Specialty of the House
Since the elevation of wine to "in" status, eager freshmen constantly badger me with the question: "Which wine do I order with which dish at which restaurant?" The purpose of this article is to make you an instant expert.
I’ve taken some of the better restaurants in town and matched their specialties of the house with a couple of wine recommendations. By no means take my word as gospel. Let your own taste buds, the recommendations of the house sommelier and your wallet be your guides.
Before you venture out, there’s some good news and some bad news you should know about the state of wine in Dallas restaurants. First, the good news. In recent years, the inventories and lists in Dallas restaurants have improved dramatically in breadth and sophistication. So have the recommendations offered by the service. Gone (or at least going) are the days when a waiter would simply recommend, "Well, rose goes with everything."
Now the bad news. There is still too much chilled red wine and tepid white wine being served to Dallas diners. For the record (and you might as well be prepared to remind your waiter of this), red wine should be room temperature and white should be chilled. Too, most restaurants still lack a good choice of half-bottles.
Last, but not least, too many wine stewards still serve wine too slowly.
The wine should be served before the appropriate food course. I mean, who needs a rich Burgundy with dessert? Again, don’t stand for it.
Now, more good news - a few suggestions to enhance your dining pleasure:
House specialty: Mignons of Beef Arthur.
Wine: California wines only here. The house recommends Oak-ville Zinfandel ($10), but I prefer Freemark Abbey-Pinot Noir ($12), a fuller, richer red wine. Arthur’s has a rather small inventory, caused by a dearth of top California wine (the natives out there snap up the good stuff before it gets to us) and a lack of storage space.
Wine: Prime rib like this deserves a great Burgundy, Chamber-tin Clos de Beze ($26). A solid, thorough wine list, but service is sometimes slow.
Wine: The house recommends Vin Rosé ($6.25 to $9.50), but I’d go with a bottle of Piesporter ($6.50), a light, clean wine, and request that it be chilled only slightly. Wine service is good, and an inventory of more than 200 cases offers one of the best selections of mature, ready-to-drink clarets in town. Prices are high.
Coq Au Vin.
Wine: Owner-chef Jean Bit recommends a light Burgundy,Comtes de Chartogne ($8.50), and I heartily agree. Excellent wine handling by Mrs. Monique Bit and Claude, the maitre d’. A respectable inventory of 80 cases of good, honest wine.
The management enthusiastically claims every dish a "specialty"; my personal favorite is the rack of New Zealand lamb.
Wine: A good match for the lamb is a red Bordeaux, a Chateau Talbot at $18 if you’re feeling spend-thrifty, or a pleasant Chateau Vieux d’ Arthus at $8. A small wine list and an even smaller inventory. Wines handled and served amateurishly.
EWALD’S House specialty: Veal.
Wine: A dry German white ($4.50 to $25) or a crisp Swiss Dole is ideal for this type cuisine. Stock on hand is rather spare, though a new wine list is in the works. The wine is well-handled.
Wine: A smooth, cool Soave ($5.50) is fine, but with Italian food, I prefer a strong, full, red like Barolo ($8.50), even though the name is misspelled on the wine list. A modest, but suitable list, handled by Dallas’ only female sommelier, who handles a corkscrew well, but pours too much in the glass.
Veal with mushroom and artichoke heads.
Wine: Chassagne-Montrachet, a steely dry, but rich wine ($15). Be sure to order a recent vintage. If you’re looking for something easier on the pocketbook, try Frascati ($6), a favorite along Rome’s Via Veneto. A well-conceived wine list, but a relatively small stock of wine on hand. A good sommelier is hard to find and even more difficult to keep, so even at Mario’s, a very wine-conscious restaurant, wine service has its ups and downs.
THE OLD WARSAW
Rack of lamb.
Wine: My choice last time was Gruad Larose, 1964 ($20). It tasted rich and mellow, and still fruity. Let Stan Slawik and your wallet be the guide. A fine wine list and extensive inventory is presided over by Kent Rise, who decants well when he slows down.
Wine: If you’re lucky, Madame Patry herself will suggest and serve the wine. Try a big Burgundy ($18 to $26), but be sure to take the older vintage of the two recommended. Over 110 cases are stored on the premises, and not all of it is listed, so it pays to ask.
Wine: You don’t have to stickreligiously to Paulliac with pheasant. The Pyramid Room has a fineselection of great red Bordeaux atgreat prices. Silvano is one of thefinest sommeliers in town. An excellent list and inventory.