Bait & Switch: Have You Ever Been Conned by Good Restaurant Review?
You know the feeling you get when you read a music review, and the critic is all "You gotta hear this one song, it'll change your life, I swear!" and then you go buy the CD and it sucks and you feel like a chump?
Horne & Dekker proves it: You can't trust the media.
I had that feeling at Horne & Dekker on Saturday night. It was like:
- Taking your kids to the circus, but right before the elephants and acrobats go on, a clown walks up and kicks you in the balls.
- Looking forward to seeing the latest Helen Mirren movie and then finding out after you've bought a ticket that it also stars Russell Brand.
- Dunking a piece of fried chicken into cream gravy that some jackass has dumped a bunch of sugar into.
Every year in December, D Magazine and The Dallas Morning News release their lists of the top new restaurants of the year, and every year I look forward to trying every place on them. Last year, Horne & Dekker made the cut for both.
Hanna Raskin (bless her allergy-ridden heart) didn't agree, saying in her August review that they needed to work on their cooking. But like a trusting fool, I believed Nancy Nichols and Leslie Brenner, and now I have nothing but wasted money and a fresh case of hypertension to show for it (the kitchen has crazy monkey-love for salt).
Intrigued by the Frogs & Fries appetizer (tempura fried frog legs served with french fries), we ordered it only to be told that the kitchen had run out of fries. No problem, we said. Just bring the frogs. Later, here comes the plate, fries and all. Unfortunately, it tasted like they solved the fry problem by running to McDonald's, picking some up, and letting them sit on the counter for a while so they'd be all nice and congeal-y.
We also tried the Seasonal Gnocchi, which is where the salt-monkey and the hypertension come in. The gnocchi themselves were nice -- the right kind of springy and lightly browned. But the broth the gnocchi were bobbing around in was straight out of the Dead Sea.
The Finger Lickin' Fried Chicken started out all right. The chicken was fried perfectly, although the meat itself seemed a little under-seasoned. But the cream gravy served on the side? Come on: YOU DO NOT ADD A BUNCH OF SUGAR TO CREAM GRAVY. IT IS VILE.
The Red Velvet Twinkies were a great concept, but a disappointing result: The cake was dried out, and the greasy and slick filling was somehow worse than the white fluff in the processed-to-a-fare-thee-well original.
Not everything was terrible. Our server was great; the restaurant's space is very appealing; and the PB&J Cups, a house-made spin on the Reese's classic, were outstanding. But overall, there were way too many WTF moments for a place that had been hosanna'd all over the place just a few months ago.
What about you, City of Aters? Have you gone to a restaurant based on a glowing review, only to be bitterly disappointed?