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Dallas on 6 Meals

ulterior epicure Jul 1, 2008 01:14 PM

I'm headed to Dallas: 2 lunches, 3 dinners and 1 brunch (already decided we're going to La Duni's).

Suggestions for the the three dinners? Looking for moderate to upscale.

Suggestions for the lunches?

  1. ulterior epicure Jul 22, 2008 03:52 PM

    I'm back from Dallas and will begin paying you all back for your kind and generous information. Here's the start:

    The following are excerpts from my blogpost on York Street. You can find the full review, with pictures, at the ulterior epicure [http://ulteriorepicure.wordpress.com/...].

    ***************************

    "With items like sweetbreads, poached sole, and skate wing on the menu and specials like sole roe, it was clear that Sharon Hage is a market-driven chef's chef. I'm not a chef, but I eat like one and my meal at York Street practically assembled itself.

    York Street feels like a neighborhood restaurant despite the fact that it's somewhat of a local destination for serious foodies. On the Thursday night that I was there, the tiny restaurant was fairly full for the two hours my friend and I occupied a corner table.

    Seating is cozy and quarters are tight--so tight, in fact, at one point, our server awkwardly stood for a good two or three minutes on the other side of two back-to-back diners with our food, unable to reach us. Á la Strictly Ballroom, "he was what we call "blocked" or "boxed-in." Thankfully, he didn't resort to the "inexcusable" behavior that Scott did in the movie.

    And I suppose that's a good illustration of how this restaurant's aesthetic. It's extremely casual and homey. Things aren't perfect. But it doesn't have to be. York Street gets by with being quaint and charming. They greet you with warm towels, a shot of sherry, and small dishes of marinated olives and spiced walnuts.

    Our server was helpful, but at times a little distracted and overwrought (by what, I don't know). He was helpful in suggesting a half bottle of wine based on the progression of dishes we had ordered. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano was clean and balanced, with a volatile development on the palate ending on a decidedly fruity tart note. Given the wide range of foods and flavors we ordered, it was surprisingly versatile.

    Hage's flavors tended to be assertive and bold, which I liked. The "Lobster-y Bisque" is a good example ($12). As my friend aptly noted, was more lobster bisque-y than a lobster-y bisque. The soup was a dairy-less (or, if there was any dairy, there was very little), rich and intensely flavorful shellfish stock garnished with chives and Cheez-It-like crackers (They didn't taste like white Cheddar Cheez-Its, which is what they looked like. My friend agreed, that they looked a little too-perfect to be home-made, although I wouldn't be surprised if there were made in house.).

    My only knock against the bisque was that the shreds of lobster meat inside the piping hot soup had slightly rubberized. The presentation was also a bit sloppy--it appeared as if the soup had been sloshed around and then heated so that the soup had baked into the side of the bowl.

    I noticed an appreciable amount of acid, whether it be citrus, herbs, or vinegar, laced throughout the dishes we ordered. In some cases, the use enhanced the dish, like the sole roe which was sauced with a tart lemon-caper brown butter that helped cut through the rich, creamy interior of the perfectly pan-fried roe sacks. The roe was very fresh and clean-tasting and I was particularly delighted to have caught this highly seasonal prize.

    In other instances, the acid tended to kill, like the lime-marinated shrimp that accompanied my half-order of pink peppercorn-poached Casco Bay sole (normally $30).

    They had 86'ed the sole main course, but when I inquired as to whether the chef could accommodate a half-portion of the sweetbreads main course and a half-portion of another dish, our server informed us that they had just enough sole left to make that combination work.

    Although the two curled pieces of sole were wonderfully poached, scented lightly with the floral spice of pink peppercorns, the shrimp had been over-marinated and had become tight sour rubber coils. The underlying white corn stew was not sweet enough to counterbalance the overly-sour shrimp. Sweet yellow corn might have worked better.

    My friend's Skate "Oscar" was shockingly generous ($29). Her bowl contained two entire skate wings (stacked one on the other) topped with a tangle of spliced logs of white asparagus and peekytoe crab. This could easily have fed two people. Instead of a thick Bearnaise sauce, Hage presented this play on Oscar with a buttery and (black) peppery broth, which complimented the white fish and crab wonderfully. I think there were sauteed leeks in the mix as well as parsley which lent some fragrance. The two or three bites I got were perfect. The asparagus, skate, and crab were soft and moist.

    Being the apex of summer, I couldn't resist the "Ripe Tomatoes" ($10), which featured three different presentations of tomatoes: large wedges of fresh tomatoes and grilled cherry tomatoes halves dressed with a roasted tomato vinaigrette. A riff on Insalata Caprese, the tomatoes were crowned with a buttery white nugget of Robiola cheese, which I found just a bit too soft to stand up to the watery tomato. In addition to purple basil, the salad was spiced with clusters of fresh, tart purslane.

    On top of all the delicious decisions we made, the best move of the evening was ordering the bacon coleslaw side dish ($5). This crunchy confetti combination of chopped vegetables reminded me of a rough tabbouleh salad, except there was no cracked wheat, a de-emphasis on the parsley, and the addition of celery, carrot and jicama.

    Okay, so it wasn't like a tabbouleh at all, but it was good. The slaw dressing was rewardingly tart -- vinegary and bright-- with a pointed kick of heat. The sour and the heat was an inspiring combination. And, the best part--the bacon bits managed to say relatively crispy, despite all the wetness. This was great coleslaw--the kind you want with your sweetbreads.

    Hage gets her sweetbreads from the vaunted Four Story Hill Farm in Tyler, Pennsylvania. My half-order (normally $27) was the perfect amount, given all that I had already consumed. The two lovely nuggets had been lightly dredged in flour and pan-fried so that the outside was golden and crispy and the inside was creamy hot.

    I loved the cured ham flavor imparted by the prosciutto wrapped around the sweetbreads, but I found the texture of the ham, especially having to cut the leathery ham, to be somewhat distracting. The underlying bed of chanterelle mushrooms were melted and a bit too soft; I like a little texture to my mushrooms. However, the pearls of "big cous cous" had a nice bounce and resistance and the overall flavor of this dish was extremely enjoyable.

    Citrus overwhelmed an otherwise brilliant Blueberry Pie. I thought it tasted like orange juice. My friend was sure it was lemon. Here is where our server was less than helpful. When asked, he clumsily dodged our inquiry. I hate that.

    Eight dollars is not a small sum to pay for a slice of pie. But this slice was worth every penny. The thin, buttery crust was stuffed full of tiny, sweet Texas blueberries. There was just enough heft and cohesion to the filling to make it easily forkable. It took every ounce of control for us not to leave the table with purple faces.

    Peaches are the one thing that, during the brief window of their ripe appearance, I cannot pass up. So while my dinner date inhaled the pie, I busied myself with clearing a beautiful "Peach Buckle" ($8). Served in a shallow baking dish, the piping hot slices of rendered peaches were sealed beneath a crumbly layer of short dough. The whole thing, inside and out, was spiced with cinnamon sugar. The buckle was topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...

    York Street, as I mentioned up-post, isn't perfect. Service and style can be a bit rough around the fringes and I've seen more comfortable and heard less noisy dining rooms in my time. But, there is a confident vibe to this somewhat quarky operation that makes a serious food lover take notice. Hage's non-intuitive twists in flavor and food combinations indicate a strong independent streak and suggests familial approach ot cooking; it's like home-cooking meets haute-ish cuisine in a neighborhood restaurant. York Street is the type of place where being too polished isn't necessarily a desired trait. For the true foodie, this restaurant is a treasured find and haunt."

    1. b
      BluffViewChound Jul 2, 2008 08:53 PM

      You might add Abacus to your considerations.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BluffViewChound
        j
        jme1beachbum Jul 3, 2008 04:01 PM

        Just went there last weekend, and it was phenomanal.

      2. ulterior epicure Jul 2, 2008 09:41 AM

        Thanks to everyone on this forum.

        I think I've concluded that the following is my best plan of attack:

        Dinner: Tasting Room at Lola (note to self, get the salumi as an extra - will they let me do that in the Tasting Room?)
        Dinner: Aurora or York Street
        Dinner: Lanny's

        Lunch: Fearing's
        Lunch: ??? (A Saturday in Fort Worth)
        Brunch: La Duni

        Other: Doughmonkey

        Any objections, votes, suggestions or advice would be appreciated.

        13 Replies
        1. re: ulterior epicure
          m
          mike1823 Jul 2, 2008 11:07 AM

          Those all sound great. I am glad you added Doughmonkey to the list as an other. I was going to recommend you add that although it is not a restaurant. For lunch in Ft Worth you could consider Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Reatta or for some great tex-mex, Joe T Garcias (I know, I know, cliche but I have to admit I love this place) just remember to bring cash since no credit cards are accepted.

          1. re: ulterior epicure
            d
            dg1873 Jul 2, 2008 11:10 AM

            Those options look REALLY good, although i don't know how you choose b/n York Street and Aurora!

            1. re: ulterior epicure
              l
              luniz Jul 2, 2008 12:07 PM

              try to see if anybody who's been to lockhart or at least taylor would recommend any bbq in ft worth. i can't really help with ft worth any.

              1. re: ulterior epicure
                s
                sike101 Jul 2, 2008 12:33 PM

                one guy's opinion: go with Aurora over York Street. Aurora is not as trendy at the moment, but it is in a completely different league than York Street.
                lunch in Ft. Worth: you could always try the Love Shack in the Stockyards, for burgers, beer and local music (beware it is outside) or Mi Cocina in Sundance Square for mexican (it'll be quite different from Lanny's).
                oh, and La Duni is the only real "moderate" meal you have on there, the rest are fairly to certainly upscale, and excellent!

                1. re: sike101
                  Bhutani Jul 2, 2008 02:04 PM

                  I know you have already narrowed down your list but I will give you some other possible options. Hattie's has already been mentioned. I would, without question, endorse this restaurant over La Duni. I know they both have completely different cuisine but Hattie's brunch is hard to beat.

                  Two other restaurants that I always recommend to out of towners: Nana and Local. I like your other choices as well but not as much as these 2 spots. I just can't justify French Laundry prices for a restaurant like Aurora.

                2. re: ulterior epicure
                  ulterior epicure Jul 2, 2008 07:54 PM

                  Thanks for all the responses. I have good news and bad news, depending on how you stand on the York Street v. Aurora topic:

                  Bad news: (a) The dirty risotto (with chicken liver) and the sweetbreads (the two things that made me fall in love) at York Street scared my friend so much that she wasn't willing to look at the rest of the menu, and (b) Aurora isn't open for lunch on Saturdays.

                  Good news: (a) dinner at Aurora, and (b) I won't be getting to Ft. Worth until early afternoon, so that means, I can have lunch in Dallas. I think I'm headed to The Mansion at Turtle Creek.

                  Yes, I know that Dough Monkey is not a sit down place.

                  And, this is the third time I've received a recommendation for Mi Cocina. I was a little skeptical since we had a Mi Cocina in Kansas City which was a part of a chain. It was awful. Truly awful. So awful that it couldn't even survive in Kansas City!! It closed earlier this year. When I looked up the Mi Cocina(s) in Dallas, they are a part of the same chain. If the Mi Cocinas in Dallas are of the same family of the one we had up here in Kansas City: No. Thank. You.

                  1. re: ulterior epicure
                    a
                    Azn Gorger Jul 3, 2008 08:37 AM

                    You are wise to avoid Mi Cocina. My experiences there have ranged from mediocre (Highland Park, Galleria) to downright awful (Los Colinas). I've never understood the love it gets when there is so much other Tex Mex around - and at much better prices.

                    1. re: Azn Gorger
                      d
                      dg1873 Jul 3, 2008 08:39 AM

                      Agreed! I'm not a fan.

                      1. re: dg1873
                        LewisvilleHounder Jul 3, 2008 10:36 AM

                        After having al pastor tacos at El Paisano on Lombardy....why would I even go to Mi Cocina. Total for 3 people with 18 tacos between us, tip, drinks, chips and salsa was $25. Amazing really!!

                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                          irodguy Jul 23, 2008 11:33 AM

                          You guys are proof that thin people eat more :-) I normally order 2 or 3 tacos if I am "pushing the envelope" The people who like Mi Concina over "real mexican" are the ones who want to be seen and are there just to drink. If you really want to taste the food there are a number of inexpensive taquerias that are a much better choice.

                    2. re: ulterior epicure
                      ulterior epicure Jul 3, 2008 10:16 AM

                      My friend relented to York Street (yay!), so, the revised schedule reads thusly:

                      Dinner: Tasting Room at Lola
                      Dinner: York Street
                      Dinner: Lanny's
                      Lunch: Fearing's
                      Lunch: The Mansion at Turtle Creek
                      Brunch: La Duni

                      Other: Dough Monkey

                      If I had more time, I'd try to make an appearnace at Bijoux and The French Room, which both look great. Thanks for all the help. I promise to report back.

                    3. re: ulterior epicure
                      e
                      Epicurious Esquire Jul 6, 2008 01:16 AM

                      Report back on your whirlwind tour! Wow, what a series of meals . . .

                      1. re: Epicurious Esquire
                        ulterior epicure Jul 8, 2008 10:01 AM

                        Thanks, I'll be sure to do so.

                    4. e
                      Epicurious Esquire Jul 1, 2008 01:49 PM

                      There is a brand new French-Mexican fusion bistro called Sol'ey that just opened on Henderson. I ate the other day and it is inventive, fun and really delicious. I highly recommend it.

                      Other dinner suggestions:

                      The Grape (great pates, fun cheese list, extremely well-priced considering the quality of the food and on top of it all, the chef/owner Brian Luscher is a heck of a guy)
                      Lola's (best wine program in Texas);
                      Tei-Tei (overall my favorite sushi in Dallas - make sure to get some of the grilled fish);
                      El Ranchito (my favorite Mexican - it's not Tex-Mex - fantastic environment);
                      Hattie's (awesome, well-priced "Southern" cooking in Bishop Arts).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Epicurious Esquire
                        LewisvilleHounder Jul 2, 2008 09:00 AM

                        Luniz is right on BBQ.....you guys have better in KC. For the Texas BBQ you really want Lockhart, TX is probably the place to go...a trip to Austin should cure that.

                        Since Dallas is quite large we need to know what part of town also where you are staying. For instance El Ranchito and Lola's aren't exactly the closest to each other. Both would be recommendations but if you are staying near DFW then both would be a haul. Lola's is my favorite in the city and is somewhat moderately priced for a higher end place.

                        http://www.lola4dinner.com/

                        http://www.elranchito-dallas.com/

                        We have anything from Himalayan (Irving), Vietnamese (Arlignton/Garland), Regional Chinese (Plano/Richardson), Austrian/German (Plano and Dallas) and anything in between.

                        Himalayan - Temptations in Irving
                        http://www.temptationcuisine.com/menus.php

                        Vietnamese - La Me or Bistro B both in Dallas and across the parking lot from each other (Audelia @ Walnut
                        )http://www.la-me.net/
                        http://www.bistrobusa.com/

                        Chinese has a few to many to list - We do have Sichaun (spicy), Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Shabu Shabu

                        Austrian - Plano - German - Dallas
                        http://www.cafevienna.us/ - Closed through July 8th for family emergency
                        http://www.kubys.com/ - A great place for fresh made brats...sides are decent

                      2. LewisvilleHounder Jul 1, 2008 01:34 PM

                        Not to pry but where are you coming from. If you are coming from for example Seattle we aren't going to suggest seafood!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                          ulterior epicure Jul 1, 2008 01:40 PM

                          I'm coming from Kansas City, but I doubt you will (and you shouldn't) refrain from suggesting BBQ.

                          1. re: ulterior epicure
                            l
                            luniz Jul 1, 2008 01:49 PM

                            he will and he should :)

                            you can't get any bbq in dallas that's anything hard to find in kc. for real texas style bbq you have to travel at least an hour...more like 3.

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