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Restaurant Reviews

Snap Judgment: Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen

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2781_1128624583793_1472567709_30302334_7710026_nRestaurateur/celeb chef Kent Rathbun has the PR hyperbole machine on full tilt when describing his latest creation, Blue Plate Kitchen: “BPK…is already on its way to establishing itself as the Mecca of affordable, casual cuisine in the Dallas area,” says its web site. Really? The Mecca? Not really feeling the holy pilgrimage thing but I will say after a couple of visits, Rathbun’s latest venture feels like a more laidback redux of his popular Jasper’s in Plano. And that’s alright with me. Both are mighty tasty and Blue Plate Kitchen has something  Jasper’s doesn’t: smoked shrimp biscuits and gravy. Mmmm…

After a couple of visits, one thing stood out: you’re going to be in for a wait at Blue Plate. The place seems like an out-of-the-gate hit. Both times I had to wait at least 45 minutes for a table—lunch and dinner—and the place was packed with taut and tony Preston Hollow/Park Cities denizens wanting that Rathbun experience without the Abacus prices. (Hey, a tanking 401k would have anyone reconsidering those lobster shooters.) I’m happy to report that the food and service lived up to the hype. The aforementioned shrimp biscuits and gravy might be my new favorite starter: a dense tasso ham-roasted corn biscuit was slathered in smoky, rich gravy with nuggets of meaty rock shrimp. Other winners included the wood roasted cheesy bread with rosemary and a butter wedge salad. The salad is a lighter, soothing spin on the classic steakhouse wedge salad with sweet tender leaves of butter lettuce tossed in homemade green goddess dressing and cottage cheese specially made by Lambert for Blue Plate (though I hear Lambert will soon be selling the cottage cheese at her Deep Ellum shop). The entrees worked for the most part. Dr. Pepper barbeque sauce mopped rotisserie chicken, Ugly Pug beer battered shrimp, and grilled Ahi tuna sliders were all winners. But the mustard crusted catfish underwhelmed and the meatloaf sandwich—a blue plate special one day for lunch—was dense, dry, and a ridiculously huge portion. Blue Plate’s sides—called “skillet fixins”—sounded more intriguing that the entrees: “burnt end” black beans, Lone Star Gouda mac & cheese, creamy whipped parsnips, and more. We only tried the roasted caulifflower and brie gratin (great flavor but too runny) and the smoky cheddar cheese grits (downhome comfort at its best). For dessert, the buttermilk pie was too dense, lacking the smooth, course texture it deserves. Worse, a topping of raspberry sauce overwhelmed the simple pie. Still, Rathbun’s new Blue Plate Kitchen hits the marks where it needs too: it’s comforting, tasty, and affordable. But a Mecca? Not quite yet.

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