Disher Review #5: Jaspers

Okay, so this is going to be a combo. A reader and I both went to Jasper’s last night (hey friend! I was the one in the orange dress, did you see me?) and we ordered almost the exact same things. His review will be up first, and then I’ll add my thoughts, with pictures, after that. Cool? Jump.

My wife and I tried Jasper’s for the first time Tuesday evening, and I’m going out on a limb here, but we both liked this experience more than our first time at Abacus. Kent Rathbun has certainly set a more laid back theme to this restaurant, and we’re glad we added it to our Restaurant Week calendar.

Our waitress was extremely attentive, and I didn’t feel that we were getting the “discount diner” experience other than the fact that they had clearly relegated all RW diners to the way, way back room, and they were sure to inform me over the phone that our table was limited to a two hour window (not a big deal on a Tuesday night, but might be for a group of four on a Saturday evening).

We started off with the Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Corn Grits and the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. Two large shrimp (think U15 or 16/20), wrapped in salty, oh so good prosciutto, were served in a blue corn tortilla shell filled with delicious grits, the latter part being the highlight of the dish. The crab cake was standard, the accompanying poblano cream sauce was decent, and the slaw of cucumber, jicama, and thinly sliced tortilla strips added a much needed flavor infusion.

As a bonus (not the 4th course, as we didn’t stop by CM), a gentleman was walking by each table offering a generous portion of the Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips after your first course. We passed on the offer (neither of us particularly likes blue cheese – sacrilege?), but others around us seemed to be enjoying them, so cross your fingers if you like that kind of thing.

The main course was a little tougher of a decision, having so many great meats to choose from. Seeing that the theme of the restaurant is “backyard gourmet,” we went for the Pork Tenderloin (medium) and the Flat Iron Steak (medium rare), and both came at a nice 8 ounces or so. Both selections were extremely tasty, although my wife decided the barbecue sauce accompanying the pork was somewhat generic tasting, and the red wine butter sauce accompanying the steak was bland at best. It didn’t really matter because neither protein needed any help in the flavor or texture category and both were completely devoured leaving behind empty plates full of sauce. The sides were very well paired. A “bourbon creamed sweet corn” for the pork was not so creamy but was incredible, nonetheless, and a mixture of vegetables and a serving of chunky/semi-mashed Yukon gold potatoes for the steak were par for the course. We also sprung ($9) for the Gouda, Ham, Mac and Cheese – it was a very, very good choice, and we managed to eat it all before either of our original side dishes were gone.

We opted for the Cherry Limeade Pie and Peach Fruit Buckle for dessert. The former being a petite key lime pie with a nice creamy layer of cherry and capped with a dollop of barely baked meringue, the latter an earthy mix of granola, nuts, peachy, bourbony, ice-creamy goodness. I’d have both again.

All in all, a great experience. A small back room with no music (apparently it disappears as soon as you pass the fireplace), was a little too quiet until the local computer programmers convention showed up with a rowdy table of 8. They were the only table farther from the front door, I think. We would highly recommend the Grooms “Adelaide Hills” Sauvignon Blanc for a good white wine by the glass ($10). The slightly more expensive (also recommended by another server) Benton Lane Pinot Noir ($15) was a bit of a disappointment. Glad we didn’t buy a bottle, it’s a Tuesday night after all – got to save up for Nobu and Shinsei later this week….

My thoughts on dinner at Jaspers:

First of all, we were 30 minutes late for our resy (lost in Plano) and the hostess didn’t even bat an eyelash, which was wonderful. The dining room was full but not every table was taken. I like the atmosphere here, but something about it (the size? The other diners? not sure) seems very suburban to me. Our server was fabulous and unlike Mr. Disher above, we went with a bottle of wine (a J.Lohr merlot). No one offered us any blue cheese potato chips, which is probably a good thing, because I have no willpower against anything that involves salt or cheese.

My first course was the crabcake. Though I’m sure they served about 600 of these last night it was very good. Tons of crab. Good spicy tomatillo cream sauce, and the tortilla strips added good texture.

My CD (cute date) had the proscuitto-wrapped shrimp and grits. Perfectly-cooked shrimp, salty and rich from proscuitto. Creamy grits nestled in the tortilla shell.

My entree was the Texas peach barbeque pork tenderloin. I agree with Mr. Disher’s wife–I didn’t care for the sauce. I thought it tasted overwhelmingly of ketchup. But the pork was so tender and fabulous.

CD had the almond-crusted rainbow trout. Soft trout with a bit of crunch from the almonds. Cauliflower “whippers” serve the same purpose as mashed potatoes. Uncomplicated and good.

My dessert. Rocky road ice cream sandwich. Does it look like there is anything wrong with this? I didn’t think so.

CD’s cherry limeade pie. Crust was so hard we almost broke the plate with our spoon trying to get into it. Nice soft texture. Very lime-y, not much cherry. Underwhelming.

We also ordered a side of wilted spinach. I didn’t care for this at all. It was served in a cast-iron skilled with a spoon to dish it up. As soon as you scoop, the spinach would fly off everywhere, causing a mess (some sort of tong-like object would be better). The spinach was just barely wilted, and I couldn’t taste any discernable salt or any other seasoning. It was pretty much like eating raw spinach.

Overall we were happy with the meal, despite one or two missteps. We didn’t get that Restaurant Week rushed feeling at all, though things did move along quite quickly. Lastly, I have to disagree with Mr. Disher on one point–I would choose Abacus every time, but that’s just me.

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