St. Martin's Wine Bistro for Bday Dinner?
I live in Austin, and am visitng my father in Dallas this weekend. He's relatively new to DFW and I don't know it at all.
He seems excited about taking me for my birthday dinner at St. Martin's Wine Bistro. Everything I've read about it makes it sound like "the most romantic place ever".
Would it be awkward, or too stuffy, for a father and son night out?
If so, anyone have comparable (price, quality), but perhaps more appropriate suggestions I can make?
I haven't been there in years. But don't let the "romantic" tag scare you away. That means it's just moderately dark, it's quiet, and doesn't have modern music blaring (or otherwise emanating) from the sound system. Two men can have dinner there together with no problem.
That being said, the reason I haven't been in years is that the food grew to be a bit on the boring side. It was competent, but not really, really good. The dishes were traditional (which I'm generally in favor of), but the quality of the preparation and the ingredients were not uniformly top notch. For what it is, I think that l'Ansestral does sort of the same thing much, much better.
Likewise, just down the street, The Grape is a similarly long tenured restaurant (longer actually) with better food. Not as traditional, but much more well executed. On the down side (for me), it's louder inside and difficult for someone like me with a mild hearing impairment to enjoy because it's hard to hear what your dining companions (or anybody else, for that matter) are saying half the time.
Bijoux -- mentioned by foisgras -- is in a different animal all together. It is a much more serious (but not stuffy, IMHO) restaurant than any mention here. A bit more formal interior, a bit dressier (and slightly) older crowd. But not so formal that you are out of place in jeans and a nice white shirt and a sports coat. But the food is the real separator. It's a bit more expensive (although frankly I'm not good at judging how folks react to that). But most of all, it's truly a chef driven, ingredient driven restaurant. The food is head and shoulders above The Grape (and I like the Grape) and in a completely different area code than St. Martin. It is in a word "great."
Other options, most with reviews herein I would imagine, might be Toulouse, Celebration, l'Ancestral (as mentioned earlier), Local, or The Porch.
If Italian (not red sauce Italian American, but real Italian) is acceptable Nonna or (if you can get a reservation) Lucia are both very good (although I'd go so far to say Lucia is amazingly good and one of the two or three best restaurants in Dallas along with Bijoux).
I'm sure others will have other thoughts. I've tried to stay non-ethnic/French inspired places that aren't too loud and that might be enjoyed by folks across generations. But if Dad like Thai or a hole in the wall taco joint, etc., or there are other criteria that are important, just tell me (or us) and I'll update the list.
Agreed--you can do better than St Martin's. However, if he really really wants to take you there, it'll be OK. As far as I can tell, what they mean by romantic is really, really dark.
If you go, get the Champagne Brie soup, and whatever you do, don't get the foie gras. (They bake it in sauce, a crime against food IMO. Briefly--mine was still cold in the middle.) Stick with very basic things--I believe I got the Steak Diane, which was fine.
The Grape is much, much better.
I appreciate your being appropriately horrified ;)
Just thought I'd mention that if you want French-influenced food, the good stuff is of course more pricey, but Bijoux in Inwood Village (where you could also catch a movie at a great Deco movie theater) is a good choice. They do a $75 5-course prix fixe (half portions of entrees), and you can choose any 5. Right across from Bijoux and quite a bit less pricey is Rise No 1, a very interesting little restaurant that specializes in souffles. The marshmallow soup is a must.
Oh--I haven't been there yet, but Bijoux has a sister restaurant called The Second Floor that is less pricey.
Happy birthday, enjoy your dinner! (And we always love it when people report back.)