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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Bon Appetit!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 @ 08:04 AM

Jasper's

It’s no secret that I love ribs.  In fact, I’ve made it one of my life goals to try as many of the “best” ribs this world has to offer; and living in the DFW area, there is no shortage of BBQ joints to try, and even some non-BBQ places as it turns out.  Jasper’s in Plano, TX (North suberb of Dallas) is one of those places. 

My dad is also a bit of a foodie and is always on the lookout for great new spots to try, often based on reviews he’s read in various publications.  So when my parents moved to Plano a few years back, he instantly heard about Jasper’s, which literally happens to be just down the street from their home; and when Bon Appetit magazine released it’s “Top American Restaurants” list in 2008, and Jasper’s was #2 on their list of ‘Best BBQ Ribs (Pork),’ we all knew it was an instant must visit. 

It just happened that Adam’s birthday fell right in the midst of our own move to Plano two years ago, and Jasper’s instantly came to mind as a fitting birthday dinner.  Well, let’s just say that first visit surpassed expectations and we have since been back a few more times, our most recent coming a couple of weeks ago, and happens to be the only visit since the beginning of PCC.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to primarily feature that visit in my review of Jasper’s this week. 

Located at the ‘Shops at Legacy’ complex in Plano, Jasper’s is the creation of well known Dallas based chef Kent Rathbun, whose first restaurant, Abacus, is also a popular dining attraction in DFW.  Jasper’s (along with Rathbun’s other restaurants) is well known for it’s gourmet approach to “backyard” cuisine…basically your go to BBQ & backyard grill-out favorites kicked up a notch for presentation, flavor, and creativity.  It is because of that unique factor that Esquire Magazine named Jasper’s one of its “20 Best New Restaurants in America” in 2003 (along with, as previously mentioned, Bon Appetit’s distinction in 2008).  In addition to his food being featured in a variety of publications, Rathbun and his brother (a chef in Atlanta) have also been featured on a variety of television programs, including competing against Bobby Flay on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America;” and HE WON….

HE BEAT BOBBY FLAY…CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! 

Needless to say, I was pretty hyped up to try Jasper’s out the first time; and now after being there a time or two, and with it’s upscale location (Shops at Legacy), I always get excited when I get to dress up and go out for a “nice” meal.  This night was no exception, although I may have gone a bit overboard….whatcha think? 😉

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What brings such energy to Rathbun’s restaurants comes from his idea of how a meal should be enjoyed and his experienced background working for various high-end restaurants in and around Dallas; and having been there before, we both already had a sense of what to expect.  Being an extremely popular place, the only reservation I could get was at 9 p.m.! :(  Yes people…be prepared to wait or call ahead if you want to eat there during prime times, and you could be like us, make a reservation and STILL have to wait a bit for a table!  Oh well…gave us time to enjoy a little drinky-drink and do some people watching (which is ALWAYS a good time in Plano! :)). 

So by 9:30, we were one drink in (just look at my little Rico Suave :)), and getting a little impatient.  We were a little surprised that it was taking so long because in our past experiences, we had never had a problem getting seated on time, but they seemed especially chaotic that night.  Needless to say, although it was late, by the time we finally sat down to eat, I was really hungry; and after perusing the menu, I knew I wanted to start with Priscilla’s Sink Salad.  Also, luckily for Adam, they were featuring his favorite soup, Beer Cheese; and being a “special night,” we opted to order the Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips to share.

002 004 010 The salad was delicious!  It reminded me of a greek salad with a little more pizazz.  All the flavors came together so well, and I eagerly cleaned my plate.  Adam loved his soup, yet again, and was so happy that each time we have visited it just happens to be the feature soup.  Uniquely topped with popcorn, it is a rich, creamy, delicious cheesy goodness lovers dream!  And those blue cheese chips…I’m not typically a fan of bleu cheese, but these are down right yummy!  I sought out the ones not smothered in cheese, but they are salty, thin, crispy, chips with a hint of that bleu (feet) cheese flavor that is to die for…they didn’t stand a chance against us! 

We already knew that the ribs were legendary, but having ordered them on other occasions, I felt compelled to try something new (bad idea Katie!)…Texas Peach Barbecued Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Creamed Sweet Corn.  Adam was not in the mood for changing up a good thing, so he went with the award winning Barbecued Baby Back Ribs and “Baked Potato” Salad.

016014 I have to admit that when they sat Adam’s ribs in front of him, I knew I was going to be disappointed. :(  There is just something about how they are presented and that potato salad…just plain awesome.  I just knew that nothing was going to come close to beating that for me.  Still, not one to judge before I take a bite, I happily dug into my meal; but being after 10 at this point and having devoured my salad and those chips, I have to say I was no longer all that hungry.  I did take a few bits of the pork, but as I feared…I was disappointed.  I was expecting more of a peach flavor, and frankly I had a really hard time finding any.  Also, the pork was a bit spicy for my tastes and I think actually distracted from the overall flavor.  Finally, the creamed corn was like no creamed corn I had ever had.  I’m not sure there was any cream in it at all (although once I told my mind what it really was, I actually really enjoyed it.  It is a whole melding of sweet and spicy and salty tastes that came together quite well).  I may have snuck a few bites of Adam’s Potato Salad too :), which he was actually disappointed with this time around. :(  Having had them before, I am not going to take away from the good review I have had of them, but I would agree with him that this time they were a bit overcooked. 

Now I mentioned that they seemed a bit overwhelmed that evening, and although I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, I won’t completely fault them for how the food was this time around.  Because as I’ve eluded to, the ribs have been fantastic every other time.  I’m talking about “fall off the bone” good, but still with that slight pull you want so they are not complete mush.  They are excellently seasoned and the sauce complements them perfectly.  I have tried a lot of ribs and so far I must admit, in my lifetime…Jasper’s have been my favorite!  So although we were disappointed with our meal that evening, I know we would go back again in an instant. 

Regardless, the main courses didn’t totally ruin our evening.  I still enjoyed my company tremendously (Wink, Wink), and the night ended on a very happy note…with the BEST chocolate martini I have ever had!  It is a work of art and dessert in a glass…

020022 I want to be fair for my review of Jasper’s, because it is truly a great restaurant that I’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions; and having worked in the restaurant industry, I know there are sometimes “off” nights.  Therefore, I chalk our last visit up to one of those. 

So for those of you wanting to visit Jasper’s and are looking for their signature dish, I would say it is definitely the ribs.  Even talking to people around town, these ribs are well known and well worth it.   Outside of the lone pork dish (which ultimately made an out-of-this-world Cuban sandwich the next day :)), their food is outstanding.  Between the ribs, sides, and starters, I am totally won over by their food. 

The ambiance….well, it’s superb.  Being an upscale restaurant, they’ve definitely put some effort into the decor, and it shows.  Most of the restaurant has a dark sultry feeling that is flanked by wonderful dim mood lighting for the seating areas.  There is a wonderful mix of at home comfort and high-end appeal; and for you ladies like me who like to get all dolled up and make the scene, this is the place to do it.  Their service is typically above and beyond and they make sure you are always taken care of.  That evening our server was sub par (a little TOO formal as well) and I would again chalk that up to them being swamped and possibly understaffed.  Still, typically be prepared to be totally taken care of. 

Finally…their prices (EEEKK!).  This is honestly where I think most people are thrown by Jaspers.  To say that It is a bit pricey is an understatement!  Their entrees, (although fitting for its location, the type of crowd it draws, and its ambiance) typically run between $20-30.  Definitely a little salty, huh?  That being said, I think for a special occasion where you still want a decent amount of food for your dollar, this is a great spot.  Also, there are special nights during the week where they offer some of their signature items at a reduced price…definitely something to look out for. 

So looking at Jasper’s as a whole for all our visits…I love this place!…and give them 4 1/2 Little Piggies.

pig-icon  pig-icon  pig-icon  pig-icon  pig-icon half .

One Response to “Bon Appetit!”

  1. KENT RATHBUN says:

    Katie,
    Hey read your review. I would to chat about your experience.
    Email me if you would like to chat.
    Kent

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