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Monday, August 11, 2014

World Famous PadreRitaGrill, South Padre Island, TX

If you've followed my posts from the blog beginnings in 2010, you will know I have been a huge fan of PadreRitaGrill back from its days as PadreRitaVille onwards thru the JB-forced renaming to PadreRitaGrill; and now to the renovated and fresh re-do courtesy of Food Network's Restaurant Impossible (show reportedly scheduled for an upcoming date in October).  I didn't get to be a part of the reno (which I would have loved to do) because I was playing Grandma entertainer for the Summer visits of my two granddaughters at the time.  I wanted so badly to go to the grand re-opening dinner...but I knew it would not be a good idea for tired kids (and I was right from what I hear).

So, my husband and I planned a date night for Sunday, August 10th...he wasn't on call, we hoped the week-end crowds would be heading home from the island, and there was a Supermoon on the calendar!  I told him I wanted to check out the revamped PadreRitaGrill and I wanted to walk the beach for photos of the moon rising.  I got to do exactly all that!

We looked up the moon rising schedule, saw it was visible rising from the SSE, and planned our dining time around that.  It worked out nearly perfect.  Due to traffic issues (I wasn't the only one wanting to see that moon over the beach) I missed the rise over the low horizon...but I did get some right purty pictures! (Yikes, sometimes the Texan just takes over and I have to say things like "right purty")

When we arrived at PadreRitaGrill, around 7:00 the outside looked pretty much the same.  Lovely foliage and fresh pots of flowers along the walkway in.  It's a nice entrance.  When the door opened, the sounds of J. Micheal Laferty welcomed us, as they have so often in the past.
New stage, same musical talent - always enjoy his playing.

Inside the dining area, though, is like a whole other world!  The old decor (which I did like because I'm kinda "that way") was kitschy and a bit cluttered.  The new look is much more elegant, clean lines, more upscale tropical.
Gone were the tikis replaced with simple and elegant
seagulls on wood over the fireplace

Loved the palm cutout and the great new color scheme.
Light and tropical - happy colors!

These pictures on the back wall make you think you are
looking out at the ocean despite being on downtown
Padre Blvd.!

The menu is streamlined to a one page set of offerings - all of which sounded really good.  The new recipes created by Chef Robert Irvine were highlighted.  Both my husband and I decided to try one of the new offerings.  Before arriving, our plan was for Mr. Flip Flop to try the Mole Glazed Roast Chicken and I was going to see if they had my same favorite nachos, and order those if they did.  However, everything changed when we saw so many new choices!

Mr. Flip Flop didn't start out our date night very happily.  He felt the chairs were uncomfortable, we were sitting too close to the stage in a lightly filled restaurant and we couldn't talk to each other... it was too loud for him.  In hopes of salvaging date night, I gave him some ibuprofen and asked to be moved to a table in the back and on we went with our date.

Our service was really outstanding.  Our server (I'm so sorry I don't remember her name - long brown pony tail - cute girl) was attentive, but not intrusively so.  That is a huge improvement!  We got our drinks and continued perusing the menu, declined appetizers, and settled on our choices.  Mr. Flip Flop seemed a bit happier (whew!) so my date night wasn't ruined.

Chimichurri Steak Salad - tasted as good as it looks!
noun (in South American and Mexican cooking) a piquant sauce or marinade traditionally used on grilled meat, typically containing parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and flakes of chili pepper.

I selected the Chimichurri Steak Salad.  It was described as "Grilled Skirt Steak, Mixed Greens, Guacamole and Chips.  You can see from the photo above it is generous, and looks delicious.  You can also see that is quite a dollop of really outstanding Guacamole.  You do not, however, see any chips. I also asked for no tomatoes - not a huge problem because my hubs always will eat my tomatoes.  I told Mr. Flip Flop that it would have been great with some chips (not realizing until later in the meal that they were actually supposed to be part of the dish and were missing).  I did get a little extra Chimichurri on the side because the salad had a lot of tasty greens and needed "something more" for a dressing.  The Chimichurri was so delicious, I didn't want to mix in another flavor, so our waitress promptly brought me a small amount more which was perfect.  I had asked that the meat be medium, and it was perfectly cooked and tender.  For the price of $12, I felt it was an excellent value and quite delicious.

One of the problems at "the old" PRG was stuff didn't always come out the way it was described.  If I'd realized earlier, I would have said something on the spot.  I know that is something they are really trying to correct.  I let Cathy and Micheal know via a private message - because if it's not right, let management know!  Cathy and Micheal and their staff do, I believe, really want to fix anything that is wrong.  They responded promptly to my message with a thank you and another request to say something "in real time". Regardless of the missing chips, I give this dish two thumbs up for flavor and value.  In fact, it was so large, I only ate a bit more than half and Mr. FF ate the rest.

Mr. Flip Flop loves salmon (and I don't) so he selected Chef Irvine's rendition of BBQ'd Salmon described as "BBQ'd Salmon, Smoked Tomatillo Salsa, Cilantro Lime Black Beans, and Grilled Corn".  The plate was priced at $16.  His feedback was that the salmon was absolutely delicious, including the Tomatillo Salsa.  I sampled only the black beans because I rarely find them well-seasoned and I wanted to see if they had a hit or a miss.  These beans were delicious - perfectly seasoned!  A half ear of corn - no grill marks noted, so I'm assuming not grilled corn - was on the plate.  You can be the judge, but we both felt the portions were very small for this price and the relative low-cost of the two sides. Maybe a whole ear of actually grilled corn would have made a difference if they need to keep the price of the salmon down by small portioning.  It was outstanding in flavor, but my husband cleaned his plate and he was still hungry.   Thus, he ate the rest of my salad because I wanted him to be happy...and I wanted to order dessert (there is always a method to my madness).

Dessert was key lime pie - a hard pie to make "different".  They offered it with a raspberry sauce, which I declined.  I wanted to taste the pureness of the pie.  It seemed an unusually long wait for pie that is already prepared - but that was the only service glitch we experienced - barely worth mentioning.  It was, however, worth the wait.  Nice presentation and absolutely divine in flavor.  Wonderful crust, light dusting of almonds on top, tasty whipped cream to enhance the rich flavor.  Tart enough for my taste buds, but not too tart for Mr. FF.  We shared it and nearly licked the plate.  It was a great ending to the meal.

While we were there, the restaurant filled up and the music was lovely as all of the sounds evened out.  We exited to a Gordon Lightfoot song, and that always puts me in a happy place.

I liked the old, I like the new even better...I look forward to visiting again!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

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