As a part of my continuing quest for a really nice steakhouse in the Dallas area. Now, keep in mind I'm just moving here and my experience is really limited. I've been to Bob's in Plano and III Forks in North Dallas and liked them both, and to Steve Field's and found it disappointing for the dollar. I haven't yet made it to Kirby's, which people tell me is great. I've also been to some more value-oriented places like Saltgrass, which I think is just fine though it doesn't have the steakhouse vibe that I enjoy (no knock on the food, which I think is really quite good for a moderately-priced chain steakhouse).
Chamberlain's impressed from the outset, with a professional and quite friendly host who's clearly been around the restaurant business for a while. I opted for a seat at the bar as I'm a solo diner for the next little while, and was poured a generous cocktail by a friendly bartender. I figured I'd try the standard caesar salad and NY strip with broccoli for a good basis of comparison.
Soon enough a waiter delivered a pile of grotesquely overdressed romaine to my setting... but the funny thing was, this dressing was spot-on delicious. Within a few seconds I simply didn't care that the lettuce was nothing more than a vehicle for this bright, lemony, garlicky stuff... I just wanted to shovel more of it into my gullet. Even the few, smallish croutons snuggled in-between basted leaves were perfectly-sized morsels of crunchy carrier for this dressing. I couldn't believe I was loving this "salad," but clearly... I was. An anchovy or two wouldn't have bothered me but I didn't really care about their absence, either.
I'm not a big garlic mashed potato fan (steaks here come stock with these or with parmesan-truffle grits, which sounded a little heavier than what I was after) so I asked for the broccoli with hollandaise on the side, which turns out to be their standard service. My steak arrived and looked like a beautiful piece of meat. The broc was perfectly-just-undercooked with nice tooth and the hollandaise, while lacking the lemon-infused zip that I prefer, was a nicely creamy complement to the broc. It was good to have it in a little ramekin on the side as dipping the broc was perfect.
Let me tell you about this steak, though. Holy cow, what a nice slice of steer. This was a simply-seasoned, perfectly-cooked strip with a wonderfully charred exterior and a precisely-cooked medium-rare interior that gave up lots of juicy flavor. This was certainly one of the better restaurant steaks I've had in some time, prepared simply and with straightforward precision.
I liked the whole experience at this place quite a bit and plan to go back. The atmosphere is nice with pleasantly-spaced tables and a clubby, masculine steakhouse feel without either the red banquettes or a lot of oppressive staff. It's spacious but feels cozy, and it's light enough to read a book or look in your date's eye, but dark enough to let you have an intimate feel at the table. I didn't see a lot of great values on the wine list but I also didn't look it over carefully and I know there's at least one or two, so I think you can probably pick some winners there, too.
I'm really hoping to find some more places just as good as this but I felt Iike Chamberlain's set a pretty high bar. Now, fellow Chowhounds, I ask you to tell me that I'm crazy (or not) and send me out looking for more places just as good or even better. I've gotten great advice on the board here and I'm really grateful for it (someone suggested banana leaf for Thai and I though it was just great), so I'm looking forward to your thoughts about this...
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