Review: Dragonfly Restaurant & Curacao Blues
14701 South Padre Island Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78418
Hours: Tues – Fri (Lunch) 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Tues – Thurs (Dinner) 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Fri – Sat (Dinner) 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
A lot of buzz was circulating around this place out on Padre Island, almost universally positive, but I hadn’t had a chance to get there and try it out for myself, but I was certainly very curious. I love local, non-chain places, at least I love to try them out. History has dictated that despite the local designation some of them turn out to be major disappointments (I’m looking at you Bellino’s Italian Restaurant). Even so, during the vacation out at Mustang Island, I had a chance to make lunch at Dragonfly and jumped at the chance. I was accompanied by my baby girl and three other adults, and we arrived right as they opened for lunch at 11:30 a.m.
The first thing that I noticed is compared to some places, it isn’t overly big. It has a dining area and a second bar area, but that’s really about it. Its decor speaks of a kind of rustic island feel, heavy on the sea and water theme, not as flashy as I would have expected prior to my visit. It was clean and seemed kept up though, so that was nice. Our hostess/waitress had us seated quickly and our drinks to us. Our service during the meal was competent and friendly, and the food was always on our table in a reasonable amount of time. There was one oddity with the menu. The lunch menu had hummus listed, but when I tried to order that I was told that although it was on the menu, it wasn’t available, so I had to settle for bab ghanoush, which wasn’t on the menu but was available. Not a huge deal, but it would be nice if things that were printed on the menu were available. Especially considering how limited the lunch menu is anyway. It’s very small.
For appetizers we ordered the jalapenos stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese and the bab ghanoush, well I settled for it even though I had wanted hummus. The jalapenos were obviously created in house. The batter wasn’t too heavy, and the stuffing was flavorful and well seasoned. It was nice that the jalapenos themselves were spicy. One complaint I did have was that perhaps the oil wasn’t hot enough when they were fried because they did seem a bit on the greasy side, like they had been fried at too low a temp and soaked up a lot of oil. Next we tried the bab ghanoush. It was properly spiced and quite tasty, served with pita chips. They even provided a few extra pita chips when there was more bab ghanoush than chips. It’s definitely something I would order again.
For an entree I ordered the crab cake entree and a side of the crunchy mac and cheese. At least that’s what they called it. I would term it embarrassing for Dragonfly that an entree portion included one small crabcake, some terrible french fries, and over half a plate of lettuce. Especially for $11.95. As far the quality of the food presented, I will say that it was very good. I enjoyed the crabcake, which was lump crab meat will very little filler. It had great flavor, although it was a tad bit on the over cooked side, even for me. The French garlic dressing for the salad was very good, although in my opinion it was less salad then a bunch of lettuce on the plate. That brings me to the french fries, which are terrible. One of two things is going on here, either they are just frozen fries out of a bag or they are made in house and badly executed. If it is the former, that’s very disappointing for the kind of place that Dragonfly is aspiring to be. If it is the later, that may be even more disappointing and I would suggest the chef revisiting the way the fries are prepared. As of right now though, I would currently recommend avoiding the fries as a side dish if at all possible. I enjoyed the crunchy mac and cheese quite a bit after I got through the crunchy top portion. To an extent I know that personal taste weighs heavily here, and I am not a big fan of the current trend of having to have bread crumbs on mac and cheese. I prefer my mac and cheese creamy rather than gritty, and bread crumbs, panko style or not, give it a sand texture that I don’t care for. Having said that, after the unpleasant topping, the dish is creamy and full of flavor, even a little bit spicy.
My little one ordered the grilled shrimp skewer with coconut rice and soy salad, which was eventually traded off with someone else at the table for the chicken enchiladas in poblano sauce. Having a chance to sample both of these dishes, I found the shrimp to be grilled to perfection and the sauce in which they were prepared to be quite tasty and a bit sweet, which was very enjoyable. The coconut rice was also quite well done and tasty. The reviews from my daughter weren’t as positive. She didn’t care of the sauce on the shrimp, which surprised me given the sweet component although she did like the rice. She much preferred the chicken enchiladas in poblano sauce for which she traded here shrimp meal. I sampled these as well and found them to be quite good. The chicken stuffing was well seasoned and flavorful, as was the poblano sauce. It was curious that the dish only came with two enchiladas and no sides at all. By curious I mean I would have expected at least one if not two sides.
Finally, we decided on the chocolate cake caramel sauce and the vanilla creme brulee for our desserts. The chocolate cake was excellent. Rich, chocolatey and decadent the way a chocolate cake should be and the accompanying caramel sauce played perfectly with it, creating one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had in a while and a nice change of pace from the standard chocolate cake with icing and a ridiculous amount of chocolate chips pressed into it that so many restaurants have gone to. It was obviously made in house and that was a wonderful change of pace. The vanilla creme brulee was also excellent and one of the best creme brulees I’ve had recently. The sugar was caramelized perfectly on top, giving that wonderful crisp texture and the custard was the perfect consistency and flavor. Truth is, I would go back to Dragonfly just for the creme brulee.
I’m going to recommend Dragonfly because I think by and large the good out weighs the bad. While I was very disappointed in my own crabcake entree at the price point, the taste and quality of the crabcake was good. The french fries either need to be made in house if they are brought in frozen or if they are made in house, the recipe needs a review because they really are terrible. The two other entrees I sampled, the skewered shrimp with coconut rice and the chicken enchiladas with poblano sauce, were excellent. Again, I thought the enchiladas should have come with a side or two, not just two enchiladas. Ironically, the one entree that was purchased at the table that I didn’t try, the lunch special, was a pesto stuffed flounder with salad and coconut rice for less than $9.00, and that was presented in what I would term as a very generous portion. Sadly, Dragonfly doesn’t get the baby seal of approval. Although she did enjoy the coconut rice and the chicken enchiladas, she wasn’t a fan of some of the other things that her entree entailed. I think the lack of any kind of children’s menu on the Dragonfly menu bespeaks of the fact that children aren’t any kind of focus for them though. Last, but not least, the two desserts that I tried were excellent, and while I would recommend the chocolate cake with caramel sauce to anyone, the vanilla creme brulee will be what keeps me going back to Dragonfly, probably just for dessert at times. I also will be going back to try their expanded dinner menu.