After the Round – Ramble Room

After the Round – Ramble Room

Snider Plaza in Dallas has long been one-stop shopping for those living in the lavish Park Cities area. With over 100 shops and businesses in close proximity, those in the area can stock up on sundries, do some shopping and, most importantly, indulge with a multitude of dining options in the area. But a relative newcomer has transformed the already bustling dining scene in the plaza, with fresh, delicious dishes that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Ramble Room has the provenance, as the brainchild of restauranteur Jon Alexis, who is known for other culinary staples like TJ’s Seafood, Malibu Poke, and his Tex-Mex venture Escondido. Alexis recruited superstar chef Stan Rodrigues, who has also been an integral part of Dallas institutions like Sixty Vines, Whiskey Cake and the renowned Nick and Sam’s. The result is an upscale, but welcoming and casual, addition to the Park Cities, with a cornucopia of delicious options for dining and drink. 

The first thing you notice about Ramble Room is its cozy, yet inviting, atmosphere. There is a subtle buzz as you are welcomed by their staff and walked to your seat. There is a large U-shaped bar that serves as a centerpiece to the room, with lots of seating should you want to nurse a beverage and enjoy an appetizer solo or swing through for a glass of wine with a date. It’s a perfect spot to post up. 

If you are with a few friends or a planned date night with another couple, then the more traditional dining area is the way to go. The seating and tables are comfy, with small LED lamps that offer the perfect amount of lighting to see the menu and choose your culinary path for the evening. The artwork on the walls is bright, whimsical and really pops against the walls and wood accents that surround you as you dine. 

Of course, Ramble Room features a great menu, but they also have plenty of wine-by-the-glass or beer selections from all across the country and a fantastic cocktail menu. If you like a solid margarita, then I might suggest their blood orange variety, which is a concoction of Jimador Blanco, Jalisco orange and agave syrup. The bright flavors meld well with just a hint of the familiar tequila burn to let you know you are working on a nice buzz. Another no-brainer for those steamy summer days is The White Lotus, which is aged with coconut rum, pineapple, orange, lime and grenadine. The flavor profile of this drink is reminiscent of those refreshing Cherry Limeades you had as a kid, but with a little bit of boozy bite. Should you be into more traditional cocktails, then Ramble also has a great Old Fashioned and a Rancharita, both of which are perfect to begin your evening. For those who fancy a top-of-the-food-chain martini, Ramble Room’s cocktail engineers can sling any number of those, too, with Tito’s Handmade Vodka fresh from a tap, which dispenses the spirit at a crisp 38 degrees. If you aren’t a martini fan, they also have a great Cosmo or a delectable espresso martini that will scratch your itch. 

Lunch and Brunch menus are available at Ramble Room, with lunch taking plenty of the dinner staples, but adding in some additional sandos and salads for something a little lighter. The brunch menu includes some sweeter options, like house-baked cinnamon rolls, apple pie French toast to accompany more savory options like a corned beef hash, or an egg white frittata. 

We took a spin through Ramble Room in the early evening, so we were treated to their traditional dinner menu, which although isn’t complicated or terribly expansive, checks all the boxes for those who want something simple and easy, to those who are looking for more refined flavor profiles and a true fine-dining experience. 

There are 10 different appetizers and dips that can be shared among the table, or you could eat as a meal if you are just looking to delete a cocktail or two at the bar and have a smaller portion. One of the apps we sampled was the ahi tuna tartare, which is fresh and flavorful with bright palate notes compliments of some orange and tangy ponzu sauce. A little avocado and snow pea mash on bottom adds a rich and velvety texture to the dish, and some fried wontons are a crunchy vessel to get the tartare from plate to mouth. 

Other seafood apps include a jumbo lump crab dip, yellow curry mussels, crab and corn beignets, or a jumbo shrimp cocktail. Any of them will provide a little taste of the sea. Swedish meatballs and the French onion dip are also on the sharables menu, and we were told those are also two of Ramble’s most popular apps. 

If you like great soup, then I highly recommend the savory and sweet crab and corn bisque. The mouthfeel of the smooth corn chowder paired with the sweetness of the lump crab is a match made in heaven, and even though we are working our way out of soup season, it’s worthy of giving it a try, even when the weather is warm. 

A great salad is a health nut staple, and Ramble Room has a few for those watching their waistline or looking for something light for their power lunch. A classic wedge with tomato, bacon, red onion and bleu cheese is a great option that won’t bog you down as you get set for your afternoon meetings. There is also a little gem and bibb salad with radish, asparagus, zucchini, candied pecan and ricotta. 

As if there weren’t enough to talk about with the first part of the menu, we need to lock in on the main event courses at this Dallas dining delight. Simple American food done well is something that can be found in a lot of places. A solid burger is usually an indication of whether a particular spot is worthy of a return visit, and Ramble has a wonderful classic with American cheese, lettuce, pickle, onion and tomato … and it also comes with some tangy sweet Thousand Island dressing to really take it to another level. There is also the more refined Plaza Burger, with gruyere, au poivre sauce, crispy onions and tomato. It’s a burger, but elevated to fine-dining delicious. 

If you aren’t one for beef, then there are a couple sandwiches you should consider. The grilled chicken focaccia and the seared ahi tuna sandwiches are both really solid and are perfect for those looking for a meaty alternative to our bovine friends. 

For main dinner entrées, I need to tell you about the pastas on the menu. There is a shrimp fettuccini, which has some jumbo shrimp, white wine and lemon for some bright depth of flavor, along with spinach, tomato and some toasted breadcrumbs to add some texture. For a truly rib-sticking pasta, try the pappardelle Bolognese, which is a combo of a meaty beef and pork sauce served with some creamy ricotta. You can’t go wrong with either. 

You can head over to Ramble Room’s website for all of their dinner entrées, but there are two more choices I must tell you about. One is the flat iron steak frites. If you aren’t familiar with the flat iron cut, you aren’t alone, as its popularity has only grown in the United States over the last 20 years or so. This cut comes from the shoulder of the animal but is tender and packed with flavor. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a nice crust for some additional texture. The frites, you may better know them as French fries, served alongside the steak were magical to say the least … crispy, and covered in fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs; they really made this steak frites one of the best I have ever tasted. In addition, the dish comes with some truffle aioli for dipping and some herbaceous chimichurri on top of the meat. 

One final dish that needs mentioning is one of Ramble Room’s specials. Ramble, being in association with TJ’s Seafood, procures some of the freshest sea fare anywhere in Dallas. The wild Alaskan halibut is no different, with a light, flaky texture that cannot be beat anywhere in the city. Your magnificent fresh catch comes with pea and farro risotto, mint salad and a blood orange reduction. This is a special combination that is not only swimming-this-morning fresh, but delicate and toe-curling delicious. If you have to choose one entrée on the Ramble Room menu, this one gets my five-star, two thumbs up, must try. 

Everybody loves a little something sweet to finish off their meal, and there are a trio of options at Ramble Room that will satisfy your sweet tooth. A coconut cake is a popular choice, as is the bourbon bread pudding, but we went all-in with the chocolate brownie sundae. The brownie is served warm in a small cast-iron skillet with a scoop of traditional vanilla ice cream. The warm brownie begins to slightly melt the ice cream, turning this into a sticky, sweet delight that you can’t walk away from. Also, if you are one of those people like myself who likes the edge pieces of the brownie that have a little crunch, the cast-iron skillet provides just that, all around the edges. Forget about the calories and indulge on this sugar bomb for maximum satisfaction to round out your visit. 

Ramble Room was a great experience from top to bottom. Not only are they very accommodating, but there isn’t a stuffy vibe for a restaurant of this caliber. I wouldn’t recommend flip-flops and cargo shorts, but if you have a nice ballcap and a polo shirt, no problem. Want a great spot on a patio when the weather is nice? Ramble has one, and it seats 50. Want to belly up to the bar for a few happy hour drinks? They have you covered. 

Great vibe, great food, great staff, great prices. What’s not to like about Dallas’ Ramble Room?