Dallas dining experiences: 1 great, 1 good, 1 so-so
I just visited Dallas where I ate a Bijoux, Dean Fearing's, and Stephan Pyles'. Fearing's was a mixed experience with some really great dishes and others surprisingly plain and, in one case, just bad. Pyles' performance was outstanding and I would go back there several more times if I could. Bijoux is almost sad by comparison with the other two and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't last much longer.
I give a full description on my website of the meals, but let me summarize a couple of highlights here. The most fantastic dish I had at Fearing's was “smoked-pecan-rolled foie gras with black pepper caramel on roasted apples and cornflake fried sea scallop in spiced cider broth and crushed peanut brittle.” It was innovative and extraordinary in the diversity of tastes that all went together so perfectly. (I got this dish after turning in a plate of substandard hamachi.)
At Pyles, the greatest course was the “wood-fired whole fish (bronzini) with vanilla-roasted fennel and couscous-pine nut salad. The smokiness of the fish came through beautifully and bronzini is now definitely on my radar; it's a great fish.
Wow, I've never had anything but stellar experiences at Bijoux. The food is prepared with exquisite craftsmanship and fairly inventive, without being so novel as to be unappealing.
I ate at Bijoux, Fearings, Charlie Trotter's, and Aureole Las Vegas all within three weeks earlier this year and was stuck by how well Bijoux held up in that esteemed company. There was one dish that was similar in conception at Bijoux and Fearings -- and the dish at Bijoux was hands down better. In another instance, there were similarities between a dish at Charlie Trotter's and at Bijoux. In each case the dish was superb. My girlfriend like the Trotter's version sightly better and I preferred the more classic Bijoux version. But they were both incredibly good.
Care to be more specific on what was wrong at Bijoux?
re: Mike C. Miller
I'll give you a description of three of the nine dishes:
• Parsnip Soup (5/10): The parsnip flavor was lovely, as was the quality of the cream and the Spanish olive oil. Yet, there was nothing outstanding; it was something one can easily make at home.
• Loup De Mer (4/10): The fish was flavorful, but surprisingly tough and the skin was crisped so much that it was almost burned. The accompanying potato froth was okay but did nothing for the fish, but I guess I am just not fond of starchy froths.
• Skatewing (4/10): The skate was cooked properly and had a nicely flavored crust, but it was made soggy by the over-saucing with a mix of capers, raisins, and almonds. The almonds were made somewhat bitter because they were not skinless. The skate was almost like an afterthought, given the intensity of the topping flavors.
I had a similar experience at Bijoux which was really disappointing given what I'd read about it on the web.
Three of us went to Fearings the other night and loved it. I had the "Autumn Apple Duo" you described and it was great. My antelope was excellent but my cheese plate for dessert was the only disappointment in the meal.
Stephan Pyles is my next stop. I've heard wonderful things about it and can't wait to visit.
We will never enjoy wonderful "cheese plates" in Dallas unless the health department allows restaurants to keep cheese to be served at room temperature as they do in Europe. But of course, Cheese in Europe is usually raw and unpasteurized. And, we know that's never going to happen here.