Sunday, January 4, 2015

Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse - Dallas

Texas is meat country and also home to lots of wild game ranches. I figured that there might be some restaurants featuring wild game that would be fun to try. So I googled wild game and Dallas and Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse stood out as the best option. In fact their website trumps that they have "the most extensive wild game menu in Dallas." But it is also known as a fine steakhouse and has previously been voted as having the best steak in Dallas by some group or another. The restaurant is located at 702 Ross Avenue in downtown Dallas, not too far from the former Texas Book Depository and Dealey Plaza where John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 
It is in a very nice area and the interior is quite elegant, but with an outdoor/sporting type decor. A smattering of stuffed animal heads and a football game on a big screen with the sound turned off. It is more elegant than the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, perhaps more on par with The Fort in Morrison, the two restaurants I am most familiar with that mirror this same genre. The interior is fairly dark and so my pictures are not great. 

Judy knew I was looking forward to this meal and let me order. Despite the wild game, I got distracted by the special that night, a 40 ounce tomahawk rib eye, and ordered it for the two of us to share. However, the waiter came back and told us they were out of the tomahawk rib eye, so I went for what I'd originally intended to get. 

We got several appetizers. "Louie's Venison Roll Ups" are bacon-wrapped axis deer venison with jalapeno and smoked mozzarella, brushed with a molasses Dijon dressing. Five of the roll ups came on a plate that we shared. It was a nice combination of mild sweet and tame hot and very tender. 
Louie's vension roll ups
Lamb ribs, one of my favorites, were dry rubbed and roasted, basted with a plum molasses wasabi glaze. The ribs were a little crispy, the sauce was quite sweet and only mildly hot, a very nice complement to the lamby taste I love that still stood out. Lamb ribs are a very unusual menu item, so I order them anytime I see them. These were not the best lamb ribs I've had, but that is not to say that they were still very, very good. 
Lamb ribs
Our last appetizer was Tabasco goat cheese creamy grits. They were more mild than I anticipated and were pleasing, but not as distinctive as I expected them to be. Neither the Tabasco or goat cheese stood out. 
Tabasco goat cheese grits
We shared a cup of smoked sweet corn chowder with wild boar bacon, cotija cheese, diced sweet potato and cilantro oil. The ingredients sound amazing, but are very understated, very mild and screaming for more cotija cheese. 
Sweet corn chowder
We also shared some mashed potatoes because that is Judy's thing. 
Mashed potoatoes
We each got an entree. One was a 10 ounce buffalo filet that has been featured on the Food Network, although I was unable to find it in a quick search. 
10 ounce buffalo filet
The other was the "Wild Game Mixed Grill," a "trio of wild game meats that changes daily". For us, it included a 5 ounce buffalo filet, two boneless quail medallions and a venison filet. 
From left to right, venison filet, quail medallions and buffalo filet
I'd never eaten buffalo filet until Judy got it at the Sylvan Lake Lodge in South Dakota and it is amazing. Much more tender than the buffalo rib eye that I tend to focus on. Served with a warm but very red center and a nice, salty, carmelized crust on the outside that combines with the warm red center for luxurious sensory and flavor bites. 
Inside look of buffalo filet, nice warm red center.
The venison filet was not quite as tender and was also a little stronger in flavor, but very good. However, I prefer the buffalo. The quail medallions were ordinary: not particularly tender or flavorful. But despite the fact I preferred the buffalo filet, the wild game platter was the better choice because of the opportunity to try the different meats.

I really enjoyed Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, and I'm glad we visited, but I wasn't wowed by it. Everything was good, particularly the buffalo filet and the lamb ribs, but nothing captured my imagination and has me dreaming about it and salivating to come back again. 

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