I walked into this sleek American gastropub in the W Hotel with a chip on my shoulder. I’d seen the press materials with a stylized photograph of sliders, a trend I would like to see vanish, and all-too-abused buzzwords such as “small plates,” “familiar comfort foods,” and “hand-crafted cocktails.” An hour and a half later, I emerged without the chip and with a belly full of good food. The chef de cuisine is Rick Graff, the former sous chef at Craft. The menu is gourmet bar food and includes a clever roasted radish toast. Radishes are caramelized in honey brown butter, finished with aged balsamic vinegar, and placed bruschetta style on toast. Graff also includes a modern Welsh rarebit. The sauce—made from sharp cheddar and Guinness stout, and spread over two slices of toasted, farm-style sourdough bread—is almost invisible beneath the two small quail eggs. Each bite is deliciously rich and slightly bitter. There is nothing classic in Graff’s Caesar salad. It’s a delightful concoction of kale tossed in a lemon dressing with strips of boiled lemon peel and a hint of Parmesan and anchovy; a breaded, six-minute egg sits on top. Spicy pork sausage from Jimmy’s Food Store served with green lentils and sautéed Swiss chard makes a hearty meal. And every visit here should end with the sinfully delicious house-made stout beer ice cream sundae with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, meringue chocolate kisses, and crumbles of pretzel streusel. The front of the Craft dining room has been reconfigured with communal tables and a lovely slate bar. The back of the space is basically the same refined design left by Craft. I always felt Craft was a great restaurant for Dallas but bad for the W. Cook Hall is a great restaurant for Dallas and a perfect fit for the W.
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