Food and Spirits DINING OUT

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The Waiting Game: Service With More Than A Smile



The amazing thing about waiters and waitresses is that they don’t crack more often. Consider their plight. Beset by hungry, impatient patrons (who, solely by virtue of their sitting and paying position, feel some lordly authority over those who serve their table), a waiter or waitress must get all the right foods to the right people in the right amount of time. And they must deal in pleasant manner with the customer’s every additional whim: “Would you get me a pack of Virginia Slims Menthol, dear?” “There’s hardly any ice in our water, son.” “We need some more butter for our crackers, sweetheart.” That they almost always manage to deal with even the most obnoxious patron without so much as even a mild retort is almost frightening. How can they be so nice?

But in the last couple of months, we’ve been reassured as to the humanness of the breed by a series of touching incidents.

It began in Raphael’s when our waiter, in an efficient, unemotional way, asked us if we would like any nachos before our meal. There was clearly no language barrier. We said, “Yes, we’ll have an order of bean and cheese nachos.” About ten minutes later, he returned with the main courses.

“Urn, we still haven’t had our nachos yet,” we pointed out quietly.

The waiter’s dark eyes flashed. “You said you didn’t want any nachos,” he snapped suddenly.

Startled, we mumbled “Uh, yes, we ordered the bean and cheese kind.”

“No you didn’t.”

We looked at each other hesitantly. “Um, yes we did.”

“No. No. You said no nachos.”

“Oh. Well, we’d like an order of bean and cheese nachos.”

Whereupon his hands flew into the air and he spouted a loud phrase in Spanish which, we think, had something to do with our sanitary habits.

Nachos were the cause of the next incident a few days after. At the bar of Andrew’s, we ordered, again, the bean and cheese version. “With extra jalapen-os,” added the insatiable jalapeno freak in our group. “Oh, you don’t have to worry,” said the bartender. “These nachos come with tons of jalapenos. I can’t even believe how many jalapenos they put on them.” Great, we thought. When he later set the plate of nachos down we looked at each other quizzically. There was one small jalapeno slice on each nacho. We called him over. “Um,” we stuttered, “the jalapeno lady here doesn’t think there are, uh, really any extra jalapenos on these.”

“You want more?” he demanded, glaring.

“Well, if it’s not any trouble,” said the jalapeno lady, “I’d like some more. If it’s not any trouble.”

He shot back a silent half-smile that clearly said one thing: “Yes, it would be a great deal of trouble.” He never returned.

Some waiters energetically extol the virtues of their products. At Daddy’s Money, we recently encountered the epitome of the menu salesman. All smiles, he introduced himself: “Hi, I’m Scotty…” We began ordering.

“I’ll have the sirloin strip, medium rare…”

“Oh. That’s great,” Scotty gushed. “A great cut of meat. That’s what I always get here.”

“…and I’ll have the roquefort on the salad…”

“Oh, you’ll really like the roquefort. It’s homemade. It’s really good.”

“…and how are these fried mushrooms prepared?”

“Oh, they’re great. They’re deep-fried in like a batter, you know. They’re great. 1 could eat a billion of those things.”

“…and we’ll have a bottle of the St. Emilion.”

“Oh, great choice. That’s what I would have recommended. You’ll really like it.”

Scotty returned a few minutes later. “Here’s your wine,” he sang. “You’re gonna love this.” Opening the bottle, Scotty broke the cork. “Damn it,” he blurted vehemently. “Second damn cork tonight. I’ll get you another one. Stupid bottles. Damn it.”

Another waiter, on the other hand, insisted on discouraging us from certain i-tems. At I1 Sorrento, we inquired about their soup. “Well, we have minestrone,” said our waiter, “but I wouldn’t recommend it. You wouldn’t like it.” One of our group was one who simply can’t eat a meal without soup, so he ordered minestrone. “Well, all right,” huffed the waiter. Another at our table ordered fettucine. “If it’s pasta you want,” said the waiter, “you really should have the cannelloni. Not the fettucine.” But her heart was set on fettucine so she ordered fettucine. “Well. My. All right,” puffed the waiter. Another ordered veal Marsala. “If you want veal, sir, I would suggest you order the veal Francese, not the Marsala.” Not caring for lemon flavor, he stuck with the Marsala. “Well, all right then,” hissed the waiter. “It’s your dinner.”

Occasionally there is just a communication problem. A few days later, at The Old House on Mockingbird, we were again inquiring about soups. Our waiter was a young, effervescent type, enormously friendly and anxious to please. “We have French onion soup, black bean soup, and ga(mumble).” The last word was almost inaudible and completely unintelligible. “What was that third soup?” we asked. “Gabas(mumble),” he said, losing his smile. “Pardon?” “Gabaspa . . . gasabcha … ga …” “Ah,” we said,”gazpacho.” “Yeah, that’s it,” he groaned, his smile erased. “Shoot,” he said, kicking at the table, “I’ve been working on that all day.”

A few days later we were having breakfast at a coffee shop with a friend who regularly starts his day with a bacon sandwich. The waitress arrived and the scene that followed was shades of Five Easy Pieces, Jack Nicholson, chicken salad sequence .”I’ll have a bacon sandwich,’’ said our friend. “Oh, you mean a BLT,” said the waitress. “No,” said our friend, who hates tomatoes, “just a bacon sandwich. Bacon, lettuce, and mayonnaise. No tomatoes.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” said the waitress.”Wedon’t have those.” “Okay,” said our friend, “make it a BLT.” We asked him why he hadn’t pressed his case. “I’ve already tried,” he shrugged. “This is the third time this week.”

A few nights later, a friend was eating at The Yolk’s On You, a late night restaurant, when, at the early hour of 10:30, the meal barely half-finished, the waitress slapped the check on the table.

“Would you go ahead and pay now,” she said.

“But we’re not finished.” said our friend.

“Well, would you pay now anyway,” she insisted.

“But why?”

“Because I wanna go home.”

“Well, okay. I’ll pay you now. But I’m not real happy about it.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “You’ll get over it.”

Then a few nights ago, we were eating at Kirby’s. Our waitress was a gruff-voiced woman, very efficient, obviously a seasoned veteran here. One of our party asked for some steak sauce. “Yeah,” she said. “I’ll get you some steak sauce. If you want to ruin a perfectly good steak.” We were finishing our meal, talking about an acquaintance who had spent $500 for a pair of cufflinks. Our waitress, who was clearing some things from the table, couldn’t stand it. “Five hundred dollars for a pair of damn cufflinks?” she burst out. “That’s nuts. All they do is hold your shirt together. He oughta just bought a shirt with some damn buttons on it.”

She, like all the others, got a good tip. 15% for standard service. Plus 5% for honest emotion. Plus 5% for entertainment. Keep up the good work.

David Bauer

Recipe



Compliments of the House



A little over a year ago, Jean Bit introduced a new appetizer to his Chablis restaurant. His rillettes, served complimentary with dinner, have the unique twist of poultry (chicken, duck, or goose) instead of the pork used in the classic recipe. Jean, in his most charming English, explains, “I believe duck is giving a different type of flavor.” His customers are believers, too. “At first they don’t know what it is. Then they try it, and they like it very much.” Jean points out further that since all dinners are prepared to order at the Chablis, the rillettes have become “a thing to play with” in the intervening time. It’s a toy to behold.



Rillettes (The classic recipe)



2 lbs. boned Boston butt or pork breast

1 lb. fresh pork fat or lard

1 large Bermuda onion, chopped

1 bay leaf (laurel)

pinch thyme

1/2 bottle dry white wine

1-2 c. water



Seasoning per Pound of Meat

(more or less – to taste)



1 oz. salt

1/4 oz. ground black pepper

1/4 oz. mild pork seasoning



Remove skin from fat. Cut the meat and fat into half-inch cubes or grind to size of chili meat. Put all ingredients in a large pan, mix well and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is evaporated and the fat “sings.” Cool and puree in blender. Refrigerate until very stiff. Pack in a serving dish and imprint design on top with a butter print or fork.

Duckfat may be substituted for the pork fat or lard, in which case use poultry seasoning in place of pork seasoning. Makes approximately 15 two oz. servings.

Newcomers



Life in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant is about as stable as the San Andreas Fault. It’s traditionally a game of musical chefs – a ritual of coaxing, luring, stealing a good chef out of one restaurant and into another. And then to another. Sometimes there are family feuds. Sometimes screams and squabbles. And such intrigue. Witness for example, the case of Hunan, a restaurant which opened only a year ago on Greenville Avenue with a cuisine (Hunan-style) new to Dallas. It was a hit. The behind-the-scenes details are not fully known (inscrutable, remember), but within months, some of the staff were heading West (to Bachman Lake) where they opened a new restaurant called Chinese Pavilion featuring (surprise) Hunan-style cuisine – and a menu identical to Hunan. Now, some of that staff has migrated back east on Northwest Highway and opened another new restaurant called Central China. Featuring Hunan-style cuisine. On a city-wide scale, and in a booming market like Dallas, such shenanigans have meant an explosion of Chinese restaurants in the past several months. Here are three of the best.



Central China. “We dare not say we have got the best Chinese foods and services in Dallas . . . but we try it hard.” reads the menu at Central China with Oriental self-deprecation. Perhaps not, but when things are going right, this large new restaurant is certainly a contender. To begin with, the place is elegant – crystal chandeliers, teak paneling, embossed wallpaper, inlaid Chinese screens (though, like its cousin. Chinese Pavilion, the Dmitri Vail portraits lend a discordant note). The menu too is large and elegant, with most of China represented. Don’t expect superb Mandarin or Cantonese dishes here: the traditional standbys, from moo goo gai pan to sweet and sour pork, are pretty dull, though passable. But the Hunan-Szechuan dishes, with the characteristic red peppers and hot beans, are delicious.

Try the Hunan beef (a filet of beef in hot sauce garnished with fresh watercress) or the shredded beef Szechuan style (with red peppers and tiny slivers of carrot and Chinese vegetables) or the spicy, crispy whole fish (deep fried and coated with Hunan hot sauce – wonderful). Champagne chicken or shrimp with crisp rice offer relief from the heat, if needed. The luncheon specials are well-prepared, ample, varied, and Chinese – only three American dishes on the menu, which is plenty. Central China doesn’t (yet) equal its mother restaurant, Hunan, which probably is the best in town, but it’s not far off. And, maybe the most attractive and distinctive feature of all, dinner is served until 4 a.m. At last, a Dallas first – late night Chinese food. (330 Medallion Center, E Northwest Hwy /363-7428/ Daily 11:30 a.m.-4 a.m. except Sun till 10 p.m. / Reservations / MC, BA, AE/ $$)



Chu’s. Now that Addison allows a civilized drink or two before dinner, we doubtless will see a flurry of new restaurants in this North Dallas oasis. A pioneer (and yet another spin-off restaurant) is Chu’s, a by-product of South China restaurant – and better. Chu’s belies its shopping center location with a restful and unassuming decor, and some of the best Mandarin cuisine around, especially at dinner. Soups and appetizers let you know what you’re in for: egg flower soup full of fresh vegetables, egg drop soup with kernels of new corn, flaky crisp egg rolls, tender ribs, terrific shrimp toast heaped with a mound of shrimp. And the unusual sizzling rice soup is a greater gift from China than gunpowder. The entrees are most generous. Pancakes for the moo shi pork are large and light. Shrimp dishes contain the mammoth variety: these giants are perfectly cooked for the sweet and sour shrimp, though the sauce itself is overly sweet and thick – dessert too early. It’s hard to know what to do with the house special shrimp – huge, charcoaled, and served still in the shell in a messy red barbecue sauce. But the combination vegetables, the real test of a Chinese restaurant, were pristine fresh and crisp. At lunch Chu’s has a hodge-podge menu that buckles under to American tastes – chicken fried steak, roast beef, spinach crepes, even chili. Of the two Chinese dishes available each day in rotation, the lemon chicken is excellent, the sweet and sour pork is not. Unless you work at the Addi-son State Bank, wait for dinner. (15080 Beltline at Inwood, Addison/387-1776/ Mon-Thur 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri till 10 p.m.. Sat 5-10 p.m., closed Sun l ReservationsI BA.MA,AEI$$)

Ho Ho. “Ho” means “good” in Chinese, and Ho Ho is. A small, warm, pleasant place with attentive service and food cooked with finesse and independence – an egg roll flavored with anise, for example. Generosity abounds. The san shien soup, already bursting out of the bowl with beef, chicken, shrimp, snow peas, crisp rice, and ginger slices, came to the table with extra servings. One house specialty, mixed meat and vegetables, was good but a little oily, and the chicken almond could have been livened up. But the Mandarin shrimp, big chunks of shrimp in a very spicy red pepper sauce with ginger and green onion is alone worth a visit to Ho Ho. At lunchtime, a large banner out front announces an “all you can eat” special, which sounds like a bargain at $1.65. But then how much barbecued pork chow mein can you eat, after all? Not much. The other two chow mein dishes on the lunch special indicate that Ho Ho has perhaps underestimated the Dallas clientele, which has progressed beyond the chop suey-chow mein level, and doesn’t need to be cooked down to. And the ploy is unnecessary – the ambitious specialties here say a lot more than endless chow mein. (341 Hillside Village, Mockingbird at Abrams /826-0980/ Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Tue-Thur 5-10, Sat noon-11. Sun noon-10; closed Mon /Re-servations/MC.BA .AE/SS)

A la Carte

Last month in this column we reported on the State Dish of Texas controversy, citing chili and barbecue as the leading contenders, and suggesting a visit to Tol-bert’s Chili Parlor to help with your own input to the legislative process. Then, on April 27, in the Texas House of Representatives, amidst much grandiloquence about the “edibility gap,” the representatives voted 70-36 to adopt chili as our official State Dish. There was some talk in behalf of gumbo and some for chittlin’s, but apparently barbecue was not even recognized. This seems to be gross negligence on somebody’s part.

“It’s a shame,” says T.D. Dickey of Dickey’s Barbeque Pit. “Texas and barbecue just go together. Course, in the winter we sell homemade chili so I guess I’m happy either way. But barbecue’s my lifeblood. I’d have to vote barbecue. Make that Dickey’s barbecue.”

Dickey’s is a classic Texas family barbecue house. Travis D. Dickey and his wife Ollie started their place in 1941 at what is now the comer of Central Expressway and Henderson, selling bbq sandwiches for 15¢. Dickey descendants, including son T.D., now oversee the operation, still homey the way a pit ought to be. The staff talks barbecue talk (“What else can we get for ya, podnuh?”), the signs boast “tator salad” and the jalapenos are labeled “Mexican strawberries,” and the walls are adorned with steer horns and witticisms (“Liberal credit extended to those over 80 when accompanied by their parents”).

But it’s the barbecue that counts. “We buy more brisket than anyone in the free world,” says T.D. “28,000 pounds a week. And with barbecue, it’s the meat, not the sauce, that matters. We cook it in hickory wood pits – nothing artificial, no gas – and cook it for 16 to 18 hours. Depends on the cut. You know when it’s done by sticking a fork in it. But you got to have the feel.”

Barbecue may be their lifeblood, but it’s another item that may be the star of their show. “Hot Beans.” A dish of big, juicy pinto beans laced with jalapenos. They’re so good, in fact, that someone’s likely to vote them the State Side Dish of Texas. (4610 N. Central Expressway at Henderson/823-0240/ Mon-Sat 11 a.m. -8 p.m.)

Dining Directory

These restaurants represent the best in Dallas dining. It is implicit then, that we recommend all of them highly.

These listings are revised and supplemented periodically. Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatmade anonymously to avoid preferential treatment. Inclusion in this directory has nothing whatever to do with paid advertising.



The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They are intended only to indicate a general price range.

$ – Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.

$$ – Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.

$$$ – Expensive. You can expect to spend more than $10 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.

$$$$ – Very expensive.

Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants have full bar facilities.

Credit card notations: MC – Master Charge/BA – Bank Americard/AE – American Express/DC – Diner’s Club/CB – Carte Blanche/”AII Credit Cards” indicates that all the above are accepted.

Continental



Arthur’s. Once a rustic steakhouse, now a shimmering beef palace. Steak remains the pillar of the operation, but other options abound: lamb chops, veal chops, and calf’s liver to name a few favorites. American wines only – an intriguing and imaginative touch. Warm and classy with one of Dallas’ best bars. Live entertainment. (1000 Campbell Centre/361-8833/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards. $$$)

Bagatelle. The charm of this lovely but low-key restaurant stems directly from its gracious owner/ host. Veal has always been the specialty of the house – try the veal escalopes “Vieux Chalet.” The shrimp du chef (in a garlic sauce) is a delight for starters. A cozy bar with good jazz. Nice Sunday brunch. The Plaza Cafe is a more casual offshoot of the same kitchen, featuring a fountainside patio tor outdoor dining from a varied light-continental menu. (One Energy Square. Greenville at University/ 692-8224/ Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30: Sun brunch 10:30-2 Bagatelle dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11. bar till 11:30; Plaza dinner: Sun-Thur 6-12, Fri & Sat till 1/ Reservations / MC, BA,AE,DC/$$-$$$)

The Balcony/ Fort Worth. It’s not often that you find food like this at prices like this – a bargain in French cuisine. A nicely varied menu of entrees, including a delicious trout amandine. An odd but tasty touch: miniature egg rolls served gratis. Its not without fault – the salads tend to be limp and the soups are suspect. A pleasant country-resort feeling – easy-going but gracious. (6100 Camp Bowie/ (817)713-3719/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2. Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10. Fri & Sat 10:30; closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)

Le Bistro. A delightful place (an old two story house redone with a gracious touch and without pretension), but one that has never quite realized its potential as a purveyor of provincial French cuisine. Recently, though, there have been changes in management and kitchen staff (along with further remodel ing), so perhaps Le Bistro wilI finally find its groove. Because when they’re on, they’re excellent. And the desserts are always a treat – try the cold almond souffle. (3716 Bowser, just off Oak Lawn/528-4181 ITue-Sun 6-10 p.m., except Fri & Sat till 11 p.m., closed Mon/Reservationsl MC,BA,AE/$$$)

e Bistro / Fort Worth. Authentic French cooking in a restaurant low in atmosphere but high in personal care. Papa Henri executes with talent his own varied and distinctive menu (dinner selection ranges from Eggs Benedict to frog legs Provencale to medallions of veal; at lunch, try his crepes) and daughter Michelle serves it up with unassuming charm. Extensive wine list. (No relation to Le Bistro in Dallas.) (3322 Camp Bowie/ (817)332-5102/ Brunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2, Dinner: Tue-Sat 5:30- 9:30/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)

Brasserie. The most elegant “coffee shop” in town. In the wee hours of the morning (they’re open 24 hours), stop by to treat yourself to Dallas’ best Eggs Benedict – sprinkled with truffles (at 3 a.m. they bother?), or a sandwich of sirloin on crisp, buttery French bread. During the other hours, especially lunch, the tare is mostly overpriced and undistinguished. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Ak-ard 748-5454 24 hours, seven days a week/No reservations MC,BA,AB,DC/$$)

Calluaud. One of Dallas’ most civilized restaurants. Set in a small frame house, with a casual yet intimate atmosphere complemented by consistently fine French foods. Superb soups and excellent omelettes: and desserts not to be missed: simple and wonderful fruit tarts (try the apple) and exquisite profiteroles. The imaginative dinner menu changes frequently but has provided such items as a perfectly prepared fresh salmon steak and roast pork in a prune sauce. Prices are a bargain for the quality. It’s easy to gel hooked on this place. (2917 Fairmount oft Cedar Springs 742-8525’ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30. Sat till 11. closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$$)

Carriage House/ Fort Worth. One of the oldest names in Fort Worth dining, the Carriage House is not the wonder it once was. but it still has its moments. Its a meal of ups and downs: fine Old-plantation-style service but in a drab setting, excellent appetizers (have their splendid smoked salmon) but miserable soups; a fine Chateaubriand (beef dishes are their specialty) but served with canned peas and carrots (5236 Camp Bowie. (817)732-2873/ Lunch: Sun-Fri 11-2; Dinner Daily 6-11/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$$)

Chablis. An odd little French restaurant, difficult to to put your finger on – the style is neither elegant nor quaint. But the food, while in some instances overpriced, is decidedly good. At dinner, a tasty complimentary rillettes, a fine pepper steak, and a suotly glazed roast duckling are highlights. Lunch leans to lighter regional specialties and sandwiches. Light flakey bread (with a very “French” flavor) and the sweetest, richest chocolate mousse in town. (120 Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/522-09101 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight; closed Sun/Reservations on weekendslMC,BA.AE,DCI$$$)

Chateaubriand. A long-time Dallas fixture whose popularity survives in spite of a loud clash of styles including a glossy, almost garish, French provincial dining room with marble statues and chandeliers. The international menu sweeps from “Greek Veal” to “Pepper Steak – Hawaiian Style ” Many steaks and shellfish. Bargain daily hot luncheon specials. (3515 McKinney/ 741-1223/ Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m-midnight/ Reservations, All credit cards/$$$)

The Chimney. A Swiss/Austrian style characterizes this kitchen and gives this restaurant some special appeal. The Naturschnitzel is a fine veal dish, as is the veal Zurich. For a twist, try the venison tourne-dos. Lunch is still served in the tearoom tradition that originally established The Chimney. The dining room is American colonial in motif – handsome but a bit lifeless. (Willowcreek, 9739 N Cen Expwy at Walnut Hill/369-6466/Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2; Dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30/Sun brunch 11-2/Reservations/MC,AE.DC/$$S)

Ewald’s. An inspired collection of veal dishes (Veal “Palm Beach” with Westphalian ham, hearts of palm, and béarnaise sauce) have given Ewald his loyal following. But he also serves a cognac-flamed pepper steak that ranks with the best in town A smattering of other continental dishes (with a Swiss flavor) and a limited seafood selection. A small, plain – in fact bland – dining room (5415 W Lovers Ln/357-1622/Mon-Fri 6-10 30. Sat 6-11/Reservations/MC,BA/$$$)

The Grape. Cozy, congenial, and crowded. The Grape delights its loyal tans with a wonderful array of cheeses from which you create your own elegant cheese board combinations. A daily menu of light entrees, plus lovely omelettes and great soups – the fresh mushroom has a reputation of its own. A diverse and interesting wine selection An old and unassuming little place. (2808 Greenville Ave/823-0133/Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Tue-Sun, 6-10:30, open later on Fri & Sat for wine and cheese only/No reservations/No credit cards/$$)

Marcel’s. Marcel is a charming host in the classic French tradition, it’s that French feeling that has made this a long-popular restaurant That and a complete table d’hote dinner for only $6.50 – not the finest French cuisine in the city but certainly the best priced Beef Wellington is the house specialty, but the real star may be the coq au vin. Relaxed, quiet dining. (5721 W Lovers Ln/358-2103/Sun-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat till midnight. Closed Mon/Reservations/MC,BA,AE,DC/$$)



D REVISITS

Old Warsaw. The Old Warsaw recently closed lor a while to remodel – and perhaps to reevaluate. For the past year or so. this landmark restaurant (one of the oldest names in Dallas dining) has been gradually losing favor – prices were rising while auality was dropping. The facelift is not stunning, but it is effective They have re-linauished the gilded look for a softer, warmer touch; the old regal wallpaper, for example, has been replaced by flowery fabric The menu, too, is new, and now provides one of the most extensive (too extensive7) selections of French haute cuisine in the city. So extensive, in fact, that it is difficult to determine yet how consistently it can be executed But recent visits found these high-hghts. an impressive selection of cold hors d’oeuvres (for a simple but interesting beginning, try the pate of duck), a very good Creme de Cresson (a hot puree of watercress), a nice Boston lettuce dinner salad, and a Rock Cornish Hen in an unusual sauce of grapes and cassis. Best of all was the Cote deVeau, a veal chop in a splendid white wine sauce with mushrooms, onions, and carrots – a beautiful chop of the most tender veal imaginable. The facelift did not include prices, which are still high, though they do offer a table d’hote dinner (changing daily) for $16 Another feature of the menu, which we’ve not yet sampled but will, is a nightly selection of “Nouvelle Cuisine.” the reduced-calorie style of haute cuisine made popular by Paul Bocuse Service was very friendly, free of that haughty edge that sometimes appeared here in the past It seems that the “new Old Warsaw ” is off to a good start – we hope it lasts (2510 Maple/528-0032/ Daily 6-11, Sat till midnightlReservations/MC.BA.AE. DC/$$$$)

Mr. Peppe. Some say it’s the best French restaurant in the city. Others cite inconsistencies and argue. Regardless, there is a friendly intimacy and refreshing informality at work here – a warm, dark, and cozy setting. Wonderful rack of lamb, superb pepper steak. And the pastries – owner/chef Albert’s specialties – are almost too good to be true. (5617 W Lovers Ln/ 352-5976/ Mon-Sat 6-10/ Reservations/ MC.BA.AE.DC/ $$$)

Old Swiss House/Fort Worth. Many claim that this is Fort Worth’s finest. Certainly a Fort Worth favorite – the Kaufmann family has been serving fine continental cuisine here for many years. Delightful veal dishes (the St. Moritz is rich and satisfying) and a daily fresh seafood special. Great little complimentary cheese rolls and a lovely Boston lettuce dinner salad. Not a particularly distinctive place, more comfortable than classy. And the service can seem hurried. (5412 Camp Bowie/ (817) 738-8091/ Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat till 10 30. closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC.BA.AE.DC/ $$$)

Patry’s. Another contender in the “best-French-res-taurant-in-town” debate. A family-run operation with an obvious personal touch is one reason. A menu of exquisite hors d’oeuvres is another (have the stuffed leeks in cream sauce). The escalope of veal is the star of the entrees. Neither luxurious nor intimate, but that doesn’t deter a very loyal clientele. (2504 McKinney/748-3754/Tue-Fri 6-11. Sat till 11:30/Reservations/MC.BA.AE.DC /$$$)

Pyramid Room. The classiest dining room in Dallas – an aura of affluence and impeccable taste. A paragon of service – absolutely professional but without pomposity, including a theatrical sommeli-er. A dizzying dinner menu of French specialties of the highest order (lunch is less glamorous). The Grand Marnier dessert souffle is a triumph. In sum, Dallas’ finest restaurant. But even at that, capable of disappointment because it is so expensive. Too expensive. But always a pleasure if you can pay the price. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/ 748-5454/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 6-rnidnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards $$$$)



Italian



Campisi’s. The sign says “Egyptian Restaurant,” but the place is strictly Italian, carried on in the proud family tradition of papa Carlo Campisi, whose portrait still watches over the proceedings. Dallas’ original pizza specialists – and still the best. Or try the platefull of sausage and peppers. Warm (in fact steamy) and wonderful – and always a waiting line to prove it. (56/0 E Mocking-bird’827-0355/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight. Sat till 1 a.m.. Sun noon-midnight No credit cards. Checks accepted ’Reservations for 6 or more $)

lanni’s. An undistinguished shopping center facade an entry lobby tacked with Dallas sports photos and celebrity glossies, and a dining room that’s a vineyard of plastic grapes doesn’t bode well But lanni’s can surprise you. It’s relaxed and unpretentious – a throwback to simpler dining. The waitresses are pros and the kitchen is sound it not stunning. And the homemade Italian sausage is as good as any in town. (2230 Greenville/ 826-6161 / Daily 5:30-11 p.m./Reservations/ MC.AE /$$)

II Sorrento. The best Italian food in Dallas in a mar-velously hokey setting – like a Hollywood designer’s dream of Venice, complete with strolling musicians and bread vendors. The fettucine Alfredo and the tagliatelle – both prepared at your table – are standouts among the pasta dishes; the veal dishes are crowned by the Marsala and piccata. Be warned that even with a reservation you may be forced to bide time waiting in the bar. (8616 Turtle Creek /352-8759, Daily 5:30-11. Sat till midnight’ Reservations except on Fri & Sat/All credit cards/$$$)

Italian Pavilion. This overdone (fancy-tacky) dining room atop the LeBaron Hotel seems an unlikely setting tor tine Italian dining. But fine it can be. Try any of the veal dishes – the saltimbocca in a superb marsala sauce is particularly good. Excellent appetizers and desserts and an interesting Italian wine list combine to make this a place worth a visit (LeBaron Hotel, 1055 Regal Row at Carpenter Fwy 634-8550/ Mon-Sat 6-11 p.m./ Reservations All credit cards/ $$$)

Mario’s. One of few Dallas restaurants to take the sophisticated approach and do so with dignity, with natural elegance A longstanding family success, so there is an air of confidence and pride. Delicious roquefort-based cheese spread (complimentary), dense and delicious French bread loaves, marvelous fried zucchini. Try the “Frittura Delizie Romano,” a batter fried spinach appetizer. Entrees (northern Italian specialties) are stylish but not exceptional. Splendid wine list. (135 Turtle Creek Village/521-1135/Daily 6-11. Sat till midnight/ Reservations All credit cards $$$)

Pletro’s. Home-style Sicilian cooking with flocks of regular customers. The standouts are the pasta dishes – manicotti, cannelloni, fettucine alla Ro-mana. lasagna with meat sauce, and spaghetti ma-rinara – and old standbys like pizza (order the special Sicilian style in advance) and garlic bread (baked on the premises). (5722 Richmond off Greenville 824-9403 Tue-Thur 5:30-10 pm. Fri & Sat till 11 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards $$)



Oriental



China Inn. A dependable restaurant with a Cantonese emphasis. Standouts are the sweet-and-sour dishes, the ginger beef, and war sue har (batter-fried shrimp with a “country-style” sauce) Huge eggrolls and excellent homemade almond cookies Low-keyed and comfortable (6521 E Northwest Hwy /369-7733 /Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m . 5-10:30 p.m.; Sat till midnight. Sun 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m/ Reservations MC.BA.AE/ $$)

Chinese Pavilion. The menu here is identical to that of Hunan, the restaurant that spawned this one. Be adventurous and put yourself in the waiter’s hands. For $8 per person you’ll be treated to a multi-course dinner featuring the chef’s Hunan and Sze-chuan-style specialties. And the crabmeat and corn soup is a must. (European Crossroads. 2829W Northwest Hwy 357-5777 Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m . Fri & Sat till midnight Reservations MC. BA.AE/ $$)

Hunan. Currently Dallas’ best Chinese restaurant. The Hunan cuisine that is its specialty is milder than you’ll find in New York, but still potent Have the “pu pu tray” of appetizers, and then you’re on your own – it’s all good (though we recommend Hunan Lamb. Champagne Chicken, and Shrimp with Garlic Sauce). Small and comfortable. (52/4 Greenville Ave at Lovers Ln 369-4578 Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.. Fri. Sat & Sun 11-midnight Reservations MC.BA.AE $$)

Peking Palace. Once Dallas’ Oriental best, but it hasn’t quite kept up with the booming competition. Too many items taste warmed-over, but the Sze-chuan-style selections are. tor the most part, excellent (try the shredded pork with garlic sauce) And the Won Ton soup is the best in town And still the most pleasant dining room of any Dallas Oriental restaurant. (4119 Lomo Alto 522-1830 Lunch; Mon-Fri 11 :30-2 :30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-11. Fri & Sat till midnight. Sun noon-10 p.m. Reservations on weekends MC.BA.AE $$)

Ports O’ Call. The menu now docks in many new ports (wiener schnitzel from Germany, steak au poivre from France, etc ). though the featured fare is still mostly Polynesian And nothing special at that – but then that’s never been the appeal here anyway The attractions are the lavish (almost ludicrous) dining rooms, the 37th floor view with the “big-city” feeling, and the exotic rum concoctions in the fiki-god-and-blowfish bar – try the Test Pilot, limit 2 per customer (Southland Center. 2117 Live Oak 742-2334 Lunch: Mon-Sat 11 :30-2:30. Dinner Daily 5 30-10 30 Reservations All credit cards sss)

Royal China. A friendly place with a loyal clientele, a most gracious host, and some unusual menu items Tea Smoked Duck. Golden Crown of Pork, and Dry Stir Beet All the food is attractively presented – the chef even sculpts elegant little butterflies from carrots Unfortunately, the appetizers are on the greasy side (201 Preston Royal Shopping Center 361-1771 or 368-9692 Tues-Sun 11 :30-2: 30 and 5 :30-10 p.m. , closed Mon MC.BA. AE. DC SS)

Royal Tokyo. As far as service and consistency of cuisine are concerned, Royal Tokyo seems to have risen from its period of decline. But it’s not quite the star it once was. Perhaps the competition has forced it to Amercanize its menu, because the sauces and seasonings are anything but delicate. A pity, because real Japanese cuisine is among the most subtle in the world. Still a pleasantly-appointed place. Try the shabu-shabu, a variation on sukiyaki. (7525 Greenville Ave/368-3304/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2, except Sat, Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat till 11:30, Sun 5-10IReservations/MC, BA,AE,DCI$$$)

South China. An unassuming restaurant that specializes in Mandarin cuisine The dishes with black bean sauce are the standouts, as well as the spicy chicken with pecans, barbecued pork with vegetables, and the shredded beef with hot sauce. Excellent soups and appetizers. (5424 E Mockingbird 826-5420 Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun noon-2 30; Dinner: Daily 5-10. Fri & Sal till 11 Reservations MC.BA.AE $$)

Trader Vic’s. One of the best of a variable chain of Oriental-Polynesian restaurants, this one has excellent hors d’oeuvres (try the “Cosmo Tidbit” platter). a fine limestone lettuce salad, and well-prepared entrees We suggest the curries, the almond duck, lobster Cantonese, or the Indonesian lamb roast Exotic and powerful rum concoctions (Hilton Inn, 5600 N Cen Expwy/ 827-3620/ Daily 5-11: 30 p. m. , weekends till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards $$$)



Mexican



Adelante. An odd little spot in an almost secretive behind-the-shoppmg-center location But once you find it. you’ll surely find your way back Fantastic and unique Mexican food graced with flair and freshness Thin, grease-tinged tostados made on the spot, nachos Buried in fresh relishes, flau-tas with fabulous guacamole. delicate green chile quiche, and an egg and tortilla dish called “chila-quiles” – both subtle and exotic And don’t passup the unbelievable praline cheesecake Bar bymembership.” (5934 Royal Lane/691-8301 /Mon-Thur 11 a.m -9 p.m , Fri & Sat till 10 p.m. closed Sun/ No reservations /MC.BA.AE/$)

Chiquita. (Chiquita has temporarily closed and is looking for a new location. Re-opening plans are uncertain at press time.)

Herrera Cafe. Home-cooked Tex-Mex from two odd locations. The ludicrous-looking newer version on Lemmon Avenue serves the same great food as the original adobe hole-in-the-wall on Maple. But at the Lemmon location, quality is not a certainty. Visit Maple tor good old fat (lour tortillas hot off the grill, wonderful burritos, great guacamole. And the menudo is a community tradition (3902 Ma-ple/526-9427/ Weekdays 9 a.m.-8 p.m., weekends till 10; closed Tue’3708 Lemmon/528-2250/Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.. Fri & Sat till 10 p.m.. closed Mon/ No reservations/No credit cards/ $)

Raphael’s. All in all, Dallas’ best Mexican restaurant – and oh the crowds to prove it. From puffed ta-cos to shrimp enchiladas you can’t go wrong, but take note that the chicken-sour cream enchiladas are the best in town. A lovely old place with warm, wooden, ranchero style (3701 McKinney /521-9640 Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m -10:30 p.m . Sat noon-10:30, closed Sun Reservations Mon-Thur only MC.BA.AE /$$)

El Taxco. Maybe the best dining value in Dallas. Dependable Tex-Mex right down to the retried beans just the way they ought to be – and at very low prices. A subtle style with less hot seasonings make it an especially good spot for newcomers to Mexican food. A casual, friendly cafe. (2126 N St Paul 742-0747 Wed-Mon 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Tue/ No reservations/ MC/ $)



Greek



Greek Key. A lively and longstanding favorite marked by belly dancing, customer participation, and other revelry. But the kitchen is serious, doing a creditable job of filling the Dallas Greek food void. Dolmas, pastitso, spanakopita, moussaka (or try the combination plate). Forgo the ’Graecian shrimp,” but don’t pass up the baklava delicately seasoned with walnuts and honey, finished off by a demi-tasse of heavy Greek coffee. (2903 W Northwest Hwyl358-5177/Mon-Sat 1 a.m.,-2p.m., closed Sun/AII credit cards/Reservations/$$)



D REVISITS

Goldfinger. When Goldfinger rises to the occasion, you’re in for some of the best Greek food in Dallas. Trouble is, they still work harder at being a night club than a restaurant – though nobody seems to mind. Goldfinger is flashy, raucous – and jammed, especially around show time (call early for reservations). Most of the time, the exotic action on the dance floor is enough to distract you from some promising but pretty bland productions from the kitchen. There’s plenty going on. what with the Greek musicians encouraging rhythmic clapping for the inevitable “Never on Sunday.” “Zorba,” and other Mediterranean “classics.” And if you have a ringside table, the torch singer is apt to have you scat-singing into her mike. When it came to food, our applause went for Goldfinger’s splendid dolmas, which, served with pastitso. make an excellent introduction. Flaming saganaki was fun to watch in ?the making, and good before a bowl of avgo-lemeno soup Like the floor show, the main entrees seem pitched toward American tastes – a bit more seasoning might have made us feel a little further from home. Shrimp and meat kostas by any other name is still barbecue, but this dish was among the tastiest of the entrees, which also includes a hearty moussaka. The tomato, feta cheese and mushroom sauce for the veal venetikia could have used the help of some of those herbs and spices promised on the menu, but this is a dish worth a try. A long way from Athens, but still a nice offbeat excursion. (2905 Cridelle at W Northwest Hwy1350-6983/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat-Sun 6 p.m -2 a.m /Reserva-tions/AII credit cardsl$$$)



Indian



India House. An authentic representation of Indian cuisine The uninitiated may find it all a bit exotic – but a culture shock made pleasant by the helpful guidance of the staff (or try the Shahi House Dinner for a broad sampling) Aficionados of the Indian tradition may find the preparation lacking perfection, but with so much to choose from, danger of disappointment is slight. Something is sure to please – or at least to surprise. (5422 E Mock-mgbird’823-W00 Lunch: Daily 1130-2 30. Dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10. Fri & Sat till 11/ Reservations All credit cards $$)



Southern Specialties



Angelo’s/ Fort Worth A name that’s known across the state as one of Texas’ premiere barbecue pits. And it is Great beef, rich spicy sauce, big sandwiches, cold draught, and a setting that fits – West Texas rustic and sawdust floors. And overlooking the proceedings is a monstrous stufted bear – a landmark himself (2533 White Settlement Rd/ (817)332-0357/ Mon-Sat 11-10/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)

Celebration. Some of the homestyle pride seems occasionally to be missing from the homestyle cooking since the expansion of this friendly place. But still a good spot for a wholesome meal at a reasonable price. Pot roast is the best of the five entrees Plus big bowls of good family-style-help-yourself vegetables. Beer and wine are available now, but try the apple juice at least once – it’s great. (4503 W Lovers Ln/ 351-5681/ Mon-Sat 5:30-11. Sun till 10:30 / No reservations/ MC.BA/ $)

Mr. Chicken. Many rate it the best fried chicken in town. Small town cafe style (including TV) Chicken and dumplings and other plate lunches: grilled steaks. And luscious onion rings. Beer only. (5114 Greenville Ave near Lovers Ln/ 363-6969/Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m./No reservations/No credit cards/$)

Red Moon Cafe. A charming and romantic little European-cafe setting helps hide the consistently inconsistent kitchen. But when they re on, the featured Creole cooking (more Spanish than French in influence) can be a treat. Open for breakfasts trimmed with grits and biscuits (4537 Cole/526-5391 /Mon-Sat 7-2:30. 6-10/No reservations, No credit cards/$$)

Sonny Bryan’s. Best barbecue in town? You’ll never get a consensus, but this one gets a lot of votes. Juicy, juicy stuff in a funky, funky little smokehouse. No tables – you eat on individual school desk tops Beer, no bar. (2202 lnwood/357-7120/Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. , Sun 11-2/No res-ervations’No credit cards/ $)



Natural Foods



D REVISITS

Health Nut. Dallas’ original full-’ scale natural foods restaurant has been through some changes: it moved from its original Oak Lawn location, closed for a while, was reborn, and is now settling comfortably into its location on West Lovers Lane. It’s a lovely spot, very “natural” in its design-airy space, rough woods, large plants-and with a nice sun-terrace room on the second floor The menu is limited, but wisely so, allowing the kitchen to produce consistently. Sandwiches range from the predictable (avocado with bean sprouts) to the more unusual (sunflower and sesame butter). The soups show imagination and a light touch but even better are the salads: a fresh vegetable salad in a tahini dressing and especially the fresh fruit salad in a delicious lemon-honey dressing. Each day there is a special steamed meal, often a very original concoction: one visit, for example, found an item they could only describe as “kind of a sloppy Joe”–a tomato flavored vegetable paste on wheat bread with melted Monterrey Jack and Quite good. On Tuesday they serve an interesting Mexican meal and Thursday is Oriental. And, of course, smoothies, in lots of flavors. An original and, surprisingly, still unique.(4356 W Lovers Lanel692-l411IMon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.No reservations/MCI$)

Seafood



Oporto Oyster Bar. A somewhat unpredictable place (the service is sometimes perfect, sometimes miserable), but if you go with the simpler broiled dishes, especially the Boston scrod and the baby flounder, you’ll surely be pleased. Often crowded to the point of a wait in line. One reason is that the oysters on the half shell are, predictably, wonderful, (2929 N Henderson/826-2553 Daily 5-11 p. m ., Fri & Sat till midnight/No reservations/BA. AE/$$)

S & D Oyster Company. A handsomely restored 19th century livery/ grocery building with brick walls and bentwood chairs lending themselves to a mild New Orleans atmosphere. Oysters are the specialty – delicious whether on the half-shell or fried Also boiled or fried shrimp, a pleasant gumbo. and broiled flounder or snapper. Beer and wine only. A welcome addition to the limited sea fare in town. (2701 McKinney near Routh/ 823-6350/ Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11, closed Sun/ No reservations/ MC/ $$)

Vehon’s. An unpretentious oyster bar that grew into a schlocky restaurant, Vehon’s still serves the best oysters in town, giant red Spanish shrimp, baked (not broiled) rainbow trout, catfish, and – a rarity in Dallas – a properly black, hot gumbo. Casual to the point of crudeness, but there are lots who love it. (4844 Greenville Ave/368-8911/Mon-Sat 11 a. m-11 p.m., Sun 5-11 p.m./ No reservations /All credit cards/$$)



Delicatessens



Black Forest. Austrian-style food – sausages, sa-lamis, coffee cakes, breads, a lovely cold cut platter, and excellent sandwiches. Try the veal sausages with hash browns and black bread, and any of the pastries Excellent selection of German beers and wines. (5819 Blackwell off E Northwest Hwy/ 368-4490/ Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat till 5 p. m /No reservations/BA/ $)

Kuby’s. Busy and bustling Excellent homemade sausages (served with hot potato salad or sauerkraut), thick sandwiches (try the pastrami), great pastries, and a soup of the day which is a lunch-time bargain (70¢). A congenial spot with a German accent. (6601 Snider Plaza/ 363-2231- Mon-Sat 8:30-2:30. sandwiches tilt 5:30/ No reservations/ MC – $ 15 minimum/$)

Walls. A worthwhile stop for displaced New Yorkers and insatiable corned beef fans, though its reputation as the best for kosher-style food in Dallas is earned mainly by default. The kosher standards – gefilte fish, herring in sour cream, cheese blintzes – are very tasty, but the quality of food and service is uneven. Except for the disappointing chopped liver, sandwiches are the best bet. And try the outstanding cabbage soup. (10749 Preston Rd/691-4444/Daily 7:30 a.m.-7.30 p.m.l No reserva-tionslMC.BAItl)



Steaks, Burgers, Etc.



Cattleman’s / Fort Worth A famous Texas name that still delivers, and still from its original location right in the heart of the stockyards The steaks are the thing here and they’re terrific – you can watch them being cooked on the grills at the end of each dining room. Lots of other options, ranging from calf fries ( “Mountain Oysters”) to lobster and spaghetti (2458 N. Main’ (817)624-3945/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10:45 p.m.. Sat 4-10:45 p.m.. closed Sun/ Reservations. MC,BA,AE,DC,CB/$$)

Chill’s. A handsome burger joint. Good chili, unusual soft tacos of flour tortillas, and, best of all. long, thin, greasy trench fries with the skin still on them Always hopping – you’ll likely wait in line. (7567 Greenville Ave at Meadow Rd/361-4371 /Daily 11 a.m.-midnight. Fri & Sat till 2 a.m /No reserva-tions/MC,BA.AE/$)

The Den. A distinctive spot in the venerable old Stoneleigh Hotel with a convivial clientele of various professional types – like a seasoned Upper East Side bar. Terrific cheeseburgers, a great prime rib sandwich, chef’s specials. Dallas’ best bartending. And free popcorn. (2927 Maple/742-7111 /Restaurant: Mon-Fri 6 a.m.-9 p.m.. Sat & Sun 6 a.m.-i a.m.; Bar: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight, closed Sat & Sun/MC.DC.AE,CB/$$)

The Filling Station. The last word on motif dining An old gas station transformed into a restaurant. Automobile paraphernalia abounds, gas pumps dispense beer at the bar, and the Mobil flying horse hovers over it all, “Ethyl,” “Regular,” and “Low Lead” (no bun) hamburgers. No kidding. (6862 Greenville Ave near Park Lane/691 -4488/Tue-Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun & Mon till midnight/No reser-vations/MC.BA.AE/$)

Houlihan’s. If you want it. they’ve probably got it. From escargots to cheeseburgers, from crab Newburg to Belgian wattles, from omelettes to roast duck, from crepes to steak. And, considering the range, the overall quality is surprisingly good. Antique clutter motif. Often long lines. (4 NorthPark East/361-9426/Daily 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m./No reservations/MC, BA.AE, DC/$$)

Ichabod’s. Slick in the Greenville Avenue tradition, but Ichabod’s is nevertheless a very pleasant and dependable place. The key to their success is a limited menu of steaks and seafood with nothing so elaborate that the kitchen staff can’t handle it There are a few nicely imaginative touches, like a “relish tray” of raw fresh vegetables instead of a tired salad. A nice dining area with its own entrance to separate it from the teeming swingles bar. (Old Town. 5500 Greenville/691-2646 Lunch. Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 6-11/ No reser-vations/MC.BA.AE.DC.CB/$$)

Kirby’s. Dallas’ original steakhouse and time has only enhanced its appeal. No gimmicks, waitresses of the old school, and good food values The “special cut” sirloin strip is big and beautiful and the creamy garlic house dressing is alone enough tor some fans. (3715 Greenville/823-7296 Tue-Sun 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/ All credit cards/$$)

Railhead. This steak-and-salad-bar original started many trends in the Dallas restaurant biz. And it stayed on top of the scene for a long time, especially with its luscious prime rib and added delights like the steak and chicken teriyaki. But its own trend lately has been downhill.slipping in consistency in both service and food. Long time fans are hoping they’ll get the place back on the track. (6919 Twin Hills Ave at Park Lnl369-8700l Lunch: Daily 11-2; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5-11:30, Sun 5-10:30; bar to 2 a.m. nightly/ Reservations on weekends before 7 p.m. and after 10:30 p.m. only/MC,BA,AEI$$$)

Stoneleigh P. An Oak Lawn favorite and eclectic hangout. A restoration of what was long a pharmacy – clever but not cutesy. Provolone cheeseburgers on pumpernickel are the favorite among many goodies. Great magazine rack (browsing encouraged) and fabulous juke box (from Bach to Stones). (2926 Maple/741 -0824/ Mon-Thur 11:15-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1 30 a.m.. Sun 12-12; bar daily till 1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2/No reservations/ No credit cards/$)

Strictly Ta-Bu. A terrific old neighborhood bar with a mixed bag clientele. The original 1948 decor has been virtually untouched and charms with its classy-tacky effect. Great homemade soups and sometimes great pizza-the kitchen is rather erratic lately. Also burgers, steaks, sandwiches. Live jazz most nights and an occasional free flick. (4111, Lomo Alto 526-9325 Mon-Fri 5 p.m.-2 a.m.. Sal 6 p.m. -2 a.m.. Sun 6 p.m.-1 a.m./ No reservations MC.BA $$)

T.G.I. Friday’s. This may be Dallas’ |unk food paradise – if junk food means luscious hamburgers (still among the best in town), a munchy concoction called “nacholupas, ” the biggest chef’s salad you’ll ever see. and even rhubarb pie Good steak bargains; avoid the omelettes. The place is lively as ever, with lots of swingles and a little of everything else (Old Town, 5500 Greenville 363-5353 Daily 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m./ No reservations ’MC.BA.AE/$$)



Mainly For Lunch



The Bronx. A surprisingly quiet little spot amidst the Cedar Springs sideshow. The fare is simple but stylish: for example, a plate of bagels and lox with red onions and cream cheese or a pretty omelette with a bagel and a side of terrific Italian sausage. Atmosphere (rustic and woody) but without coming on too strong. Beer (lots of imports) and wine only. (3835 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn 521-5821/ Daily 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.. bar till 2/ No reservations / MC / $$)

Clro’s. Great Sicilian-style pizza and an attractive array of elaborate sandwiches in an airy, old-time corner store at McKinney and Hall. The “wine bar” serves fine wines by the glass, the beers include some nice imports, and there’s a great hard apple cider with a real kick. (3237 McKinney at Hall/745-9464/Mon-Wed 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.. Thur & Fri till midnight. Sat till 1 a.m.. closed Sun/No reserva-tions/MC/SS)



D REVISITS

Crackers. We need more restaurants like this one – simple, understated, tree from gimmicks, and very reasonably priced. The somewhat silly name comes from the little cheese cracker they serve with their excellent soups – a fine cream of broccoli and a splendid corn chowder were the ones on recent visits. Entrees, even at dinner, are all under $4; they include a super-creamy quiche Lorraine made with gourmandise cheese, a pleasant filet of sole, and some good burgers. (Don’t bother with the turkey in pastry shell.) There’s a daily luncheon “surprise,” which tends to such unsurprising items as meat loaf or roast beef, but with nicely-seasoned trimmings. The bread pudding is the best of the desserts (We were served a sodden and cold lemon chess pie on one visit. Sad – it makes you wonder where other than the HP Cafeteria you can get a decent slice of chess pie?). Service is youthful, attentive, and free from Greenville Avenue chumminess. The setting is a renovated frame house with modest charm but gets noisy when it’s crowded, as it always seems to be at lunch. (2697 McKinney Avel827-1660ILunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon- Thur 5-10. Fri & Sat till 11; closed Sun/Reservations dinner onlylMC,BAI$$)

La Creperie. The courtyard patio under Cinzano umbrellas provides the nicest al fresco dining in Dallas. (There are inside tables for winter or rain.) The crepes are hefty one-per-serving size, in 47 varieties, including several ratatouille and several creamed spinach versions (#13 – spinach, Italian sausage, and mushrooms). For a different dessert, try their “tortillions.” (Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/651-0506/ Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m. closed Sun/ Reservations recommended/ MC.BA. DC.AE/ $$)

Gallery Buffet. An expertly catered buffet table at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, featuring hearty soups, salads, homemade breads, and desserts for only $2.50. Wine extra. (DMFA. Fair Park/421-4187/Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m./No reservations/No credit cards/$)

The Lunch Basket Tearoom. Bright and cozy. Homemade lunches with unusual salads and soups, and homemade tea breads that you can also buy by the loaf. Foreign blend coffees and teas. (6617 Snider Plaza. Studio 216/ 369-3241/ Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)

Magic Pan. A very popular place with a delicious selection of crêpes, including outstanding dessert crepes. Very crowded during the week, but nice for Sunday brunch or late night after-theater snacks, (NorthPark – New Mall/692-7574/Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri till 1 a.m., Sat 10 a.m-1 a.m.. Sun 10 a.m. -midnight/No res-ervations/MC,BA,AE,DC/$$)

Upper Crust. Homestyle specialties like chicken & dumplings and red beans & rice, plus wonderful buttermilk pie and a great buttermilk salad dressing. Also sandwiches and homemade soups. A casual “indoor courtyard” setting. (Olla Podrida, 12215 Coit Rd/661-5738/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-3; Dinner: Thur only, 5:30-8:30/No reservations /No credit cards/$)

Zodiac Room. A stunning effect with salads ashandsome as they are tasty, and an irresistible array of desserts – including their famous strawberry shortcake. Always crowded. Wine and beer. (Neiman-Marcus, downtown/ 741-6911/ Mon-Sat10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m; teatime daily 3-5 p.m. except Thur 2:30-3:30; Thur dinner 5-7 p.m./Reservations /Neiman-Marcus charge card only, checksaccepted/$$)

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