I spent an early lunch on the lovely patio at Ascension Coffee today. The weather was perfect for a good scooter ride to the Design District, so I partook in Ascension’s deliciously balanced chemex pour-over and caprese style sandwich. Both were fantastic and soothing. I like this place. I wrote some pretty words about it when it first opened. Yet I struggle with the customer service and strict coffee etiquette they follow. (i.e. You can’t get a cortado to go, because it’s not a cortado if it’s not in a glass). Either who, while I enjoyed the breeze and city sounds overlooking Oak Lawn, I noticed a young man bring a valet stand over to the parking lot.
What? Is Ascension getting ready to host some kind of grand opening, jam-packed lunch gala? Even though there are only ~15 spaces in the small lot and not many options beyond that, the coffee-swilling aristocrats and happy hipsters inside Ascension didn’t seem to mind. Why does it need valet?
Over the course of 30 minutes, from about 11:20 a.m. to 11:50 a.m., I watched three cars depart in frustration after they were told to park along Hi Line Dr. if they weren’t going to use valet. Most of the spots were empty in the lot (see photo). To be fair, some folks just handed over their cars and strolled inside without any problems. Even so, I have some issues and questions. Although I didn’t get off my a** to ask the valet why the hell he was claiming domain over the small lot for lunchtime, it seems completely unnecessary to force valet upon patrons at a place that’s supposed to include comfort and convenience.
Glenn Hunter has some interesting news over on Frontburner:
Ever since it opened in the mid-1980s, Uptown’s swanky Rosewood Crescent Hotel has used Dallas-based Jack Boles Services for its valet parking needs. But starting next month, the venerable Boles company will be booted from its contract parking vehicles for the Crescent hotel as well as for the spa, club and Crescent office tower in favor of Dallas’ Parking Company of America.
Here’s the rest. The juicy bits are in the comments.
A few years ago, when the whole “elevated comfort food” movement really started to take shape, it seemed like every restaurant in the city was creating their own version of the fancy-fied mac-and-cheese. I must have tried them all. Various iterations typically called for elegant or exotic cheeses or expensive luxury proteins, each dish doing its best to push as far as possible from the childhood version, that slop in a blue box. Many dishes were highly successful, indeed, many restaurants began to claim this as their signature dish. Now that the novelty of a $15 mac-and-cheese has begun to wear off, there are really only a small handful that, to me, have weathered the trend and continue to be a completely crave-able dish, and Victor Tango’s version, the Crab, Mac and Jack Gratin, still sits on top of my list.
Saturday Ijust attended a press event at Park. I liked the food. But there were many things surrounding the event that make it harder than it should be to enjoy Chef Garreth Dickey’s menu items. I have put together some of them in a list at the bottom.
Jump.17 Comments »
The other night a friend of mine and I stood in line waiting for our cars at a valet stand. The charge to valet a car—in this case, a huge parking lot–was $5. This really chaps my sass. If a restaurant is going to offer the service of making parking easier for you, they should absorb the cost. Anywhoo, my friend notices the $7 in my hand and says, “You’re not going to tip him are you?” I said I was because I figured the guy running around all night is mainly working for tips while the parking service is sitting on a safe full of cash. She thought I was insane to pay over the charge.
So I ask you, dear Dishers. How do you handle tipping valet?42 Comments »
Dang! Where ever shall we find organic pink guava frozen yogurt. A loyal Disher reports a “For Lease” sign in the window of Natsumi, the foodie-friendly fro-yo joint on Henderson. Does anyone think the horrific parking situation on that stretch of Henderson is responsible for the death of this spot? That stretch of road is killing itself slowly. Let’s hope Natsumi is relocating.
UPDATE: Natsumi has a space in Shed 2 at the Dallas Farmers Market. If you haven’t been to the newly remodeled Shed 2 recently, you must go.
Watch your back, Celebrity Bakery. Here comes The Chocolate Angel. Two sisters, Sherrie McCall and Marcia Clingon, have turned their wholesale fudge operation into four locations of The Chocolate Angel, a bakery, café, and tearoom.
I was shocked to open the door of the location in Preston Forest–the room was full of women. The only men in the space were behind the counter. The menu consists of soups, salads, sandwiches, a quiche of the day, and baked goods. (The Richardson location serves afternoon tea from 3:30-5:30 p.m.) The Chocolate Angel feels a lot like Celebrity Bakery except when you are stand over the cookie case waiting to order, you don’t faint from sticker shock: lemon bars are $1.00, Neiman-Marcus recipe chocolate chip cookies are 85 cents, and cupcakes are $2.75.
JC and I were jonsing for cheese and cheese we did find. She went for the four-cheese sandwich sprinkled with garlic salt and grilled between two thin slices of sourdough. We were so hungry we forgot to ask which four cheeses were melted together. Continue reading "Quick Lunch Review: The Chocolate Angel In Dallas"12 Comments »
Andrew Chalk is one of the Dishers who participated in the SideDish Hits the Southwest Food Service Expo at the end of June. He turned in a series of videos that featured some of the unusual items such as coffee made from civet (cat) poop and chocolate-covered crickets he uncovered at the Expo. It turns out that AC, not this AC, is an ace when it comes to wine. He knows a lot about it and his life is one ceaseless search for the fine wine. Last night he attended Oak Cliff Cellars inaugural tasting at Lavendou in North Dallas. He files this report:
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Jim Richardson is a brave man. In the face of the worst recession since The Flintstones and manifest oversupply in the wine industry, the man has opened a winery in California. And while most wineries are named after romantic place names, cute critters, or the founder, he decided to name his after where he hails from in Dallas. Hence, Oak Cliff Cellars was born. You don’t borrow from a bank for this sort of thing and “JR” (as he goes by) is not too big to fail, so that rules out the taxpayer. Rather, you invest your own money, and maybe that of some close investors who you beat in a card game. In the time-honored tradition of start-ups you rent space in the premises of a larger, more established, producer and hire an experienced consulting winemaker. After selecting and fermenting grapes, you spend 18 months dealing with problems while your precious fist vintage ages. Eventually, the miracle of oak-aging and a newfound belief in prayer brings everything together and you show your new baby to the world.
That is what JR did on Wednesday night at Lavendou. Big jammy jump here. Continue reading "Oak Cliff Cellars Inaugural Tasting At Lavendou In Dallas"
Tuesday, Jim “Sevy” Severson and I met Scott Swicker, a fisherman in Gloucester, Mass. His boat, the Aaron and Alexa, was full of fish he’d just pulled in from the Georges Bank region of the Gulf of Maine. One species was the wolfish (wolf fish, wolffish, ocean cat, lupe de mer). Sevy likes wolfish—the unsightly sucker feeds on clams and lobsters and once you get past his ugly mug, the meat is, like me, sweet and flaky. Sevy decided to feature the wolfish as a special on Thursday at Sevy’s Grill.
We watched as the boat was unloaded and the catch was weighed and processed through the Steve Connolly Seafood Company in Gloucester, MA. The next morning we were in Connolly’s packing plant in Boston when the wolfish arrived. Sevy was standing over the box as his order was packed. We followed the box out to the dock where it was loaded into a refrigerated truck and whisked away to the airport. I hopped on another flight and got back in time to head over to Sevy’s where chef Michael “Buzzy” Zeve was waiting with the wolfish in a pan.
By 8:00 p.m. last night, our table of six was feasting on wolfish. It’s not gorgeous on the plate either, but the meaty fish is simply prepared and a delight. Here is how Buzzy cooked it:
I season with sea salt and course brown pepper and pan sear it in olive oil on the presentation side for about a minute and a half. Then I flip it over and finish it off in the oven for about 5 minutes. I served it on top of orzo folded with a puree of basil and reduced cream. I surround it with a roasted red pepper beurre blanc. It’s all pretty straightforward.
The preparation and presentation may be simple and straightforward, but how the fish gets from the ocean to your plate in Dallas is quite the opposite. And despite being landlocked, Dallas is a market that receives some of the freshest seafood in the country. Thanks to our central location, fresh fish from the Gulf of Maine hits Dallas well before the west coast.3 Comments »
Yea! One of our favorite subjects! The Blessing/Curse of Valet Parking. Let’s listen in:
I have a question about valet parking. We go out to lunch/ dinner about five times a week and do not mind valet parking when it is needed. But what if it is not needed at all? I cannot tell you how many times I drive up to an empty parking lot only to be stopped by a valet. An example: I went to get some coffee at Starbucks on Greenville next to Gloria’s. It was 3pm and there was nothing but an empty parking lot and a valet. I drove past the valet and parked the car myself. The valet walked up to me and asked where I was going. I told him I was just getting a cup of coffee and that I could park the car myself. I thought that would be the end of it but then he asked if I planned to “sit down and drink my coffee”. Like that made a difference. My question is what rights do these guys have? If I want to park my car myself do they have the right to tow it? Also, what is the normal tip for these guys? Usually the parking is free but, of course, you should tip. I have been tipping $5 each time.
Yow. Zah. You sure do ask a lot of questions for a dude from New Jersey. First of all, thank you for dining out five times a week. You rock. Secondly, will you tip me $5 if I answer your question? I’d like the Fightin’ Foodies of the Dish Nation to help this guy, but I want you all to know that Obama will fix this too. On your mark, get set…20 Comments »