Game on at Dallas’ Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse
Dallas’ place as a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ would probably depend on its steakhouses, but the question that looms large is how the U.N. would detect the differences between them. Fortunately, Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, in the downtown West End, will have no such self-identification problems. It is simply the best for game meat (as well as having great steaks). I find it reassuring that such a place exists, given the paradox that, while hunting is a fervent pastime in the state, many of Dallas’ ‘meateries’ feature none. Dean Fearing is a stalwart, especially for quail, at Fearing’s, and SER has its share, but for many steakhouses the clientele sticks with beef, pork, or Chilean sea bass.
At a recent media dinner, we started with the wild game platter for two ($16 per person) comprised of breaded, fried, boneless quail; a hearty wild boar bratwurst; and venison ‘rollups’, essentially venison wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon. The latter are as easy to pop and as addictive to eat . Groups should request a plate ($17) as a table starter. Other game and esoteric protein appetizers are antelope carpaccio ($16) and frog legs meunière ($14). On the more mainstream side are a delicious sweet corn bisque ($9) and a selection of salads.
At the heart of the main courses are the USDA prime steaks, including 14-ounce NY strip ($42), 14-ounce ribeye ($40), and a cowboy bone-in ribeye ($49). More interesting is a full ‘parallel menu’ of 44 Farms Texas Angus beef (grass fed and finished on corn). Out-of-towners should tag 44 Farms as an alternative to Niman Ranch. For the game hunter there is Texas Axis venison chops ($42), buffalo filet mignon ($48), and espresso elk crusted tenderloin ($43). And for seafood fishermen chili rubbed King Salmon ($29), miso soy glazed sea bass ($39) and a deliciously sweet shrimp and grits ($36). All of these proteins can be paired with a range of accompaniments, among them béarnaise or blackberry port reduction, oscar (crab meat, asparagus and béarnaise), grilled mushrooms and onions. Accompaniments are separate from sides, which Y.O. treats with more respect than most steak houses. Thus there are the southern favorite collard greens ($8), a clever wild mushroom ‘bread pudding’ ($10), stalwart mac ‘n cheese ($10) gets embellished with Gouda, Brussels sprouts ($9) are tossed with maple dijon mustard, and (God’s food) bacon.
The wine list shows work as well. By-the-glass favorites include Moët et Chandon ‘Imperial’ Brut ($21/split), Mount Veeder ($19) and Ramey ($21) Cabernet Sauvignons, and Kiepersol Texas Syrah ($12). The latter three full-throttle reds are compelling matches with the red meat. After-dinner Ports are especially strong.
Attentive service makes for a comfortable location for business meals or special occasions although I would like more space in the booths along the wall. Overall this is an exemplary choice for more formal or celebratory events. Out-of-town visitors will appreciate the short (20-minute) Uber/Lyft ride to DAL and direct access to the freeway to DFW.