To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, no one ever went broke overestimating the appetite of Texans for red meat. It doesn’t seem to matter how many steakhouses there are in our fair state, there’s always room for one more. And so it was that a month ago I found myself in the company of my friend the Good Doctor at Bailey’s Prime Plus, a glitzy new Dallas meat mecca.
Doc had convinced me that then-two-week-old Bailey’s, in the tony new Park Lane development east of North Central Expressway, promised to be a cut above the competition. And indeed, before the evening was out we’d had some damn fine steak, some damn fine seafood, and some damn good desserts. The menu was hardly cutting-edge, but everything we tried was so competently prepared and the well-trained servers so adept at making us feel important that we wouldn’t have been surprised to see paparazzi jump out from behind a plant.
Putting on our retro hats, we began with a shrimp cocktail, five big crustaceans that had been cooked in a spicy boil, then fanned out on a bed of ice and surrounded by a trio of sauces: horseradish red sauce, a mustardy remoulade, and my favorite, lightly mashedavocado with a smidge of minced jalapeño. Our other first course, the house special “That Salad,” was a classy version of the ubiquitous salad I’ve come to think of as an NFC (nuts, fruit, cheese); this one sported candied pistachios, brandied cherries, and Oregon blue cheese.
The only complaint we had about our steak—a USDA Prime filet (pictured) from Chicago purveyor Allen Brothers—was that it was undercooked about half a step, but the velvety texture and deep, ebony char made up for that shortcoming. (Though most of the steaks here are wet-aged, as was ours, the restaurant offers one dry-aged selection a night.)
Normally when a fish is as fresh as the Texas-farm-raised bass we ordered, I prefer it a little on the underdone side. But chef Izzy Voirin seems to have decided that “rare” and “fish” are not words his customers want to hear in the same sentence. So our filet—with a crust of jalapeño-onion bread crumbs and a discreet tequila—red chile cream sauce—came fully cooked but happily still quite moist.
For dessert, Doc had a scandalous fudge sundae—homemade bourbon brownies topped with scoops of Bailey’s Irish Cream—flavored ice cream, brandied cherries, and salted almonds. What can I say? You’re either a sugar freak or you’re not. I had the panna cotta with passion fruit gelée; the satiny custard was so rich it could have stood in for crème brûlée.
At the end of the meal, fat and happy, gazing around the towering room with its rich blacks, lush creams, and wee golden fleur-de-lis motifs, we again pondered the appeal of steakhouses. I thought it was their predictability. Doc opined that meat lust is part of Texans’ DNA. Finally we asked ourselves, “Well, why are we here?” The answer was easy: all of the above, plus the guarantee that, for at least one evening, we would be treated like rock stars. What’s not to like about that? Bar. 8160 Park Ln, east of N. Central Expy (U.S. 75) (214-750-8100). Lunch 7 days 11—3. Dinner Sun—Thur 5—10, Fri & Sat 5—11. $$$$ W+
Recipe for Almond-Crusted Brie from Bailey’s Prime Plus, Dallas