WHY THE PYRAMID: Every restaurant would do well to hire a hostess with a thick Eastern European accent, at least the one at The Fairmont Hotel’s Pyramid Restaurant. “Hello, hello, welcome back,” says my exotic long-lost friend. “Alone today? Where are your friends? They’re not so friendly today, hmmm? No worries. We’ll get you a newspaper.” She says it all with a wink, escorting me to a curvy banquette in dusty eggplant velvet. “Best seat in the house, yes?” I nod in agreement and settle in for what I’ve discovered to be the most effortless lunch in downtown Dallas.

Remodeled in 2008, the Pyramid has been transformed from stuffy grand dame (begone, ice swan sculptures!) into a suave, confident  room. It doesn’t feel clinical nor overwrought like some hotel restaurants; the lighting is warm, the butter and gold tones soothing, and the noise level polite but never church-like. The Pyramid feels like you’ve slipped on a favorite shoe. In this case, a suede Ferragamo loafer: stylish yet comfy.

WHAT TO EAT: Much of this elegant familiarity comes from executive chef J.W. Foster. His fresh market cuisine takes the locavore movement to a new level: Foster’s 3,000-square-foot rooftop garden at the Fairmont produces many of the vegetables and herbs used in his culinary creations. They’re a savory and—here’s that word again—familiar lot that encourages repeat dining. 

Bizlunch_2 Chef J.W. Foster photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Start with Foster’s deconstructed Caesar salad. His dressing won Dallas’ 2009 Caesar Salad Competition and his interpretation of the classic includes mild white anchovies and polenta croutons. Other starters such as tortilla soup—exhibiting a nice kick of roasted jalapeños—and cornmeal-chili spiced calamari might not seem adventurous but, in Foster’s talented hands, I was reminded why these are old favorites. The same can be said for his chili spit-roasted chicken. This could be my new favorite bird in Dallas: moist meat with crackling, well-seasoned skin moored in a pool of rich, musky mole sauce. Rustic and polished, it felt like home. So do many of the Pyramid’s lunch offerings: a BLT with house-cured pancetta and lemon-thyme aioli, a venison burger with chipotle-cranberry chutney, and a veggie pizza, rarely a favorite but here a revelation featuring fig jam, feta, spinach, and a white balsamic-honey drizzle.

“You must have dessert,” the hostess demands. Then dessert it shall be: a Texas honey and pecan tartlet with shortbread crust and pecan brittle ice cream. Another espresso and I’m tempted to linger, slipping further into my cozy, velvet perch. But work waits for no one, and my foreign friend has my jacket waiting for me as I approach the exit. I shrug it on and bid goodbye as I hear her saying, “We’ll see you soon. Next time, you try the boar bratwurst. Perhaps tomorrow?”

Get contact information for The Pyramid.