It’s not as if Dragonfly, the restaurant in residence at boutique Hotel ZaZa, didn’t already have cachet. Between the pool bar, the sultry décor, the random celebri-diner, and the desirable Uptown address, Dragonfly has been a hipster hangout from day one.
And yet, the arrival of chef Marc Cassel has nudged its kooky-coolness factor a notch higher. A recent Saturday night, for example, saw the usual Oklahoma studs and SMU pretties. But there was also a freaky gang at the bar playing some kind of scavenger game. Or was it a costume party? One of the guys wore a pair of fuzzy bunny ears.

You could see whimsy in the food, too. Cassel brings a blend of boyishness and savvy that sets the stage for some smart and playful dining. His wedge salad started with a half head of baby iceberg lettuce—so cute—topped with a righteous chunk of spider crab and a spoon of creamy Louis dressing. Pistachio-crusted mozzarella was pan-seared, strewn with micro-greens, and drizzled with Minus-8 vinegar gastrique—fancy stuff brewed in Canada. Strips of candied preserved lemon delivered bright, sweet jolts.

Dragonfly’s signature ginger beef remains on the menu, right next to Cassel’s own signature Sunday chicken, with homey confit hash and sage gravy. The real action lies with the nightly specials, which come and go. If you’re not entranced by the funky remake of moussaka, with sloppy chunks of eggplant in place of the traditional elegant sheets, there’s something else tomorrow. Desserts such as the PBJ brought back the mischief, and a sly thing it was: a peanut butter bread pudding with strawberry ice cream.

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