By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela
By Lauren Saria and Heather Hoch
By Deborah Sussman
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
When it came time for main courses, the exquisite Madame X chose grilled ahi tuna, and J.Lo's twin -- she of the trés tight jeans -- went for the pan-grilled rainbow trout. Fish is fine if you're Aquaman (or Aquawoman, if there's a piscatory heroine), but I'd rather fill Dr. Atkins' britches, no matter how big they were toward the end.
Judge Jeffrey and Brenda were in complete agreement, so we three got meat of one kind or another: Jeffrey copped a pork porterhouse with red bell pepper ketchup; Brenda went for the beef tenderloin with a whiskey glaze; and I opted for the oddest item on the menu, beef short ribs prepared with Dr Pepper, of all things! Mikey? Well, as Mikey always has to be the rebel, he garnered a platter of sugar and chile-cured duck.
The only item that disappointed me was the one I selected. Seems the Waco sarsaparilla is used to tenderize the meat, but I found my ribs, well, somewhat gristly, though the cheese grits underneath them were outstanding, as were the mushrooms served alongside. To be honest, knowing that Dr Pepper was used, I was anticipating at least a hint of that soda's unique taste in the flesh, but there was none. Silly me, I know, but why even mention it if you're not going to be able to discern the special tang of that Texas ambrosia?
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It was Brenda's steak I envied more than any other item, especially its Merlot-bourbon-Kahlúa glace de viande, a glaze so exquisite it could entice me to relinquish my Mary Kate and Ashley wall calendar for a bite. The crisp haricots verts that came with them also won my admiration despite the sauce, some mushroom-béchamel thing I could've done without.
We sampled several desserts, but as a former son of the South, I can recommend none more highly than the toffee chocolate pecan pie topped with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream and pecan Anglaise sauce. It even beats the version made by my 83-year-old grandmother in N.C. Now there's some hype you can buy, which doesn't mean Flava Flav was wrong, necessarily, as it's the exception, I believe, which proves the rule.
A quick note about my recent fish and chips survey, on which we've received gobs of mail. Of course, everyone at Pete's now hates my innards nearly as much as I despise Sex and the City. That I can live with, but I've recently received a letter of complaint from the owners of my favorite English pub, the George and Dragon, whose fish and chips I rated second only to Rosie McCaffrey's!
Seems they didn't dig the reference to all great English pubs -- theirs included -- smelling like stale ciggies, spilt beer and urine. This, I can testify, from having lived, loved and imbibed heavily in England, is true.
But on the particular night I visited G&D, maybe I'd peed my pants from having one pint too many and that was what I was whiffing. By Prince Charles' kneepads, it wouldn't be the first time, people. So perhaps G&D only smells proper when I'm there, piss-britches and all.
Finally, one or two readers have written in asserting that the practice of serving fish and chips in newspaper is kaput in England. Sure, the ganja I was smokin' on my last visit was good, but not that good. So I called manager Mark Prescott at the Mulberry Tree restaurant in Lancashire, whose shop serves them wrapped in the Financial Times. "There's no law," Prescott says. "Most places just don't like doing it." But as Mulberry Tree proves, some still do.