Just when I was ready to settle on mediocrity for Restaurant Week, a dinner at Bijoux raised the bar again.
A simple, sweet, and savory bite of watermelon and goat cheese amuse bouche set the tone for the lovely evening.
First course options were white corn and coconut soup, salad of mixed greens, crispy pork belly, or melon carpaccio.
My choice for first course was the beautifully colored melon carpaccio plate topped with tender lump crab meat and microgreens in a tangy dressing. A nicely balanced plate of subtle, light flavors.
Next to me, my pig-loving dining companion indulged in the seared pork belly with Asian aus jus and carrots and baby bok choy. I had a good sized sample of the pork belly and I have to say I prefer the seared cooking method on thinner slices of pork belly, when the crispiness of the seared fat is the dominant texture. Substantial chunks of pork belly like these do better when braised. Only the outermost layer of the fat layer was crunchy (the interior fat being mushy and well, too fatty) and the bottom “lean” layer suffered from being dry and chewey (like the texture of overfried chicharrones). Still, it’s hard to argue with the appeal of fatty pork, and the slightly bitter bok choy did a nice job of cutting down on the richness of the pork belly.
One diner across the table chose the corn and coconut soup to start.
“Tastes just like corn chowder,” she declared.
“Any hint of coconut?” I inquired.
“Just a little.”
I didn’t taste this dish, so I’ll leave it to your judgement whether more or less coconut is desirable in a creamy corn soup.
The Central Market complimentary course was next.
Smoked prawn atop heirloom tomato slices with a tangy chorizo vinaigrette. This plate represented the most interesting flavor profile of all the dishes I sampled that evening. I often think of add touches of citrus and tanginess to seafood, but not to chorizo. But the smokey and savory yet tangy dressing played an integral role in bringing out the “smoke” factor in the prawns. The delicate flavor of the heirloom tomatoes was hard to detect when placed against a bold vinaigrette like this one, but the texture was lovely when paired with the prawns.
Entree choices were truffled risotto, Scottish salmon, or New York strip steak. I guess we were all feeling like carnivores this evening, no one tried the risotto.
I am not the type who usually orders steak when I eat out. But a bottle of Chateau D’Arcins Bordeaux on the table and description of Tellicherry sauce by the waiter sold me on this plate. Steak was ordered to medium-rare doneness but presented itself leaning more towards medium doneness. But obviously the kitchen knew me better than myself on this one, the fatty trim needed those extra seconds of searing to achieve that crispy fatty exterior that I love so much (and was wishing for on the pork belly). Steak had beautiful texture and mouthfeel, a little zing from the Tellicherry sauce helped me practically lick my plate clean. The whipped mashed potatoes were airy and clump-free (what else can you say about mashed taters?) A nice surprise was the chunks of daikon radish in the vegetable mix that looked very similar to the pearl onions also in the mix. Nothing like a hint of bitterness to ground a rich dish of steak and potatoes.
Two diners at the table tried the salmon atop polenta, asparagus, and mushrooms. Incidentally, one of the diners who ordered this salmon joined us for dinner earlier this year at Jasper’s where she had almost an identical plate. I have to give the version at Jasper’s the slight advantage on this one. The Bijoux version on this evening was a tad on the dry side, and may be a little too salty for some people’s tastes.
A spoonful of tart and refreshing Granny Smith Apple sorbet served as a palate cleanser. Not tart enough to shock your tastebuds, just a little acid to prepare you for the next course.
The fourth course choices were the Maytag bleu cheese plate, almona panna cotta, or Valrhona chocolate mousse.
It’s hard for me to pass up anything with Valrhona in the ingredient list but my entree was so rich that I didn’t think I could handle such a bold dessert. Light in both texture and flavor, almond panna cotta with a peach topping, berry sauce, and toasted almond ice cream served as the perfect ending to my almost perfect Restaurant Week meal at Bijoux.
And lucky for me, my kind dinner companions let me sample the dense, ultra rich Valrhona chocolate mousse. Passionfruit sauce added brightness to the opulently silky dessert.
I love it when my chocolate is more black than brown. :)
My pork-loving better half somehow managed to sneak in another form of bacon into his meal when he chose the Maytag blue cheese with pancetta crisp, celery confit, and carrot mousse for his last course.
Not missing a step, the meal ended with a lovely mignardise plate of mini tiramisu sandwich, blueberry muffin, truffle, something gelee and another item I can’t quite recall.
In contrast to our meal at Abacus this year (not last year, when it was also great), where the dessert sampler were just slightly larger portions of this mignardise plate, Restaurant Week at Bijoux was near perfection. Service was impeccable. The waiter took the time to go over the complete menu (and I don’t mean just read the words on the menu out loud, I mean actually explaining the words written on the menu). Bread service came around at least four times during the meal with choice of olive, rosemary, or raisin bread. The servers may have been overworked but didn’t show any sign of irritation or stress. Other than the restaurant being louder than usual due to the large number of patrons, nothing about this meal needed the “oh it’s Restaurant Week” excuse.
All six of us were first time visitors to Bijoux on this evening. With the regular prixe fixe three course meal priced at $57 (just a tad more of a reach than the Restaurant Week price), all of us were impressed enough to want to come back to Bijoux for a special occasion meal during non Restaurant Week. No matter if attracting new customers is truly the goal of Bijoux’s participation in Restaurant Week, they’ve just served six diners who will be talking about this impressive meal for a good while.
5450 W Lovers Ln #225 (in the back of the same shopping center as Inwood Theater)
Dallas, TX 75209