And now, for something from a real writer

This guest post is courtesy of my pal Robin, who is actually a writer by profession. She was nice enough to write this for me gratis, which is a good thing, since I can’t afford her hourly rate.

Ahh, Restaurant Week. That precious, 7-day window in which Dallas’s fanciest restaurants offer meals for one low fixed price, passing along a cut to charity too. It’s a wonderful summer tradition, at least for foodies like Ms. Bueno. For me, the tradition goes something like this:

1. Realize it’s Restaurant Week when Sarah starts talking about some amazeballs new place she just tried. 2. Kick myself for being clueless and not making reservations. 3. Vow to make up for it next year. 4. Repeat the process exactly 12 months later.

This year started the same as ever:
Sarah: So it’s Restaurant Week next week.
Me: Oh, f***
Sarah: But I’m gonna be out of town … You want my reservation?

Success! My very first Restaurant Week dinner. My friend Jennifer would be joining me Monday night at Abraham Salum’s eponymous restaurant for three courses of new American cuisine.

Monday came, and – ever the worker bees – Jenn and I ended up rushing from the office to make our 7:30 reservation. Luckily, the place is easy to find. Like so many fine Dallas establishments, Salum is located in a strip mall across from a liquor store and boasts a large parking lot with a totally unnecessary valet.

Once seated, we immediately began composing our guest post: “Elegant, yet relaxed” … “Unpretentious” … “Understated” … “What’s up with the weird fabric panels over those Capiz chandeliers?” Jenn’s right; it’s an odd lighting choice. But this is a food blog, not a design blog, so I’ll let that one go.

Our waiter greeted us promptly, guided me to a suitable pinot noir (more fruity, less earthy), and brought Jenn her requisite Riesling. Apps followed shortly: caprese salad and baked goat cheese with bread. Simple, tasty, unfussy starters. No complaints.

For my entree, I ordered the pork tenderloin with polenta and pickled blueberry sauce. A fun and unexpected combo – or “flavor profile” as a professional food writer or amateur douchebag might say. And while it was all very good, I can’t say it was great. It was well conceived, perfectly cooked, and artfully presented, and yet nothing about the dish was particularly… spectacular. It felt like something I might be able to make at home, when I’d hoped for something totally out of my league.

Jenn seemed to be faring better, pronouncing her grilled swordfish and the best she’d ever tasted. This is quite the compliment coming from someone I believe to be a either a supertaster or just the world’s pickiest eater. Case in point: the too-big chunks of cucumber made her tabouleh “too crunchy,” and thus inedible. I’m not sure what was wrong with all the pretty little heirloom tomatoes she left on her plate, unless she was just saving room for the Dessert Duo headed our way.

Now, I’m not a big sweet eater, and when I do pick up a dessert menu, bread pudding is pretty much the least likely thing to catch my eye. So I was truly surprised at how much I enjoyed Salum’s bourbon-infused version. Straight-from-the-oven hot, homey, and just plain yummy. The other half of the duo was some sort of rich chocolatey thing. Was it fudge? … I don’t even remember now. Salum’s bread pudding stole the show. Even the supertaster agreed.

All in all, a very enjoyable dinner. A bit shy of “amazeballs,” but certainly not disappointing. Especially for the tasty $35 prix fixe price.

I tipped the valet for his 30-foot drive and headed home, happy and full, with one Restaurant Week meal experience under my slightly extended belt.

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