Thursday, September 1, 2011

Long Awaited 2011 Ordinary Awards

So now that school for the boys has officially started, I figured it was time to get back to the blogging. I know you all have missed this so much over the summer, I decided the "Back to School" blog should be an awards blog. No, I don't have any golden spatulas or chef hats to give out...just the prestige of being on my list. (is it prestigious?)

First, let me say that summer has been outstanding in terms of my cooking. I have been developing recipes over the summer and trying them out on my guinea pigs. (not actually on the two guinea pigs because that would be cruel) I am developing recipes based on a new culinary fusion... Asian and Latin cuisines. Really good stuff is coming together, which I will share throughout the year.

So, here we go!

Best Burger
This was one of the harder awards to give out. Burger places are popping up all over the place in Fort Worth, so it is hard to keep up. Plus the fact I have to keep my girlish figure, taste testing was also very difficult. I am going to cop out and have a tie...Dutch's and Pappas. The ambiance of Dutch's is what puts it in a tie for first. I mean, who would not love a place with all TCU items. Also, I am a little sentimental since Dutch's took Jon's space. Pappas burgers taste the best. They are juicy and seasoned very well. They also have several additional items on the menu that add to the taste-buds, like avocados and blue cheese.

Best Kid Friendly
McDonalds and Burger King need to apply. When I say "kid friendly", I am mainly talking an upscale restaurant that you can bring your kids where the management is not going to give you the evil stare of "how could you bring those mongrels here!" My vote will have to go to Tillman's in West 7th. This place is just FUN. From the trio of fries and fried pickles, all the way to the s'mores dessert, Tillman's is a location where your kids will enjoy it as much as you do. Presentation of the plates are always very appealing and the ambiance of being a "Texas" hoedown is great! When you go, you must try the Venison Frito is horrible on the figure, but is SOOOOOO good.

Best Value
Value meaning an establishment you get more bang for your buck. The award has to go to Lanny's Kitchen. I remember going to Lanny's place when it was still inside Joe T's as he was trying to sort out his menu. I loved it then and love it even more now. The interesting thing about Lanny's is the fact that Lanny is almost always back in the kitchen. It is very rare these days for an EC to be running the kitchen and then come out to talk to the guests. The food is outstanding. I have never had a bad meal there. Prices are VERY reasonable, considering the quality of the food you are getting. Lanny's also receives the Best Mexican Food award because of the upscale Mexican dishes he creates.

Best Sushi
Let me start by saying I have not always been a fan of sushi. In fact, I absolutely hated it until about 5 years ago when I went as a favor to my wife. I was hooked. I never knew NOT cooking something could taste so good and have several different layers of complex tastes. I guess you never forget your first time, so I have to give the award to Sushi Axiom. There are so many special rolls to choose from and they all have the complex flavors you look for in sushi. Plus they have the pad tai and udon noodles for the kids.

Best Seafood
Obviously Fort Worth is about 5 hours away from any coast, so the level of seafood is not as high as a place where they prep it right from the water, but Fort Worth does have a great seafood joint. I have never had a bad meal at Eddie V's, which is the winner of this award. My favorite dish has to be the scallops. They are just ever so delicately salted and seared to perfection. My wife always says that I need to branch out and try something different, but I can never pass up an opportunity to have the scallops. The wait staff there is so very friendly and accommodating that it is hard to leave Eddie V's without feeling good about the meal. The wine selection is also top notch and the sommelier is great at picking just the perfect pairing.

Best Diner
Paris Coffee Shop, no question. Whether you are going for breakfast on a Saturday morning or heading there for lunch, this place has no equal. They know everyone who walks through the door...even a certain head football coach dines there. My parents take the boys there on the weekends to have "squirrel eggs" and "squirrel sausage". (don't ask and I won't tell)

Best Fort Worth Place to Take Out-of-Towners
This long title for this award actually just means where is the best place that says Fort Worth. This is actually an honest three way tie...Joe T's, Reata and Bonnell's. Everyone knows Joe T's. While the food is not the best (except the nachos), the margaritas are unbelievable. It also has a lot to do with the ability to sit outside and just order pitchers and pitchers of ritas. Reata is as Fort Worth as possible. From the Cowboy Steak to the Quail, the food is something you would expect from a Fort Worth tradition. Now Bonnell's is a little different. The ambiance is very "Texas" but the food is exotic. Jon is not afraid to try new and different meats. My favorite is the bison fillet. Nicely crusted and cooked to perfection. Jon is another one of those Executive Chefs who actually work in the kitchen and come out to the dining area to converse with his patrons.

Best Exotic Food
Bella Italia on Camp Bowie, no question. The boys really like going to Bella because they can get Ostrich or Antelope. We have a little game that you have to act like the food you eat, so they get a kick out this place. The staff is also very nice and accommodating.

Best Brunch
While there are a ton of places in Fort Worth serving outstanding brunches, my heart goes back to the Culinary School of Fort Worth. Not only is this place unbelievably gifted at teaching chefs to become great, they also put on a heck of a brunch. At the school, brunch is served every other week (check website for dates and is staffed by the actual students. Chef Brad Waier is the EC in charge of the brunch and always puts out FANTASTIC meals. The meals actually consist of salad, soup, omelet station and pasta station. You then get to choose one of three beautifully orchestrated main dishes prepared by the students on the line. It is really fun just going and interacting with the students to find out where the next generation of chefs are going to be. Cost is actually a steal at around $15 per person. It is BYOB (bring your own beverage) which I LOVE.

So there you have it, the 2011 Ordinary Awards. Congratulations to all the winners. Seriously, Fort Worth is growing into a culinary delight with all the new restaurants in and around town. Take the chance and try something new. You never know what experiences may await you, your family and your taste buds.

As always, happy eating
The Ordinary Chef

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