A Review: Randy’s Steakhouse in Frisco, and the NYLO Hotel in Plano

B and I try to hit a new restaurant during Dallas Restaurant Week, every year.  This year, he sent me the list of participating restaurants and I narrowed it down to five I wanted to try, and he picked Randy’s Steakhouse of out that short list.  The Open Table reservation options were limited, so we did the unorthodox thing of setting our reservation for the evening of Thor’s birthday, sending him to Grandma’s house (where he wanted to be anyway), and celebrating the anniversary of our having become parents over Randy’s prix fixe Restaurant Week menu.

We shared appetizers of beef empanadas with horseradish sauce and calamari with remoulade sauce, then had a first course of turtle soup, followed by entrees of prime rib and sea scallops, with desserts of cheesecake and bread pudding.  Randy’s also offered a wine pairing to go with each course, so we indulged in that as well.  Randy roamed the restaurant chatting up guests and making sure everyone was  happy.  We certainly were.

The empanadas were light and flaky, and the beef filling was juicy–I would order those on their own for a meal if offered!  The calamari were all right, but nothing special.  Neither of us had ever had turtle soup before.  I liked the taste, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I was eating turtle, and that ruined it a little for me.  The turtle itself (which was ground) had the texture of pate, or soft tofu.  B enjoyed his more than I did mine, but we both agreed that it tasted quite nice.

B said his prime rib was excellent, and my scallops were absolutely perfect.  I didn’t try the cheesecake because our wine pairings (don’t even ask me what we drank, but all of it was lovely) had gone to my head, but the bread pudding was very nice.

The atmosphere was pleasant and friendly.  The waitstaff was attentive and helpful.  Randy seemed like a really nice man.

This is a place we would certainly go to again.

4.5 out of 5 stars

After dinner, we drove over to the nearby NYLO hotel for the night.  The NYLO wants to be in Manhattan, and I thought it did a really good job of bringing that industrial, hipster-loft feel to the bustling yuppie-land of Plano.  Our room overlooked one of the frou frou strip malls on Preston, so not exactly the Meatpacking District, but still fun.

Room with a view (of a bunch of restaurants.)

The loft rooms at NYLO are long and skinny, and reminded me alternately of the tiny apartment showroom displays at Ikea and my dad’s RV.  I think the size of it was about the size of the RV, and the clever furnishings and use of nook space was 100% Ikea.

I loved the platform bed (good mattress and a billion nice pillows), and that you could go up two steps to stand behind it and set the air conditioner to your level of cool, and work the blinds that did a surprisingly good job of blocking out all the neon from across the street.  Also surprisingly good: how well the room was soundproofed from the traffic of Preston and 121.

The room was tricked out with all sorts of useful gadgetry, and was comfortably furnished.  I wouldn’t have minded staying there for a couple of days, save for one thing.  The bathroom.

And on this wall, you have the bathroom.  Smoked plexiglass shower stall–great for making shadow puppets!

The bathroom itself wasn’t bad.  The shower was big and roomy, and the sink was a really nice, deep bowl that sat up on the granite counter.  However, the bathroom was only separated from the rest of the room by a glorified screen.  You had a good 3 feet of open space from the top of the sliding door/smoked plexiglass shower wall and the ceiling, meaning that when I was in the bathroom, I could converse with B easily.  I didn’t even have to raise my voice for him to hear me. So you can guess what else he could hear.  And vice versa.

I’m not shy about bodily functions, but I did really consider going down to the hotel lobby to use the restroom this morning.  Fortunately, my digestive system didn’t kick into gear until after we left, so I could have my privacy without making it clear that I was going to have some privacy.

For a night, I thought the NYLO was great.  If I were on my own, I would absolutely take advantage of their great rates (really, really good rates) and great digs.  For a night where I am sharing a room with someone else?  No way.  That bathroom thing kills it.

2.5 out of 5 stars for more than one person

4 out of 5 stars for one person


For Sale or Lease

This time last year (and at this point I stopped writing the entry to go and renew my energy plan, having reminded myself it was about to expire!) we were planning our move from The Country House (that place in a pocket neighborhood, out by the cows) into The Town House (a literal townhouse apartment.)  It was a lot of effort, actual blood, sweat, and tears, but in the end, it’s been a fantastic decision for us.  We lost 700 sq. ft. in the move, but we gained exponential multiplications of satisfaction–especially as our daily commutes were concerned.  (And here I had to stop to make sure we had signed our lease for the next 12 months.)

We put The Country House on the market in April, and by August were starting to panic.  In those four months, we had about six views on the house.  Our realtor called with some bad news.  There were over a dozen homes in the neighborhood in foreclosure, some nearly twice the size of ours, listed at 5k less.  And the homes the size of ours…well.  Let’s just say we did the math, figured out our lowest asking price, swallowed back that lump in our throats, and dropped our listing by about 6k.  That got us two more views.

In mid-August, we contacted a property management company, to help us lease the home.  Our PM was excited about the house and the neighborhood, and was sure we’d be able to get renters in by Labor Day.  By early October, we had dropped our already majorly-inexpensive lease fee by another hundred dollars.  Thank Vesta (goddess of home and hearth for those of you who aren’t Classics nerds) we finally found renters, who moved in last week.

After PM fees, fence repair, carpet cleaning, pro-h0usekeeping scrubdown, and the dredges of half a months worth of utility and yard maintenance bills, we’ll break just about even on the deal in December.  But we did have to cut our lease so low that with PM fees, we are taking a small hit.  Much better, much, much better than a hit for the full mortgage and HOA fees, but still a hit.

And we were smart, y’all.

When we bought our house in 2005, we were approved for more than twice what we chose.  B was smart and paid us out of debt before we started our house-quest, so we went into our mortgage in an excellent position.  We bought WELL within our means, so that if something happened to one of our jobs, we would still have a place to live.  And then we both worked hard to improve our means.  I hope B won’t mind me bragging on the massive amounts of time, energy, and self-sacrifice involved in his certification classes that netted him better jobs.  I am extremely proud of him.

So what happened?

Well, we both got better paying jobs–and after I had been laid off, we needed those jobs.  A major factor in our move came down to Thor’s school.  It worked like this:

  • If we took the better paying jobs, we doubled our commute times.
  • If our jobs were 8–5 with no early mornings, or late nights, traffic would mean leaving the neighborhood by 6:30AM, and getting home around 7PM.
  • Thor’s school doors opened at 7:30AM, and the on-site afterschool care closed at 6:30PM
  • We were so far out of range, there were no other before or afterschool care options that fit our needs.  It’s not like you can just give a 5-year-old a house key and teach him to make a grilled cheese.
  • If we didn’t take the better paying jobs…well, that wasn’t an option.

See the problem?  And we sure couldn’t afford private school!

So we moved.  Best decision we made all year.

And really, thank goodness for the new renters.  We have at least 12 months of breathing room now, and hopefully they will love the home and either renew the lease, or want to buy it outright.  (I’m not even going to think about the what-ifs involved in repairs we might face next November.  No.  Not going to do it.)