Let me start by saying that my five star review extends to all Pappadeaux locations that I have been to. Service is consistently good, the food is excellent, and they’re consistently top notch. And I’ve been to multiple locations–Chicago, Cincinnati, and of course, multiple ones in Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston…. you name it. I’ll probably replicate this review in a few other locations which I have been to.)
Pappadeaux is arguably THE Pappas restaurant that has scaled the best throughout the US. (With the success of Pappadeaux, I’m actually quite surprised that Pappas seafood house hasn’t scaled more. However, the Pappas family is known for their ridiculous attention to detail, and it shows–it certainly pays off.) The reason I’m given that Pappas seafood house hasn’t ventured outside of the Houston metro area is that they want to be able to have fresh fish from the gulf for that restaurant concept daily. However, I’ve never had anything less than 100% outstanding at any of their locations. This is further shocking as I feel that I would think that the Cajun feel of Pappadeaux is more regionally bound to the Louisiana / Texas / Deep South. However, they seem to pack them in up in Ohio as well!
Anyhow, enough background, on to the good stuff. Let’s talk food. I’ve personally had probably most of the things on their menu, but I’ll write about the ones that are standouts in my mind notable enough in my mind that are worth mentioning.:
(Also, note that the portions are generally HUGE!!)
Seafood Fondeaux (i.e. – Seafood fondue): With apologies to Monty Python and the Meaning of Life: “IT’S VERRRY GOOD AND IT’S VEERRRRY RICH.” Mmmmm, mmmm. It’s amazing. Probably not the best appetizer to get on a diet, however. But, it’s absolutely wonderful. I’ll warn you–it’s very large, and I doubt it would be easy to re-heat, so I’d either make sure you’ve got enough folks to chow it down, or make a meal of it.
Fried Alligator: I know–you probably think this is weird. Jump in with both feet–it’s like chicken but I think even more tasty. But each time I’ve had the fried alligator, it has been done perfectly with a fantastic tangy sauce to go with it.
Oysters on the Half Shell: This is one of the best places to get Oysters as well. (Being fair, I’m not a huge oyster buff.) In any case, if you like oysters, these won’t disappoint.
Ginger Salmon: I never liked grilled fish and ESPECIALLY grilled Salmon… until I had it at Pappadeaux. Now, I can’t get enough of it. This is fantastic. Also, to try some different sauces, Pappadeaux will sell you (for a slight up-charge) some different sauces that you can try on the salmon. These include sauces from other dishes. I recommend trying the Lafayette Sauce, the Pontchartrain sauce, and the Diablo sauce. But why would you get the Ginger Salmon with Diablo sauce when you could get the…
Salmon Diablo: I’ve seen this as a special, and it’s amazing. It’s salmon with their diablo sauce on it. Think a cream sauce with crab meat, crawfish, and pico de gallo. Simply amazing.
Pasta Mardi Gras: Awesome. Very rich and decadent. This dish will kill your diet. This is basically a cajun seafood linguine with a cream sauce.
Stuffed Shrimp: Simply put, a feast. This is probably the best stuffed shrimp I have had. (One dish I had in Providence, Rhode Island came close.)
Mushroom Risotto: Absolutely phenomenal. It just melts in your mouth. And I don’t even really like mushrooms all that much. It’s worth the upcharge.
Dirty Rice: I’m a fan of the Dirty Rice as well.
(Also, I’ve never had them, but the Cheese Grits with the Andouille Sausage look phenomenal.)
I’ve had multiple desserts, but the banana pudding is a stand-out in my mind.
They have Abita Turbodog on tap. This is essential for a true cajun experience.
I believe they also have Shiner Bock on tap.
And, most amazingly, I believe this is true in other states as well. That’s especially rare I find for Abita.
Pappas Restaurant Group–you’ve done it again. Pappadeaux is another epic concept. It’s easily one of my favorite restaurants. Check it out if you’ve never been.
I’m going to give Venetian Theaters 3 stars. It’s on the same level of quality as the Studio Movie Grill, with a number of things that are better and worse. I’d imagine that if you live in Dallas, you probably have been to a Studio Movie Grill. As a result, I’m going to do a lot of comparing between the two.
I apologize to those that aren’t familiar with the Studio Movie Grill, but SMG kind of sets the average in Dallas for this kind of entertainment. I’ll also mention AMC’s “Fork and Screen” as well. (I have not yet been to their cinema suites.)
Let’s start with what’s better at Venetian Theaters, and then we’ll get to the things that aren’t quite as nice.
Great / Better than Average:
-It’s a family owned business, and it shows. The staff is very friendly and have gone the extra mile. They dress their employees very well, and they’re very welcoming and cordial upon your departure. They’ve got AMC and SMG LICKED here.
-I’ve only been here once, but the food seems to be quite good. I may have just ordered a good dish (built my own pizza), but it seemed like the food was a step above where SMG is. I’d say it’s on par with AMC here.
-Their chairs are much nicer than Studio Movie Grill, though not as nice as the custom-made AMC chairs.
-The stadium style seating works well no matter where you’re sitting. You only have “counter” style seating in these theaters, so you don’t have the “back of the row” table option, like SMG offers. I don’t care for the back of the row tables, as in those cases, the stadium seating doesn’t work well, and you have waiters walking in front of you to boot.
-The “down lighting” is effective for getting around the theater and getting into and out of your pockets / picking out your credit card / etc. (I.e. – there’s ample lighting pointing down underneath the counter where your food is.)
-It seems like they have a pretty cool bar setup.
-The servers seemed to be pretty attentive.
Not So Great:
-The rows are narrow and don’t allow for you to have much space in front of you. There’s a bumper that prevents you from rolling back to get more room. I’m not that big of a guy (wide or tall), but if I was, I’d probably have a pretty substantial problem with the seating.
-The “down lighting” does not light up your food at all, making it difficult to eat your food. You have to use the lighting of the movie to help see where your food is. If you have finger food (like chicken tenders), this makes things somewhat difficult.
-The fresh paint and varnish smells are still somewhat intrusive upon eating.
-They need to do something with their lobby. They probably will, in time.
I noticed some other reviews complaining about where the switch was that you need to use to order food. I didn’t find it obtrusive at all.
I think I’d be lacking to mention in my review that there’s a TON of potential here. I will be back, and it will be interesting to see what improvements are made.
Also, I didn’t take advantage of it, but keep one eye on Groupon. I think they periodically put out the “movie ticket and drink” deal for $6.00 a head on Groupon (again, similar to the SMG.) This is probably worth doing if you’re on the fence and want to try Venetian, but aren’t sure.
One more parting tip… I’ve never been to one of these types of places where the theater wasn’t like a meat locker. It’s always freezing in these types of places… Make sure to bring a fleece or something that you can put on / take off during the movie so that you’re comfortable.
I think that Mi Familia a little better than “A-OK.”
I went for lunch today. For starters, I started chomping down on the chips and salsa. The chips and salsa are AWESOME here. Not in a Pappasito’s kind of way, more in just a “classic Mexican joint” kind of way. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the salsa, it was just a perfect–not too spicy, with a great texture and not too watery. The chips worked very well as well. The chips are notable as they seem to have some kind of a flavor (perhaps a kind of seasoned salt?) that has been sprinkled on them when you get them. It’s awesome.
After I got done comping down 2 bowls of salsa, we then ordered a queso. The queso was very good as well (I’d probably give it 4 stars.) However, the salsa was so good that I kept going back to that.
For my meal, I ordered the chicken fajita lunch special (I think that’s #11.) This was ok but a bit underwhelming… When I order fajitas, I’m pretty damn picky. I expect for them to come on a skillet, still sizzling. They don’t do that here (at least for lunch.) They’ll serve you the fajitas on a plate with rice and beans. The lunch portion seemed to have too much veggies and not enough chicken. The other thing that was kind of crazy is that they only gave me a total of 2 tortillas. I figure that if you’re going to serve fajitas like this, if I was the restaurant, I would probably describe the lunch special as “chicken fajita tacos” and rolling them before serving them.
I didn’t really eat the rice, but I did eat most of my beans. They were okay… I’d give them 2 and a half stars.
Our service was a bit slow–it took us a while to get our food and even to get rolling on our appetizer. (And there weren’t a ton of people in the restaurant–most of them seemed to be on the patio, which looks happening here at lunch time.) Our server was nice, though.
I’d probably return, but for lunch, I’d probably go for the bean and cheese burrito and beef taco combo. (I forget what number that was.)