Can this popular Knox-Henderson restaurant survive the departure of its founding chef, Nick Badovinus? It’s hard to imagine. Hibiscus mirrored Badovinus’ lust for life and bold flavors, and area foodies ate up his obscenely huge portions with knife, fork, and any utensil they could get their hands on. Enter David McMillan as new corporate chef for Consilient Restaurants, the parent company that owns Hibiscus. McMillan, the former executive chef at Nana and his recently closed 62 Main, is a food critic’s darling, and though his culinary touch is a bit more restrained than Badovinus’, his talent has never been in question. It’s the pairing of McMillan and Hibiscus that can be examined, however. On a recent visit, the restaurant was as packed and raucous as ever. We tried both old and new dishes and found the experience a bit spotty. As always, baked Dungeness crab dip was creamy, rich perfection. A seasonal assortment of mushrooms with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parma ham, and fresh lemon and a classic baby wedge salad were savory winners as well. It’s the entrees that left us hot and cold. Roasted lobster cornucopia was overly aggressive, the sweet meat done in by a bombardment of fennel, sweet and sour tomatoes, cherry peppers, and garlic. Scotty G’s prime short rib was overly flabby and listless despite the Zinfandel-ginger sauce. Only the simple chicken with sage pan jus and fried pancetta satisfied. Even the dependable mac-n-cheese—one we once deemed the best in Dallas—was disappointing, the pasta undercooked and the sauce runny. Hibiscus’ infamous chocolate cake was sugary solace as always. Though the visit was bumpy, we respect McMillan too much to believe these wrongs won’t be righted. We’ll be watching.

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