A Rathbun Victory at Jasper’s

3 Mar

Caught up in the excitement of the Iron Chef season premier featuring Kent and Kevin Rathbun versus the oh-so-arrogant-but-hot Bobby Flay, I organized a group of six friends for dinner at Jasper’s in Plano on the evening when the episode first aired.  Jasper’s is Kent Rathbun’s “gourmet backyard cuisine” concept restaurant with additional locations in Austin and The Woodlands (website indicates a San Antonio location is coming soon).  Having been impressed by the contemporary global cuisine at Abacus, Rathbun’s upscale eatery in Uptown, I was looking forward to my first time at Jasper’s.

We were seated as soon as we arrived as the main dining room was only half full on this Sunday night.  The interior of Jasper’s is contemporary and comfortable, though the music is a notch too loud for conversing with ease across a large table.  The four of us started off with an order of the Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips ($10) while waiting on the last two in the group to arrive.

jaspers1.jpg

These thin, crispy potato chips covered in creamy, pungent blue cheese are a delight when they’re hot, a temperature state that lasts for only the first 5 minutes.  The problem comes when the chips start growing limp and cold: the cheese is now a texture enemy, further decomposing the structure of the already limp chips with sogginess.  Thus, I would only recommend this appetizer if you’re with a large group, so everyone can get one or two satisfying hot bites before the dish falls apart.

Entrees fared better as they were equally good from first bite to last.  My better half and I shared an order of the slow smoked baby back ribs ($25) and an order of the three cheese focaccia ($10).

jaspers3.jpg

According to the menu, these ribs were named one of Bon Appetit’s top 3 choices for America’s Best Ribs, my guess is Bon Appetit didn’t sample any pit BBQ joints for this survey.  With that said, these baby back ribs are some of the best I’ve had outside of a BBQ specialty restaurant with fall off the bone tender meat and a decent smokey flavor (but insubstantial bark).  Just the right amount of tangy sauce was slathered on the ribs for added moisture, and extra sauce comes on the side for sauce lovers.  The creamy twice baked potato salad topped with crispy onions were tasty, but felt like overload after eating the rich blue cheese potato chips appetizer. 

jaspers2.jpg

The three cheese focaccia bread was another rich dish.  Thick piece of flavorful, aromatic, dense focaccia topped with lots of gooey cheese and caramelized shallots.  The menu states this dish also includes portabello mushrooms slices, but they were curiously absent from my focaccia.

Some other dishes around the table:

Pan Seared Salmon ($26):
jaspers6.jpg

I only had a couple of bites of this dish and, like the diner who ordered this dish, applaud Jasper’s for bringing back some excitement to boring old salmon.  Ever since salmon became the standard heart healthy dish on many restaurant menus, patrons have been subjected to bland, overcooked, dry chunks of salmon.  You started seeing lots of salmon in a cream-based sauce on menus, an effort to veil the lack of technique in preparing this fish.  Jasper’s salmon was simply seasoned, showing mastery of the basic yet key use of salt and pepper, with perfect texture: crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  It tasted the way salmon should taste, without hiding behind some fancy sauce.  A creamy bed of mascarpone polenta complemented the crispy fish perfectly.

Hickory Grilled Flat Iron Steak ($29)

jaspers5.jpg

The two diners at the table who ordered this dish seemed to enjoy it.  I had a couple of bites of the steak and can’t say it was too memorable.  The “hickory” flavor didn’t come through but the doneness was just right, balancing a moist deep pink interior with a lightly charred exterior.

Overall, everyone enjoyed their meal at Jasper’s.  The atmosphere is lovely, the service is very attentive (the waiter checked on us often while we waited for the last two members of our party), and the food is good.  I can’t say anything I tasted blew me away the way Abacus did, but Jasper’s seems like a reliable place for dinner when you don’t want to think too hard and just want to enjoy some familiar eats in a beautiful setting.  It’s a good choice when you or anyone in your dining group wants to “play it safe.”

And, in case you haven’t already heard, the Rathbun brothers were victorious against Bobby Flay in Iron Chef Battle Elk.

Rating: 4 / 5

Jasper’s
7161 Bishop Rd (in The Shops at Legacy, Phase I)
Plano, TX 75024

Advertisements

One Response to “A Rathbun Victory at Jasper’s”

  1. FatCap 03/03/2008 at 4:32 pm #

    Yessiree…upscale backyard BBQ food, just like I serve at my backyard BBQs. You do remember by backyard, don’t you? You know, that’s where I keep the herd of elk and bison and Bershires. Yeah, that one. All kidding aside, I do like Jasper’s for American fare.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: