Just got back from a three-day bacchanal in Dallas. The idea was to hit the best restaurants without the hassle of having to drive 90 minutes home after dinner.
First night was Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton. Dean Fearing was the
power behind the ascendency of the Mansion at Turtle Creek. He was
lured away by the Ritz about six years ago. Dinner was disappointing.
Despite a beautiful facility and a very inviting cocktail bar at the
entry, the ambience of the dining area was much more informal than one
would expect at a Ritz-Carlton premier restaurant. Wait staff was
uniformed in wide stripe orange/white short-sleeved shirts and looked
more like what you expect in Applebee's.
The food was way over-smoked and the melange of competing flavors
piled on was not pleasing. Wine was a Turley syrah which I had to try
since I'd never tasted other than Turley zins. Big, dark,
characteristic in-your-face no apologies fruit bomb.
Night two was Stephan Pyles. A stand-alone restaurant very much in the
California classic chrome, tile and modern artwork mold. Again the
intense smoke flavors infused in the food were a disappointment. And,
again the apparent need to deluge the plate with a half-dozen or more
competing elements trying to make the dish exotic. Noisy as well.
And, again the wine was the saving grace. My choice from the wine list
was not available and the recommended alternative was from Wrath
Vineyards. I'd never encountered Wrath before but this syrah was
simply outstanding. A web search later revealed Wrath as a limite
production winery on the California coast. If their other varietals
are as good, they've got a great product for the $$. Will have to see
if they are accessible or it is a wait list and allocation program.
Night three was Charlie Palmer at the Joule. (Eponymous eateries seem
to prevail in Big D.) This was the hands-down winner of the trip.
Simply outstanding on all aspects: decor, welcome, service,
knowledgeable staff, menu, presentation, even the art work on the
Wine was an experience. My choice was a pinot noir and they had a '99
Robert Sinskey. The story was that it was part of a planned tasting
dinner of Sinskey wines and was a library offering. Great wine. Very
dark, full-flavors, what I call a Burgundian style.
The "experience" however was the wine list. It was offered on a tablet
computer running Android. Choose your style (red/white/rose/bubbly),
varietal, country or region, winery, vintage, price range for sort
filters. Get the list of available wines (my initial sort on US pinot
noirs revealed 800 wines in stock!) You can check wines of interest
and create your own short list for refining your choice.
A great idea, but not quite mature in execution. The database stalled
on the first tablet I was given. Then I was frustrated by the lack of
flexibility to browse wider options. Talking with the sommelier he
agreed with me that it could be off-putting for someone unfamiliar
with wines. It restricted the ability to discover new varietals or
regions and was cumbersome. He freely admitted that most of his
regular customers prefer the familiar paper wine list for ease of use.
But it may be a coming trend.
- posted 8 years ago