We were invited to attend a menu tasting at Grain Restaurant located in Hilton Dallas Park Cities Hotel. Chef James Music and his team at Grain have developed a farm-to-table menu showcasing fresh produce & meats produced and provided by several local sources.
Their menu is updated seasonally to reflect what is currently available and fresh from the farm. The next menu change is planned for mid-October to feature fall flavors, and itâ€™s bound to impress just as this menu did.
During our tasting, we were provided with a couple of dishes from each of the thre courses of the dinner menu. Grain also serves breakfast, lunch and brunch so you can stop by for something delicious at any mealtime.
Texas Watermelon & Feta Cheese â€“ Seedless Red & Yellow Melon, Feta, Aged Balsamic Glace, Mache
The colorful presentation definitely screams summer. I enjoyed the bite-sized cubes and how the flavors & textures between the melon and cheese paired well together. The tang of the balsamic glace tickled the taste buds.
Heirloom Tomato Salad â€“ Proximity Farms Organic Heirlooms, Dallas Mozzarella, Basil
Iâ€™ve never been a fan of tomatoes. Until now. Iâ€™m not sure if it was the thick tender slices of the plump produce, the local companion of melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella or the fresh basil. But it all worked for me.
Buffalo Chili â€“ Ground Buffalo, Caramelized Onions, Redneck Cheddar
A couple of tasters playfully shamed Chef Music for adding beans to the chili AND not mentioning the taboo ingredient in the description on the menu. He just smiled while he continued to entertain and humor us with stories.
Some of us know that most Texans donâ€™t approve of beans in chili, let alone black beans. It was spicy but tasty and the buffalo meat melted in my mouth. I enjoyed it but Iâ€™m also not from around these parts.Â Â I myself, add things to my chili that most likely wouldnâ€™t be approved by others such as cocoa powder. I say just go with whatever works for you.
Crab Cakes – Texas Blue Crab, Red Pepper Jam
These were the most crab-filled cakes Iâ€™ve ever had. And thatâ€™s a good thing! The red pepper jam didnâ€™t stand out to me as much as I wanted but I enjoyed the crab cakes nonetheless. Some chefs tend to add too much breading and/or seasoning that it overshadows the already little amount of crab it contains. These tasty cakes were seasoned just right in my opinion, and I believe I showed my love for them by eating several more when no one was looking.
Bacon BBQ Shrimp â€“ â€˜Po Boysâ€™ Gulf Shrimp, House Made BBQ Sauce
The BBQ sauce had a nice bite to it, and the shrimp were huge. Other than that, this dish wasnâ€™t anything special to me. Iâ€™ve never thought to pair shrimp and BBQ sauce. I joked that this could be called â€œRedneck Shrimpâ€.
Being from a huge family of Oklahoma rednecks, Iâ€™m allowed to joke about it. They love to put barbeque sauce on pretty much anything. Iâ€™ll have to call Mom and suggest she try it, but I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if sheâ€™s already been there, done that.
Tenderloin Tips â€“ Ft. Worth Light, Asadero Polenta, Tobacco Fried 1015s, House Made BBQ Sauce
Ok y’all. Seriously. This is comfort food at its finest. A couple of us enjoyed more than enough bites of this dish. The tender beef tips and creamy polenta are a dream team for your mouth. Asadero is a rich Mexican-style melting cheese and added a great flavor and creaminess to the polenta. The crispy 1015s (aka onions) on the top were a tasty treat. Now I know why Chef Music mentioned it was one of the house specialties. I totally get it!
Born & Braised Short Ribs â€“ Tobacco Fried 1015 Hash, Farm to Table Vegetables
Another comfort food dish done right. The thin, crispy hash on the bottom totally gives this a sinful dimension of flavor. Who doesnâ€™t love a 13-hour braised meat! And the delicious sidekick of Texas shitake mushrooms were grown on logs in Denison, Texas. Thatâ€™s ruggedly local cool in my book!
â€˜Line Caughtâ€™ Gulf Red Fish â€“ Creamed Corn, Lime Butter
The fish dish didnâ€™t disappoint. The thick slices were delectable and served over a sweet thyme cream corn and topped with lime butter. The sneaky addition of the thyme in the corn enhanced the dish. I donâ€™t normally order fish at a restaurant, but I would definitely order this again and enjoy every last bite.
(Disclaimer: My meal was complementary, and all thoughts are my own.)