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May 5, 2014 08:21 PM

Celebratory restaurants

My birthday is in a couple of months, and I'm already thinking about where to go ;)

I can't seem to think of anywhere new and buzzworthy that I haven't been yet. Am I missing something?

I wouldn't mind visiting a tried & true, but nothing beats trying someplace new and really loving it. Any suggestions for me?

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    1. re: twinwillow

      Went there a few weeks ago :) The food didn't blow me away, it was nice but not crave-inducing ... but the service is exceptional.

      I think 560's may be the best semi-formal service in town, but Gemma is something different. Very personal, friendly, unassuming ... just a really nice place to go. The kind of place that makes a good day even better, and that I imagine would be a real comfort on a bad one. I'd love to have it in my neighborhood.

      It's also fairly quiet, a good place for a conversation. Kind of an oasis there on Henderson, I guess ... lots of other places around there are pretty loud.

      1. re: foiegras

        The problem is, you've probably already been to anyplace I could think of.

        How about Joyce & Gigi's on Hall Street?

        1. re: twinwillow

          I have not been there! Had plans to go once, and I forget what got in the way ... thanks for the recommendation.

    2. Thought of someplace I haven't been--Lark on the Park. However, looking at their menu, nothing appeals till I get to the entrees ...

      Thinking of Boulevardier. Has anyone had their new foie gras--seared with strawberries en croute? (I really disliked their foie gras 'waffle' ... found it seriously overdone.) Couple dishes there I've been wanting to try ... tasted the baby octopus last time, and it was fantastic.

      3 Replies
      1. re: foiegras

        You could make a reservation at Knife. They're opening soon.

        1. re: demigodh

          Mmmm ... very interesting idea! Thanks.

      2. Sounds like a great excuse to go play in Dallas. However, have you hit up Clay Pigeon yet? I've heard good things and I see a foie gras torchon app on their menu that sounds like it might be right up your alley.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PinkLynx

          Not really a torchon person, but thanks for the heads up on Clay Pigeon! I didn't realize it had opened there. I will check it out. In fact, let me see if they're open for lunch ...

          I am planning to do Knife for my birthday. I talked to them last night and they sound a bit disoriented, but I think they should have all the kinks worked out by July. Thanks for the reminder, demigodh. I had read a couple articles about Knife a few months ago, and then forgot all about it ...

          1. re: foiegras

            No worries. I drive by it regularly so it's pretty front-of-mind for me. Plus, Spoon is so good, I'm excited to see what he does as I'm not generally into steakhouses.

        2. So we went to Knife, and I just wanted to report back. Of course there was plenty of drama leading up to our visit ...

          I felt the best thing I had was the sous vide beef cheek open face sandwich, which was quite good. In fact my dining companions started making fun of me when they saw what an excellent job I was doing cleaning my plate! It's very rich, so you'll want to have sides on hand ...

          Sides ... the heirloom carrots were excellent. Avocado fries got mixed reviews. A minority loved them, majority could leave them. Onion rings were good, definitely worth ordering. Mac & cheese also good. Asparagus was thin but was still peeled all the way up to the tip, which was odd.

          The foie gras items were no longer on the menu, so I ordered the crispy beef tongue on Leslie Brenner's recommendation. I wasn't really a fan. The preparation was different, but I found it uncompelling, and I believe it had a touch of five-spice ... some unusual spice I don't care for. The tomato and watercress salad it came with was nice. (Took the leftovers home for the dogs.)

          Everyone who got the bacon tasting was happy with it. The bacon jam was good, but not the best (or most attractive) I've had. Tasted a 45-day aged steak, and it didn't taste aged at all to any of us. Consensus was that the truffled pasta was over-truffled ... it was overwhelming, I imagine due to truffle oil.

          Several of us chose a biscuit from the circulating bread basket, and discovered someone had spilled the salt shaker in the dough. The kitchen was unaware of the problem (I suppose clearly, or they'd have already been tossed). When one of us mentioned it, it was still quite awhile before the bread guy came back to us, so a number of us were stuck. (Items like the bacon tasting come with bacon and bacon jam only. You're dependent on the bread guy for bread.) There is a little pretzel cross bun that's very charming. These were in short supply.

          There was a scallop special (over fried green tomatoes) that was quite good. The yellowtail crudo was nothing to write home about (much better crudo at Belly & Trumpet).

          For dessert, the dark chocolate was quite good, though it had multiple overly-gelatinous components. The pastry chef could lose about half his gelatin to good effect. They have decaf French press, which was excellent, very fragrant and delicious.

          The service was nice, not as good as 560. We had two birthdays, and they made a point of recognizing them ... the chef came over to say happy birthday. However, I noted they did not comp my dessert.

          Now for the interesting part ... toward the end of the meal when Chef Tesar came over to wish us happy birthday, one of my dining companions inquired how his week was (I wouldn't have asked), so we were treated to the speech. It included several references to Leslie Brenner being "a bad person" and the fact that he believes it's time for her to leave Dallas. He also said, "No offense, but you ladies can be a little aggressive ... and she takes it way beyond that."

          He then made a point of acknowledging the men in the party, and thanking them for visiting the restaurant.

          The consensus among the women at the table was that his statement about women was highly offensive. One commented that if she made the same statement about an entire race, no one would hesitate to call her a racist, and she was calling what we just heard sexist.

          My own perspective is that everyone, and gender has nothing to do with it, is either aggressive or passive-aggressive. Me, I'd rather you bring it ... in my face, not behind my back.

          I was feeling pretty good about my visit up to this point ... the conversation kind of forced me to confront whether I really want to be spending my money in support of this person.

          I read the review and I felt it was a bit sloppy, half-hearted, and gratuitously nasty in spots. I don't think that makes Leslie Brenner a bad person. I don't think John Tesar is a bad person either ... but I sure don't like his attitude toward my 51% of the population. I chose the restaurant and I don't regret trying it ... but I don't know if I'll do it again. There have to be plenty of chefs in town who aren't beating a misogynistic drum.

          3 Replies
          1. re: foiegras

            An excellent comprehensive report. Thank you.
            And now, I no longer feel the need to visit Knife.

              1. re: Mike C. Miller

                Loved the oaked Chardonnay I had by the glass. I'm a supertaster, and oaked Chardonnay is my preferred wine with anything and everything, so ...

                But we did have a wine expert at the table, and she was enthusiastic about a number of the selections.

                It's an iPad menu just like Spoon.