, check. check. check. Accompanied by spicy ketchup which was more like watered down salsa, the steak was a shining star. I ate the entire thing, an impressive victory for a non-steak-eater.
Other edible friends that visited our table was the hot dog topped with fried pickles but I don’t do hot dogs either so I can’t review the taste. Visually? It was adorable.
Two of the burgers with duck fat fries graced our table as well and the consensus was “that was a damn good burger.” A half pound of meat on a fresh roll topped with your choice of cheese – standard ordering process but above- average on taste.
For dessert we ordered the pecan bars which were alright I guess but near impossible to cut making it hard to share and for everyone to get a taste. Loaded with pecans, almost to a fault and with sticky caramel holding the bars together this dessert is something I could pick up at the gas station in South Dallas any day of the week.
We also ordered the bread pudding. Served in a piping hot skillet, I honestly have no idea about the bread because I was too busy making out with the in-house made ice cream. WHOA! I love me some ice cream and I rarely discriminate (unless its bullshit custard from Wild about Harry’s which sucks – please feel free quote me on that) but this ice cream was out of control. Never in my life has vanilla been so perfect. All in all Asador was a great experience. A few simple tweaks to the decor to make it a little more private and this place will have everything it takes to become a Dallas staple.
I can’t even begin to talk about the exceptional cocktails that are dreamt up here. Asador’s bar is the Willy Wonka of cocktail creation. The seasoned travelers at my table all agreed that we would murder someone to have a restaurant like this in all hotels. Asador is bringing a whole new idea of hotel dining and I couldn’t be happier that it’s happening in Dallas!