Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, DFW Airport

I recently had a layover at DFW.  By now, you probably know how I operate when I visit a new airport: I figure out what terminal I'll likely land in, and which I'll depart from.  I research the food options.  I have a plan of attack ready long before I hit the ground.

In this case, I was flying on American Airlines, and expected to both land and take off from Terminal A, which was great, as it seemed to have the best food options.  I also had ample time between my flights to sit down and have a real meal.  I planned to go to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Terminal A, for a full, sit down meal.  The restaurant gets 4.5 stars on Yelp, with hundreds of reviews ... yes, for an airport location.  That seemed unfathomable, and, even better, they serve seafood, one of my favorite cuisines.  I was excited, and had a great plan.  Or ... so I thought.  Then, strike 1: My inbound flight was delayed for nearly two hours, cutting my connection time short.  Strike 2: My outgoing flight was moved to Terminal C.  Doh.  Original plans out the window.

Of course, I found this all out while I was en route, with wifi on board, so I had time to do some quick research to come up with a new plan.  I'd just pick somewhere in Terminal C instead of my original, sit down, full dinner plan in Terminal A.  But ... the pickings in Terminal C were slim.  McDonald's.  Wendy's.  Pizza Hut Express.  Etc.  There was basically nothing I wanted.  And obviously nothing that compared to my plan to go to Pappadeaux.

I started scheming, and came up with a plan B.  We'd walk right by Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen on our way to the next terminal, so, what if I called in my order as we landed, and grabbed it on the way by?  If I ordered cold food, and, they prepared it fast, this might just work.  Sure, I couldn't get the same items I'd get for dine-in, but, compared to the other options in the terminals, it sounded like a far better option.

And indeed it was.  The plan worked like a charm, as they had their togo menu published online, along with their phone number, and even a banner invitation to call an order in.  They encouraged me to do this!

Anyway,  Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen is actually a chain, although I had never encountered it before.  They do have a full restaurant at DFW, but, I can't comment much on that, nor on any of their other locations.  What I can say, is that for airport takeout, it was a great choice, as I was happy with both my salad and my dessert, and I'd gladly return (although, hopefully this time for a real meal).


Since we were getting food to go, and hoping to eat it about 20-30 minutes later, we opted to just get cold food, which was a shame, since I really wanted the crab cakes.  And the parmesan crusted flounder.  And the baked Icelandic cod with lemon garlic butter.  And the blackened catfish.  And the seafood platter with crab cakes, scallops, and fried seafood.  Omg.  Alas, we didn't have much time, so getting our order to go was a necessity, and we opted for cold food only.

Our options for cold dishes were several cold apps, like crab or shrimp cocktail, or crusted ahi, plus a bunch of salads.  While I was disappointed by not getting the hot seafood options, the salad line up was actually quite tempting too.

There were simple salads, like a dinner salad, Caesar, or Greek, all of which could have shrimp or lump crab added on top.  Then there was a very tempting classic iceberg wedge salad, with blue cheese dressing, bacon, tomatoes, carrots, and green onion (to which I'd obviously add seafood).  Don't judge, it is a classic for a reason!  But, for some reason, Ojan, who I was planning to share with, didn't want a wedge.  Continuing through the menu was a lobster and shrimp salad, served atop a mix of greens with mango and cashews, with a creamy citrus dressing, but neither of us really love lobster.  There were a few more options, but we pretty easily settled on the Seafood Cobb, as it featured crab, and it also had bacon like I wanted from the wedge.  We both love crab.
Seafood Cobb Salad, Medium, $16.99.
"Jumbo lump crabmeat & shrimp over an iceberg & spinach mix with Applewood bacon,
bleu cheese, avocado, tomato & chopped egg, drizzled with vinaigrette."

The presentation of the salad wasn't amazing, but, hey, it was takeout.

We opted to have the dressing on the side for two reasons - one, I didn't want it to get soggy, or come overdressed.  But also, the Cobb salad normally comes with a Greek-ish vinaigrette, but that is just not my style.  I'm all about creamy, indulgent dressing.  Salad can't be healthy! (Yes, I fully realize, that even with a healthier dressing, a salad with loads of bacon, blue cheese, and avocado is not exactly a healthy choice ... )  But Ojan loves Greek salad, so I asked if we could get both that dressing that was meant to come with it, plus an additional side of ranch for me.  My request was easily accommodated, and we were provided with full containers of each.

Our bag also came with some crackers in it.  Random?

Anyway, the salad.  The greens were fresh and crisp, a mix of iceberg and baby spinach, as promised.  Nothing fancy, but I have to say, sometimes, iceberg and ranch just really hits the spot.  And this really did hit the spot.

Also in the mix was red onion for some bite, carrots, and thin slices of zucchini.  The zucchini was really quite good, nicely seasoned, and, although a bit random in the salad, I loved it.  The tomatoes were bright red and juicy, and actually had some flavor ... in December.  I was really impressed with the veggies in the salad, and quite enjoyed dunking them all in my ranch.  Oh, and I did love the ranch, super creamy, horrible for me, and delicious.

There was a generous amount of protein in the salad too.  The bacon was a bit oily, but nicely crispy, and in great size chunks, not just little bits.  The bacon went great with the dressing, as did the egg, hard boiled, chopped into chunks.

And ... the seafood.  The chilled, lightly poached, shrimp was well cooked, not fishy, deveined, fine.  Shrimp isn't ever all that exciting to me, but, this was clearly fresh and decent quality.  The crab was lump meat, and again, nicely cooked, fresh seeming, not fishy.

Overall, this was quite good, and very satisfying.  Fresh, crispy veggies, quality ingredients.  Far, far superior to the takeout crab salad we got from Legal Seafoods at the airport in Philadelphia.

The salad was available in two sizes, medium for $16.99 or large for $23.89.  I read many reviews of how large the salads were, so, we opted for the medium option.  It was a generous salad, but, $16.99 did seem a bit high, even with the seafood.


We limited ourselves to cold food, but, that can still include dessert, right?  Of course!

For dessert we had several options, including a key lime pie with graham cracker pecan crust (meh, lime), vanilla cheesecake with strawberries (tempting, but not that original), a fudge brownie sundae (never my thing), or .... sweet potato pecan pie.  Omg.
Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. $7.35.
Our visit to DFW was on our return from the east coast, where we had been visiting for Christmas.  This means that I spent the previous two weeks eating tons of sweets, and in particular, pies, basically every single day.  My mother goes a bit crazy with the sweets when I am in town, and I can't even tell you how many slices of pie, sticky buns, decadent bread puddings, etc I had while I was there.  You'd think I would have been crazy sick of sweets, and pies in particular, but ... you know me, I can't ever resist a dessert!  Plus, this sounded interesting.  Sweet potato and pecan, in one pie?

I took my first bite, and ... it wasn't love at first bite.  The top layer was pecans, toasted, like a classic pecan pie.  Under that was a thick, gooey layer, somewhat like a classic pecan pie, but thicker, and not quite as cloyingly sweet.  Somehow I expected something more like pumpkin pie, just, sweet potato, not something as sticky as this.  I didn't dislike it, but, it took a few bites for it all to sync in.

The crust also wasn't amazing.  It was fine, but not a flaky, amazing pie crust like you'd get a great bakery, or  homemade.  It was a bit hard, but not burnt.  Not exciting, and clearly not super fresh.

After a few bites, I stopped, disappointed.  I decided to try whatever was in the little container on the side.  When served at the restaurant, the pie comes with vanilla ice cream on the side, and, the takeout menu also said it came with vanilla ice cream.  I was glad to see that they didn't serve it with ice cream, since we didn't eat it immediately.  Instead, it was served with what tasted like boozy crème anglaise.  I won't ever say no to crème anglaise, and the boozy (bourbon?) flavor went nicely with the pecans.

The crème anglaise, plus my renewed expectations, transformed my experience of polishing the pie off.  I dunked every single bite into the crème anglaise.  I broke off the back crust, thinking I wasn't going to eat it since it wasn't great, and then realized I did want it ... if I could dunk it in the crème anglaise too.  The pecans never grew on me, perhaps because I just had way too much pecan pie and pecan sticky buns over the course of the previous week, but the sweet potato filling, crust, and crème anglaise did turn out to be pretty satisfying.

The shocker though was the fruit served alongside.  The strawberry wasn't very ripe and I didn't try it, but the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, like the tomato, were shockingly ripe and flavorful, particularly for December.

So in the end, I was happy with my dessert.  The fruit was tasty, I enjoyed my pie, and literally licked the crème anglaise container clean at the end.  Far more successful than other airport dessert takeout options I've had, like the lackluster cheesecake from Romano's Macaroni Grill at ORD or the Boston Cream Pie from Legal Seafood in PHL.
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