Friday, May 9, 2008

Food Czar Revisit #2: Silks at Lone Star Park

If you remember my original review of Silks back in November, you may recall that although I would love to visit every weekend during racing season, there are two days during the year that I virtually NEVER miss: Breeder's Cup Day in October and Kentucky Derby Day the first Saturday in May. Tickets for Silks always go on sale in March and Derby Day is so popular that if you do not call the ticket office right when it opens, you may miss out on tickets. On the appointed day, I tried calling the office for two hours and no luck! How could I possibly update my review of Silks, which I had named one of my Top Ten Restaurants of 2007? Responding to my plea, Sales Manager Don Feneziani stepped up to the plate and obtained the coveted ducats for me. So early on May 3rd, my lovely wife the Rock Star, my good friend the Rock and myself all headed to Lone Star Park, bent on a full day of wagering, eating and fun.

We arrived upstairs just after 10:30 AM to a half-empty restaurant. Although Silks did indeed fill up a couple of hours later, the folks who arrived in the PM were in danger of missing out on the restaurants famed Omelet Bar, which was already in full swing. After giving our drink orders to the efficient Kelly, who took good care of us throughout the day, the three of us headed upstairs (Silks is built stairstep-fashion on multiple levels; if you have mobility issues, please let them know when you order tickets) where two smiling, good-natured gentlemen in toques made us the deliciously eggy creations. Choose your ingredients from red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, ham, sausage, bacon, and cheese, then watch chef work. (Again, be sure to tip him a buck or two for his efforts. He's worth it!) The thoroughly delicious, nutricious omelets are among the best creations Silks has to offer, and should keep you sated for a couple of hours at least. After an hour or so of simulcast race watching and horse handicapping, the buffet proper still had not officially opened; luckily, the cheese bar was available so we went and got small plates of cheese and crackers to tide us over until lunch was served.

In due course, the buffet opened and we made our way topside to sample it's savory delicacies. I rarely drink so early in the day, yet we felt that such stellar food called for wine to accompany it, so we scanned the well-chosen wine list and selected Campanile Pinot Grigio, a delightful white with a slight touch of sweetness that made it an excellent accompanyment to the food. Chef Jake Duplantis had as always done his usual stellar job with the offerings: pork tenderloin, baked fish, the carving station, and his wonderful array of salads. My colleagues sampled a little bit of everything; I was still a bit full from the omelet and cheese plate, so I selected more carefully: chicken salad, asparagus, brown-sugar carrots, and a big slab of medium prime rib with horseradish and brown mustard. The beef and chicken salad were absolutely superb, the asparagus excellent, and the brown-sugar carrots an unexpected delight. This thoroughly satisfying noontide meal kept me sated for hours, until I returned late in the day for chocolate cream pie and chocolate-covered strawberries, which made for a great and not-too-filling finish. Regrettably, I decided to pass up the always-wonderful pasta bar, which is every bit as good as the omelet bar, as my tender tummy decided there was no room at the inn for any more food. Luckily, The Rock did sample it and reports that the freshly-prepared pasta offerings are as tempting as ever.

Around five o'clock, it was post time for the Kentucky Derby, so we quickly ordered mint juleps in souvenir glasses and placed our wagers. Our bet lady, Christine, did a fantastic job all day, despite the fact that she had a number of high maintenance tables to attend to. We watched and cheered as Big Brown won (not my pick, but I still had a great time), then were saddened when gallant filly Eight Belles broke down after placing second. My lovely bride was particularly upset, as she loves gray fillies, and feels a strong kinship with all animals. It took her most of the evening to recover emotionally.

Overall, we had another wonderful day at Silks, and I'm happy to report that Chef Jake is still keeping the culinary standards high. Check it out at Visit soon, why don't you, and don't forget:


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