Visited: A number of times, with or without guests
Ambience: Non-smoking, nicely lit and the wine cellar is beautiful. Typical white linen tables. We did notice on several occasions that it was a touch warm for us, especially after we started drinking wine. :o)
Service: Table service is ALMOST what it should be. When they get busy, some things start to lack. They could be a little more attentive for the price. If you order wine (if you have a wine list in your hands), the sommelier (actually I believe that he is still an “in training” sommelier) will come to your table and make suggestions. We have always found his suggestions to be spot on (AND he doesn’t make it a practice to recommend the highest priced bottle). Michael Anthony’s does have an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator – take that for what you will. They say “To qualify for an award, the list must present complete, accurate wine information. It must include vintages and appellations for all selections, including wines available by the glass. Complete producer names and correct spellings are crucial, and the overall presentation and appearance of the list is also taken into consideration. [The Award of Excellence is] for lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Typically, these lists offer at least 100 selections.” I found the list to be quite comprehensive and had listings at all ranges of cost. I was very fond of them listing half-bottles. Pretty good for Southlake.
Price: Reasonable to slightly over priced. But for the direct area, I can’t find a better combination of wine/service/food. We got out of there at ~$270 for a party of four (~$67/person) once. BUT we also ended up at $450 for two. Well, we did drink a Chateau D’Yquem 1997... which was not on the list (Don’t be afraid to ask for something you like, they gave us a fantastic price). The wine is well priced, but some of the food is a little pricey for the quality.
FOOD: (This was not all on one night...)
(Crispy Burst of Brie -Wilted Watercress with Bing Cherry Chutney) – Very disappointing! How can you mess up Brie? The Bing Cherry Chutney was too peppery and had very drab (almost tasted canned) Bing cherries. Brie was low quality or maybe just very old.
(Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail - Horseradish Pickle Remoulade and Spicy Red Sauce) – The shrimp were juicy and fresh, but the Remoulade and the Red Sauce left something to be desired. I am a HUGE horseradish fan and expect it to be powerful and potent. These sauces were neither. Blah in the ramekin.
(Tuna Two Ways - Sesame Ginger Tartare and Togarashi served with Orange-Soy Ponzu) – This was a very nice dish. The fish was fresh and sauces were soft and palatable, made for the tuna. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t) Togarashi is a Japanese seasoning blend made with Chinese Chile, Orange peel, Seaweed, Ginger, Poppy seeds, and Sesame seeds.
(Mixed Field Greens - Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts and Shallot-Sherry Vinaigrette) – I get mine without the pine nuts, as they leave a funny taste in my mouth if I eat them with something light. The greens were fresh, the goat cheese soft and yummy and the dressing was a perfect blend to finish off the salad.
(Market Picked Heirloom Tomatoes and Imported Buffalo Mozzarella - Roasted Peppers, Focaccia and 15 year Aged Balsamic Vinegar) – OK, now here was a Caprese done right. The tomatoes were fresh and tasty; the Mozzarella was soft, creamy and nutty. I am not a fan of bell peppers, so they got the nix. I did see them come out on someone else’s plate, and they looked pretty good... for bell peppers. The balsamic was a little bitey, but I love balsamic and can appreciate all ages. The tomatoes supported stronger vinegar.
We have tried almost every entrée on the menu and they all seem to fall just a tad short of expectation. I guess it is because I WANT this restaurant to be really good, and expect a lot. It is in my backyard. The fish a little overdone, the filet just not quite right, etc.., etc... etc... Not to say that these dishes are bad by any means, it’s just that if they added just an ounce more they could hit the mark.
(Truffled Fries) – These came out fresh and in long, shoestring style. They were very fresh and if you like Truffle oil, you’ll love these. Com’on...fried potatoes!!
(Grilled Asparagus) – A nice side dish. Fresh and tasty. Not the best I have ever had... but tasty.
For Southlake, out in the middle of chain heaven, and with my expectations of them to get better, and my like of the winelist, I think they are hovering around a 2 1⁄2 stars.