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Inventive Tasting Menu or Chef's Table for my 22nd Bday in Dallas/FW??

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My fiancee and I will be in Dallas/Fort Worth area Nov. 7-10 for my 22nd birthday and would like to go out for a nice dinner one night. We need suggestions as we really aren't familiar with the area.

I've seen people posting about restaurants like Lola and Bijoux, but those menus really don't look that interesting to me.

I did look at the menu for York Street and that one seems pretty appealing. Does anyone know if they have a tasting menu or a chef's table? I didn't see anything about it on their website. How's the food there?

A bit about what we're looking for: We really don't like "typical" fancy places like run-of-the-mill steakhouses. If we're going to be spending a large amount of money, we feel like it should be for something very creative or at least wonderfully prepared. We've been to some very creative places like Alinea in Chicago, and while we don't expect anything like that exactly, we'd like a place where the chef is creative and passionate about his food and his ingredients. We do like places that try to use fresh, seasonal ingredients, although that's not a "must".

We'd really like an "intimate" experience...either a chef's table or tasting menu or private chef.

Please let me know if anyone has any suggestions for us. Thanks!!

--Nicole

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  1. I would suggest Abacus. The Chef's table seats 12 i think, with a 9 course tasting menu.

    http://www.kentrathbun.com/abacus.html

    2 Replies
    1. re: FoodieDiva

      I don't think that you can do a private chef's table but I would check out Nana. I think the food is far more inventive than what you find at Lola. The tasting menu plus the view from the dining room will provide you with a great experience.

      1. re: Bhutani

        We were not that impressed with Lola. I would highly recommend Abacus, Nana or The Mansion on Turtle Creek.

    2. I would second Abacus, but also check out Local. You could also do the Omakase at Nobu, although not too intimate there. Leave the Mansion/Nana for the older folks. I've never been to Bijoux, but it is #1 on my list to try. Aurora is a very intimate restaurant, with serious food, and impeccable service (i'm starting to sound like a shill for that place). I took the wife to Fearing's for her birthday and it was great. Very personal service, no tasting menu though. It might be hard to find a chef's table for 2 anywhere.

      1. Well I will have to go against the grain and say that The Tasting Room at Lola's was indeed very creative. The chef is a member of the local Slow Foods convivium and is very passionate about his food. I have had the tasting room and although the menu on the website looks boring it is changed regularly. The chef is not going to be any molecular gastronomist but he is solid in his cooking skills. He also grows most of the produce he uses in his own garden and he also house cures salumi, but you have to ask for it.

        Tuesdays are the best day of the week to go as all of the ingredients are fresh. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.

        York Street has the same passion just the food is not quite as good as Lola.

        2 Replies
        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

          If you have a bigger budget, go for The Mansion on Turtle Creek (although it seems they've suspended the Chef's Tasting Room for August?)
          Otherwise, Tasting Room at Lola is definitely a great choice, if nothing else but for the house cured salumi.

          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            I'm going with LH on this: the dinner I had at The Tasting Room at Lola was fantastic (with brilliant wine pairings, by the way). Dinner at Aurora was also great - I'd recommend either of these, with the dominant distinction being price (Aurora much higher) and stuffiness (Aurora much higher).

            I did not find Abacus to be very good (I only went once, and had the Chef's Tasting Menu). I've also been to Local three times, and found every time to be mediocre, so I wouldn't personally recommend either of those.

            Two more options to consider: Lanny's in FW uses french technique, but incorporates mexican ingredients. I have read great reviews of dinners there... alas, the time I went was good - but not great. Maybe an off night? Still, it could fit your description of atypical food created by a passionate chef.

            The second place that comes to mind is Bolla in the Stoneleigh Hotel. I ate there once, shortly after opening, and had some really good food. The basic style is italian, but preparations are creative (spicy pork belly, mozzarella gelato, celery leaf was one of my favorite) and delicious. They have not gotten terribly good reviews since my visit, though... so I'm not sure what's up there. Just a thought.

          2. Unfortunately, Dallas doesn't have a chef that pushes imagination to the extent of what Chef Acahtz has done with Alinea. But, don't let the conservative palates of Dallas diners lead you to believe the city doesn't have chefs that color outside the lines either. York St. is a gem of a neighborhood restaurant that focuses on seasonal ingredients. It is one of Chef Hage's forte. I believe the restaurant is closed while she is on vacation, but business should be open any day now.

            http://ulteriorepicure.wordpress.com/...

            The Mansion is another top choice if, as Donna puts it, you have a bigger budget. Several dining options to choose from as explained in this comprehensive review by Bill Addison:

            http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?...

            sidenote: If anyone doesn't know who Grant Achatz is and and/or hasn't heard about his battle with cancer, I strongly recommend reading this article from Food & Wine. It's well worth a read if only to know about how he came up with odd/unusual food pairings while his tastebuds were rendered useless during chemotherapy.

            http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/c...

            1 Reply
            1. re: adkim

              Thanks for all of your suggestions.

              And I agree, if you haven't heard about Achatz, definitely read the article. The New Yorker published something on him earlier this year, which I think was an even better read than the Food & Wine article:
              http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/20...

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