Sometimes I need a reminder about the special dining experiences in Dallas. You fall into a habit—chalupas and bean soup at Fernando’s, fried rice at Shinsei, a chicken salad sandwich at Zoës Kitchen—and you forget about the those little jewel boxes, tucked into neighborhoods, out of the spotlight. Last night I had the good fortune of feasting on the James Beard menu, available through tonight, at Bijoux. Full disclosure: we were invited to dine.
Bijoux has a fixed-price menu: $58 for three courses or $72 for five. The James Beard dinner is a little different; you can choose three courses or do a tasting of all six, but “everyone gets canapés,” said our server, which made it easier for me to select only three. The canapés, above, from left to right, include fennel salmon rillette (fair), duck prosciutto with huckleberry (what huckleberry?), foie gras macaron (so magnificent I ate two), and deviled quail egg with caviar (my friend hijacked both). Our palates prepped, we dove into the second course, which for me was the purple sweet potato agnolotti—a harmonious balance of sweet (sweet potato), salty (Parmigiano-Reggiano), and rich (black truffle).
My second choice: duck confit pot pie. I admit I have a thing for pot pies. (I’m going to digress for a second, but I need to tell you that Diet Gourmet, where I order food regularly, makes a mean, low-calorie chicken pot pie. I order a bunch and freeze them.) This was as precious as it was preciously prepared. The pastry “lid” sat all cocky, hanging off the rim. So I pushed it aside and broke into the flaky crust, scooping up every bit of soupy goodness, all hearty with wild mushrooms and Broccolini. My friend, who ordered off the main menu, was busily scarfing down spoonfuls of risotto, all jazzed up simply with black truffles and Parmigiano-Reggiano—an earthy and warm dish on a snowy winter night.
Before I get to dessert—yes, that photo to the left, with that slab of foie gras, is dessert—I have to tell you about a happy accident. We received a trio of pork, which we hadn’t ordered but got to keep. I have five words for you: candied bacon and scrambled eggs. Rock-and-roll. Back to dessert: it was billed as lemon waffles with foie gras ice cream, maple gastrique, and crème fraîche. What arrived was a fat quivering slab of foie gras, so seared and rich, dwarfing its little lemon waffle perch. The foie gras ice cream—yes, slightly disconcerting, which I think is a texture and temperature thing for me, a problem I have often with savory and strange ice cream—is the mound atop waffle no. 2. Oh, it’s too much! I thought to myself. I’ll never finish! And, yet, I kept slicing into it, swirling it around in lemon curd, until it was gone. All. Gone.