Thoughts On Chicken-Fried Steak and This Week's Review: Tillman's Roadhouse

Categories: Whimsy

Tillmans_1.jpg
Sara Kerens
Chicken-fried food porn.
You can't put lipstick on a pig. Well I suppose you could, but then we'd have another set of issues to discuss. At any rate, this is the phrase that jumped into my head when I tore into the chicken-fried steak at Tillman's Roadhouse a few weeks ago.

The kitchen used filet mignon in the recipe -- breaded and fried and served as hockey puck-sized hunks of tender meat. The breading was crisp and delicious, and the steak was tender and juicy, but it lacked a big beefy flavor. Tenderloin has an excellent texture, but the muscle does no work, resting all day in the center of the back of a cow. It's got no beef. It's a steak for people who don't love steak.

Hanger steak is filet's polar opposite. It's a tough and chewy cut attached to a cow's diaphragm. It "hangs" just near the kidneys and adopts a flavor distinct from other cuts. Served medium rare, it's my favorite cut of beef. Served a hair past medium, it's inedible.

That's likely why Tillman's switched from hanger to filet when preparing CFS (multiple calls to the restaurant went unanswered during the course of my review). Filet could be cooked to any customer's liking without turning into rubber, but what the move gained in tenderness it gave up in flavor, which is ultimately why I disagree with Tillman's choice.

The top or bottom round traditionally used in this recipe is a perfect mix of lean and beefy flavor. Tenderness is addressed with good old fashioned muscle power, via a heavy-handed mallet. It's not refined, and it's not meant to be. It's a humble cut.

Tradition aside, Tillman's CFS loses something in translation despite being delicious. The green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy that complement the plate are stellar examples of country cooking, but they should stick to a traditional cut that's more suitable for the chosen recipe.

I'm sure many will disagree. It's a popular plate at Tillman's but it's less chicken-fried steak, and more deep-fried filet, which certainly can be delicious, if that's your thing.
You can read more of my thoughts about Tillman's Roadhouse in this week's review now on our restaurant page and in print soon.

Follow City of Ate on Twitter: @cityofate.

Location Info

Tillman's Roadhouse

324 W. 7th St., Dallas, TX

Category: Music

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Kristina
Kristina

I find the best CFS are made from thin cut ribeyes that the butcher put through the tenderizer for you. Market Street in Coppell did this for me a few months ago.

Re Scott's article and Scott in general, I am a long time fan and remember drooling over the high res pics of those CFS in his article way back in '07. However, our subsequent trip to Ozona's was less than spectacular. Also, think it's interesting that he just endorsed AGC rather than Oz's. I'll be hitting them up ASAP. lol

Ralphy
Ralphy

Do your homework;  go to DallasFood archives..  Scott did the the most comprehensive CFS survey in the history of CFS.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I don't have a top 3 list, but my current favorite CFS and CFC:Bone Daddy's CFC--large portion, the cream gravy is great, topped with cajun seasoning; the breading is just right. Mashed potatoes come with as well as corn, however I substitute their mac&cheese for the corn. Also comes with a nice dinner roll, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. This steak tastes good with a lager or a bock.

Matt's Rancho Martinez for CFS--so immediately you're up in arms because I'm not mentioning a traditional steak place. The CFS--Bob's style, is a lightly breaded yet juicy sirloin that is pan fried, and if you savor it enough you can taste the juices, but hold on...this thing is topped with zesty queso, sour cream, and guac...Don't knock it till you try it brotha. Sides? Beans and rice. Take a walk on the wild side my friend, and eat slowly. Trust me on this one.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Alright girls, gather closely and I'll let you in on three of the best CFS in the greatest of states:

In no specific order, cause their all great:

Mary's in StrawnBooRays in Hudson Oaks-Cajun gravy...mmmHill Country Cupboard in Johnson City

Bon appetite biotches

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Whatever the hell Babe's uses is what is supposed to be used for CFS. 

Tenderloin battered and fried?  Probably put lime in their Stella, too...

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

You drew me offsides. Babe's is overrrrrated <clap clap="">

The other place they own though, Sweetie Pie's in Decatur, mighty fine CFS.</clap>

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Sweetie Pies is da bomb, The CFS is oh sooo tasty and the baked potato that you unwrap from a paper bag that it was cooked in is mmmmm mmmmm good.  Its worth the drive to Decatur

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

ALRIGHT! (cokeuppedgreggovoice) Cards are in..Rays are well into extras..Sawxs still stuck

And you're little Redshoe Rangers are waiting on the next victim to show up..Friday at 4pmish!

ThongNCheese
ThongNCheese

How bout them Rangers!

Fergie Jenkins
Fergie Jenkins

So who do you think Rangers match up against best--Rays or Red Sox?

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

Cuts from the round are more traditional because they're more economical, not because they're superior.  Tenderloin can make a very good CFS, if the cook knows what the hell he's doing.  (Give All Good Cafe a try.)  From what I've seen, top butt (from the sirloin) makes a better CFS than anything else on a cow.  

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