Dean Fearing's new place...?
Any word on when Dean Fearing's new place in the Ritz Carlton will be opening up?
I dined at Fearings a couple of weeks ago with a group of foodie friends who are traveling around the US eating at most 4-5 star restaurants. We found the food to be trite, overpriced, and the service to be shoddy at best. We ordered the tasting menu and were overcharged. Even the management agreed that we were overcharged and credited us back money on our credit card.
If you do feel the need to go, I recommend the shrimp tacos and the buffalo. They also have a great wine selection and the sommeliers are quite knowledgeable.
I can tell you however that no one in my party of 6 will be returning. We could have an amazing meal for half the price.
When I get around to it I will post a detailed report. I have eaten there twice and my experience was the exact opposite of drbarbi22's. Everyone in my parties thought almost everything was spectacular. I recommend it very, very highly. And, one thing that makes me VERY suspicious of drbarbi22's post--Fearing's doesn't have a tasting menu!
Last night 4 friends and I gave it a visit. I would have been unimpressed at half the price.
It wasn't busy and the five of us were seated at a table for 4 (2 booth seats, two opposite seats, and an extra seat placed at the end) in the Rattan room. It took quite a while to get a waiter to take our order. The waiter steered us to the Mop Steak and the buffalo filet. I had the hamachi appetizer and buffalo filet. Others ordered 2 Mops, halibut and scallops.
My hamachi was ok; the avocado-wasabi puree reminded me of an off-kilter Mexican avocado based salsa. Then we waited, and waited and waited some more. There was at least 35-45 minutes between appetizer and entree--I suspect the staff was attempting to get us to order another bottle of wine. The buffalo was cooked to my taste (medium rare) but it had a definite sugary sweet quality that I do not like on grilled beef. The Mops were even worse--crusty sugar on the outside, cold on the inside. Neither guest ate very much of it. For reasons I cannot fathom the staff insisted that we pack the Mops home, even though nobody wanted it. A waiter left it with the hostess, who brought it back to us about 30 minutes later. We gave it to someone to give to their dog. The Rhone was good, but the wine list was not well balanced in terms of either price points of diverse offerings. I counted less than 6 Spanish and Italian reds combined. The halibut and scallops received good reviews (although I didn't tate them, as I did the Mop and my filet). The "crisp asparagus" was inedible-it was a tempura fried stalk. The tempura overwhelmed the near flavorless asparagus. The tempura was extremely salty.
I must say that even aside from the the deficiencies of our particular meal, the menu lacked imagination. Surprisingly for a hotel, there were no vegetarian entrees. The prices were Ritz captivity prices---Mop 50, filet forty something, halibut mid thirties. There are many other restaurants with equal to better service, much better food, and comparable ambience. I do not plan on giving it another chance.
Bhoward, I admire your spirited defense of he Ritz. Doubtless your food, ambience, wine and service were of a quality deserving such defense. You were much luckier than me, as my short report indicates. Very likely my experience was the unfortunate exception arising from events and circumstances that crossed ny dining stars. It was a Monday, we were five, not four or two, who knows what else was happening--there were several couples decked in tuxes, etc. But my food and experience was mediocre, and mediocre does not cut it at the Ritz. And once a cat jumps on a hot stove, he won't jump on a cold one either. The Dallas kitchen may want to take a visit to their Water Tower affiliates. Next time I'll patronize the tried and true, which for my taste, can range from the at York St.'s artistic restraint, Biernat's conviviality, Ist Chinese Barbeque's visceral purity, and Keller's home on the highwayed range. Maybe not 5 stars, but real bright stars.
A couple of points. First on your comment on the lack of Italian and Spanish wines on the list. I really didn't notice that, as I'm not a big Italian or Spanish wine drinker, but I suspect that that criticism is accurate. But the list is rather deep in the two or three areas that it attempts to cover -- the U.S. (primarily California) and France. I paid more attention to the French section, but they had good depth in white Burgs, red Burgs, excellent depth of chateaux and good depth of vintages in red Bordeaux, and a nice well selected eclectic selection of Rhones, red and white (although there could be a bit more depth here). But at some point, they have to make a judgment call between breadth and depth unless they are going to have an encyclopedic wine list (and that requires a very, very deep pocket -- usually a wine hobbyist). Personally, I'd rather have good depth in a few areas, never mind the good dozen or so on this list, that a bit broader coverage. I think it's probably the second or third best wine list in the city right now.
As to the lack of vegetarian choices, I noticed that and asked our waiter a question on that, as my daughter is a foodie and doesn't eat meat (if it's possible to be a foodie and not eat meat). He indicated that they could very easily put together a number of vegetarian options based on accompaniment to other dishes on the menu and that the chef loved to work with special requests. He seemed very sincere about that. And frankly, I've been to many other top restaurants that don't have a vegetarian entree on the menu per se, but will accommodate special requests -- including a spectacular effort along those lines at Le Bernardin, in New York City.
Service is still a bit uneven, however. Especially the maitre d' stand.
Brent, do post your review. I'd be currious to hear what dishes you had, etc. Wines, too.
My review is in the other thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438181
re: Mike C. Miller
I must agree with the uneven service. To me, it was not near what it should have been.
Our pre-dinner cocktails took so long to arrive that the wine steward was already at the table opening our dinner wine selection for tasting. He, unfortunately, popped the bottle before we caught sight of the waiter with the drinks- which we had planned to cancel.
Also, I was rather surprised to have the waitstaff show up with our food and ask "So who had the hamachi/soup/salad?". We had to go around the table and raise our hands to claim our plates. This happened during all three servings (cocktails, appetizers, and entrees) and with three different servers. This is easily overlooked at a cheap Tex-Mex place, but when you're spending $300 for dinner, it was rather tacky. Especially considering there was only three of us at the table and not fifteen.
That said, the entrees and desserts were absolutely wonderful. We had perfect seating on the patio and, overall, it was quite a lovely night. Chef Fearing came a chatted for a few minutes. I suppose we should have made mention of the service issues, but we just smiled like the non-confrontational folks we are. If and when there's a next time, I suppose I'll speak up!
We ate there last Thurs night. As bad as I wanted this to be a 5 star experience, it really wasn't even close. I too had uneven, albeit friendly, service. Sommelier was very helpful with the wine and the food was very good if not all that memorable. Here were my issues:
1. The valet parking stand is a mess. The drive in area is small and I guess they don't have all the kinks worked out with the walky talkies. It took forever to get our car.
2. The rattlesnake bar is surprisingly small and somewhat of a pain to navigate through to get to the hostess stand on a crowded evening like this one. I am also fearful this will turn in to the new hang out for that group of professional partiers that frequent Hotel ZaZa, etc. It sure looked like it on this night.
3. We were seated at a patio table which happened to be lovely but I was a little surprised we weren't asked if outdoor seating was okay.
4. I'm told from a friend in the business, that kind of a restaurant 101 thing if you're aspiring to be 4 stars or better is to mention the party by last name (hi mr and mrs jones) at least 3 times during the meal. Didn't happen once.
5. Ordered the quail as a starter. Great flavor, shrimp hushpuppy was good. A little over the top to only get 1/4 of a quail for $22. Served over green beans and diced beets. Nice and light with very good flavor. But, 3 of the green beans still had the stems attached. That's a pretty big oversight for a restaurant aspiring for 5 stars. Date had the hamachi. Fresh. Probably the best thing we had all night.
Entrees of scallops and pheasant were both very good.
Dean came by and chatted. Typical congenial self and a nice touch. The rest of the restaurant is stunning.
I'll definitely go back and enjoyed the evening but feel like it misses the mark for a 5 star restaurant in a Ritz Carlton.
In the eats blog on DMN today, they announce that Esquire magazine, in its November issues, names Fearing's the restaurant of the year. This is shocking for a number of reasons most importantly the fact that restaurant has been open only about 2 months. From all the qualms about service, or lack thereof, there is no way the restaurant should be announced as the restaurant of the year.
This just goes to show the merit of most of the these "Best of" lists. The composers of this accolade (probably headed by John Mariani) have probably eaten at the restaurant only once, maybe twice. While the restaurant may turn out to live up to its high billing, it still seems like it has a ways to go before it is restaurant of the year in Dallas, much less the nation.
apparently my review has gone unnoticed.
i took customers to dean's new place last week.
i am very critical. it was the best meal/service that i have ever encountered.
and my guests were also blown away.
i hadn't seen dean in years[i don't live in dallas], but he came by and at least pretended to remember me. we had a nice chat.
the wine list is very interesting. mostly overpriced. yet there is a jim clendenin pinot noir that is very fairly priced. it is also a great wine. we loved it. and did too much of it.
dean also has a lovely apertif list...featuring a lustau bespoke sherry. how many joints will you find that offer a lustau almecista[sic]?
the other interesting aspect of dean's new joint is how he allows you to buy the table. we checked in at 18:45hrs. we closed the joint. no one ever tried to hustle us out.
the most interesting aspect of dean's deal is breakfast. that occurs in the space where the kitchen is the shrine. when i breakfasted there, i had been traveling for the entire month of sept. and having breakfast in many 5 stars.
dean's was the only one that got it diner friendly. perfectly scrambled eggs.
the bacon could have been crisper, but the interesting thing was that the rye toast was delivered hot and the butter was soft enough to spread. all too many deliver the butter frozen.
and the potatoes were freshly cooked. unlike so many joints where they have been sitting under the infrared for hours.
i spent the night at this ritz. its only saving grace is dean's joint.
I'm in the camp that the place is overpriced and the service mediocre at best. Given the price, I would probably move the service needle lower than mediocre. Dean was in house and kept coming by to "check on people" which sounds nice, but he really didn't want to hear complaints. The appetizer (foie gras) and dessert (pear tiramisu) were great, but the black cod was mediocre (lump of fish). I probably should have known to stick with steak in Texas.
Unlike some earlier posts, we found the sommelier lacked knowledge (this was after the waiter tried to help us with wine by pointing us to categories, none of which he had any knowledge of). Granted we're Californians and know what we like, but we are far from wine snobs. Our request was a fruit forward pinot noir similar to a merry edwards (on their list at a 300% mark up) - we ended up with a nice wine but it was nothing like our request. It was a pinot but the wine was very earthy more like an oregon pinot rather than a russian river pinot.
I liked the space a lot and the various moods of each room was a nice touch. At the price of $350 for dinner for two, I definitely didn't see the value. We ate a Mia's Tex Mex the following night (Dallas friend's recommendation) and I would take the brisket tacos there over anything we had at Fearings.
As a sidebar, the hotel is great (although the driveway is a nightmare). Stayed there for several nights and the gym and rooms were great.