Merlion Wayfarer was recently invited to a food-tasting session by OpenRice and Dallas Restaurant and Bar. It was with in a group of ten. A total of 6 appetizers (the "Dallas Platter") and 6 other samplers ("Main Courses") were served.Chicken Quesadillas
This was the first dish that was served. Having a mild dish to start off as an appetizer was a very good choice. The tasty guacamole and sour cream dips added to the deliciousness. Merlion Wayfarer was thinking... if she were watching TV while eating these, she would finish off the whole platter easily ALONE within the space of one commercial break!Lamb Sliders
Merlion Wayfarer's first impression was that this dish looked just like Burger King's Mushroom Swiss, especially with the melted cheese all oozing out. Surprisingly, the lamb did not taste strong at all. In fact, it tasted just like beef and was in fact quite enjoyable. Being tennis ball-sized also meant that it would never be too much of a good thing, and could be wolfed down in several bites.Breaded Mushrooms
The big chunky mushrooms were fried in a lightly-dusted batter. Despite the deep-frying, each of the succulent mushrooms retained its taste - Neither the batter or the creamy garlic mayonnaise was overpowering. With each bite, the juice of the fresh shrooms just oozed out...Salt and Pepper Calamari
Pairing with the mushrooms was another breaded favourite. Merlion Wayfarer liked the sweet chilli mayonnaise sauce atop the Calamari. Other than that, the Calamari was quite ordinary. (Come on, it ain't easy to wow with fried calamari mah...)Alabama Pork Ribs and Chicken Tikka With Coriander Mint Sauce
The Alabama Pork Ribs was Merlion Wayfarer's favourite dish. And she did not usually favour pork dishes, much less pork ribs. So you can imagine how good this dish had to taste to be her favourite here...
Once in the palate, the strong BBQ taste of the pork ribs immediately dissipated slowly. With each bite, the juiciness of the pork mixed with the bak kwa-type BBQ taste and the special marinate and filled the palate with yummy goodness. One was definitely not enough!
Much like the Chicken Tikka found in South Indian restaurants, this version has been pre-marinated in spices and roasted. However, it was less spicy than the Indian version (probably to suit the Westerners' palate), and a tad too salty.Crunchy Honey Mustard Bacon Salad and Chicken Penne Pasta
After three sets of heavy samplers, it was time to move on to two lighter dishes.
Merlion Wayfarer was not a fan of avocado. However, she found the Salad a welcome change to refresh her tastebuds.
The Spaghetti seemed to be a less carefully thought-out addition to the menu. Somehow, having a milder Italian-styled dish after some strong-tasting ones left it tasting bland and unmemorable.Avocado Chicken Parmigiana
Dallas' version was made from chicken breast pan-fried in Japanese bread crumbs (not sure what exactly is the "Japanese" version), and grilledw ith pasta sauce, avocado and mozzarella cheese. Merlion Wayfarer of course enjoyed the cheese most. What lies beneath the cheese is secondary. And and, the fries served here was a bit too much. No more carbos, hopefully, for the rest of the upcoming dishes...Southern Burger
The Southern Burger was our second burger in this sampling. It consisted of chargrilled ground beef topped with bacon swiss cheese, with atouch of bacon, swiss cheese, BBQ sauce, tomatoes and caramelized onions on a ciabatta bun.
The beef was done just right - medium-well. Unlike most burgers, this patty was not minced. In fact, you can see the layers upon layers of beef within the patty.Beef and Chicken Fajitas
Essentially, these were Mexican popiahs - flour tortillas served with beef and chicken in caramelized onions, with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and re-fried bean (Have no idea why it's called this!) dips. Comparatively, the chicken tasted better than the beef.Fiery and Berri Pork Ribs
It was with a big sigh of relief that most of the group greeted this as the last dish. Most did not dare try the "fiery" version, fearing that it might be too spicy for our local taste buds. But no, they were told it was adapted to Westerners' palate, and would be just mildly spicy. True true...
After trying both versions, Merlion Wayfarer still preferred the sweet taste of the berries. It was quite an interesting combination for red meats like pork ribs, and sort of left her preferring a dessert as a final dish...Merlion Wayfarer Says
Merlion Wayfarer had accepted other food-tasting invites before.
Like most food-tasting sessions, there were really superb dishes, and there were other mediocre dishes.
Like many food-tasting sessions, the session was conducted during the restaurant's off-peak hours, so utmost attention could be provided to the food-tasters.
Like some food-tasting sessions, the owner or head waiter was there to give an introduction to every dish, and had assigned several wait staff to attend to the food-tasters.
However, Dallas Restaurant and Bar impressed Merlion Wayfarer:
When one of the food-tasters asked for a drink that was not provided as part of the food-tasting session, it was provided without question.
Even so when the glass was emptied, the wait staff topped it up without being asked. Not once, but several times.
The food-tasters were invited to visit the exclusive lounge at the top floor reserved for private bookings.
When some of the food-tasters were full and could not eat any more, takeaway boxes were provided for them to bring the food back.
A business card was presented to each and every food-taster by the restaurant manager. She was friendly, yet professional and attentive. She herself attended to serving our table with a smile and acknowledged each of our thank-yous.
Most of all, this was the most impressive spread that Merlion Wayfarer had ever experienced in a food-tasting session with a total of generous portions of 12 dishes!
Date of Visit: 2012-07-28