The biggest buzz in the Dallas dining community is the opening of chef David Uygur’s Lucia in the Bishop Arts District. The exact date is unknown — beyond the fact that it will be this fall. However, Uygur has a clear idea of the type of restaurant he wants Lucia to be. I caught up with him yesterday.
He may have had deconstructed food, but this is an unconstructed restaurant. A crew of five worked busily while David gave me a tour.
Let’s take a break from the restaurants still here and think about those that we miss. Imagine you had the power–a genie in a bottle of Chateau Latour Pomerol to grant you one wish. If you could rub her it and be granted the gift to bring one dead restaurant back to life, which one would you revive and why? Riviera? Routh Street? Nero’s?
UPDATE: After roughly 24 hours, over 100 Dishers had asked their genies to revive their favorite restaurants!! Let’s dig through and see. After 146 genie rubs, Lola gets the most requests, at 8. Lots of love for Il Sorrento with 6 rubs and Cuidad at 5. The Wine Press and Uncle Tai’s had 4 mentions. Surprises for me included Routh Street and The Riviera only getting one comment each. Lots of love spread out for Stephan Pyles’ concepts including Baby Routh (3), Star Canyon (3), and Aquaknox (2).120 Comments »
The tipping ritual varies all over the world. Here is an article about the habits of gratuity giving all over the globe. In Europe, I love the nice even numbers on the menus and the “Service Compris” at the bottom of most menus. I know what I’m spending. It saves me from having to do math.
What’s your method of calculating tip here in Dallas? Are you a 10-percenter? 15? 20? Would you prefer it if we, like the French, included the service in the menu pricing? (Note: some places in Dallas already do this for parties of six or more.) Do you modify your tip percentage depending on the whether the meal is fine dining vs. fast-casual? Give me some tips.30 Comments »
The imminent closure of Avner Samuel’s Aurora need not be in vain. We have found the ideal location for his next restaurant. It has a picturesque location, stunning views and is barely a Cadillac Escalade’s 60-0 braking distance from downtown Dallas. In fact, it’s a proven restaurant location– the hilltop held Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine for longer than the Dallas North Tollway has gone to Oklahoma. Even the approach road has a locavore name Goat Hill Rd. Jump for the joy of discovery! Continue reading "Exclusive! We Find Ideal Location For Avner Samuel’s Next Restaurant!"3 Comments »
A few weeks ago I was having breakfast at Craft Dallas. There were only three customers in the restaurant which makes me nervous since I’d hate to see Dallas lose this place—the food is really special. However here is the transcript of a conversation I had with my waiter. I pretended to be from out of town.
Jump for the story.45 Comments »
Upscale Indian food restaurant in a great neighborhood with 6,000 square feet and high visibility.10 Comments »
NN: Are you coming back to Dallas?
JT: I am coming back to Dallas. Currently I have 2 options. They are two separate entities. I have signed a letter of intent with both. I am leaving tomorrow [today] for a short vacation and family business. I will make my decision in five or six days.
NN: Any hint on what you will be doing?
JT: I’m not coming back as the 5 start chef of the Mansion, I’m coming back to enjoy cooking here in Dallas. I will put my head down and cook. Like I said, I have two options. One is quite elaborate with many concepts. The other one is built around me. Whoever I go with, they will make the announcement. Not me.
NN: So were you fired from Tesar’s in Woodlands?
JT: I voluntarily decided to walk away from Tesar’s. I was not fired; I walked away. It’s not going to effect my future.
NN: Is Tesar’s going to continue to use your name?
JT: My only involvement [with Tesar’s] now is whether or not they use the name. I’m not totally against it but it is difficult for me since my name is up there and I can’t be in control of quality. My partners and I split with irreconcilable differences. The restaurant is doing well—just not well enough to pay a John Tesar-style chef. I gave them back my 20 percent and we are still wrangling over things like money the and name. It’s a good restaurant.
NN: So give me the short version of what happened?
JT: I do not wish ill on my ex-partners. They enticed me to leave New York when I was with David Burke [at Fish]. I went into the business with good will. I realized that the project was opening in the middle of a recession and was undercapitalized. We started out with three partners and the 2 majority partners [Bill and Hilary Burke] pushed out my main contact. But we built this thing [restaurant] and got good reviews. But they had no experience in the restaurant business and we knew it wasn’t going to make enough to pay me, especially since I have a family. [Tesar’s wife is 4 ½ months pregnant with their first child.]
NN: Why do you think so many people get so emotional when your name shows up on SideDish?
JT: I’m flattered by the emotions good and bad because I never figured people cared so much. I let my body of work speak for me. People get so emotionally involved. And many have turned on their mentor and then partners starting turning everyone against each other. My biggest mistakes were that I didn’t take 51 percent and shouldn’t have named it after me.
NN: Well, you certainly have had a controversial career.
JT: I’ve had an up and down career and I haven’t lived up to my potential. I have learned a lot from my mistakes. I guess there is something good about people not liking you. It builds character.
Some of the comments under yesterday’s comments post about Leslie Brenner’s picks for Best French Restaurants went a little east of France. Like to Italy. At one point I wrote:
“It took you a year of eating red-sauce Italian food and steak au poivre to come to the conclusion that the majority of Dallas diners do not have adventurous palates. (R.I.P Il Mulino)”
The line caused several commenters to steer off topic and question the quality/authenticity of IL Mulino. I used IL Mulino as an example of a restaurant that failed here because Dallas diners refused to accept the, for Dallas, adventurous menu. “Authentic” Italian or not, whatever that is around here, is not the issue. Whatever Il Mulino was—gasp, modern Italian?! New York Mob Italian?! French Italian?!—it was, in my opinion, a good restaurant. Why? Because, without going back to my notes or reviews, I can clearly remember (and taste) the food I ate—the ravioli in champagne sauce, the Dover sole, the complimentary appetizers. Strong taste memories are hard to come by when you eat food for a living.
Il Mulino was expensive—Dallas doesn’t like to pay for high prices for Italian unless they are in New York or Los Angeles or Italy. However, they don’ t blink at forking over $50 for an 8-ounce filet of beef. It’s a reality of how the majority of palates and pocketbooks in this city roll.
On another note, I don’t like using the term “authentic” to describe food from another country. For the sake of argument, an Italian recipe can be authentic but unless all of the ingredients are sourced in Italy, the resulting dish is not truly authentic. Chew on that one. And spit it out below.18 Comments »
In the current issue of D Magazine, Teresa “Twinkle Toes” Gubbins writes about Mandola’s Italian Market. The Italian grocery/deli originated in Austin and was brought north by Larry “Chili’s” Lavine. Larry had plans to roll Mandola’s out all over Dallas and potentially into other markets. Well, Mandola’s may roll, but it will grow without Larry Lavine. He’s out of the deal. “I am in the process of selling my interest to my partner,” said Larry via e-mail from his Turtle Creek Restaurant Group account. Another source tells me that there is an uglier side to this story. Of course, isn’t there always? I’ve called and left a message for Larry’s partner, Michael Share, who lives in Boston. Jimmy’s Food Store, your future looks good.1 Comment »
Best Restaurateurs. Oh no, now I’ve got to make one too. (Bob Sambol? I like Bob but he owns one restaurant.)
UPDATE: Okay, I’ve thought about the above list a little bit more and I really have to question Dave Faries’ pick of Bob Sambol as a restaurateur of the decade. What about entrepreneurial spirits such as Jeff Sinelli, Mike Hogue, Kent Rathbun, Shannon Wynne? Bob Sambol lost his butt in Denver, sold his brand to Omni, and only owns part of his original restaurant. What’s in the eggnog over at the Observer, Dave?15 Comments »
This year has been horrific for many local restaurants, but 2009 has been very, very good to Neighborhood Services. “I am so tired of saying no to my customers,” said Neighborhood Services owner/chef Nick Badovinus. “I will be so happy to now say yes.”
For the last 16 months, Badovinus’ 90-seat restaurant on West Lovers did not take reservations, was not permitted to open for lunch or offer outdoor seating. There was always a wait for a table. “We pissed off a lot of people with our space,” said Badovinus at 7:16 this morning. “So many customers said, ‘I love your place, dude, but I just don’t have four hours to give you to eat there.’”
First up will be Neighborhood Services Tavern which will open “by Valentine’s Day” in the space formerly known as Soley on Henderson Avenue. The lease is signed and the project has already been approved. The menu features “about 12 small plates, 12 large plates, daily and nightly specials, dips, snacks, classic cocktails, and a sub-50 [dollar] wine list.” The kitchen will be headed by Mike Williams, the opening sous chef for Neighborhood Services, who once cheffed at Craft Dallas.
Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill will open in the controversial Taco Mundo space in Preston Royal Shopping Center in late May or early June. “PR” will have all of his “yes factors”—lunch, outside dining, and loads of parking. The menu will be a casual version of Neighborhood Services. Chef Jeff Bekavac, a line cook for Badovinus at Hibiscus and currently in the kitchen at Neighborhood Services, will run “PR”.
“That leaves me with a great opportunity at Neighborhood Services and by that I mean I can really finally serve the neighborhood. It will allow us to move into a reservation-based model,” said Badovinus. “Dude, I would think this strategy was crazy if I didn’t already have 80 dishes that the customer has already approved with their pocketbooks. The risk is daunting but you have to listen to the marketplace. When your customers say grow, it sure makes it easier. I am so blessed by the support I’ve received since I opened. I’m just looking forward to being able to say yes for a change.”14 Comments »
Dallas Restaurateurs, Attention! Get Ready To Report: Restaurant Management Bootcamp
The Texas Restaurant Association is offering real world training for restaurant managers. The Boot Camp program includes extensive training on customer relations, risk management, cost control, and employee relations. The two-day event will take place September 14-15 (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) at US Foodservice in Garland. Here is a link to the sign-up sheet. Hurry, limited to 20 restaurateurs only. Hmm, there could be a enemy planted in the group. IJS. If you love details, I’ve got plenty. But you have to jump. Continue reading "Dallas Restaurateurs, Attention! Get Ready To Report: Restaurant Management Bootcamp"1 Comment »
OK, Dishers. We certainly learned a lot about the food reality TV business over the last week, didn’t we? Lord, I’m glad that soap opera is over. Let us now turn our attention a bit closer to home where another lovely lass in our fair city is attempting fame and fortune.
I’m talking about Ms. Gina Campisi, who is now in the process of getting the doors to her first restaurant, Fedora, open to the public. Last time, she shared some of the problems she faced securing permits. This week, she focuses on the finer points of how to find a location for a restaurant. Gina, you go girl.
“The Road To Nowhere”
Most people who want to start their own restaurants go about it in a systematic and somewhat logical way, with the starting point being a location. Perhaps somewhere they have seen that looks like a high traffic, highly visible, or under developed area, or even a new area that has a buzz surrounding it. Not me. (Jump with her, now) Continue reading "How to Open a Restaurant 101: Gina Campisi Talks"35 Comments »