Monday, August 12, 2013

Debby's Visit Part 2: Dressler's - Huntersville

While my parents attended a wedding shower, Debby, two of my brothers, BFTB, and I went to Dressler's for a nice dinner last Saturday night. I've been to both Dressler's locations on prior occasions and have always been pretty pleased with my meals, so I was excited for Debby to check it out. 

BFTB and I beat everybody else to the restaurant, so we claimed two stools in the bar area and grabbed a pre-dinner Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel (for me) and Stella Artois (for BFTB) while we waited. Once everybody else arrived, we were seated at a big, round table in the back of the restaurant and Debby and my brothers ordered some drinks (woohoo for my youngest brother, Alex finally being 21!). While we looked through the menu, we ordered the Low Country Crab Dip to share (unfortunately I dropped the ball and forgot to take a picture). I've had the dip before and honestly, I remembered it being a lot... better. On the plus side, the jumbo lump crab pieces were truly jumbo, but they were left swimming in the liquidy parmesan/jack cheese blend. The dish lacked any of the necessary thickness to keep the crab and cheese glued together and it seemed more like a runny soup than a dip. Either way, the flavor was still good and we quickly gobbled it up.

Although I had been dreaming all day about ordering my go-to, the rack of lamb, our server threw a wrench in my plan when he described one of the night's specials, a ribeye served with bacon-wrapped shrimp and mashed, red-skin potatoes. Unable to resist anything wrapped in bacon, I ordered the special cooked medium-rare and both of my brother's followed suit and selected the exact same meal (can you tell we're related?).  BFTB ordered the 8 oz. filet mignon, but opted to swap the accompanying mashed potatoes for a side of roasted fingerlings. Debby ordered the pan-sauteed crab cakes, which are served with a pecan remoulade.

The night's special - a ribeye served with
bacon-wrapped shrimp, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.

For how busy the restaurant was (every single table was occupied, including a big table full of teenagers celebrating a sweet 16 next to us), our food came out relatively fast. The steak that David, Alex, and I ordered was delicious and cooked exactly as we'd requested. The meat was surrounded by a tasty crust and while I know that the "searing seals in the juices" notion is a kitchen myth, this steak put up a good fight attempting to prove otherwise. The meat itself was juicy, tender, and delicious under the tasty, almost-crunchy crust of seasonings. I really liked the fact that rather than any crazy herbs or spices, this steak tasted like steak. The meat was seasoned, but not masked. The creamy, salty mashed potatoes were also great. I prefer a chunkier mashed potato, and these met the bill. The asparagus spears were well cooked and still had a delightful crunch to each bite. Unfortunately, the thing that convinced me to order the meal was actually the part that came closest to letting me down. The bacon-wrap shrimp were good, but they lacked flavor (how is that even possible with bacon?!) and just seemed a little out of place with the steak. Instead of two, complementary components of one meal, it seemed like two separate meals coincidentally served on one plate. Regardless, I guess I'd rather have the shrimp than not have them (once again, I can't turn down bacon) and it must not have bothered either of my brothers or me too much because we were all members of the "clean plate club." However, while my meal was really, really good, it was not outstanding and I wonder if (with a little time and effort) I would be able cook the same meal at home.

Filet Mignon with fingerlings and asparagus

BFTB really enjoyed both his filet mignon and fingerling potatoes, but wished he'd been given a few more sprigs of asparagus with his meal (note to self- order a side of asparagus next time). Noticeably absent on BFTB's steak was any kind of seared crust like that on the ribeye, but it didn't seem like BFTB thought it impacted the flavor. 

Crab cakes with pecan remoulade

Debby also liked her crab cakes, which appeared to be overflowing with giant pieces of crab meat (and a noticeable lack of filler). My mom adores the crab cakes at Dressler's, so I have a sneaky suspicion that Debby had been given some guidance earlier in the day about what to order. Debby is admiringly good about eating healthily, but unfortunately the chef couldn't accommodate her request to bake or broil the crab cakes (rather than pan-sauteing them in oil). Regardless, she was pleased with her meal and told me she'd be happy to return.

All in all, the entire group was happy with our experience and I'm sure that everybody will return to Dressler's in the near future. Everything was good, but not quite at the level of great that I expect of Dressler's, but perhaps we visited on an "off" night. For now, I'll give Dressler's a solid 8/10.

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