Food and Spirits DINING OUT

Four Encounters with Calzones



The problem with liking pizza too much is that it gives rise to strong guilt feelings. While I subscribe to the theory that a good pizza provides a brilliantly compact balanced meal – starch (crust), dairy products (cheeses), meats (pepperoni, etc.), even “vegetables” (onion, green pepper, tomato) – there is still the dark spectre of “junk food” to contend with, the overriding public contention that pizza just can’t be good for you. What’s worse, there is the editorial responsibility incumbent upon a restaurant reviewer to discover and explore all facets of our civic cuisine, making it difficult to justify pizza three times a week. At some point in every pizza there is the taste of a paragraph lost.

In the past year or so, the situation here has been particularly difficult with the advent of a host of new and very talented pizza makers, most of the so-called “New York style” persuasion. My habit is worse than ever. But it appeared there was a glimmer of a silver lining tucked into the menus of several of these new pizzerias. “Calzones.” A calzone is generally described as a “pizza turnover.” The situation was obvious and irresistible: Here was a near-pizza in need of research. I could get my fix and soothe my editorial conscience too.

The calzone is not a new or local invention: it has long adorned the Italian menus of New York, Philadelphia and environs. Essentially, it is pizza dough into which are placed mozzarella and ricotta cheeses. The dough is then folded over the cheese and baked into a crescent-shaped puffy pastry, topped with a sprinkling of parmesan. Additional ingredients are a matter of style. And more often than not, calzones are seen in single-serving size, a one-man Italian turnover. I had seen them, but never eaten them.

The first local sighting of a calzone had been at Al’s Pizzeria in Walnut Hill Village, so it was the logical first point of research. Al puts out some of the best pizza in town, so his calzone figured to provide a solid measuring stick. The menu offered only one size at a cost in excess of five bucks, so it was likely to be a big one. We ordered and discovered the first drawback to calzones. “That’ll be about a 30-minute wait,” said Al. Unless you’re into plastic orange trees and bad statues, Al’s isn’t a real great place to kill a half hour. But we waited. And sure enough. 30 minutes later, Calzone #1 arrived. It wasn’t big. It was monstrous. It was scary. A huge doughy mound with peaks, knobs and comers. And no sign of how to eat it.

The first thing to understand about a calzone is that a chief ingredient is ricotta cheese. Ricotta cheese has its reasons for being, but it is not one of the world’s more exciting foods. Furthermore, hot ricotta cheese is not too unlike hot thick milk. I wish I had considered that before I began this venture. The more I ate of Al’s calzone, the more I wished I had one of Al’s pizzas. Even the occasional slices of pepperoni did little to relieve the boredom. There was one redeeming feature, though. The dough in the deepest corners wasn’t quite cooked, so it was possible to pull out a hunk and roll up chewy little hot bread balls – which I hadn’t been able to do since the school cafeteria rolls in the fifth grade.

The project nearly terminated itself right there, but duty beckoned. Next stop was Galliano’s on Spring Valley Road, another jewel on the pizza circuit. Galliano’s had two promising features: They did have single-serving calzones and they only took 20 minutes to cook. But when it hit the table, Calzone #2 was no more exciting than Calzone #1. In fact, since the spicy pepperoni at Al’s gave way here to mild Italian sausage, it was even less exciting. And again, the molten white streams of ricotta cheese oozing everywhere. There must be something about ricotta cheese that I don’t understand.

For some reason (perhaps the subliminal notion that calzones must be better than this, otherwise they would not exist) the search pressed on. Georgio’s is a new pizzeria in Carillon Plaza, a very friendly shop with a bright pleasant feeling, definitely a cut above the usual pizza dungeons. Calzone #3 was ordered and we waited, hopeful of a breakthrough. Georgio’s calzone, like his place, is very nice looking, a neat, clean crescent. And Georgio makes the invaluable addition of green pepper and onions to his calzone, creating an actual flavor. Unfortunately, the pastry here was not a match for the first two (which admittedly were excellent). And, of course, the dreaded ricotta.

One last chance. Reggio’s Pizzeria on W. Lover’s Lane, the latest arrival in the wave of great new pizzas. And behold, the first bite of Calzone #4 told a different story. This calzone was almost good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a calzone. It was a pizza with a top on it. If the others were turnovers, this was a pie. And with tomato sauce. Along with mushrooms and lots of other goodies. Calzone traditionalists would surely scoff at such an aberration. I, however, ate it. Even though it had its share of ricotta cheese. Because it reminded me of good old pizza.

I suspect that there is a lot that I don’t know about calzones. I suspect that Alor Georgio, given a chance, could teach me much about the subtleties of the dish and that, in time. I might come to appreciate it as a cousin, albeit distant, of the beloved pizza. I suspect that that will never happen. Because 1 had a dream last night about ricotta cheese. And it was a nightmare.

-David Bauer

Newcomers

Mihama Ya. It seems silly to list Mihama Ya as a newcomer since it’s been around for more than three years, but it’s new to us. And quite a find at that. Located in a rather forlorn-looking building in the middle of Inwood Village, its front half is a grocery store where you can stock up on everything from dried squid to fortune cookies. In back is a room with six formica tables and decorations that must have come from the Far East counter at Woolworth’s. Nothing shabby about the food, however. They serve a terrific shrimp tempura and a beautifully prepared beef sukiyaki, both dishes accompanied by soup, salad, and appetizer for under $5. Before you waddle out the door, try the gyoza, Japanese egg rolls made with a soft pasta shell. Very interesting. Lunch is limited to four main dishes, including the shrimp tempura and a wonderful beef and vegetable concoction called Yakinuki. Mihama Ya is one of those small family operations you find everywhere in Boston and New York but rarely in Dallas. Mother cooks, sons and daughters wait on tables, and everyone seems slightly astonished that you’ve managed to find, them at all. Oriental self-effacement, perhaps. An altogether delightful place. (369 Inwood Village/351-9491/ Tues-Thurs 10-9, Fri & Sat 10-11, Sun 1-9, closed Mon/No reservations/No credit cards/$)



Jean Claude. An interesting new approach to high-level, continental dining. Chef Jean Claude Prevot, long a respected private cooking instructor in Dallas, has gone public with his talents. His small and intimate dining room is anchored by an open kitchen, filling the room with delicious smells and allowing you, if you’re so inclined, to watch him prepare your meal (and the teacher in him makes him more than happy to explain his art). The “menu,” delivered verbally with technical elaboration by the waiter, consists only of Jean Claude’s chosen preparations for the evening (usually a selection of three hors d’oeuvres, three entrees, and three desserts). We have, so far, discovered a meaty duck terrine laced with goose liver paté; a bountiful portion of roast duck in a distinctive but not overpowering ginger sauce; and a very interesting veal dish in which the veal is pulled from the bone, chopped, mixed with seal-lions, cèpes, and spices, and packed again to the bone. Desserts kept pace with a smooth, very rich (some would say too sweet) chocolate mousse and, even better, a purée of chestnuts and cream topped with candied pecans. Those in search of quiet, unbothered seclusion may not appreciate the intimacy between staff and guest here. But unlike most restaurants, this one does have, as exemplified by the food, a distinct personality. One word of warning: Unless you ask, you’ll never see or hear a price until you get your check. And it is. predictably, expensive. (2520 Cedar Springs/653-1823/ Dinner: 6:45-11/Reservations only/V, MC, AE/$$$)



Recipe



Roots, Italian Style

By common consent one of Dallas’ most sophisticated restaurants. Mario’s, as any member of the family that runs it will tell you. is in close touch with its own tradition. The original Mario’s got started on Forest Avenue as Pranzo Romano, where Mario Vaccaro, a New York lawyer who changed careers in 1943 and moved to Dallas, served Italian feasts for $2.50. Moving later to Ross and then to Lemmon Avenue, the restaurant grew and eventually, after Mario died and his brother Philip took over, the family also came into Old Warsaw and Arthur’s. Though the current manager, Tom Ruggierri, cooks and constructs new dishes, Mario’s kitchen still follows mostly the original family recipes. Herewith are two long-time favorites, a northern Italian entree, Saltimbocca alla Romana, a name that means “jump in your mouth,” and Frittura Delizie Romana, a scrumptious spinach appetizer.



Saltimbocca alla Romana

Saute veal slices dredged in flour. Arrange on baking dish topped with mozzarella cheese and thinly sliced prosciutto ham. Place under broiler to melt cheese. Mix the wine, garlic and sage, and let it cook down. Cover veal with this mixture and place on simmer for a few minutes. Then add tomato sauce (see recipe below). Serves four.



12 slices veal

1/2 cup white wine

4 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1/2 teaspoon powdered sage



For the Frittura Delizie Romana, the ingredients are:



1 Ib. chopped spinach

1/2 Ib. ricotta cheese

1 cup bread crumbs

6 eggs

1 cup Parmesan cheese



Blend all ingredients thoroughly. Shape into croquette. Deep fry. Garnish with tomato sauce.



Tomato Sauce



Mix together 16 ounces canned tomato sauce, one teaspoon fresh chopped garlic, one tablespoon sweet basil, three bay leaves, a little dry sherry. Simmer 15-20 minutes.



Recommended Restaurants



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 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 / V – Visa / AE – American Express / DC – Diner’s Club / CB – Carte Blanche / “All Credit Cards” indicates that all the above are accepted.



Continental



Arthur’s. Home away from home tor the junior executives and the expense account set. Arthur’s sports a classy bar and a tirst-rate Kitchen. Lunch is as solid as dinner, with hefty portions to keep the three-martini luncher on an even keel Have the magnificent calves’ liver with Canadian bacon and sautéed onions, or the sensational lamb chops. Professional service and elegance without condescension. (1000 Campbell Centre/361-8833/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Dinner: daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/ Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)

Bagatelle. This stylish restaurant has always delighted us with its atmosphere, but never overwhelmed us with its food. The kitchen is competent but not dazzling, Onestandout is the tournedos “cafe royale ” The new menu also features a rich and intriguing pheasant under glass, but you’ll have to decide whether you want to pay that much tor any entree Service is sometimes well-paced, sometimes not The companion Plaza Cafe has a rather windy outdoor dining area, and a pleasant indoor one, The food there is nothing exceptional, but it’s a nice place for a snack and a drink if you’re on-Greenville and don’t want to fend off singles (One Energy Square, Greenville at University/692-8224/Bagateile: Lunch Mon-Fri 11 30-2.30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11, bar till 2; Plaza. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Dinner Mon-Sat 6-midnight/Reservations/MC.V.AE,DC/$$$-$$)



Le Bistro. It’s impossible not to like this place, with its sophisticated renovation of an old Oak Lawn house and its excellent service, but there’s something lacking in the kitchen. Appetizers and salads are excellent: especially the escargots and the “Salade Le Bistro” with avocado and fresh mushrooms. But the entrees often come to the table over- or under-cooked, and carelessly seasoned. Too bad. because they have the right idea: offer a limited range of French entrees Maybe they’re learning and maybe they’ll get it right some day. Meanwhile, we keep hoping. (3716 Bowser, just oft Oak Lawn/528-4181/Tue-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat 6-11; Sun 6-10/Reservations/MC V AE/$$$)

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 fare is mostly overpriced and undistinguished. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/ 748-5454/24 hours, seven days a week/Wo reservations/ MC,V,AE,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 recently featured a fabulous roast duck and Guy Calluaud’s superb Veau Normande. Or treat yourself to his splendid quail For lunch, the filet of sole is an excellent alternative if for some reason you want to pass up the omelettes. Prices are a bargain tor the quality Reservations – made well in advance, especially for weekends – are necessary (2917 Fairmount off Cedar Spnngs/742-8525/Lunch Mon-Fri 11.30-2:30p.m., Dinner Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30; Sat till 11, closed Sun/Reservations/MC, V. AE/$$$)

La Cave. The first wine bar to open in Dallas, so some visitors haven’t quite caught on to the fact that they can go here and sample fine wines and then buy bottles to take home with them Food is a secondary consideration: good salads, sandwiches, pate, and cheeses to keep you steady as you sample the wonderful array of wines. Congenial and civilized, though the wine chat can get an-noyingly snobbish at times, (2926 Henderson/826-2190/ Lunch: Mon-Sat 11 -2:30. Dinner: Mon-Fri 5:30-12. Sat till 1; open for off-premise wine sales all day/No reservations/MC, V/$)

Chablis. An odd little French restaurant, difficult to put your finger on – the style is neither elegant nor quaint the food, white in some instances overpriced, is decidedly good A tasty complimentary rillettes, a fine pepper steak, and a subtly glazed roast duckling are highlights Light flaky bread (with a very French flavor) and the sweetest, richest chocolate mousse in town. (120 Quadrangle, 2800 RouIh/522-0910/Lunch 11 30-2:30: Dinner Mon-Thur 6-11. Fri & Sat till midnight, closed SunlReservations on weekends/MC, V, AE, DC/$$$)

Chateaubriand. A wide-ranging menu, with everything from sweetbreads to frog legs to lobster to veal parmigiana, and a high percentage of it is quite well-executed The standouts, interestingly, are the Greek specialties, try the pastitsa and dolma appetizer and the “Greek veal” in a pleasant lemon-butter-oregano sauce Chateaubriand’s old-fashioned overdressed style is not to all tastes, but service is attentive and the place is comfortable. Lunch is nothing special. (2515 McKinney/741-1223/Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m. -midnight/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)

The Chimney. An unpretentious Swiss-Austrian restaurant that specializes in excellent veal, ranging from a simple lemon veal to more extravagant preparations. Also one of the few places where you can have venison And for dessert, have the excellent home-made cheesecake At lunch, the fare is strictly ladies’ tearoom, though it’s one of the best of its kind Attentive service, and a nice atmosphere (though the piano is placed too close to some of the tables to make conversation comfortable). (Willow Creek, 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/$$$)

Ewald’s. Loyal regulars flock to this old standard, whose decor and menu have changed very little over the years. The style is sort of continental home-cooking: more hearty than delicate, more homey than classy The veal is excellent, though some preparations are over-embellished. Try the veal Papagallo with Canadian pacon and Swiss cheese or the veal Picatta-Milanese. Excellent pepper steak and “Tenderloin à la Ewald ” And a rarity – well-prepared fresh vegetables Have a side order of spaetzli if your entree doesn’t come with it, and conclude with the Black Forest cake No frills, but few disappointments, either (5415 W Lovers Ln/357-1622/Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11/Reservations/MC,,V/$$$)

The Grape. An old favorite with some new delights, especially at lunch, which has become more adventurous. The beef dishes, particularly the tournedos béarnaise and the boeuf a la mode, are outstanding. Other delights are the escargots aux champignons and the omelette aux crevettes Chinoise (with shrimp, mushrooms, and bean sprouts) The mushroom soup is famous, but the potage au Tripoli, a chickpea soup with herbs and spices, is a new winner Still hard to beat for the money (2808 Greenville/823-0133/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30, open later on Fri & Sat for wine and cheese only/No Reservations/MC, V/$$)

Marcel’s. Quiet and subdued, with waiters who seem to know what they’re doing, but the place is running at about quarter speed, without flair or enthusiasm The $6.95 table d’h6te dinner is a bargain it you choose carefully – the Beef Wellington or the coq au vin – but appetizers, soups and salads are thoroughly ordinary at best A solid wine list and a nice selection of cheeses and desserts All in all, a place that has lost some its luster. (5721 Lovers Ln/358-2103/Tue-Sun 6-10:30, Fri & Sat till midnight Closed Mon/Reservations/MC, V, AE. DC/$$)

Mr. Peppe. Old-timers swear by it, and it was once one of the best restaurants in Dallas. But the years have not been kind, and you may find it drab rather than cozy The key word in recent years has been inconsistency. ” When this restaurant is good, it’s very, very good. And fortunately it’s never terribly bad. Try the pepper steak, which is stunningly seasoned, and the excellent desserts; otherwise, take your chances – and good luck. (5617 W Lovers Ln/352-5976/Mon-Sat 6-10/Reservations/MC. V. AE. DC/$$$)

Old Warsaw. The new Old Warsaw” – after some tasteful remodeling of the interior and some successful revamping of the menu – is on the upswing. The place is less gilded, more engaging. The new menu is less erratic, more interesting. New treats: a paté of duck, crème de cresson (puree of watercress), and a splendid C6te de Veau. Also a nightly selection of “Nouvelle Cuisine,” the reduced-calorie style popularized by Paul Bocuse The prices were not remodeled – still very expensive – but now the paying is less painful. (2510 Maple/528-0032/ Daily 6-11. Sat till midnight/Reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$$$)

Patry’s. When the Patry family is at work, you can’t go wrong. Start with the poireaux farcis (stuffed leeks) or the delicate, light, near-perfect vichyssoise. then have any of the superb entrees: a wonderful coq au vin. a filet in a flawless béarnaise, or their splendid escalope of veal. The place itself is a bit sterile except for their terrific – and very French – little bar. (2504 McKinney/748-3754/ Tue-Fri 6-11. Sat till 11 30/Reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$$)

Pyramid Room. The classiest dining room in Dallas – an aura of affluence and impeccable laste. A paragon of service – absolutely professional but without pomposity, including a theatrical sommelier. 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-midnightl 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 plateful of sausage and peppers. Warm (in fact steamy) and wonderful – and always a waiting line to prove it. (5610 E Mockingbird/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 if 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. Still maintaining the elusive blend of friendliness and intimacy that gives it a unique personality among Dallas restaurants, II Sorrento is competently staffed from strolling musician to head chef. Its veal dishes are invariably superb, and the beef entrees – tournedos Rossini and medallions of beef frascati in particular – are outstanding. An excellent wine list and a know-ledgable sommelier. And the most delightfully hoky decor in town. The only major criticism we have is that reservations sometimes get lost and you wind up waiting in the bar anyway. Fortunately, the wait is worth it. (8616 Turtle Creek, North of NW Hwy/352-8759/Daily 5:30-11, Sat till midnight/Reservations except on Fri & Sat/All credit cards/$$$)

Italian Pavilion. An out-of-the-way location and rather garish decor are the negatives here. Otherwise, the food is excellent, including the delicious hot antipasto and fine veal dishes, particularly the veal Fiorentina, with crab meat, and the veal Gaetano, with madeira sauce and mushrooms. Soups and salads are less distinguished, and the service, while pleasant, can be slow. A good, moderately priced wine list and excellent cappuccino help round out the generally positive picture of Italian Pavilion. (Le Baron Hotel, 1055 Regal Row at Carpenter Fwy/634-8550/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri-Sat 6-11:30, closed Sun/Reservations/Allcredit cards/$$$)

Lombardi’s. No gimmicks, just a delightfully remodeled old house where they serve excellent Italian food at reasonable prices The lasagna (the lightest version imaginable) and the saltimbocca are standouts – maybe the best in town. The manicotti is made with a crepe-like pasta, the pork parmigiana is an unusual delight and the rich green-noodle fettucine is outstanding. A warning on the minestrone: it is thick and flavorful but stew-like – an appetite killer. Lunch is usually less impressive than dinner. But everyone is eager to please at Lombardi’s; the service is sophisticated and responsive. (2815 McKinney Ave/823-6040/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2:30, Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat till 11/Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$$)

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 Romana.” a batter fried spinach appetizer. Entrees (northern Italian specialties) are stylish but not exceptional. Splendid wine list. (735 Turtle Creek Village/521-1135/Daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/Reservations/Ail credit cards/$$$)

Pietro’s. In a city without neighborhood restaurants. Pietro’s comes closest to what you’d find in, say, the North End of Boston – homestyle Sicilian cooking with scads of loyal patrons. The pasta dishes are the best bets, though Pietro’s veal scallopini a la Siciliano is excellent. Have the crème caramel for dessert- Friendly, brisk service, though the “No reservations” policy means you’ll have to wait. It’s usually worth it. (5722 Richmond off Greenville/ 824-9403/ Tue-Thur 5:30-10 p.m.,Fri & Sat till 11 p.m./Noreservations/No credit cards/$$)



Oriental



China Inn. A competent, dependable Chinese restaurant, crowded even on weekdays Definitely better at dinner than at lunch. Good appetizers, well-prepared sweet and sour dishes. The standouts are ginger beef, crackling with mildly hot slices of ginger, and war sue har, delicately fried shrimp with a delicious red sauce Amiable and quick service. (6521 E NW Hwy/361-7733/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2 p.m.; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10:30 p.m., Fri & Sat 5-midnight; Sun 11 a.m. -10:30 p.m./Reservations for 5 or more/MC, V, AE/$$)



D REVISITS



Peking Palace. Time was when the Peking Palace, with one of the most pleasant – and crowded – dining rooms and a menu with dozens of memorable dishes, was the Chinese restaurant for many Dallasites. The dining room remains, as does the ambitious, mostly Szechuan menu, but the crowds have dwindled, and so has the quality of preparation, by which you could rate the competition. A case in point is the Peking Platter, the appetizers that launched so many fine meals. It’s disappointing now to find gristle in the chicken, shrimp toast thick and greasy, egg rolls eclipsed by a dozen other restaurants. In tact, much of the rest of the food on a couple of recent visits showed a failure of imagination in the seasoning; it was too oily, ail of it. The sauces on nearly everything were bland and lust failed to awaken flavors as they once did. Tough, heavy, greasy pancakes weighed down an old favorite, moo shi pork, and sliced chicken with bamboo shoots was likewise robbed of taste. Also afflicted were two sweet and sour dishes, shrimp and pork, for years perhaps the best in town, now reduced to a slice or two of pepper, a couple of hard carrots, a chunk of pineapple, and a few soggy shrimp. The pork was better stocked, but the pungent sweet and sour sauce only barely prevailed over the oiliness. An order of Chinese mixed vegetables turned out to be diverse, even including whole mushrooms, but again was oily and underseasoned. Ordered at lunch on a recent visit, they were undercooked and little more than warm. Pepper beef at lunch came in the ample helpings reminiscent of old times, but the accompanying egg roll wasn’t very hot. Soups are always a must at Peking Palace; won ton and egg drop soup still stand out. Attentive and friendly, the service invariably ennances the meal, and Peking Palace has an amiable atmosphere that makes it all the harder to admit that the chef has lost his touch. (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, V, 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 multicourse dinner featuring the chef’s Hunan and Szechuan-style specialties. And the crabmeat and corn soup is a must. (European Crossroads, 2829 W Northwest Hwy/357-577/Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/MC, V, 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, but service Is sometimes haughty and cold. (5214 Greenville Ave at Lovers Ln/369-4578/Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri, Sat & Sun 11 -midnight/Reservations/MC, V, 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 tiki-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/AII credit cards/$$$)

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 Americanize 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 Sal, Dinner: Mon- Thur 5.30-11, Fri & Sat till 11:30, Sun 5-10/Reservations/MC, V, AE. DC/$$$)

South China. Quiet and consistent. South China continues to distinguish itself from the ever-increasing hordes of competitors. The combination appetizer plate is perhaps the best in Dallas and the Mandarin specialties that follow usually keep up the pace: fine sizzling rice soup, moo shi pork, beef with green onion and ginger, and tantalizing sweet and sour shrimp. Black bean sauce is a favorite here – try it over the braised chicken and you’ll see why. Their new spinoft restaurant. Chu’s in Addison, shows promise of being even better. (5424 E Mocking-bird/826-5420/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2.30, Sat & Sun noon-2:30: Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-11, Fri 4 Sat 5-12, Sun 5-10/ Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)

Szechuan. The Lemmon Avenue spinoff of Greenville Avenue’s Hunan restaurant does justice to the parent organization’s menu. The first page of “Chef Specialties” is special indeed. Try the Hunan Beef, River Shang Pork, House Lamb, or House Chicken, The more traditional items, such as hot and sour soup, moo shi pork, or lo mein, are also recommended. The dining room is on the stark and sterile side, and the service is sometimes charming but inarticulate. A pleasant oasis in the fast food desert. (4117 Lemmon near Douglas/521-6981/ Daily 11:30 a.m. -11 p.m., Fri & Sal till midnight/Reserva-tions on weekends/MC, V, AE, DC/$$)

Trader Vic’s. Have tun, but don’t expect anything sublime here – they cover too much ground to have any specialties except the wacky drinks (gardenias floating in rum punch, and so on). The creamed curry dishes are nice, the Indonesian lamb interesting, and the Chinese dishes varied but over-sweet, But while the mood may be fun, the prices are serious. Just have another Samoan Fog Cutter and you may not even notice. (Hilton Inn, 5600 N Cen Expwy/827-3620/Daily 5-11:30 p.m., weekends till midnight/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)



Spanish



Gitana. In setting alone, Gitana is one of the most pleasant restaurants in town, so it’s nice to report that the food has become consistently good Particularly the appetizers – with the ratatouille and the fried artichoke hearts as standouts, As for entrees, the paella is only average, but the shrimp dishes are excellent. Lunch features linguine and a rich fettucine, as well as some pleasant salads and sandwiches. Good wine selections and excellent sherries Service is erratic. (3236 McKinney/521-4360/Lunch: 11 -2; Dinner, 6-11; closed Mon/AE, V, MC/$$)



Mexican



Adelante. An odd little spot in an almost secretive behind-the-shopping-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 tostadas made on the spot, nachos buried in fresh relishes, flautas with fabulous guacamole, delicate green Chile quiche, and an egg and tortilla dish called “Chilaquiles” – both subtle and exotic. And don’t pass up the unbelievable praline cheesecake. Bar “by membership” (5934 Royal Ln/691 -8301 /Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri & Sat till 10 p.m., closed Sun/No reservations/ MC, V, AE/$)



Chiquita. One of the most cheerful restaurants in town, and – at least where Mexican food is concerned – one of the best. Tex-Mex has never been Chiquita’s forte, but they serve some sensational specialties, like an excellent tortilla soup and fabulous chicken sour cream enchiladas. In their new location they’ve stopped serving complimentary cups of bean soup, so order some – it may be the best this side of the border. Always crowded, but always delightful. (3810 Congress, off Oak Lawn/ 521-0721/Mon-Sat 11:30-11/No reservations/MC, V, AE/$)



D REVISITS



El Taxco. According to traditionalists, this is the way a Mexican restaurant ought to look. A lowslung white stucco building, with dark wood and small tables crowded together – the sort of place where you might talk to your dining neighbors. The money they don’t spend on a fancy decor or a larger building goes into food dollars. As a result you can have some of the best Tex-Mex dishes in town at prices low enough to cause a double-take. For under two dollars at lunch, there are the standard combination plates of enchiladas, tamales, chalupas, tacos, rice and beans, and for just a little more, some of the larger dishes, such as chalupas compuestas – chalupas with beans, chili con queso, and guacamole – or chicken flautas, good and spicy with a sour cream topping. The tostadas and tortillas here are solid and have the taste and substance of authenticity. The number of people crowding in at lunch and dinner testifies to price and quality, though the wait for a table is brief and the service brisk and competent. At dinner, try some of the more adventurous dishes, which are well-seasoned, ample, and delicious. The Carne Tampiquena consists of strips of tender filet cooked with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers in a wine and butter sauce. Served with home-cooked beans and excellent guacamole salad, it was more subtle than Mexican food usually is considered to be. Tostadas à la McCaffrey appealed to us for its comic name, but turned out to be a culinary delight also. Munching three big tostadas piled high with beans, chili con queso, meat, lettuce and tomato, sour cream, and that good guacamole, we allowed McCaffrey to be a hearty and discriminating eater, and probably fat. The beef tacos and the enchiladas of two varieties on the Mama Navarro plate were terrific. Go when you feel laid back. (2126 N. St. Paul/ 742-0747/Wed-Mon 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Tue/No reservations/MC/$)



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 for good old fat flour tortillas hot off the grill, wonderful burritos, great guacamole. And the menudo is a community tradition. (3902 Maple/526-9427/Weekdays 9 am -8 p.m., closed Mon/ No reservations/No credit cards/$)



Javier’s. This warm and attractive restaurant has come into its own in its few months of operation, establishing itself as a rival for the several established Mexican restaurants that try to demonstrate the variety of Mexican cuisine. No Tex-Mex at all here Javier’s has the knack of seasoning food without overpowering it. Try the Red Snapper Javier, the Garlic Shrimp Guaymas, and the Corazon de Filete (a tenderloin filet with huitlacoche crepes). For dessert have the Caieta Crepes. They’re now serving lunch, though they haven’t quite got that act together yet (4912 Cole Ave/521 -4211 /Weekdays 11-11, Fri & Sat till 11:30, closed Sun/Reservations/MC, AE/$$).

D REVISITS



Raphael’s. It’s always disappointing to have to report the decline of an old favorite. But things just aren’t what they used to be at Raphael’s. Well, one thing hasn’t changed – the crowds. And it may be that Raphael’s is a victim of its own success. The hustle-bustle, high-turnover style that they’ve developed to deal with the waiting lines has left the kitchen behind. The Tex-Mex, while never outstanding here, has at least always provided a satisfactory lunch option, but now oven the once-sublime chicken/sour cream enchiladas have lost their luster. (Though the chicken nachos, it’s worth noting, work much better.) The real disappointments lately have been with the more adventurous dinner specialties. The Fioblano Veracruzano (a flounder dish) could have been wonderful, but the fish had that tell-tale flavor (none) that said frozen, and was cooked to the consistency of mush. The accompanying bean soup was just plain boring. The tacos al carbon had nicely prepared beef chunks, but the adorning relish was severly lacking in spice and character. Even the chiles rellenos, an old standby, was off – the ingredients were all there, but by the time it hit the table it was nearly cold (and there’s nothing worse than lukewarm Mexican food). The only recent highlight was the enchiladas en mole featuring a rich and tangy mole sauce. The instincts are still right here, but the execution is wrong – although it seems there are no problems that some renewed care – and a little slowing down – won’t cure. (3701 McKinney/521-9640/Mon-Fn 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sat noon-10:30, closed Sun/Reservations Mon-Thur only/MC, V, AE/$$)

Greek



Greek Key. A lively 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 “Grecian 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 Hwy/ 358-5177/Mon-Sat 11 a.m. -2 a.m., closed Sun/AII credit cards/Reservations/$$)

Goldfinger. More successful as a lively, raucous nightclub than as a restaurant, but Goldfinger does provide some of the city’s best Greek food – a woefully limited aspect of Dallas’ cuisine. So. while you’re clapping and singing with the Greek musicians, try the flaming saganaki, the avgolemeno soup, the shrimp and meat kostas, and the veal venetikia. And the dolmas are a must. (2905 Cridelle at W Northwest Hwy/350-6983/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat-Sun 6 p.m.-2 a.m./Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)



Southern Specialties



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, Sat till 1030/No reservations/MC, V/$)

Dixie House. Good food, amiable service, and great drinks. The style is comfortable and casual – a great place for a lunch break, but not if you’re dieting, since the cuisine is calorie-loaded Southern style. The meat loaf, the pot roast, and the pork chops are standouts. The fried chicken is a “specialty,” but not to all tastes. The catfish is variable, and sometimes the French fries are a bit fishy. Try the beer-batter-fried onion rings. Another McKinney Avenue restoration – comfortable and low-keyed, without ersatz nostalgia. (2822 McKinney/823-0071/Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat till midnight, Sun noon-11 /No reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)



D REVISITS

Red Moon Cafe. It’s hard to know what to make of the old Red Moon these days except to say that “it ain’t what it used to be.” In the past you could depend on this cozy little place for a good, inexpensive meal. Now you’re likely to be pleased one time and dreadfully disappointed the next. The crawfish are still tops, tender and nicely seasoned, and most times the trout Loui-sianne is a good bet. Beyond this lies trouble. The Filet a la Maison is a good cut of beef unimaginatively prepared, the exotic description, on the menu notwithstanding, and neither the pork chops “Creole” nor the chicken “Jambalaya” is anything to rave about. The latter, in fact, came dried out and virtually tasteless. The seafood gumbo, a mainstay of any New Orleans-style restaurant, tends to be bland and watery, but the desserts are good, especially the rum cake and the pecan pie. Service is reasonably attentive, even at rush hours, but there’s an indifferent, slipshod quality about the rest of the operation that will have to be eliminated if it is to retain its loyal following. (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 p.m., Sun 11-2/No reservations/No credit cards/$)

Indian



India House. The only one in town, so it’s nice that this Indian restaurant is as good as it is, and that the staff is eager to introduce you to the delights of its cuisine. The Shahi House dinner will give you a bit of everything, but it you want to experiment, try the Mulligatawney soup, the Parantha Ahu (sort of like a puffed taco), the Tandoori dinner (a bright orange chicken dish), or the Bhunna dinner (lamb and rice pilau). The varieties of bread and the chutneys must be sampled. A restaurant that has improved, added pungency to its offerings over the past year (5422 E Mockingbird/832-1000/Lunch: daily 11:30-2.30, Dinner: 5-10, Fri & Sat until 11/Reservations/All credit cards/$$)



Natural Foods



Health Nut. Dallas’ original full-scale natural foods restaurant – and still a unique institution – is comfortably settled now in its airy and attractive Lovers Lane location, crowned by a lovely sun-terrace room upstairs. Good sandwiches, light and imaginative soups, and wonderful salads – a fresh vegetable salad with tahini dressing or, even better, a fresh fruit salad in a delicious lemon-honey dressing. A special steamed meal daily (Tuesday is Mexican and Wednesday is Oriental). And, of course, smoothies, (4356 W Lovers Ln/692-1411/Mon-Sat 11 a.m. -9 p.m./No reservations/MC/$)



Delicatessens



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 lunchtime bargain (70¢). A congenial spot with a German accent. (6601 Snide Plaza/363-2231/Mon-Sat 8.30-2:30, sandwiches till 5:30/No reser-vations/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./No reservations/ MC, V/$$)



Seafood



S & D Oyster Company. Excellent oysters and shrimp and a few broiled fish – usually snapper or trout – when they’re available. They wisely avoid the fancier stuff – crab or lobster or clams – that has to be shipped in frozen. Simplicity of preparation is the key to this restaurant’s well-deserved success. For lunch, oyster loaf – fried oysters on a French roll with tartar sauce – is a good choice For dinner, have some boiled shrimp for starters and finish off with their home-made pie. A bit noisy, but the place is for eaters as opposed to diners. Beer and wine only (2701 McKinney near Routh/823-6350/Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-10p.m., Fri &Sat till 11, closed Sun/No reservalions/MC/$$)



Steaks, Burgers, Etc.



Chili’s. A handsome burger joint Good chili, unusual soft tacos of flour tortillas, and, best of all, long, thin, greasy French 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 reservations/MC/$)

Houlihan’s. With a menu ranging from a hot dog to roast duck and touching on most everything in between, there are no great expectations. Which is why Houlihan’s is usually a pleasant surprise for the good – despite the scope, there are lots of hits and few misses. Very good omelettes, burgers, quiche, nice salads, and several more ambitious options (stuffed shrimp, baked trout, etc.). A host of rich and gooey desserts and cappuccino – a good spot for midnight munchies. (4 NorthPark East/ 361-9426/Daily 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m./No reservations/MC, V, 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 stall can’t handle it. 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 reservations/AII credit cards/$$)

Kirby’s. Simply astonishing steaks at prices that will please if not astonish you. Kirby’s is the only place to think of if all you want is a steak. It has some other things going for it: great baked potatoes, a battery of motherly waitresses, and a Fifties-style decor that’s funky without trying to be. But the main thing here is the beef. (3715 Greenville/ 823-7296/Tue-Sun 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sal till midnight/ Reservations/All credit cards/$$)

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 am., Sat 6 p.m. -1 a.m./No reservations/MC, V/$$)

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 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-S3S3/Daily 11:30 a.m. -2 a.m./No reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)



Mainly For Lunch



The Bronx. A warm and funky little place with few pretensions ana some territic food coming from its kitchen. Nothing fancy. |ust great omelettes {served with a side of Italian sausage and a toasted bagel), sausage sandwiches, mushroom meatloaf, and a hot pastrami on toasted rye that ranks with the best. By all means have dessert: homemade pies and cheesecake and a chocolate mousse that will bring you to your knees. Lunch seems to be in general a better bet than dinner Beer and wine only, but a great selection of that, and a friendly, casual atmosphere. (3835 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn/521-5821/ Daily 11:30-12:30 am., bar till 2/No reservations/MC/$$)

Ciro’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 am., closed Sun/No reservations/MC/$$)

Gallery Buffet. An expertly catered buffet table at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, featuring hearty soups, salads, homemade breads, and desserts for only $3. Wine extra. (DMFA, Fair Park/421 -4187ITue-Fn 11:30 am-l:30 p.m./No reservations/No credit cards/$)

Magic Pan. A very popular place with a delicious selection of crepês, including outstanding dessert crêpes. 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 reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$)

The Zodiac Room. A local institution that has begun to lack luster, though loyalists still flock there. Lunch is better than the Thursday buffet. When things are going right, the hot popovers, the cream of spinach soup, the sea and garden salad, and the vanilla ice cream ball with phenomenal hot fudge sauce are stunning. But things don’t always go right, so you’ll have to decide for yourself whether the Zodiac is a tradition worth observing. (Nei-man-Marcus. downtown/741-6911/Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; teatime daily 3-5 p.m. except Thur 2:30-3:30; Thur dinner 5-7 p.m./ReservationslNeiman-Marcus

charge card only, checks accepted/$$)



Fort Worth Restaurants



Angelo’s. 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 stuffed bear – a landmark himself (2533 White Settlement Rd/(817) 332-0357/Mon-Sat 11-10/No reservations/No credit cards/$)

The Balcony. Perched in the second story of a shopping center. The Balcony serves well-prepared but not extraordinary food. Standouts are the onion soup, a red snapper prepared with crab, lobster, and a subtle mushroom sauce, and a pleasant veal dish served with Wisconsin cheese. (6100 Camp Bowie Blvd/(817) 731 -3719/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Dinner: Daily 6-11/Reservations/MC, V,

AE/$$$)

Le Bistro. French style in Fort Worth, a stone’s throw from the Kimbell. An impressive wine rack, subtle Gallic decor. but sometimes rather routine work in the kitchen. Good assorted hors d’oeuvres and an authentic French onion soup, a real treat. Take your chances with the entrees, however – the French on the menu is better than the French in the food. (3322 Camp Bowie/(817) 332-5102/ Brunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2, Dinner: Tue-Sat 5:30-9.30/Res-ervations/MC, V/$$$)



D REVISITS

The Carriage House. This restaurant tries hard to look good – it has recently been remodeled – and succeeds in being light, elegant, and tasteful. Its comfortable dining room, partly paneled with backlighted white shutters and softly lit lamps that reflect on to the smoke-mirrored ceiling, is one of Fort Worth’s most inviting. Tasteful it may be; tasty it is not. The forte at the Carriage House is beef, which is very good. What a restaurant this would be if every dish got the same treatment or started with ingredients as good as the excellent Chateaubriand or the fork-tender filet mignon. But finesse is simply lacking in many other offerings. Whole chunks of lobster made lobster bisque a hearty recent soup of the day, but the old standby, French onion soup, was thin and watery, garnished only with the handful of croutons and parmesan the waiter sprinkled on. Another disappointment was. curiously, one of the menu’s recommendations, the Mac’s Special Salad: limp lettuce, sliced mushrooms, and Swiss cheese swamped in oil and lemon juice. Seafood at the Carriage House is in general to be avoided. A recent sampling of the assorted seafood appetizers yielded some puny, tough shrimps and overdone pan-fried crab fingers, though the shrimp toast was good and crisp. The menu lists sea squab as a specialty, but under its sauce the bland, indefinable taste was neither fish nor fowl. For a restaurant with its reputation, the Carriage House should be able to do better with desserts; the ice cream ball could be duplicated at home with Hershey’s chocolate and Cool Whip. The service here is unassuming and expert – in fact, on a level of professionalism we wish would rub off in the kitchen. (5236 Camp Bowie/(817) 732-2873lLunch: Sun-Fri 11-2; Dinner: Daily 6-11/Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$$)



Cattleman’s. 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 a! 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/Reserva-tions/All credit cards/$$)

Old Swiss House. Many claim that this is Fort Worth’s finest Certainly a Fort Worth favorite – the Kautmann family has been serving fine continental cuisine here for many years. Delightful veal dishes (the St. Montz is rich and satisfying) and a daily fresh seafood special. Great littie 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/(8l7) 738-8091/Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat till 10:30, closed Sun/Reservations/MC. V, AE, DC/$$$)

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