What do you think of when you think of Hard Rock Cafe? Is it music memorabilia? Perhaps, great music? Victory Park? For me, Hard Rock Cafe is synonymous with childhood. You see, we traveled a lot when I was a kid and believe it or not I was about as picky of an eater as they come so my parents always knew that no matter what city or country we were in, Hard Rock Cafe would be a safe bet. In fact, I still credit Hard Rock Cafe for having my favorite cocktail of all time, The Pickled Tink. I was drinking virgins, of course, at least I think I was although drinking alcohol as a kid would explain a lot these days. I digress.
This week I was invited in to Dallas’ own Hard Rock Cafe located in Victory Park to check out their new menu. Now, in my experience, when a restaurant says they have a menu it just means they shuffled some ingredients around and maybe added a new item or two. Not here, my friends! Hard Rock Cafe surveyed people in 100 cities worldwide while researching what their new menu would include and it shows. Their entire menu is revamped and sure, some of the old favorites are still there (less my favorite cocktail) but you’ll see items that truly breathe new life into the American classics.
Unlike the majority of global-chains, everything at Hard Rock Cafe is made fresh and in-house on a daily basis. That means from pico de gallo to cheesecake, everything you are eating was made just a mere hours beforehand. Some of the stand outs on the new menu is that the Jumbo Combo was revamped, the addition of the Grilled Chicken Arugula Salad, Cowboy Ribeye, Fiesta Burger and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich.
Luckily during my visit I had a dining companion because I forgot just how generous the portions at Hard Rock Cafe are. Sweet baby Jenny Craig, come hungry! We ordered up the Jumbo Combo to start which now includes spinach & artichoke dip as well as bruschetta on-top of the onion rings, chicken tenders and wings that were there previously. The Grilled Chicken Arugula Salad with Spicy Pecans came next, followed by the Fresh Vegetable Sandwich.
The Jumbo Combo was exactly what an appetizer sampler should be: fried, big as hell (like my ass) with something for everyone. My particular favorite from the Jumbo Combo are the onion rings but I also happen to be an onion ring connoisseur. The Grilled Chicken Arugula Salad was delicious. Very fresh, dressed lightly with a lemon balsamic vinaigrette and topped with perfectly seasoned chicken, dried cranberries, feta cheese and spicy pecans. The Fresh Vegetable Sandwich was, unfortunately, not a winner for us. This thing is MASSIVE, you can sort of tell from the picture, but the sandwich was practically the size of the entire plate. In any other circumstance, I’d love that but this item just didn’t work. Grilled, fresh vegetables including zucchini, portobello mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers, etc. stack high and are covered with Monterey Jack cheese and balsamic glaze. Instead of binding the vegetables together, the cheese and glaze provide an edible slip and slide and make it nearly impossible to eat without a fork. On top of that, the vegetables aren’t cut down small enough. The zucchini was literally just cut in half which in my opinion, isn’t appropriate for handheld dining. I think that this sandwich has potential but it definitely isn’t going to become a fan favorite when it is that hard to eat.
Aside from the new menu, Hard Rock Cafe has tons of other fun stuff going on as well. From the beloved Rock Shop where diners and fans can pick up music-themed apparel and swag, drag show brunches and a killer new lunch special of entree, side and a drink for just $9.99, definitely revisit Hard Rock. Next time you are in Victory Park for a concert, a game or even when you are just craving solid American food, head over here. You won’t be disappointed and if you are, you can go mosh with the best of them on the stage at the back of the restaurant.