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Four Winds Steakhouse: Rumoré Has It

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By Dotty Griffith
There are many reasons to visit East Texas: dogwoods blooming in the spring; you-pick-’em blueberries in the summer; Marshall’s drive-through holiday-light show; and pine trees and the Big Thicket year round.

Fine dining wasn’t prominent on the list until chef Frank Rumoré (Roo-MOR-ay) left the big-city glitz of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Dallas in November 2005 and placed his 25 years of professional experience on the line in Wills Point, a small town best known for farmers-market staples like homegrown ’maters, okra, and black-eyed peas.

Four Winds Steakhouse, just off I-20 in the northwest corner of Van Zandt County, feels like a ranch house. Originally, it was. Retired Dallas Cowboys legend Lee Roy Jordan created the two-story lodge and 15-acre fishing lake for his family on 1,100 acres of rolling green.

Longtime customers and friends Larry and Darlene Freeman bought the property and romanced Frank for eight months before he agreed to help them transform the ranch house into a cow palace. During the remodel, the home’s large, open kitchen was converted into the bar area, the fam-ily living space to the main dining room, an enclosed sun porch to a glassed-in dining area, and the upstairs to private dining rooms. Frank’s customized professional kitchen fills what was once a carport.

Steak and seafood specials are part of the culinary draw. So is the bar, a rarity in a part of Texas that is, for the most part, drier—at least in terms of alcohol—than the Chihuahuan Desert. The bar’s dark antique woodwork and plush barstools make this corner of Four Winds a genuine watering hole. The front porch, furnished with easy chairs, provides an inviting spot to enjoy cocktails or after-dinner drinks.

Beyond the bar, cedar paneling adds to the restaurant’s relaxed atmosphere. Expansive windows overlook gently rolling hills and the rippling lake. A massive stone fire-place promises a roaring fire in the winter.

Comfy upholstered wooden chairs ring tables draped with starched white cloths. Overall, Four Winds feels casual, yet mannerly. The setting proves stylish but not overdone so that the place is as comfortable and accessible as a ranch house should be.

Not surprisingly, steak ranks high on Four Winds’ menu (Frank uses grain-fed beef finished in the Midwest). Biggest is the 26-ounce, bone-in rib eye with brandy-peppercorn sauce. This leviathan is enough for two to share. Other cuts include filet mignon (6- or 10-ounce), New York strip (12- or 14-ounce), as well as smaller (12- and 14-ounce) rib eyes.

Frank learned the steakhouse craft on his first job at the original Del Frisco’s in Gretna, Louisiana. All of his steaks come with char on the outside and are cooked to rosy medium rare (or any degree of doneness you like).

The appetizer offerings also reflect Frank’s Cajun and Creole cooking roots. Shrimp remoulade is a New Orleans classic with piquant sauce. Shell-on crustaceans are the subject of the Big Easy-style barbecue shrimp. These mammoth peel-and-eats come to the table in a hot ramekin of bubbling butter jazzed with a touch of spice. Crab cakes barely hold together because they are so short on filler and way long on succulent lump crab meat. A spicy orange-mustard cream adds zest.

Seafood gets almost as much attention here as beef. Sesame- crusted ahi tuna was the seafood special the day I visited, and it was textbook rare on the inside, beautifully seared on the surface. Other seafood entrées include pecan-crusted catfish and fried jumbo shrimp.

Do not miss the creamed spinach, head and shoulders above that found in many steakhouses where the ubiquitous side is too often more gooey sauce than toothsome green vegetable. Other sides include potatoes au gratin, mushrooms and onions, velvety creamed corn, and steamed asparagus.

Desserts again reflect the chef’s beginnings. Bread pudding comes New Orleans-style with a toasted pecan-and-rum sauce. Cheesecake, another steakhouse tradition, is fine-grained and deceptively light in texture and taste.

In the summer, when East Texas tomatoes are at their best, Frank uses locally grown produce with house-made mozzarella for a Caprese-style salad. His version gets a drizzle of basil balsamic vinaigrette and sprigs of mesclun. Frank intends to draw on local growers even more now that Four Winds has an established dining clientele.

“I just love it out here,” says Frank, whose daily drive from Pilot Point north of Dallas to his dream restaurant takes about 90 minutes. It’s a dream because he gets to run the show. He has persuaded some of Dallas’ veteran steakhouse-and-white-tablecloth wait staff to make the trip, as well.

Four Winds has become a popular destination for weddings as well as steak dinners. A private dining area accommodates 160, and the staff will put up a tent for really big to-do’s.

As the name implies, Four Winds draws guests from all directions…Dallas to the west, Tyler to the east, Rockwall to the north, and Athens from the south. Why not let Four Winds draw you to Wills Point, too?

ESSENTIALS

Four Winds Steakhouse is at 21191 FM 47 (north of I-20), Wills Point; 903/873-2225; www.fourwindssteakhouse.com. Steak prices range from $20.75 to $33.95. Hours: Tue-Sat 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended.

Read 20400 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06

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