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Hooray!  It’s Restaurant Week in Dallas!  A time when top notch restaurants flaunt their stuff and lure you in to their establishment with promises of three course meals all for the low, low price of $35 per person.  If you don’t believe me, check out the regularly priced menu and you’ll see what a spectacular deal this week is!

First stop, Abacus.  My foodie father-in-law has mentioned his fondness for this establishment, and this alone was enough to land this restaurant at the top of my Restaurant Week to-do list.  Thanks to the goddess of Restaurant Week, my sister Kristin (#3), restaurants were chosen and reservations were made and I did not have to lift a finger.

A producer’s life never stops. Kristin (#3) can do it all commercials, video games, even coordinate Restaurant Week reservations for her siblings…which I’m sure she’d tell you is the most difficult job by far (we can be difficult to manage).

What’s a girl to do when she arrives 30 minutes earlier than her reservation?

I didn’t eat the wasabi peas. I thought about it and I was almost positive they put out the tiny container just for me when I took a seat. Then I thought about all the TV shows I’ve seen in the past where patrons were heckled for eating the “scary bar nuts” and I just decided to pass.

Nope, I didn’t mind a little down time while waiting for my two fabulous sisters to arrive.

Kandace (#2) and a nice glimpse of the restaurant.

Each restaurant that participates in Restaurant Week has their own special “take” on it. At Abacus, we were to choose one small plate, one big plate, and then share a dessert sampler.  Figuring out what to order so we all get a taste, takes a little discussion and negotiating.  For instance, Kandace and Kristin are happy with eating half their plate and then switching plates with each other to finish it off.  Me, on the other hand, well I really don’t like the idea of my plate disappearing.  No big deal to those two, they were happy to take a bite of mine and move on.  I much prefer the “share a bite” over the “split-an-entree-in-half” option.

For small plates, we chose the (1) Pimenton Seared Scallop with Spanish Chorizo, Okra, Texas Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Cream, (2) Crispy Roasted Duck with Garlic White-Anchovy Gnocchi, and the (3) Arborio Rice Crusted Rock Shrimp in a Citrus-Fresno Syrup.  The freshest dish was most definitely the Pimenton Seared Scallop.  It’s hard to get fresher than okra and tomatoes in Texas.

My duck and gnocchi small plate had a nice blend of flavors and just enough to gnocchi to both keep you satisfied and wanting more at the same time.  I could have downed a big plate of this dish in no time.  There was just enough sauce not to dry out the duck; however, it is not my favorite duck dish thus far (if you’re interested, that honor is reserved for Sangria’s).

Choosing our big plate entrees was less complicated.  Steak and Shrimp.  Kristin and Kandace split both thanks to their handy little pass off system.  I got to eat my entire steak plate, plus a bite of Kristin’s amazing Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Poblano-Cilantro Grits.  The shrimp and grits completely reminded me of a casserole and so of course, I was in awe.  There was a mix of poblano and cilantro with a nice sweet pop of corn.  Here’s a bit of extra good news…these grits are standard dinner fare for the restaurant.  If you don’t have Restaurant Week reservations…no worries, you can taste these tasty grits anytime!  If you have never tried grits, I’d recommend starting here.

Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Poblano-Cilantro Grits

The Hickory Grilled Kobe Hanger Steak was cooked to absolute perfection!  At first glance, I could tell Kandace was rethinking her “medium” request.  The steak was way more pink than I’m typically comfortable with too, but (and I’m not quite sure how they do it—actually, everything in the kitchen, as you know, is a mystery to me) it was cooked completely through and perfectly tender.  I’m talking every bite went down smooth, no leftover bits or fat or anything.  Bravo.  If this is what they can do with hanger steak, I can only imagine the heavenly beef that awaits you in their Niman Ranch bone-in filet mignon (now this is a farm-fresh item I’m happy to see on the menu), ribeye, and Kansas City strip that is on their regular menu.  Skip the fingerling potatoes, though.  Nothing special there as they were a little overdone.  The steak, asparagus, and farmer’s cheese were so good you could definitely overlook the potatoes.

Hickory Grilled Kobe Hanger Steak, fingerling potatoes, grilled leeks, roasted asparagus, and farmer’s cheese

Dessert was served up in miniature portions that were perfect for sampling:  Brazos Valley Yellow Grits and Lemon Poundcake in Texas Peach and Roasted Poblano Jam (Kandace was a fan of the jam; however the poundcake was a little grainy, guess that’s from the grits), Frozen Raspberry Parfait (it was discovered that us girls are not a big raspberry fan, so now we know it may be an inherited trait), and the best thing was the Burundi Coffee Ganache, Mocha Sable, and Cocoa Caramel Rice Crispies.

Shared Sampler of Goodies (Sweet Plate)

Favorite dessert of the evening: Burundi Coffee Ganache, Mocha Sable, and Cocoa Caramel Rice Crispies (think more coffee-like than chocolatey)

What makes this dining experience even better is the fact that at today’s meal at Abacus, I was able to feed 21 people with the purchase of my one meal!  The three of us feed 63 people (you know, with the help of the North Texas Food Bank)!  Oh yes, finally eating and doing “God’s work” is synonymous.  Charity work has never tasted so delicious.

What to Order:

1.  Hickory Grilled Kobe Hanger Steak

2.  Roasted Poblano-Cilantro Grits

3.  Pimenton Seared Scallop with Spanish Chorizo, Okra, Texas Tomatoes and Sweet Corn Cream