The Pyramid Restaurant and Bar at The Fairmont Hotel in Dallas hosted a media dinner to showcase their spring menu. Chef André Natera is using more than just seasonal ingredients to create special dishes. His inspiration comes from Spring, a time of renewal, warmer temperatures, and growth. The rooftop garden at the hotel is starting to bloom and this is affords him the opportunity to extend the range of produce consistent with his emphasis on local ingredients.
Jump for the glory of Spring.
Natera has stepped up the refinement of his compositions. The philosophy of the Pyramid’s menu is farm-to-table cooked with classic culinary principles of technique. Consider the amuse bouche: Fennel Carrot Soup with Mustard Crème Fraiche. The sweetness released by the puréed carrots is contrasts with the sharpness of a small dollop of mustard on top. The velvety smoothness of the soup is offset by the coarse grind of mustard. The mouth discovers the latter as it appraises the soup. A little fennel in the broth is another flavor dimension. It all adds up to a package in which nothing juts out, but which is in no sense monotone.
Consider also the visually arresting Scallop Crudo with Wasabi Tobiko and Kiwi-Yuzu Emulsion. It is slightly Italian, slightly Japanese, and slightly New American. The slithers of scallop flesh absorb the acid from slices of kiwi, taming them for a fleeting moment before your mouth encounters the heady wasabi. The composition is completed with the textural effects of the tobiko (flying fish roe) and the visuals of garden sorrel and cilantro flowers.
Artichoke Ravioli, Ricotta, Crispy Artichoke and Balsamic is a cosmopolitan Italian dish that shows off artichoke as a thoroughly refined plant. The ravioli filling mixes artichoke, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese into an assuring mixture with natural, creamy sweetness. The ravioli sits atop turnip purée. The roasted artichoke on top gives a crunch and umami-rich flavors that are modulated by a scoop of ricotta and a streak of balsamic.
These highlights of the new menu distinguish the Pyramid Restaurant but they are only part of the whole experience. Maggie Huff’s desserts are ripe with the same kind of creativity shown by Natera. Take a look in the photograph at that elderflower cocktail which is actually spherified liquid straight out of the school of molecular gastronomy. Likewise, sommelier Hunter Hammett continues to expand and enrich the wine list. He excitedly served us an award
winning Texas wine (2009 Flat Creek ‘Super Texan’ Sangiovese) and an Argentinean Nebbiolo (2005 Viña Alicia Nebbiolo, Lujan de Cuyo). The former is indicative of Sangiovese’s future in Texas soil, and the latter may be the first Nebbiolo from outside Piedmont, Italy that I would describe as decent (he has one bottle left for one very sophisticated drinker). Finally, the service staff are proficient and professional.
The Pyramid’s reemergence as a top-flight Dallas restaurant was completed last year with rave reviews from all quarters. It is good to see that the people concerned do not rest on their laurels but continue to evolve it.