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Help finding the right restaurant

My daughter (13) and I are huge fans of the food network. She saved her money all summer ($250) and she wants to use it to eat at a restaurant that serves food like she sees on Chopped. So what I'm asking are recommendations for a restaurant. Upscale food, not too stuffy or formal. But something very friendly and open to teenage children. Great food a must.

I live in the Lewisville area so not looking for something in downtown Dallas.

Thanks for any suggestions.

vidorian

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  1. Vidorian - I would suggest you check out Tramontana at Northwest Highway and The Tollway. Chef James Neal does a very nice job combining different textures and flavors. Everything is always very good. Outside of this week being restaurant week, he often offers a 3 or 4 course meal for way less than the $250. Also, on one occassion, his children were in helping at the restaurant because they are interested in the business. I would put them around 10 or 12 - so I think they would pay special attention that your daughter is the one sponsoring the night.

    4 Replies
    1. re: vstock

      To be able to try lots of different dishes that are sophisticated, delicious and within your budget, I recommend you look into Samar in downtown. It's tapas style so you and your daughter can sample 7-8 different items, all of which are interesting and tasty (when I say "all" I mean all of the one's I have had). It's not stuffy but it is trendy and generally busy so you will feel part of a chic and vibrant scene. If that's a good thing than great. If not, just go for the food.

      1. re: demigodh

        If you go to Samar, I recommend that you request to sit at the Chef's counter (or whatever they call it) - you're sitting about 3 feet from all of the cooking action. They don't take reservations, but they might put your name on the wait list if you call ahead and specifically tell them that you want to sit at the kitchen counter.

        Dinner at Samar will be about $30/person + drinks (unless they've raised prices)... which is well below her budget. $250 is almost enough to swing Fuego at Pyles' other restaurant (also, unfortunately, downtown). I think she'd really enjoy the experience - it's a maximum of 4 diners, sitting at one end of the ceviche bar in front of a wood oven. Two chefs prepare all of your food, in front of you, using either the wood oven or a variety of cutting edge techniques like spherification, encapsulation, sous vide, and creating powders and foams. The flavors are good, but somewhat unusual (like serrano ham ice cream, or a dessert cake made with black olives and white chocolate, or powdered foie gras) - if you do this, you should both be adventurous eaters.

        The atmosphere is not stuffy at all. In fact, both of the chefs are very friendly and seemed happy to answer questions about the food. The cost, I think, is $125 per person... so after tax, it will exceed her budget by a bit.

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        Fuego
        6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

        1. re: gavlist

          Fuego was the single most fun experience I have had in Dallas in years.

          Samar shouldn't cost all that much actually. Last 3 or 4 times I have been I bought a bottle plus maybe a drink and all I cared to share with my friend foodwise and it is always less than 100 total with tippage. I think Stephan said that it was supposed to be around 25 a head with a drink, so thats about right.

    2. With the great recs for Samar, here and on other posts, the OP may have a change of heart, but it was specifically stated:

      I live in the Lewisville area so not looking for something in downtown Dallas.

      Tramontana sounds ideal - they have a tasting menu that would be reflective of what your daughter has seen on Chopped, ie, multiple courses and likely in smaller portions. Also, with what vstock offered, I'd be very encouraged to call ahead to ask if special attention might be shown to your daughter, due to her young, culinary interests. You might want to ask about their chef's table. http://www.mybistro.net/cheftable.shtml

      Aside from that, my question to the OP. Is she looking for "pretty food" on a plate with hopefully, a better success rate on taste and presentation than Chopped has to offer? Or, that plus an "open" kitchen where you'll be able to see the chefs work their magic?

      2 Replies
      1. re: CocoaNut

        Thanks for all the suggestions. Really looking for something in North Dallas area/Addison area. Have already been to the nicer restaurants in Lewisville (Grotto, Sonoma Grill) Not great but the best we have. Looking for something with a litle better food, nice presentation. Keep the suggestions coming.

        1. re: vidorian

          I honestly can't think of much in the north Dallas/Addison area that I would truly consider "special." And despite other recs, we did not have a good experience at Tramontana at all earlier this year... I think there are much better restaurants to visit, but unfortunately most of them are out of your stated driving range. Would you be willing to reconsider, as Luniz suggested, in order to fully appreciate some of Dallas' finest food? I think a lot of us would have at least 2-3 no-fail restaurants that would fit the bill (no pun intended)!

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          Tramontana
          8220 Westchester Dr Ste B, Dallas, TX 75225

      2. If you are going to save up an entire summer's worth of earnings, why limit yourself to a 10 minute drive? If you really want to get your money's worth, get a reservation at Fuego and experience something that you won't get anywhere else in Dallas. Make it a real special occasion.

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        Fuego
        6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

        8 Replies
        1. re: luniz

          Okay. you guys have convinced me, I'll expand my parameters. I think Fuego might be a litle too adventurous for her, but I'll look at their menu. Looking for great food, but nothing too out there. Tramontana sounds like a good bet. I'll look at their menu too. Looking for something business casual. Nothing too fancy.

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          Tramontana
          8220 Westchester Dr Ste B, Dallas, TX 75225

          Fuego
          6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

          1. re: vidorian

            they don't publish a menu for Fuego - so if there's a question about adventurousness (aside from a couple of specific constraints that you could ask them to avoid) then you should probably pick something else.

            this was the menu when I went:
            Nitro Popcorn (basically just popcorn frozen in liquid N2 - eating it causes jets of steam to shoot out of your nostrils)
            Encased Gazpacho (spicy and garlicy gazpacho encased in cocoa butter)
            Dirty Martini (spherified gin+vermouth+olive juice)
            Potato Chips with Vinegar Air (vinegary bursts on top of REALLY good potato chips)

            Smoked Salmon with Caper and Horseradish Panna Cotta
            Lobster Carpaccio with Foie Gras (powdered foie gras. also included fennel, and was dusted with some chili, mexican chocolate, etc.)
            Hot Potato-Cold Potato (delicious warm potato soup with summer truffles, and potato ice cream with chive and osetra caviar)
            Seared Watermelon Salad (compressed watermelon, roasted in the wood oven and served with INTENSE micro arugula, tiny heirloom cherry tomatoes and cotija cheese)
            Wood Roasted Halibut Vegetable Garden (salt-crusted, leaf-wrapped halibut served with sliced and rolled vegetables and topped with emulsified butter sauce)
            Motley Farm Egg with Summer Truffles (sous vide egg, and thin sliced, lacey, delicately crisp bread)
            Oxtail marmalade Bao Bun
            Coulotte of Beef with Corn Pudding and Sous Vide Shallot

            Jamon Serrano Ice Cream with Fig
            Mango and Sticky Rice
            Black Olive Cake / White Chocolate Center

            and then chocolates - white chocolate with peanut butter filling, and dark(ish) chocolate with earl gray tea

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            Fuego
            6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

            1. re: gavlist

              Hot Potato Cold Potato: is that supposed to be just like the one at Alinea?

              1. re: air

                Cool thing about Fuego is that you can tell them what your likes and dislikes are and they can gear the menu around that. I would think that might take away from the experience, since something like Fuego is meant to broaden your understanding of food and experience new ideas and sensations. The menu does evolve from week to week, with items being changed constantly.

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                Fuego
                6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

                1. re: air

                  I don't think so. My understanding of the Alinea dish is that it's a cold potato soup, with some hot chunk of potato dropped in. The version at Fuego was a hot soup (with summer truffles) and a cold potato ice cream, served separately. I'd show you, but unfortunately the lighting was VERY low, so none of my pictures came out very well.

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                  Fuego
                  6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

              2. re: vidorian

                I can understand how Fuego might be a little much. Samar might be easier, it is a little more casual than Stephan Pyles, and the tapas portions are smaller than normal entrees so you can order more, plus the presentation usually pretty nice. I haven't been to Bijoux, it may be a bit formal, maybe somebody else con comment on that. To be honest I'm struggling to think of a place that serves mainstream American food with an emphasis on quality and presentation that isn't either some type of steakhouse, or much fancier than what you're looking for (ie the Mansion). Normally I'd suggest Tei An, but I assume you want more "American" fare. Loft 610 in Plano isn't really appropriate I guess, I don't know if I'd go with Jasper's either. I guess what you're looking for is a little unclear to be honest.

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                Stephan Pyles
                1807 Ross Suite 200, Dallas, TX 75201

                Loft 610
                5760 State Highway 121 Ste 175, Plano, TX 75024

                1. re: luniz

                  Hows about Salum?

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                  Salum Restaurant
                  4152 Cole Ave Ste 103, Dallas, TX 75204

            2. To me, fancy (or better yet, formal) would require a jacket and as far as I know, French Room is the only place in the area that qualifies. Business casual is perfectly fine for just about any place.

              I'd also second the suggestion for dumping the area restriction, IMO it's necessary to go a little farther if you really want to make this something memorable. I'm also thinking of doing the Fuego dinner as a birthday gift to myself later this year and very much eagerly looking forward to it.

              Might want to consider each doing one of the tasting menus at Nana as that would also fit the budget. The vegetarian and non-vegetarian ones cost the same: $85 for 7 course, $100 for 10.
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7206...

              Also the Green Room has reopened and although I never got a chance to go when they were originally around, the Feed Me/Wine Me 4 course mystery meal could be interesting for you two, minus the wine for the daughter obviously. I'm sure some others could chime in?

              1. You guys are thinking from your own (age) perspective and preferences, developed over years of sampling with no doubt, many disappointment along the way. Remember the OP is inquiring on behalf of her 13 year old daughter using the example that Fuego might be too adventurous. Keep in mind that *most* 13 year olds don't have an overly developed sophisticated palate.

                I think it would be a plus if there were any restaurants offering tasting menus or chef's tables that would also serve food that would be impressive, but still recognizable to a 13 year old - remember.... that's about 7th grade. Likely none that would fit that bill, but you never know.

                Vidorian, see if Rathbun's Blue Plate Diner hits any notes. http://www.kentrathbun.com/blueplate/...

                ..... or R+D, did I read that Tillman's opened a loc in Allen or somewhere up that way???

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                Fuego
                6333 Camp Bowie Blvd Ste 240, Fort Worth, TX 76116

                8 Replies
                1. re: CocoaNut

                  Cocoa, I think you are the one who is paying the most thoughtful attention to the OP's goals. I agree with considering the Rathbun empire -- check out the Abacus tasting menu (weeknights only) for the big splurge, or Jasper's in Plano since it is closer to Lewisville.

                  1. re: strong95

                    I have been to Jaspers many times and love it. One of my favorite places, but I think snobby atmosphere for a young teenager. Cocoa you're right about the 13 year old, 8th grade. Macaroni & Cheese palate unfortunately, but I think she will try new things. If II've expanded to downtown Dallas what about Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant at Reunion Tower. Anyone been there? The view would definitely wow her.

                    1. re: vidorian

                      I've been to 560, once - and I've eaten their food at Savor Dallas and at another event. I find the flavors to be good, but pretty one dimensional in that they do the asian-fusion sweet/sour flavor combination pretty reliably (and in many forms)... and that's about it. It's not great food, but is a crowd pleaser. My guess is that most people would like it. And the view is fun - as long as you don't get motion sick.

                      I agree with luniz' suggestion (further down on this post) of Nonna, if you want Italian. He's right that it's different than what most people think of when they think Italian (generally red sauce, lots of cheese, etc.). But there are always outstanding hand made pastas, sometimes house-cured salumi, and good roasted fish and meats from the wood oven. I, personally, would skip the pizzas - they're good, but far from the best pizzas in Dallas, and kind of a waste of stomach space given the delicious alternatives on the menu.

                      The Mercury could be a good choice too, foodwise - although I get the impression that the atmosphere is a bit stuffy in the dining room (I've only eaten in the bar area, which is probably not what you're going to do).

                  2. re: CocoaNut

                    Of course we're thinking from our own perspective - that doesn't mean we aren't going to be able to help the OP, once we're really able to understand what she's looking for. It certainly doesn't move the discussion along any to have you in here congratulating yourself and criticizing everybody else's suggestions, even though you seem to feel the need to go out of your way to do so in every thread.

                    If you're going to save up $300 to spend on one great meal in Dallas, no matter what age you are, aren't you going to want to get the best experience with great food? Of course you are. There's nothing at Fuego that most open minded adult diners wouldn't be willing to eat. Would a 13 year old want to eat caviar and truffles? I don't know but I have to assume a 13 year old that watches the Food Network and wants to blow their entire summer savings on one meal probably does. I think that's a fair assumption and the OP doesn't indicate that there are particular food hang ups. You're not going to get fish heads or beef tripe at Fuego.

                    And the main point was that if you're going to spend that much hard earned money on one dinner, don't limit her choices unnecessarily. If she's willing to go for a more Asian menu than what you'd normally see on Chopped, 560 may be an option although it could also be more "formal" that what she'd like.

                    The real problem is that the OP is pretty unclear about what she's looking for. Are we looking for a specific cuisine, ie "New American"? Is she looking for a set 3 or 4 course menu? Does she have any general food preferences?

                    1. re: luniz

                      You're funny luniz. Sadly, what a great impression you've portrayed to a first time poster.

                      1. re: CocoaNut

                        This is so much fun just reading you guys. I've never posted before but have used this site to research quite a bit. I am a newbie and I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for either. That's why I'm asking for opinions. I looked up Samar and that looks pretty good. I've been to a Stephen Pyles restaurant many years ago and really liked it. I think she will too. Probably cuisine wise, New American or Italian. Not Asian. Something she would actually recoginize when she eats it. You know she doesn't have to spend the whole thing. If you know of a great moderately priced restaurant we'd be up for that too. By the way, what's OP mean?

                        1. re: vidorian

                          OP = original post(er)

                          For Italian, I rather like Nonna, but it would be different probably that what your daughter might be used to. Try looking it up and reading some reviews. Most of the other reviews I've read in town for Italian places show enough inconsistency that I don't really know what would be good...I don't really eat too much Italian food myself. It seems like almost any place that is pretty serious about the food and ambiance may be a little more "fancy" than casual. I've seen Adelmo's and Mi Piaci recommended before but I don't know whether they're worth it or not. I do know that Adelmo's is participating in Restaurant week, which goes on through next week at least for most restaurants - you may want to look up some info on that, that could be a good way to introduce your daughter to some fine dining restaurants. Cadot is french, it didn't seem to stuffy when I sat on the patio although inside it was a little dressier crowd. I've never been inside a Chamberlain's restaurant, he does great work at the fairs and stuff though. Not sure how fancy that is either.

                          -----
                          Mi Piaci
                          14854 Montfort, Dallas, TX 75254

                          Cadot Restaurant
                          18111 Preston Rd # 120, Dallas, TX 75252

                    2. re: CocoaNut

                      I agree with the Cafe R & D rec and would add Hibiscus. Hibiscus is cozy and unpretentious to me and the food is quite tasty. I think both would give her some new things to try but still be friendly to her palate.

                      I think she would enjoy Tillman's as well but that might be too much of a drive to Oak Cliff. They haven't opened one up in Allen yet (that would be very convenient for me!).

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                      Cafe R & D
                      8308 Preston Center Plz, Dallas, TX 75225