Since my last supper at Abacus a couple of years ago, I’ve eaten in every new-fandangled concept that’s come into town. When I returned to sample chef-owner Kent Rathbun and chef du cuisine Tre Wilcox’s menu, I didn’t expect to be overly impressed. Sure they’ve won a lot of stars and awards, but since Abacus’ splashy opening in 1999, the Dallas dining scene has been inundated with upscale restaurants. Well, I was not just impressed, I was floored. The dining room is still sophisticated and stunning, the service is professional and seamless, and the food is innovative without being too gimmicky. (Well, the lobster shooters are a bit showy, but they sell like crazy.) Despite a party of 45 in the private dining room, our meal was evenly paced, and the rest of the dining room was moving like a well-oiled engine. Our (devilishly handsome) waiter guided our party of four to a clean and racy Miner, Simpson Vineyard, Viognier from California. Sound fancy? It is, but the current “it” wine was only $45. It was perfect with our starters, which included a tomato and creamy mozzarella plate, and a salad of chicory, hearts of palm, and apple smoked bacon topped with crumbles of boisterous blue cheese. On to the global entrees. Seabass covered with a delicate lobster sauce, grilled red snapper, pork tenderloin, and a lovely bone-in ribeye. McWineguy, our studly server, suggested a Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec for the carnivores. Without looking at the price, we agreed. When the bill came, we noted with pleasure the $52 price tag. The final tally for four that included four small plates, four large plates, two bottles of wine, three desserts, and two doggy bags came to a little over $400. Given the astronomical rise in restaurant prices that is going on in Dallas, I call that a handsome bargain.

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