Dan Koller is one of my favorite people. Why? Because he scares me. He looks like a cuddly Teddy bear, but underneath that nice-guy veneer lies the heart (maybe) of a cold-blooded managing editor. Last night “The Captain,” as I call him, took his family to Rafa’s Cafe Mexicano on Lovers Lane. He files this report over on Park Cities People.
Last night, my family and I visited Rafa’s for the first time. I know this place is beloved by Park Cities families, as evidenced by the large number of them who were there when we were. But I judge a restaurant by how easy it makes my life as a parent, and Rafa’s failed in that regard.
He wants to know where you take your kids to eat.
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 »
D Magazine intern Carol Shih attended the Pizza Smackdown at West Village shopping center last Thursday. She observed three of the cities’ biggest pizza egos, I mean chefs. Here is here account of the shenanigans.
I am happy to report there were no casualties at the Mobile Pizza Smackdown (except for some bruised egos). The American Heart Association hosted their annual kick-off event and bravely invited Paolo Cavalli of Cavalli Pizzeria, Salvatore Gisellu of Urban Crust, and Jay Jerrier of Il Cane Rosso to a pizza battle in a corner alley of West Village. It seemed harmless enough to innocent bystanders there to just wine and dine, but unbeknownst to them, this was an epic, all-out pizza war between three rival chefs battling to become the King of Pizza.
Jump for the details.13 Comments »
[Ed. note: George poses this, in my opinion, stupid question. I am challenging him with, in my opinion, a smarter one.]
George: A couple of weeks ago, a Zagat survey reported that 60% of dinners in New York supported a time limit which allows the restaurant to boot you from your table so they can seat another party. But we’re not New York. So let’s ask the question to Dishers. Would you mind a time limit?
Nancy: George, you ignorant cluck. You are right on one point: we are not New York. I hate rushed service. Take MiCocina (beat, beat). Those waiters aren’t servers they’re animal trainers. They can turn a table of six in 40 minutes. It drives me nuts. I get the same vibe at Houston’s. Every time you sit down you can feel the beat: water, menus, drinks, order, eat, dessert, BOOM. Maybe, just maybe, we are eating out to have a conversation that doesn’t fit into the restaurant’s time frame. I think no time limit is best for the customer.
George: You can’t have a conversation in under 2 hours? Are you sitting with your fork in one hand and Blackberry in the other? Talk, talk, tap, tap. Assuming your waiter greets you in a timely manner, takes your order, and serves you your drinks and food, you really can’t finish in 2 hours? If not, move to the bar. I think it’s good for business.
Who is right?46 Comments »
Here’s another great reason to head downtown during Texas/OU weekend: the folks at DRG (Dallas Chop House, Wild Salsa, Dallas Fish Market) and Downtown Dallas Inc. have teamed up to create the Texas/OU Red River Barbecue Shootout. What is the Red River Barbecue Shootout, you ask? It’s a competition between four pitmasters from Oklahoma and four from Texas on one night followed by a rocking party the next. The dudes doing the cooking are:
Kent Black Keith Jennison
Black’s – Lockhart Elmer’s – Tulsa
Joe Duncan Charles Smith
Baker’s Ribs – Dallas Leo’s BBQ - Oklahoma City
Kelly Duncan Jev Vandegrift
Big Daddy’s – Lavon Van’s Pig Stand – Shawnee
Cliff Payne Joe Wells
Cousin’s – Fort Worth Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch and RV Park – Davis
The competition will take place on October 6. Pitmasters will be cooking their signature St. Louis pork ribs and sauces all day in Downtown’s Main Street Garden (St. Paul and Main Street) for a 7 p.m. special private judging by a panel of food experts, sports industry members, and community leaders. From this “blind” judging (where judges will not know who cooked what recipe and judge only on food) , two winners, one from Oklahoma and one from Texas will be selected. (The panel of judges will be announced in advance of October 6.)
Jump for more.
On June 15, I reported Robert Colombo’s “deal” to “buy” Primo’s. It was a complicated transaction that essentially made Colombo a partner in the restaurant which is owned by Phil Lacerte and Frank Linero. Colombo and crew were brought in to freshen the place up and manage the restaurant. Colombo hired Tony Porcaro, the former general manager at Nick& Sam’s and Bella Restaurant, to perform the same duties at Primo’s.
Porcaro is out and Colombo may be right behind him. The deal has never been formerly inked. At least that is what Colombo is saying. “We are going through difficult negotiations,” Colombo said. “We aren’t sure if it will be finalized but its been a good experience. We had the basics finalized. They aren’t restaurant guys and they brought us in to do renovations. But they’ve been in Aspen and the Bahamas so we didn’t get it executed.”
I asked Colombo what his official position at Primo’s is at this time. Is he still observing the restaurant’s operations? “Gee, I don’t have a definitive answer to it,” Colombo said. “We never did day-to-day or controlled the bank accounts. I’d say I’m actively negotiating and not technically a partner.” Colombo runs La Reve group which owns Villa-O and Sfuzzi’s. He recently closed Trece.
People are saying that Fitzhugh is the new Henderson. I’m not really sure if I buy that yet, but I am willing to admit that Ole Fitz is definitely moving in the right direction. Maybe you’ve heard about some of the melodrama surrounding the fairly recent goings on at RedFork. Circulating rumors focused on the early loss of two of the three founding chefs (Matt Balke, formerly of York Street, and Jeff Harris, formerly of Craft), a bit of hot dish which left many questioning if this new Dallas hotspot was even worth a try. With chef Ryan Carbery at it’s helm, RedFork was determined to press on.
The question remains: can the food still hold its own? Is this place still worthy of the early buzz once surrounding RedFork’s opening? The answer, my friends, is a resounding yes.
I bet Steven Doyle doesn’t even know about this!! I just happened to stumble across it on the CBS site. Looks like they are going to have a Most Valuable Blogger competition. I would never suggest who you should nominate but The Scott at Dallasfood.org has already made his sentiments known. This is going to be an interesting ride.1 Comment »
Last night John Tesar played a 53-year old geezer chef on a thrilling episode of Food Network’s Extreme Chef. He faced two younger chefs: Joe, a douchey New York dude who was once a private chef for Donald Trump; and Greg, a Portland chef who couldn’t cut it in medical school so he quit and went to the CIA.
Tesar was confident from the start. “I run 10 miles a day,” Tesar gloated. After that, he works all day and night. The competition took place on a 60-acre farm in Malibu Canyon and the premise had the chefs running all over the place to source ingredients.
HEARTY BREAKFAST was the segment. To obtain eggs, the chefs had to conquer a “crop-stical course” made of bales of hay formed into various tunnels and towers. Tesar, a virtual Jack LaLane, was first to the eggs (he picked duck!) and he won the first competition soundly with his ginger and duck egg French toast. (I think there was a fruit salad and some whiskey involved, but I can’t read my notes, and I refuse to rerun the show.) It only matters that when the Simon Cowell wannabe (and lookalike) host announced Tesar as the winner, Tesar took a modest Zen-like bow. Tesar is now the master of “the unconventional use of an egg.”
No, it’s not over. There are still 45 minutes left in the show. Here we go.11 Comments »
John Jay Myers has swung the doors wide on The Free Man, his new Cajun cafe & lounge in Deep Ellum. His mission: combining a bit of Bourbon Street with a nightly live-music venue. Menu items: etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo, boudin, alligator, and more. Sounds great to us, but the Cajun vs. Creole distinction seems to have some people in a huff. The general consensus: Bourbon Street/New Orleans=dignified Creole, while western Louisiana=wild & wooly Cajun.
I’m guessing you have a lot to say about the hair-splitting (or cavernous) distinction. I do so love a debate.
In an article on TheFoodChannel.com, Kay Logsdon updated us on the Yelp vs. the restaurateur debate—specifically whether online reviews via Yelp (and, eh-hem, other sources) are a good or a bad thing? The following is the opening excerpt from her article:
5 Comments »
It was the food fight of the year. The tall, wavy-haired young marketing genius vs. the wiry, shaved-headed young chef. Both technically-savvy. Both heavily invested in the food business. Both opinionated.
In this corner, Luther Lowe, Manager of Local Business Outreach for the popular ratings powerhouse, Yelp.
And, in that corner, Stefan Richter (photo, right), the Finnish chef who was a runner-up on the fifth season of Top Chef, and owner of Stefan’s European Catering, Stefan’s at L.A. Farm, and Stefan’s Steakhouse (in Finland).
In the audience? Restaurant owners and operators who have a definite stake in the game. These are the people whose very livelihood can be impacted by a negative or positive review of their restaurant, and those online ratings can be important to attracting new customers. How popular is Yelp? The site this week passed a significant milestone: its 20 millionth review was posted.
The drama was all part of the great debate showcased at the National Restaurant Association’s session: Are Online Reviews a Good or Bad Thing?…
Steven “Ubiquitous” Doyle is reporting chef Jeff Harris and sous-chef Matt Balke have left the restaurant. WHAT? It’s been open for what, a month? CraveDFW reports
The executive and sous chef’s of RedFork have officially resigned citing creative differences with the investors. Harris plans to enjoy a couple of weeks at home with his new baby boy before announcing his next venture. In the meantime, it looks like RedFork continues on, “business as usual.”
Yow. Zah. Juicy deets.6 Comments »
Lots of chinwagging taking place in the webosphere. Fine dining restaurants, such as this place in Pennsylvania, are banning children under six years of age. I tend to dine early and have witnessed children who squeal and squirm while their parents sip wine and attempt to enjoy a fine meal. I believe it is a good practice to take children into fine dining restaurant. It’s important to learn manners at an early age. The only time it chaps my sass is when the parents don’t reprimand their misbehaving offspring or take charge of the situation. Take this recent example from a loyal Disher.
Jump for the shrilling report.33 Comments »
You asked for him, you’ll have Tony for one night only, Thursday, October 27th at 8:00pm at The Majestic Theatre. According to his handlers “Bourdain will spend the evening sharing candid and often hilarious insights about his life’s work and travels, including an open question and answer session with the audience.” I’ve invited John Tesar to be my date. Anybody in for a group session!10 Comments »
Yesterday, plucky intern Kelsy McCraw attended the Libertine Bar’s July 4 Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown (hey, somebody had to do it). Read on for her report, if you dare. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
With 2:39 left in the competition, the first contender to loose her stomach in the Libertine’s Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown rushed outside, yarked, then returned to finish 13 corndogs in 15 minutes.
Jump to read on, if you dare… Continue reading "Lowbrow Alert: Libertine Bar’s July 4 Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown"
I have a copy of the police report that states one of The Commissary’s employees received minor injuries from a punch thrown by Nick Badonvinus’ companion and chef Jeff Bekavac (Neighborhood Services Tavern). Here is the summary of the police report: (RP=reporting party. Comp=complainant. R0=responding officer. Susp1=Badovinus. Susp2=Bekavac.)
ON 5/25/11 AT 2255 HRS, RO’S RESPONDED TO A CALL FROM POLICE DISPATCH REGARDING A MAJOR DISTURBANCE AT THE 1700 BLOCK OF ROUTH AVE INVOLVING THE COMP AND SUSPS.UPON ARRIVAL RO’S SPOKE WITH THE COMP WHO STATED THAT THE RP AND SUSP1 WERE IN A VERBAL ARGUEMENT OVER THE SUSP’S FOOD. THE RP STATED THAT HE WAS TRYING TO GET SUSP1 AND SUSP2 TO LEAVE THE LOCATION, WHEN SUSP1 GOT UP IN THE RP’S FACE AND STATED “ILL KICK YOUR ASS RIGHT HERE.” SUSP1 AND SUSP2 THEN EXITED THE LOCATION AND CONTINUED TO CAUSE A DISTURBANCE OUTSIDE OF THE LOCATION BY THE ENTRY DOORS. THE RP AND THE COMP BOTH FOLLOWED OUTSIDE TO ENSURE THAT SUSP1 AND SUSP2 LEFT. AT THIS TIME THE RP WENT BACK IN THE LOCATION AND THE COMP STATED THAT SUSP2 ATTEMPTED TO CHARGE BACK INTO THE LOCATION. THE COMP PUSHED HIS ARM OUTWARD TO KEEP SUSP2 OUTSIDE AT WHICH POINT SUSP2 PUNCHED THE COMP IN THE FACE WITH A CLOSED FIST, CAUSING MINOR SWELLING AND PAIN TO THE COMP’S RIGHT SIDE OF HIS FACE. SUSP1 AND SUSP2 FLED IN AN UNK VEH IN UNK DIRECTION. END OF ELEMENTS.
Yesterday, I spoke with the person, a customer, who escorted Badovinus out the Commissary. He said, “Nick was pissed and I was just trying to diffuse the situation. Tesar was five feet behind us and he did call him a pussy. Nick wanted to get at him but we just walked him out of the restaurant. I did not see anyone get hit.”
Late yesterday, I spoke with the employee who was allegedly struck by Bekavac. “He punched me in the face two times,” he said. “I don’t know either of their names, it wasn’t the owner of the restaurant it was the other guy.”
This morning, the complainant, who asked me not to use his name, sent the following email:
I am writing this Email as a followup to my phone call earlier in an effort to clear up any misunderstandings as to the goings on at the Commissary on Wednesday. I understand your sentiments as to let this incident run it’s course, but as you have already written of it I feel that you owe the restaurant a duty to see your reporting out to it’s extent and ensure that the truth is given. There were blows thrown that evening by Mr. Badovinus’ associate, and I can assure this is fact on the grounds that I was the recipient. While I have no photographic evidence as I was informed by the officers that the charges would almost certainly not come to fruition, here is my case number so that you may see that I did take the proper retributory actions: [redacted] I implore of you to follow upon your earlier writings so that the only form of justice available to those deserving of it be done and my employer be cleared of any allegations in false light that could potentially negatively affect both the establishment and myself.
End of elements.4 Comments »
I so wasn’t going to write this story, but I have now been contacted by five people in or around the restaurant business. I feel that if I don’t step in and attempt to clear the air, the tale will grow longer and more sordid with each telling. I have heard multiple versions of the heated exchange between chefs John Tesar and Nick Badovinus at The Commissary late Wednesday night.
Round One: I received the following text from John Tesar at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday night: “Nick from Neighborhood [Services] just assaulted two of my staff and created a violent scene in my restaurant…Crazy drug drunk chef stuff. I was calm but he has lost his mind. Sorry for the bad news just wanted you to hear the real story.” I didn’t see the text until the next morning. I texted back: “Huh? Just got this. Call me when you get a chance.” A little after noon yesterday, Tesar texted back: “It’s just best to let this one go thank you.”
Oh, but we didn’t let it go. Jump.
UPDATE: Saturday, May 28, 2011. I have just had a long conversation with chef John Tesar. The bottom line is he is reversing the story he told me yesterday. Here is his statement. “I was wrong. It was an error in judgment. I did it to cover up the event. The only reason I did that is that I tried to protect everybody who was involved, not only myself. I had a selfish motivation. I didn’t want to draw attention to a brand new restaurant. At the same time I wasn’t going to throw another member [Badovinus] of my profession under the bus.”70 Comments »
I hate rain-delayed baseball games. Especially those with 11:20PM starting times, torrential rain and hail, and tornado warnings. I like my sleep and I like the Rangers to win.
With a crabby demeanor, I begin today by tossing a rock at what I call “cute food.” I’m talking sliders, $5 cupcakes, cupcakes in a jar, mac and cheese in little iron skillets, cake balls (pops), lamb called lollipops, pickles on top of gourmet burgers, ad nauseum. These are a few of my least favorite things. Oh, and I’ll add chicken wings because they have no purpose on this earth. Your turn. Go.39 Comments »