This month, Teresa Gubbins reviews Tim Love’s newest restaurant, Woodshed Smokehouse.
Lulled by the scent of smoke, a circle of people huddles around a hunk of charred meat, agog. It’s a mighty beef shin, the bone jutting up amid blackened chunks of flesh, a carnivore’s feast heaped on a slab of wood. A maiden steps into the circle. Her name is Tiffany, and she wants to know if you need an extra napkin. At Woodshed Smokehouse, the new restaurant on the banks of the Trinity River in Fort Worth, celebrity chef Tim Love drags us back to our caveman days, invoking our primordial fascination with burning things. Everything is cooked via fire or smoke—no electricity, no stove-top braising—and the menu includes an “animal of the day.” It even goes so far as to identify menu items by the kind of wood used in their cooking: mesquite, hickory, oak, or pecan. Jump for goodness.3 Comments »
Don’t drive across town if you are jonesing for “authentic” Italian fare. Owner and chef Bartolino Cocuzza has Americanized his Italian food to fit his loyal customers. Cocuzza’s cooking is solid. The massive pork porterhouse, covered with a pile of mushrooms and onions, rises 3 inches from the plate. The perfectly pink center is moist, and firm mushrooms sautéed in port add an earthy essence. Country of origin be damned, I easily finished this formidable dish. We didn’t order the eclectic roast poblano pepper filled with shallots, garlic, shrimp, and Brie cheese in a red pepper coulis, but the couple sitting next to us told us it was their favorite dish. “I ate it yesterday for lunch,” he said. “I was sitting in your seat.”
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When Lisa Garza started working as a hostess at La Hacienda Ranch, in Frisco, she was a skinny, hyperactive 17-year-old senior at Frisco High School. The year was 1994. Barely 7,000 people lived in the area, and, to Garza, it seemed every one of them turned up every night to wait two hours for a table. Dressed in skintight Wranglers, a button-down white shirt, and a red bandana tied around her neck, Garza alone juggled the rowdy crowds. She played it tough with those who’d been overserved, and she made sure babies got high chairs. “This was before OpenTable or computers,” Garza says. “It was crazy. I learned how to deal with all kinds of people. It was my trial by fire.”
By 2008, Garza would probably have been happy to jump back into that fire, after she appeared as a contestant on the fourth season of The Next Food Network Star. For nine hour-long episodes, Garza was boiled alive in front of a national television audience. Few sympathized with her “culinary point of view,” which included “hugging the homeless,” “educating children on nutrition,” and “making high-dollar presentations on a budget.” She toiled in industrial kitchens wearing pearls and designer clothes, her hair cut in a stylish bob. Her competitors called her a diva. Her comeback? “Divas have hearts, too. Big ones.”4 Comments »
Jason Maddy is well on his way to becoming the next rock star chef in Dallas. Until now, he has cooked in the shadows of some big names, working as a sous chef under David Bouley at Danube, in Manhattan, and David Bull at the Driskill Hotel, in Austin. John Tesar tagged Maddy as his chef de cuisine at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. He stayed on after Bruno Davaillon took over in 2009, leaving two and a half years later to become executive chef at Oak.
Now the 35-year-old finally has the spotlight. Oak opened in the Design District in mid-December. Barely a week later, word began to spread that something special was happening. I got calls from several restaurateurs asking, “Who is this guy?”
Carol spent many hours compiling a list of restaurants that offered Mother’s Day specials. I passed a few of them yesterday and noticed some huge crowds on patios and valet parking stands. I take it a few (a lot!) of you took your mother(s) out for a meal. We’d like to hear about your experience.10 Comments »
This month Todd Johnson checks in with Graham Dodds, the newish executive chef at Central 214. His cooking is a far cry from his predecessor Blythe Beck. Have you tried the newish Central 214?
With his shaggy beard and dark painter’s cap, Graham Dodds looks out of place in Central 214, the restaurant he now helms at Hotel Palomar. It feels like a typical hotel restaurant—contrived modern decor, nondescript white leather banquettes, amber walls—so focus-grouped that it lacks any personality. And it’s not just the new chef’s appearance. Dodds’ culinary history is far too personal for such an impersonal space.
For the past three years, Dodds was the executive chef at Bolsa, the award-winning spot in the Bishop Arts District. He was in on the project from its inception, and his farm-to-fork approach—championing local and seasonal ingredients—was fresh at the time, not the marketing gimmick it has become. Dodds’ creations were simple, his flavors pure. Nothing was over-sauced or overwrought. Bolsa was an instant hit, and it established North Oak Cliff as a dining destination. D Magazine named it the 2009 restaurant of the year.1 Comment »
I’ll be quick and to the point: Canary By Gorji is the most underrated restaurant in Dallas. Every time I eat there I am seduced by the creative cooking and I fall in love with Chef Mansour Gorji.
I took my family to Canary By Gorji for dinner last night and we had a comfortable, laid-back dining experience. (I don’t have pictures because I didn’t use my cell phone.) The music, service, food, and atmosphere all work together to produce a calm atmosphere. We left happy and I didn’t feel like I’d just worked a review.
If you’ve eaten at this small, mostly Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, you have met Gorji. When he isn’t at a market buying fresh ingredients, he is in his kitchen creating unique dishes or visiting with customers. He was the first chef to champion the pomegranate, which he still uses as a garnish on steaks and in sauces. Last night, I devoured a celery root (trending!) and carrot salad that was so fresh it tasted like it was just plucked from the garden. The filleted trout served with a just a touch of white wine and lemon sauce is topped with tart barberries and capers. His food is so clean; so delicious. My mother claimed the pork chop as “the best she’s ever eaten.”
Gorji is a hard working chef. Not only does he cook every night, he supports local charities and produces a line of products which are sold online and in local stores. I’ve never seen him without a smile and a good-natured laugh. Go visit him. He will dazzle your taste buds and your heart.
As I opened the menu at Deli-News, the self-proclaimed “New York-style restaurant,” I casually asked my Brooklyn-born-and-raised Jewish friend what qualifies a delicatessen as New York style. Two hours later, I stumbled out of what could have been a long, neurotic Woody Allen movie. “It’s a Russian-Jewish thing,” he snapped. “You see this bagel. You see how this bagel shines. Now that’s a bagel.” I ate the bagel. “Now, you see this pastrami,” he snipped. “This is real pastrami. It’s got the right amount of fat and it’s steamed. It’s not too thick. It’s not too thin.”14 Comments »
Here is what we think. Let us know your thoughts.
Stackhouse Randy Kienast is a successful home builder. One of his best friends is Ben Spies, a world-class MotoGP rider. You’d think the twosome would be happy to spend their spare time knocking back a few beers and talking about guy stuff like crashing a motorcycle at 190 mph (which Spies has done) or installing a new shower pan. But that would be too easy. So Kienast found a rickety one-story house built in 1925, and together they turned it into Stackhouse, a gourmet-ish burger bar on Gaston, near Baylor Hospital. Thankfully they had the sense to hire someone who knows something about cooking meat, James Rose, the former chef at Bob’s Steak & Chop House on Lemmon Avenue.
Thai-rrific was a North Dallas favorite until it moved to Oak Lawn last year. And since I live around there, I am sure glad it did.
Despite the Cedar Springs address, the restaurant fronts Throckmorton Street. Big windows provide a view of the well-lit dining room and its diners: concrete floor, tables topped with white paper over white clothes and black banquettes, two-tops and four-tops of boys from the hood drinking bottles of wine they brought in themselves.
We were seated at a half banquette/half table set up in a cozy corner and proceeded to fill our bellies.
We started with the pik gai yut, or stuffed wings. Our waitress said it was the house specialty. Essentially it was two large chicken sausages shaped like wings. What I mean by that is that ground chicken was mixed with cilantro, onions, rice, and lemongrass and kind of formed into wing shapes before being roasted and sliced and presented in a brown sauce. Lip-smacking good.
In late December I posted the “Top Twelve Bites I Put in my Mouth in 2011.” Well, I screwed up. It should have been 13 because the gnocchi, crunchy barley, and earthy mushrooms I devoured at Nana was the inspiration for the post. My apologies and compliments to the chef, Anthony Bombaci. You sir, are truly one of the finest chefs in Dallas. Here is my latest review of Nana.
I’ve spent the better part of the past 12 months eating pizza, gourmet burgers, and tacos. So it was quite glorious to sit in a glamorous dining room among a rich and well-coifed crowd, with the bright lights of the Dallas skyline twinkling in the distance. Women were dressed in fancy chiffon gowns and beaded black dresses. Men removed their Stetsons and handed them to the hostess. It wasn’t a trip back in time; it just happened to be the same night as the Cattle Baron’s Ball. For one Cinderella-style evening, our threesome basked in their finery. We were also thrilled with the edgy fine-dining experience presented by Anthony Bombaci, one of Dallas’ more underpromoted chefs.
I did not go to The Magic Time Machine for haute cuisine. When I packed up a good portion of my family, including three kids, and headed to the popular restaurant known for servers dressed as Peter Pan, Superman, or Jack Sparrow, I had no expectations of getting a decent meal even though the prices for entrees run from $13 to $23.99. I did expect to dine in a safe and clean environment. Or at least a restaurant that was not so filthy it caused my 12-year old niece to turn to me, dirty fork in hand, and say, “Uncle Nancy, I think you should write about how dirty this place is.”
We walked in at 5:43PM on Sunday night. We were greeted by the stench of stale air. It was like walking into an old house without windows: the smell of musky furniture combined with lingering cigarette smoke trapped inside for years. The dark carpet was littered with bits of paper (toilet?) and napkins. Nobody had bothered to vacuum between shifts (days?). I spotted a plastic Gerber baby food container tucked behind a round light to the right side of the front door. The contents were dried and cracked. As I watched my 3-year old nephew run down the short hallway, I noticed a lamp cord connected to an extension cord lying perilously on the rug about a foot from the wall.
Do a shot of Pepto Bismol and jump hard.
In the spring of 2005, I took a press trip to a hotel on the island of Sardinia, about 120 miles west of Italy. Forty-five seconds after the tour bus entered the walled community, I realized the property was a horrid Disneyland version of an Italian resort. It could have been in Frisco. Brand-new buildings were painted to look like ruins, and the hotel workers were dressed in various historic Italian costumes. So I planned an escape.
From my room, I called Lori Farris back in Dallas. Her husband, Efisio Farris, and his brother, Francesco Farris, then co-chefs and co-owners of Arcodoro & Pomodoro, were born and raised in Sardinia. For more than 20 years, the Farris brothers have fought to get Sardinian food the respect it deserves in Dallas. When Lori answered the phone, I asked her to help me get to Orosei, the hometown of the Farris brothers.
Like taking the lid off a simmering pot of pure Texas, Olenjack’s Grille unveils an approach to contemporary chargrilling that embodies all the hat and cattle those other guys seem to have missed. Less salt dependent than its country cousins, the restaurant—helmed by chef-owner Brian Olenjack—relies instead on goat cheese, roasted garlic, and grits as resonant as a Sunday sermon. The menu is a gastronomic ramble, starting with grilled lamb lollipops over sweet-potato polenta and finding its way home to hatch-marked meats that are as mature and reliable as a firm handshake.2 Comments »
Most of you know Eric Nadel as the voice of the Texas Rangers. This year, Eric begins his 34th year as a Rangers broadcaster in 2012, his 18th as the lead radio voice. The other day, he picked up his seventh 2011 Texas Sportscaster of the Year Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. When he’s off the air, he practices his new hobby as a concert promoter. He’s helping a few female singers get gigs. His current hot property is Daphne Willis.
Nadel loves to eat. He leans towards vegetarian food most of the time, but he can be seduced by a bitchin’ burger every once in a while. When he travels, he sends reports of restaurants he discovers in American league cities. Last night he was invited to a “friends and family” preview dinner at Sundown at the Granada. He was so excited when he finished he dashed off this quick review and sent it to me at 11:41PM.
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Most people were eating burgers and sliders but we found a very wide range of vegetarian options and we tried four of them, all of which were great. We had stuffed avocados (you get three different kinds on a plate), a chopped salad (with kale, sweet potato, avocado and all the normal veggies too), homemade veggie burger, and a succulent quinoa-black bean-sweet potato dish with avocado sauce. Unfortunately I totally forgot to take pictures. If tonight was any indication, you will really like this place. They are buying locally produced ingredients such as grass fed beef and free range chicken whenever possible, avoiding the Sysco type distributors whenever they can. The owner and his wife are vegan primarily for health reasons, but he says he has no trouble giving the public whatever they want to eat. He has come up with a big vegetarian selection with lots of taste, great seasoning. It’s the best tasting vegetarian food I have had in Dallas. And the other people were raving about the burgers. The chef is the guy who has been catering for the bands at the Granada.
The Concept: Sundown at Granada is the Granada Theater‘s neighboring restaurant and bar with a long list of draft beers and hand-crafted cocktails. Although I’m sure you can grab a bite pre-show, I would be filled with panic watching a line get longer next door while shoveling down the last forkfulls of food and chugging the rest of a beer. This is a perfect spot, however, to discuss your favorite act post-performance and perhaps mingle with band members, who are sure to wander over for a bite.
Who’s There: Thirty-somethings interested in enjoying some quality time together. (Rather than 20-somethings hollering over their third round of Jager bombs.)6 Comments »
Over the last year, it seems all I’ve written about is regional Mexican food. In that time, Dallas has welcomed Alma, Komali, Mesa, Wild Salsa, BEE, and MesoMaya. The guajillo pepper has replaced the jalapeño, and mole is the new chili con carne. Long live huitlacoche!
Chef Gabriel DeLeon must be a little miffed by the trend. DeLeon comes from a family of chefs. His father worked at his uncle’s restaurant, Esparza’s Restaurante Mexicano in Grapevine, before going on to open La Margarita in Irving. When his father died in 1995, DeLeon took over La Margarita, where he has succeeded for 22 years. In 2009, though, DeLeon decided to open his own concept, a regional Mexican restaurant in Addison. Masaryk Modern Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge was too early to the Mexican revolution. It closed after nine months. “Not having enough Tex-Mex at Masaryk was a real problem,” DeLeon says. He retreated to La Margarita and vowed he would never open another restaurant.