Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, 2/9/10 - Bohanan's

Date: 2/9/10
Restaurant: Bohanan's
Location: 4535 Fredericksburg, in a strip mall across from the Crossroads mall
Hours: ?
Executive Chef: Mark Bohanan, who we saw in his muttonchopped, toqued-up glory visiting with some Bigwigs sitting adjacent to our table

Yes, I had two blogworthy meals on the same day. One cost $9.15, the other, $240. However, in a classic twist worthy of a Greek tragedy (please allow me my moment of melodramatic hyperbole)...the buffet was better.

MAAAAAAAAAAAARK! *falls to knees in futile expression of rage*


Bohanan's was one of, if not THE restaurant of the 52 that I had looked forward to the most from the onset. "Their steaks are 2 cuts above USDA Prime!" I heard in astonished, gleeful whispers. "The best steak in Texas!" Well, I can't fault their product and I can't fault their entrepreneurial spirit for being the only restaurant in Texas--perhaps the US--that serves Akaushi beef, the counterpart to Kobe, that sinfully marbled piece of buttery goodness we experienced in Japan. And yet, the evening added up to disappointment.

I'm sure you want to hear why. Let's squirt some lemon juice in my wound, shall we?

The entrance to Bohanan's. Downstairs is their bar, which reeked of Good Old Boys club. Cigars and brandy and polished wood fixtures. I wasn't sure I was allowed in. Fortunately, in the back we took an elevator up to the restaurant.

The decor. Pretty dated, to my surprise. Tavis summarized it best: "it feels like we could turn the corner and there would be a dance floor." Yep, it felt like a reception hall. Not the most desirable impression.

Speaking of the Tavis in question...hi Tavis!

We both started off with a drink; I their "red pearl" pomegranate and raspberry martini, and Tavis a glass of Yamazaki whisky. Not to sound like a complete lush, but I heartily enjoyed both of our drinks. His whisky was beautiful, with warm nose notes of honey, oak, apples and it melted across the tongue just right. I know absolutely nothing about whisky, scotch, bourbon, etc but I do know I liked this. Tavis said it reminded him of the bourbon balls his mom makes for the holidays, so I guess he liked it too.

Our waiter came by at this point to pitch the evening's specials as well as present our steak options. Yes, they brought the steaks over for our review. He gave good pitch (which we heard repeated verbatim at least 3 times as more tables filled in around us) and we changed our initial menu plans to fit his recommendations, because why not?

Our bouches were amused by this spread of cream cheese and candied japalenos. How very Texas.

Appetizer #1: their "signature" appetizer, French grilled oysters. French grilled just means that it's seared quickly. These are Galveston oysters breaded with spices and grilled....and they could have been anything. There was no briny flavor, no sign that there was an oyster present except for the squishy slide down the throat. They could've breaded my napkin and it would have tasted the same. We didn't even finish them. How was this their signature appetizer?

Appetizer #2, a jumbo prawn split and grilled with anchovy butter. Tavis enjoyed it; I was ambivalent. At least the flavor of the meat came through on this one.

At this point I abandoned my inclination to be considerate of the other customers and started using the flash on my camera.

Ahhhh! Jumbo alien prawn is much scarier with flash!

Caprese salad, one of the night's specials. I believe these were Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil drizzled in balsamic vinegar. Once again, I just wasn't wowed. The vinegar was overpowering, the tomatoes were certainly not in peak condition and lacked the flavor that makes heirloom tomatoes worth the price hike, and again I didn't bother finishing the dish. (Though I did eat all the mozzarella. I am Megan, after all.)

The star of the evening: Tavis's french onion soup. The rich flavor and luscious mouthfeel of the broth, the gooey nutty cheese, the generous amounts of caramelized onions--this was every bit of love and technique that was absent from the rest of the food.

And finally, what should have been the highlight of the evening: the porterhouse. After our waiter's spiel, we opted for the 40 ounce porterhouse which combines the strip steak and the filet. This is USDA Prime, not Akaushi (which starts at $95 for I believe an 8 ounce filet), which is nevertheless a beautiful cut and quality of meat, and we expected it to be treated with the reverence and technique that a STEAKHOUSE should demonstrate.

Instead, our meat was seared to char on the outside and lacking flavor on the inside. I could've cried. I understand that cooking preferences will vary; it was explained to us that they are striving for a "mesquite" flavor experience with the grilling. However, once again Tavis said it best: "when I grill with mesquite charcoal, you taste mesquite, NOT charcoal." This beautiful, expensive piece of meat was charcoal in my mouth.

When the night began, I was very excited to order their crepes Suzette. I wish I could crawl into one of those right now. I'd eat my way out from the inside. (Name the movie for extra credit!) However, by this point the restaurant had completely filled up, our waiter's attention was divided between his many tables, and I had lost all interest in a happily ever after. So alas, no dessert for us. We cut our losses, paid up, and went home.

Returnability: nope. This place, from decor to food, was all show and no substance. Major disappointment. The moral of the story is, I should abandon the idea that because a restaurant is prestigious and expensive, it's automatically good food. On "No Reservations," Anthony Bourdain frequently expresses his love of street food, unpretentious, hearty, and delicious. If I enjoy a $9 buffet more than a $125 steak, there is nothing wrong with that. (And, my mom will suggest, many things RIGHT with that!) Lesson learned. On to better eats next week!


Rosie Posie said...

Oh, I'm sorry Meg buddy! That blows. That sounds like a place that's riding by on name alone.


(ps- word verification: buxids. Def- n. abbreviation for buxom aphids.)

Megan and Tavis said...

Rosie, you are made of win. With a side of awesome sauce.