Sometimes people say the stupidest things about food. My “favorite” example of the folks I refer to as dishbags is the haughty diner who claims to be a vegetarian but still eats chicken and fish. My favorite “favorite” example of this kind of dishbaggery is a man who once told me: “I’m a vegetarian but I can’t give up bacon.” Or maybe it’s the gal person who says she doesn’t believe she’s an alcoholic because all she drinks is wine. I’m not sure, they’re equally ignorant.
Last weekend, I was standing in line at La Ventana, the taqueria behind Meso Maya’s downtown location. Two 40-something women were in front of me and chatting as they perused the menu. One suggested they try the lengua. “I am not going to eat tongue,” the other one said. “Have you ever seen it at the grocery store? They leave those little bumps on it and it looks like they just ripped the tongue out of the cow.”
She stepped up to the window and ordered two barbacoa tacos. I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and tell her she was about to eat a facial muscle ripped from the skull of a cow, but I didn’t. I guess she prefers her cow without bumps.
Another misinformed movement is eating gluten free. People, it is not a diet to lose weight, it is a way of life for people who have a medical condition such as celiac disease. Their bodies do not tolerate gluten, the protein found in many starches and grains. I know two dishbags who are eating gluten-free food because they want to lose weight and it makes them feel better. They both give me tired head.
I’m walking over to La Ventana for a couple lengua tacos and a beer. I may not lose weight but I know I’ll feel better.
Christina LaBarba of Fresh Point posted this photo on her Facebook page yesterday. This picture originally appeared on Raw for Beauty blog. We all know about the high sugar content in soft drinks, but this photo really spooked me. It should be in every classroom in America. Or wait, maybe in the office of every doctor and dentist in town.1 Comment »
I’m a lot crabby today. It started last night when I arranged to meet a colleague for drinks at The Establishment, the new craft cocktail lounge on Travis. The place opened a week or so ago and is owned by Brian Williams and Michael Martensen the boys behind Cedars Social. I arrived at 5:45PM and found the doors locked. Of course, they are too cool to put up a sign but I’d seen the picture of the entrance on Facebook so at least I was in-the-know enough to know which of the five doors into the space to knock on. Using my iPhone, I went to their Facebook page for hours.
Apparently they are too cool to list their hours. From reading older posts it looks like they randomly decided when to open: Sometimes 5PM; sometimes 7PM. Also, the bar isn’t called The Establishment—that will be the name once they get the kitchen open. The bar/lounge is actually called Smyth. Unless you are on Facebook 24/7, you wouldn’t have a clue. I called the phone number which was answered by some space cadet at Cedars Social who couldn’t help me one bit. Strange business model if you ask me. Maybe it works in New York, but this is Dallas and I think Tristan Simon taught us a while back at Sense that private or reservations-only bars don’t work here. The ‘80s are over.
Next…22 Comments »
In case you missed Tim’s announcement last month:
D Magazine Partners (the magazine’s parent company) and London Broadcasting have announced a partnership that should make the local television landscape look a little more interesting. London, a local firm, owns a unique property called KTXD. It is an independent, must-carry station in a major media market. That means it is not beholden to a network like CBS or NBC, and the FCC requires that local cable providers carry it. Right now, KTXD broadcasts a lot of old classics but it plans to transition to all local programming. That’s where we come in. The station will rebrand itself as D-TV one show at a time.
So far we have several shows in production and the staff is encouraged to submit ideas. I pitched a couple of food-related shows to our publisher, Wick Allison, and he refuses to listen to me. I have emailed, called, and left voice mails with ideas. I need your help convincing him SideDish deserves a show. The possibilities are endless. Get creative and we’ll put you on TV!30 Comments »
Our resident food truckologist, George Lewis, was attempting to drive over 10 mph on Lovers Lane last night when he noticed the lights were out at Mango Thai. Their website and a sign on the door say they are looking for another location. George talked to a neighboring non-restaurant business and they told him Mango Thai closed two days ago when they could not reach agreement with the landlord on a new lease.
Oh, this makes me wonder. Kathleen’s Sky Diner, a few doors down from Mango Thai, closed a little over two months ago . Several employees of Kathleen’s mentioned the huge rodent problem in the the buildings on the 4400 block of Lovers . So it seems likely that Mango Thai might have had a reason to move from Rat Row. Until they relocated, Mango Thai encouraged you to visit their mother ship, Chow Thai in Addison.
I’m starting to think there are evil spirits in the walls at One Arts Plaza. The spaces that housed the Screen Door and the Commissary have had more turnovers than the Dallas Mavericks in their respective early seasons. The Greek – Pita, Meze, Wine, a restaurant that lost original chef Richard Silva before they opened, has lost another, Taylor Kearney. According to Steven “Big Tex” Doyle, Kearney, who left Boulevardier recently for a new job at The Greek, is now headed to Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse.
Also, Silva has moved across the plaza and is now cheffing at Alberto Lombardi’s Café des Artistes. The Greek owners, Costa and Mary Arabatzis, must be despondent (or difficult to work for). I wonder if Lucy Billingsley, the woman with the vision for One Arts Plaza, ever imagined herself as a restaurateur by default. It’s certainly a seller’s market for chefs right now. New restaurants create new opportunities. Let the whac-a-mole chefs games begin.
UPPITY DATE: Looks like Doyle jumped the gun on Silva. This from Café des Artistes: ” Richard Silva is not the chef for Café des Artistes. I’m not sure where Steven Doyle got that information, but Richard Silva was never coming on as part of the Café des Artistes team. You will be receiving updated chef information for Café des Artistes later today.”12 Comments »
All of your senses should be aroused when a plate of food is set in front of you. Before you take one bite, you’ve already eaten the dish with your eyes. The presentation of a dish is important. My eyes shut, my shoulders slump, and I breathe a heavy sigh each time I spy a dessert, entrée, or appetizer that has been assaulted with squiggles, swirls, dots, and curly cues of sauces, frostings, or oils forced through a squeeze bottle. Chefs, a little goes a long way. Not only is it outdated, it makes me think you are trying too hard to sell what is underneath. What started with the Hostess Cupcake (Halloween costume idea!), should stop now.
What presentation style turns you off?16 Comments »
Full disclosure: Last night I took my good friend Don Waddington to dinner. Don, who recently lost his wife, Polly, wanted to attend Sevy’s 100th wine dinner celebration. Sevy’s has been Don and Polly’s favorite restaurant since it opened. The Waddingtons traveled on both D Magazine chef cruises, which also included Jim Severson and his wife, Amy. I know Jim and Amy and consider them good friends. Amy contributes to SideDish. I do not review Sevy’s, and it is one of the few restaurants I go to on my own nickel.
Back to last night. Sevy’s private dining room was filled with loyal customers. It was not a media event. I wasn’t working. However, I noticed a woman with a camera and a tape recorder in her hand working the room as if she was the hostess. She snapped pictures, took down names, and chatted with everyone in the room. When a course was served, she would sit down, but once she was finished, she was up again and working the room. At one point, I overheard her say, “Well, I can’t write about it if I don’t taste it.”
I turned to Amy Severson and asked if she knew the name of the woman. “She came in the restaurant the other day and introduced herself as a food writer, asked for a copy of our logo, and made a reservation for the wine dinner,” Amy said. “There was never any discussion of any quid pro quo, nor was there any discussion of her covering the wine and food dinner for us as a PR move.”
However, it was obvious to all at our table that this woman was all about PR, but not for the restaurant. She was there to promote herself.
Oh, let’s get to the bottom of this.55 Comments »
Brian Marsters, Director of Operations for Matt’s Rancho Martinez, has saved 5,000 emails from customers asking when the new Lakewood location of this popular Tex-Mex restaurant will open. “I would like those 5,000 supporter to contact (Dallas City Councilmember) Angela Hunt and ask her the same question.” Marsters and co-owner Estella Martinez are befuddled by their situation. “We can’t open because we are caught in the crossfire of a feud between our landlord (Stonelake Investments), several area homeowners associations, and the City of Dallas.”
The saga started when Matt’s lease expired in February and the landlord chose to replace Matt’s with a Mi Cocina, which is already up and running. Matt’s relocated to the building vacated by Consignment Solutions at 1904 Skillman Ave. The opening has been delayed by a series of the usual suspects such as myriad permits, grease traps, and parking, but last Wednesday the plan for the restaurant and Stonelake Investments development projects clashed when Stonelake applied for a permit to close off a block of La Vista between Skillman and Live Oak and created a pedestrian mall.
Stay with me, now.38 Comments »
Our photographer Elizabeth Lavin just happened to be in the neighborhood on Saturday when she caught this fire at Villa-O on her iPhone. After trying to reach someone at Villa-O over the weekend, someone from corporate finally told us there was a (supposedly) teeny tiny fire over the weekend, and Villa-O will be closed for the rest of the week due to renovations. She didn’t tell us how the fire happened or how big it was, afraid that we’d leak a story that’d freak people out and have them wondering if it was the Second Coming. The restaurant is telling everyone it’s closed this week and will probably open this coming Monday.
Jump for a glimpse of this small fire.
We are about to be beset by restaurants, promoters, and the more credulous sections of the media bombarding us with the message that it is “Hatch Chile Time.” I hate to burst the bubble, but there is no such thing as a “Hatch Chile.” Sure, there are chilies from Hatch, New Mexico, and they host the famous festival, but the product they export is just a chilies, not Hatch chile pepper. Dave DeWitt explains it all very well in his “The Complete Chile Pepper Book.”
“There is no such thing as a Hatch chile, despite all the hype about them. It is not a chile variety, as many people think. Yes, there are chiles grown in Hatch, usually the varieties ‘Barker’ and ‘NuMex 6-4′. These grown-in-Hatch varieties are no better than those grown in the Mesilla Valley or in Deming. There are simply not enough chiles grown in Hatch to supply all of the sellers claiming to provide “Hatch chile.” A few years ago at the New Mexico Chile Conference, I spoke to two women who have a chile farm in eastern Arizona who confessed to me that they shipped their chiles to Hatch, where roadside vendors labeled them “Hatch chiles.” So, how did this mythology come about? Well, first, there is a Hatch brand of canned chiles, packed by Border Foods in Deming. This brand has been on the market for years, but probably most of these chiles are grown in Mexico, not Hatch. Then there is what Jimmy Buffet calls the “coconut telegraph,” but here it’s the Capsicum Telegraph–namely word of mouth and rumor from consumers who mistakenly spread the hype. Sorry to burst everyone’s Hatch bubble, but I always tell it like it is.”
This isn’t to say that chiles are not wonderful things, but don’t waste your time or money on somebody’s Hatch chiles or their “festival.” Better to go to one of the area restaurants that worships them through their food. For example, Komali, which never seems to have fewer than six different varieties somewhere on their menu, or Mesa which prepares them with deference to Veracruz culinary tradition.13 Comments »
Two reputable and well-known Dallas restaurants have reported this scam to me. Here’s how one owner tells the tale:
4 Comments »
The restaurant is approached during a busy lunch or happy hour when the night shift is coming on. A person (in both cases it was a woman) enters and shows a dry cleaning receipt for about $65 to the manager, claiming that she was dining at an earlier date, and had food spilled on her garment (white pants, both times). She demands immediate cash payment for the receipt. In our case, the requested identification did not match the name on the dry cleaning receipt. When told we would investigate it further, she declined to give a valid phone number and left.
She is hoping to confuse the manager or employees into paying, hoping there is poor communication between the staff that would allow an accident of this type to happen, unknown by management. Damaging a guest’s property is one of the worst things that can go wrong when waiting tables. In most cases the restaurant is (or should be) eager to set things aright with the guest, another aspect that helps their scam.
The $65 might seem like small change, but free money is free money. And if they can trick 3-5 restaurants along (Beltline, Preston, McKinney) into paying the receipts they’ve made $180-$300 for a few hours work. Sure beats selling door-to-door subscriptions.
Thanks for all of your emails, texts, and voice mails. SideDish has contracted a wretched case of ETD. In the meantime, we invite you to sing along with us!3 Comments »
Several of you smarty pants sent me snarky emails about the not one, but two posts we ran yesterday on National Grilled Cheese Day. Apparently a couple of folks on our staff were so jacked up about NGCSD they couldn’t contain their joy. What’s the shame? Almost every food has a day, week, month, or a year. Like many other holidays we celebrate, these celebratory days are designed to keep marketing people employed.
In the spirit of supporting job growth in the United States, I bring you three foods you can eat this weekend that will stimulate gastric juices and the economy. (BTW, yesterday’s frenzy over the GCS overshadowed the fact that is was also National Licorice Day. Bummer for licorice, eh?) Today is National Peach Cobbler Day. I bet there isn’t a fresh peach in the northern hemisphere so you may have to celebrate Del-Monte style. Tomorrow is National Pecan Day! Dig that! And Sunday is National Glazed-Spiral Ham Day, not to be confused with National Baked Ham with Pineapple Day. You already missed that one.
I’m saving my calories for Eat Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies off George Clooney’s Belly Day! What day are you saving your calories for?5 Comments »
A frustrated restaurateur, who chooses to remain anonymous, asks fellow indie restaurants the following question:
15 Comments »
We had a guest present an iPhone coupon from FourSquare at our restaurant yesterday. The deal is “spend $5, get $5 off.” The problem is we never signed up for couponing or advertising or ANYTHING with this company. The guest was very upset when he left. He kept showing everyone the coupon on his phone. He took the $5 out of the waiters tip – and told the waiter he was doing it because he was so pissed off about the iPhone coupon. We took the $5 out of petty cash and made the waiter all good. I’ve since learned the deal is a “Support Small Businesses” program agreement between American Express and Foursquare. American Express will give you $5 off your Amex statement when you log in on Foursquare at these places. Fortunately, we’re on that list. Unfortunately, nobody every informed us of the promotion so we could prepare our employees. Any other restaurants out there having problems with this? Other customers? Thanks.
Former Bolsa chef Graham Dodds is the new executive chef at Central 214. He replaces Blythe Beck who left the fancy digs at the Hotel Palomar in late August. Dodds’ farm-to-table philosophy is a perfect fit for the direction management wants to steer the hotel’s restaurant. (Hah!) After his departure from Bolsa in mid-September, Dodds considered doing his own thing with an investor. “I loved being a part of the Oak Cliff community and watching it grow,” Dodds said in September. “But I have a five-year-old daughter and a mortgage to pay.” It looks like a steady gig with benefits turned out to be the better decision. He starts his reign on Monday.
Once he’s up and running, you can expect the buzzwords to roll: locally sourced ingredients, classic farm-to-table cooking, marathon-running chickens, artisanal baked-with-hypersensitive-heat breads, free-range bees with PhDs, penthouse-raised pork, unmolested meat, and “wholesome family” cheese with both parents, curds and whey. Sorry, I got carried away while waiting for a callback from Graham.
Ring, ring. H-h-hello? “Hi Nancy, it’s Graham. I am so excited,” Dodds says. “It’s a great fit. I’ve worked with a lot of people who have worked with this company [Kimpton Hotels] and everybody has great things to say about them.” Although nothing has been decided, there has been some talk of renaming the place and reworking the interior. [Although the name wasn't originally intended to represent farm-to-table, it kinda works with Dodds' cooking.]
“Graham, please don’t speak in press release,” I say. “I want to know what you are going to do with your bee hives? What floor will they be on?” [Dodds has made his own honey from his 20 hives for years.]
“Well my bees are way down this year,” Dodds says with a tear in his voice. “I’m down to 3 hives. I moved them to Eden Creek Farms and a neighbor did some crop dusting and I think it may have drifted over.”
“How in the hell are you going to make up for that loss?”
“Well, I plan to delve into nose-to-tail cooking,” Dodds said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to explore.”
Fill in your own kicker here.2 Comments »
This just in from Sigel’s:
Due to increased requirements from the City of Dallas we have made a decision to cancel the Winter Food Truck Festival on Nov. 12th. It will be rescheduled.
I’ve reached out to Sigel’s to get the skinny on what those increased requirements are. You’ll know as soon as we do…
UPDATE: See George’s post above for the full deets. Go, George!2 Comments »
According to several attendees of Sunday’s XX Caesar Salad Competition, the charity event ended with a quite a bang. SideDish reporter Andrew Chalk was leaving the Westin Galleria tonight when he heard emcee Scott Murray yelling from the Senate floor stage. “At first I thought it was the live auction and somebody had just made a big buy,” Chalk said. “Then I realized he was shouting abuse at some guy in the audience.”
I contacted AIWF rep Freda Ballas. “We did have some people complain about him [Murray] using the f-word,” Ballas said. Both Ballas and Chalk tell the same tale. Murray was onstage pulling names from the raffle bowl and announcing winners. You buy a ticket and a number is called. Simple. Tonight, a nice little girl put her hand in the bowl and pulled out a ticket and handed it to Murray. Instead of announcing a number, Murray read out a name.
Some dude near the stage yelled something to the effect of “This is rigged,” and Murray went nuts. From various reports Murray say words to the effect of: “If somebody thinks I have control over the tickets I pulled, you can meet me outside right now and I’ll give you a check for $500.” Meanwhile, Del Frisco’s chef, David Holben, was busy packing up his knives. He won the competition.
Somewhere, both Julius Caesar and Caesar Cardini are smiling. Holben’s victorious salad was an extra-garlic-and-anchovy version of Cardini’s original. Murray battled like a gladiator.11 Comments »
Andrea Grimes announced she is leaving Eater—and Dallas—to move to Austin. That means Eater needs an editor. Ya want to blog with the big boys? Now is your chance.9 Comments »
Last year, hundreds of restaurants in the U.S. were ripped off by a caller who placed a large catering order to be picked up by a delivery service. The caller instructed the restaurant to add a $500 to the credit card bill and give it to the delivery service. I know it sound ludicrous that anyone would fall for this, but obviously some folks did.
This morning comes word that a new scam is making the rounds. This time, it’s switched to an email:
How are you doing today? This Mr. John Morgan speaking, I will like to place an order to go, can i speak with the owner about the order? My Mom birthday is coming up on the 20th of October and i will like to place an order for 150 grill chicken sandwich with salad individual pack for the 150 guest, It will be pick up by 3pm on the given date, So can i know the price per person and the total cost for the order plus tax. Can i have your full restaurant address and your name so i can forward to the carrier that will be coming for the pick up of the order once the food is ready by 3pm on the given date and i want you to promise me and assure me you going to prepaire (sic) the food nice and delicious.
If you get this email and fall for it, I have no sympathy for you. If you get one, let me know.10 Comments »