Sunday, May 3, 2009

Adventures in Tasting #1, Continued: Screen Door Restaurant

If you recall our last installment of this tasting post, my lovely wife The Rock Star and I had just finished discovering the joys of Cruzan Rum with our delightful new friend Andrea. We sampled Cruzan and a name-brand rum straight up, then enjoyed Cruzan cocktails. In our minds, Cruzan was the clear winner, and this was no idle boast, as my lovely bride went to the liquor shoppe just a few days later and bought some for home consumption. Tasting over, we decided to proceed with a proper dinner outdoors on Screen Door's lovely patio, with the stars shining brightly overhead.

Executive sous chef Terrance (he of the streetwise attitude and ever-present fedora), started us off right in the bar with an order of that old Southern classic fried green tomatoes, plus some fried quail. Sadly, the tomatoes were a bit rubbery, although the red pepper jam they were served with was quite good. The Southern fried quail was much more palatable, crispy-crunchy, with savory onion-thyme gravy on the side. A great starter indeed. Once we arrived out of doors, we decided to try yet one more appetizer: Crispy fried oysters and okra with smoked tomato remoulade. Oysters proved every bit as crispy as the quail, and the remoulade added a touch of New Orleans to our Southern feast. Some of the best remoulade I've ever had. The fried okra was, well, fried okra. You either love fried okra, or like me, you try some from time to time and wonder what the fuss is about. Luckily, my wife loves it. When entree time rolled around, she selected the daily special: Roasted spring chicken atop a bed of grits. The chicken was free-range, and you could obviously taste the fresh, roasted flavor, but the grits were a revelation. In my opinion, grits are not usually very tasty because they are ground very coarse and cooked until almost flavorless. Not so these grits. They were smooth and buttery, like polenta (in fact, food-savvy Andrea thought they were polenta), and had melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Andrea decided on the boneless rack of lamb. Very tender and juicy, but once again a sidedish stole the show, in this case a fricassee of black eyed peas, tasso ham, and pearl onion confit. The ham and onion really brought out the flavor of the black eyed peas, showing once and for all that Executive Chef Fitzgerald Dodd really knows how to prepare Southern food, both classic and newfangled. My own meal was chicken-fried veal, which added a nice twist to an old classic. If every chicken-fried steak was this good, it would be the star of every diner in Texas. We finished our lengthy repast (we took over two hours to dine because we were having such a good time) with milk and cookies, and pastry chef Erica Nicholl deserves credit for her inspired pairing of snappy ginger and luscious triple-chocolate cookies with a jug of cold milk. All too soon we took our satisfied leave, and my wife and I can't wait to dine with Andrea again.

Service was (what else?) Southern, down-home and friendly, and Terrance was often on-hand to offer his personal touch. Website is In short, Screen Door is a true Southern belle gussied up for today's diners. Try her charms soon, and remember:



Margie said...

I still haven't tried Screen Door. What's wrong with me?!

Food Czar said...

Probably because you keep getting distracted by all the other wonderful restaurants in One Arts Plaza, Margie, such as Dali Wine Bar. Myself, I need to try Dali, Tei An, and Fedora.