Chow, Baby: Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Big Buck Stops Here

Chow, Baby will put its love of adventure and sense of direction up against anybody’s — except when it comes to Grapevine. (And maybe Arlington Heights.) The problem is paradoxical: Chow, Baby doesn’t know its way around Grapevine, so it doesn’t go very often, so when it does go it gets lost. And not the good kind of lost, where you stumble across new and interesting things off the beaten path, but the kind of lost where you’re wedged in a flotilla of sightline-blocking SUVs and you keep finding yourself on huh?-this-wasn’t-here-last-month streets that don’t yet have road signs but do have a lot of unexpected turn-only lanes and meanwhile you’re running late for your lunch date with two of your bestest buddies who in a burst of insanity just took new jobs in this area so evidently you’ll be spending a lot of lunch hours in Grapevine and you need to either figure this town out or kill yourself now.
Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse (2501 Bass Pro Dr., Grapevine) is one of those places where you just walk in the door and your shoulders relax two inches down. It looks like a ski lodge in the movies (the only kind of ski lodge Chow, Baby has ever seen): a cathedral-sized yet warm space with wooden beams soaring to the skies, plus a whole bunch of cute deer heads. You’ll want to keep your eyes averted as you sneak bites of the glorious venison sausage ($9.99).
Plenty of Big Buck’s sandwiches, burgers, and lunch entrées are priced under $10, but clearly Chow, Baby’s cross-county expedition to hell merited a bigger reward. Big Buck’s “We Got Great Meat”-décor promise came through, even though all our entrées were cooked a step or two above request. (This wasn’t necessarily the chef’s fault; our server wasn’t strong on the listening-to-his-customers part of the job.) Chow, Baby’s lush, nicely gamey 8-ounce buffalo filet ($25.99) did not take kindly to medium-well, given that buffalo, being leaner than beef, tends to be dry even at cooler temperatures. But the more-than-rare ahi tuna ($16.99) was still springy and sweet. Best of all was the beautifully seared “cowboy” rib-eye (16-ounce bone-in, $22.99), incredibly tender and juicy even at medium. At the proper temperature, this would likely be one of the best steaks in Grapevine. Not that Chow, Baby knows much about steaks in Grapevine, but it supposes it’ll get to find out.
Mark It With a C
Personally Chow, Baby thinks romance runs more smoothly when couples actually don’t have everything in common, especially in the important areas. In the cheesecake food group, for example, the beloved likes those flimsy, tasteless, silly-toppinged Cheesecake Factory-style wedges of fluff. Whereas Chow, Baby likes the real kind. Thus when Chow, Baby lugs home a classic “Plain Jane” (8-inch, $21.95) from Patty’s Pantry (1523 S. Bowen Rd., Pantego), the dense, rich, sour-creamy delight is safe in the fridge for days.
Thwarting Chow, Baby’s midnight-munching plans, though, are Patty’s everybody-loves-them flavored cheesecakes, like strawberry swirl, chocolate amaretto, Texas pecan, and the seasonal (this season! right now!) pumpkin and cran-orange. Good thing they also come in battling-couple size (10-inch, supposedly serves 12-16, $36.95). There are always a few in Patty’s refrigerated case, but mostly they’re made to order. So go order one. See how long you can keep it to yourself.

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