Scene Shutters! Alessio’s closes! Grotto is fin-o! As Timmy mentioned on FrontBurner, Scene was going to be our “newcomer” spotlight review in the August issue of D. We also ran a full-page picture of Scene in our already-to-the-press publication Dine In Dallas. I spoke with writer Teresa Gubbins yesterday about Scene and Alessio’s. She told me she’d called Alessio Franceschetti on Friday to confirm the rumor and he told her to call back on Monday. He closed the restaurant on Saturday night. Teresa was also the author of the Scene dining review and last week spoke with both chef Blaine Staniford and manager Michael Bratcher. Afterward, we sent a photographer to shoot pictures for the upcoming review.
OK, so here is my gripe. (And Timmy doesn’t agree with me.) Why can’t restaurateurs play fair. Alessio, when a reporter calls you and asks you if you are going to close and you know you are, why can’t you admit it and ask the reporter to hold off until the day after. That enables us to help you get the word out to customers who may be planning on driving to your restaurant. I’d love to hear your reasoning.
You see, from where I sit, when a restaurant opens, most have no problem asking this magazine for reviews or posts on the blog or any “help” they can get to attract people to their business. So my question to restaurateurs is this: after we have covered your business, why can’t you be courteous enough to let us know when you close it. We are a business too and our readers want up-to-the-date information. We try to serve our readers as hard as you try to serve your customers.
Which brings me to you, Scene. I’m sorry that your restaurant closed. I really am. I hate to hear about any restaurant in Dallas going under. Especially locally owned and cheffed spots like yours. But hear our side: we spend a lot of money in the process of reviewing your restaurant and we spend a lot of money photographing it. Why would you not let us know that you are closing? The Scene review was set to go to print TODAY. If it had, the review of your closed restaurant would be on the newsstands six weeks from today. Nobody wins. Readers and customers lose, big time. Which leads me to my last question: If you choose to open another restaurant, what would motivate me to pay attention to you? My phone line and e-mail lines are open. As are the comments. Somebody give me an Alka Seltzer.
Teresa Gubbins reports that Grotto is now closed. I love this quote from her story: “I think it’s just not good to be an Italian restaurant in Dallas,” said a spokesman at the restaurant.”
To which I might add, it’s just not good to be an average restaurant anywhere–especially in the high-rent district. Taking bets on what goes in. Mine?
UPDATE: An in-the-know real estate type just called to say that there is a three way going on for the Grotto space. Somebody isn’t hurting. It’s a pricey deal.
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Good morning, Dishers. Check out that hot chick to the left. She is not just a hot chick, she is well-respected chef, Cat Cora, the first woman to win Iron–beat, beat, beat-Chef. I bring her up this morning because she was the celebrity judge on The Next Food Network Star last night. I’m not going to get into a blow-by-blow account of last nights show–all I have to say is this: goodbye and goodluck, Jen. One exit question, please. Whatever possessed you to slam a glass bottle of juice against the stove? That could be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen on TV. You say, “Life is just a big book and I’m going to start a new chapter.” Here is my advice: Buy Joy of Cooking (interesting link) and read the first hundred pages.
But back to TV reality: Kudos to Lisa for bucking up to Jen’s screwup and staying calm. I have to say, episode 5 was the most boring of all. Aaron “Coke the Van” has no chance of becoming a TV personality, he can’t even talk. In my book it’s down to Lisa and Kelsey. And I give the nod to Lisa because when/if she wins, she can dress like Cat and look hot and maybe someone will watch the Food Network. (BTW, do Iron Chefs really buy this?)8 Comments »
Dang. I hate it when good restaurants go down: Last night was Alessio’s final night. In an e-mail to his customers owner Alessio Franceschetti says, “Until we meet again.” Let’s all hope that is sooner than later.
And BTW, why do restaurant websites have such revolting music? Listen to Scene’s and tell me I’m wrong. It makes me want to go out and buy a Yanni CD.2 Comments »
You can attend this great event on Sunday, June 29, from 6-9PM and still get home in time to watch Lisa Garza on The Next Food Network Star! Stephan Pyles will be there. Jeff Moshcetti from The Landmark will be there, and so will at least 14 other big-name chefs from Dallas. In addition to ticket procedes, pork producers will donate a pound of pork to the North Texas Food Bank for each attendees. Why should you get all gussied up and go? In Dallas 18 percent of our community lives below the poverty line. Have fun and help at the same time? Win-Win.
My 16-going-on-40-year old niece Taylor (left) grew up eating queso at Mi Cocina in Preston Forest. When she was 18 months old she would see the water tower behind the shopping center and mumble, “Mi Cocina!” If we didn’t stop, she’d get upset. Same story for 8-year old Hannah (right). Talk about branding a taste profile–last night Mi Cocina, as usual, was full of little rugrats having their palate implanted with Mico’s Tex-Mex while their parents sipped deceptively strong Mambo Taxis. I have been going to that location since it opened and I have to admit that despite the expansion, additions, and competition that has come and gone, it’s comforting to find recognizable faces still working the floor. I’m sure you have family favs and I’d love to know them.(Are they just the cutest?)11 Comments »
That would be Al Biernat’s, the restaurant as Al is well past his teenage years. I don’t have any details on what the Alster is doing for his birthday, but feisty (Hi, Blue You!) Canary Cafe chef-owner Mansour Gorji is planning a month-long celebration. Tuesdays through Saturdays in July, he’ll offer a special five-course Mediterranean menu for $50 (alcohol not included, dang.) For each anniversary dinner or Canary Cafe product you buy, chef Gorji will donate $5 to the North Texas Food Bank I don’t know about you, I mean, how could I, but I do know I love pan seared sardines and I’ll be able to eat them whenever chef Gorji can find them.3 Comments »
A couple of weeks ago you were all so kind to help a junk food junkie find a fix. Today comes another request
I know this is not fancy food, or restaurant food, but it is a local company! My friend picked up a bag in Southern Cal, but I have yet to see it here. She said it was a lovely mix of all things good… if you are in the need of a cheesy, mixed up Frito Lay snack! Anybody know where I can find Munchies Cheesy Snack Mix in Dallas?
Well it has been ages since I was called a lovely mix but it was just yesterday that Timmy referred to me as mixed up and cheesy. But hello, Frito Lay Headquarters in Plano? Dallas is frantically searching for your products in your own backyard. I think we need a dedicated hot line from you to the D office–desperate snack-a-holics can be dangerous people. Dishers?7 Comments »
Today the Milestone Culinary Arts Center was the place to be. That’s where American Airlines hosted the ultimate chef showdown. You may have seen the boot-scootin’-execuchef Dean Fearing at Fearing’s and the mild-mannered uber chef Stephan Pyles at Stephan Pyles (I love them both but couldn’t they come up with more original names for their restaurants?) but when was the last time you witnessed them go head-to-head in an Iron Chef-type competition? For me, it was a first. Jump to find out whose cuisine reigned supreme…..
What is a campicurean you ask? According to a note that just plopped into my inbox a campicurean is someone who can really cook on a campfire. Unbenownest to me, their was a national competition hosted by Redwood Creek Wines on here for America’s Favorite Campfire Chef and Lisa Williams on not- so-plain ‘ol, Plano,Texas was the winner. After the votes were counted, it was Lisa’s swordish a roux “turtle packs” proved to be the country’s favorite, capturing an 47% of the vote. Lisa picked up a check for $1,000 which she plans to donate to the Plano PTA. Here’s some official-speak:
The Turtle Packs, paired with Redwood Creek’s Pinot Grigio, are Lisa’s creative way of satisfying her family’s “picky eaters” without overcomplicating their campsite. She encourages each camper to customize his or her “turtle pack”—a foil packet filled with a swordfish fillet, veggies and tangy condiments—which is nestled directly into a bed of glowing embers.
Ohmigod, Lisa Garza is going to be SO all over this turtle pack idea. Lisa Williams, watch your backpack. Congrats. Jump for recipe. Continue reading "Plano Woman Named Best Campicurean in America"1 Comment »
I just learned that sweet and charming restaurateur, Franco Bertolasi, 69, founder of The Riviera passed away yesterday from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He will be sorely missed. Franco was the finest host ever to grace a restaurant in Dallas and thousands of woman will mourn the loss of Franco’s lovely hand-kiss. (Thanks for the note, CC.)2 Comments »
Our brethren over at Oak Cliff People report that Cafe Brazil and its wonderful chorizo-stuffed empanadas and heady brews are all taking over the vacated Cafe Italia space in Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts. On a sad note, Nodding Dog Coffee Company is nodding off for good as the owners head east to open a new restaurant in Sulphur Springs. The Cliff giveth and the Cliff taketh away.5 Comments »
Fightin’ Foodies of the SideDish Nation, please welcome Ms. Amy Severson as a special contributor to SideDish. Amy is married to Jim who goes by “Sevy” and together they operate Sevy’s Grill in Preston Center. Amy has been a regular commenter on SideDish and FrontBurner and I invited her to “teach” from the trenches of the restaurant biz to those of us who love learning new things.
Today’s topic, “State Franchise Tax”, informs the innocent diner of some of the pressures that face restaurant operators. Pay attention, I may post a pop quiz. Without further ado, Miss Amy:
“The year ahead is looking tough for restaurants in the Dallas area. Higher food and transportation prices and higher wages are hitting our industry as consumers are scaling back. While the market is not “dead”, the revised state franchise tax could be the nail in the coffin for many small business owners. The franchise tax was revised in 2006, to be put into effect in 2007, and paid in June 2008, offsetting a 1/3 reduction in the school district portion of property taxes. Continue reading "New SideDish Feature: Restaurant 101"6 Comments »
I just ran into Whole Paycheck Foods to fill up on D Magazine edit staff gas (daytime version)–fat-free ginger cookies and electrolyte-enhanced water–and I got snagged by a couple of cheese sample stations. I decided to make a post-wine-bar-pre-gastro-pub- PETA-inspired ploughman’s lunch of my purchases on a platter sent to me by PP. I admit it isn’t very colorful, but boy it was good: Seaside rugged mature English cheddar, Campo de Montalban from Spain, spicy jalapeño pimento cheese, delicious store-made dill pickles, flatbread from heaven, and, in the forefront, the aforementioned ginger cookies. I barely got this picture taken because the blog hogs from FrontBurner descended on my photo shoot like drug-crazed grackles to a suet feeder full of crack. Boys! Yuck.2 Comments »
I was visiting the Williams Sonoma Home outpost in Plano’s Legacy development last weekend (Question: “When are you guys going to open one of these things in Dallas so I don’t have to drive all the way up the Tollway?” Salesperson answer: “Sooner than you think.”) and needed a quick bite. I forewent my typical Cafe Express veggie burger for something a little more homegrown: Main Street Bistro & Bakery. I’d heard that since expanding from its original Grapevine location the food and baked goods weren’t as good as they used to be (though according to the menu we [meaning D] voted their chocolate icing the best. Nancy? Do you remember that?). Gotta say that I was quite happy with my French Brie panini: a bit of spinach, crisp Bosc pears, just fatty enough prosciutto, and — of course — plenty of buttery, gooey Brie. Paired with the Main Street bistro salad (which was basically a Greek salad tossed in a frisky lemon vinaigrette) it seemed like a great summer meal: rich, a little tart, and satisfying yet still light enough to keep you from sweating your lips off. So what’s up with the grumblings I hear about Main Street Bakery? Comments are on.3 Comments »
He is about to be really poor–last year he promised his teenage daughter he would take her
to London this summer. What a whack job! He is going lose hundreds of pounds and still be fat. But he’s a good father so I think we should help him find some inexpensive or better yet, free things to do while they’re swinging around London counting bobbies on bicycles two-by-two. I mean how many hours can you spend in the hallowed Food Halls in Harrods without plucking down a fiver for a sack of cheese scones? Cheap eats in London, anyone?
Somebody mentioned the Catalina Room the other day in a post about Wayne Broadwell so I decided to go back in for a quick dinner. The good news is their air conditiong works great, you can carry on a conversation if you sit in a booth, and you can watch the Rangers’ game (without sound) on your own private TV. The servers are cheery and happy and the menu is as I remember: a Houston’s wannabe with all of your favorites like shrimp cocktail (obviously pictured) roasted chicken, nice sandwiches, burgers, salad, and a more-than-decent version of chicken fried steak. Oh, and catfish. The food was OK: roasted chicken and steak were both undercooked but the flavors were ruined by the dipping oil they serve when you first sit down. It’s not just a pool of olive oil with a bubble of vinegar floating on top, it’s spiked with anchovies, carrots, and califlower (see picture below)–all a little much for a pre-game and meal starter. The concoction would work fine in an Italian joint where it was followed by a bite of pasta studded with seafood and a mouthful of Sardinian wine. But I found it too heady for the rest of the menu, particularily what would have been a nice shrimp cocktail.1 Comment »
Once upon a time (1970), in a land far away (Mamaroneck, NY), lived a handsome, albiet very short, young prince. The handsome, albiet very short, young prince fell in love (it was more like “like”) with a radical hippie princess (yep!) and he wisked her away to the land far away where he (tried to) seduced her with a salad pizza pie from Sal’s Pizzeria on Mamaroneck Avenue.Thirty eight years later the hippie-princess-turned-hag-food writer can still taste that pie–the thin crust covered with hot bubbling mozzarella and homemade marina covered with a fistful of cold salad tossed in a zingy Italian dressing. The temperature contrast was sublime.It was pizza love at first bite. The end.
No, not so fast. Quick reality check: I left the prince (sorry short guys, you make me feel fat) probably days later, but I returned to Sal’s for many years to come. Today it’s still doing gangbusters business in downtown Mamaroneck (Hi Bauers!) along with another one of my favorite haunts, Walter’s, a hot dog stand that opened in 1919 and served split and grilled dogs and the best sweet potato tots EVER. (Walter’s may be closed.) But I digress. Back to salad pizza–I ate the one pictured last night. Sure it’s a little fancier–the salad is arugula tossed with blue cheese and pine nuts–but the concept is still a winner. This one I found at Fireside Pies. If you know of others, please share.2 Comments »