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DINING NEW ARRIVALS

The hottest new restaurants in the Metroplex
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DINING NEW ARRIVALS

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Parigi. This new Oak Lawn restaurant provokes as many questions as that movie by the Talking Heads. Why an American nou-velle restaurant with a decidedly California feel but christened with the Italian name for Paris? Why a chic clientele-dressed in everything from New Wave sweaters that look as if they were designed by Miró to the most chaste pearls-standing in line to eat in a place with music and noise to rival a disco? Why a menu that includes such suggestions as a whole head of baked garlic (under-cooked at that) and 2 ounces of extra-virgin olive oil (priced at $2.50) in which to dip extra bread? Has the whole Oak Lawn/ Highland Park crowd decided to Stop Making Sense?

Not quite. Parigi is an intriguing restaurant, even though its successes in the kitchen don’t quite match its successes with the public. Marilyn Romweber-whose previous ventures include the Little Mushroom and Pacific Express-has teamed up with her daughter, Andrée Falls, and Californian Jennifer Burns to open this smallish place in one of those slick new buildings contributing to the gentrification (some would say the destruction) of Oak Lawn. It’s been said that the place looks “like a big closet,” but it’s a very chic closet, full of the nicest clothes (albeit informal ones) on the nicest people. It even has unisex restrooms (although they hold only one person at a time, so you don’t get the frisson of mixing genders that you get at the Starck Club).

Oh, and then there’s the food. It’s very chic, too, though (mercifully) most things are not cooked over mesquite. In the evening, there is a selection of a half dozen appetizers (including several recherché salads and one soup), three or so pastas of some ingenuity and three or four entrees, plus a short list of desserts and a wide-ranging wine list-all on a handwritten menu that changes every couple of days. We found the pates and the tart green salads rather ho-hum, but the selection of salades composées was delicious (we tried a platter that included the best ratatouille in town, a curried tuna and pasta salad that tasted much better than it sounded and a tossing of tomato, scamorza cheese and walnuts). The curried eggplant soup was arresting: It was very close to a thinned-down version of an authentic Indian eggplant dish called bharta, even to the bitterish roasted flavor. We weren’t quite convinced by it and decided that we would have to try it again to be sure about it-maybe that’s the charm of a frequently changing menu, to keep you guessing.

The pastas all sounded extravagant (how does spaghetti with a red bell pepper, corn and cilantro-cumin cream sauce grab you?). The one we sampled, fettuccine with shrimp, Bermuda onion and orange-mustard sauce, was sweetish and seemed overpriced at $14, but the pasta was properly al dente, and the sauce had a pleasant consistency. All the meat entrees we sampled were decorated with fresh herbs, but the pesto and toasted almonds didn’t do much for a slightly overcooked filet of swordfish, and the veal tenderloin with mushroom, lemon and dill was both slightly gristly and bland. The chicken breast came smothered in enough fresh rosemary to remind you of a forest floor littered with pine branches, but we enjoyed the seeming excess.

The desserts were probably the most distinguished dishes we sampled at Parigi. Romweber’s peach cobbler, piled high with lightly whipped cream, is justly praised as the best in Dallas (sadly, there isn’t much worthy competition). And the decadent chocolate cake, the almond-praline tart perfumed with Grand Marnier and the strawberry and chocolate tart were all finely executed. Service was a bit offhand, but we admired our waiter just for being able to hear our orders over the loud rumble in the room. (3311 Oak Lawn, Suite 102. 521-0295.Lunch: Tue-Sat 11-2:30; dinner: Tue-Thur6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11:30. Closed Sun& Mon. MC, V, AE. $$-$$$) 6.5

Gershwin’s Bar & Grill. You’ve never seen so much trendiness packed under one roof as you’ll see at Gershwin’s, the immediately popular new restaurant at the corner of Greenville and Walnut Hill. Every fad of the last two or three years may be found on the menu: pizzas with odd ingredients, homemade pastas, intricate salads, blackened redfish, charcoal-grilled everything, lots of fresh herbs and even kiwi fruit (for dessert). A large number of wines are available by the glass-everything from the humblest American blend to Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The decor features lots of marble and polished wood.

The goal proclaimed by the owners of Gershwin’s-to fill the niche between the TGIFridays and Houlihans of this world and the best and most expensive places in town- is a laudable one, especially since the plan includes relatively moderate prices. It is perhaps surprising that so much at Gershwin’s works so well, since any menu that attempts so much is bound to have a large proportion of less successful dishes. The recommend-able dishes we have tried include the fried oysters with shallot cream sauce (large and perfectly cooked), the blackened redfish (crisp, highly seasoned and juicy) and almost all the grilled dishes (especially the Black Angus strip steak with chili ancho butter and the seafood trio of snapper, salmon and swordfish with individual relishes made of fresh ginger, pepper, mushroom, etc.).

Several other dishes need only a bit of touching up to make them right. The veal and pistachio paté, for instance, would have been fine without the unpleasant raspberry sauce that accompanied it. The thin-crustedpizza was crisp, but the topping we tried (including piles of red onions) was unpleasant.A serving of sautéed snapper still had an uncooked dusting of flour on one corner. Onone visit, the various green salads we triedwere crisp and nicely dressed; on another,they were wilted and heavily doused withvinegar. The desserts had nice flavors butsuspicious textures-the meringues on theConcord cake were chewy rather than crisp,and the white chocolate and caramel toppings for the sundaes had separated andturned oily when they arrived at the table.Service, too, could stand some improvement: Our waiters seemed too busy to carefor our needs adequately, although therewere no gross slip-ups. If Gershwin’s is asserious about its product as the best offeringsindicate, we can expect many of these detailsto be mended. Even shortly after its opening,there was plenty here to entice us back-though not at the cost of an hour’s wait orlonger, as is sometimes necessary. (8442 Walnut Hill at Greenville. 373-7171. Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Fri & Sat 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. All credit cards. $$-$$$) 6.0

Hunan Dynasty. We were most pleasantly impressed by the look of this second-story restaurant with its tasteful colors and appointments and unusual wooden furniture (but, sadly, only overlooking Highway 183). We were less impressed by the first food we tasted: some soggy egg rolls that arrived from the kitchen with suspicious haste and the Seaweed Soup, which smelled too strongly of the sea. But from there on, the meal improved dramatically. The shrimp toast had a tingly flavor of fresh ginger, and the fried dumplings (with a tasty filling and slightly crunchy skin) came with a marvelously garlicky dipping sauce.

The main courses demonstrated that Hunan Dynasty can do the new standard Chinese menu with flair. The “gourmet specialties” are really just wholesale mixtures of ingradients or platters presenting several different dishes from the regular menu, but it was fun to try the “Jewels of Hunan,” which gave us a chance to sample Kun Pao chicken, Hunan beef and the braised shrimp in Hunan sauce. All were distinctive and had lots of flavor. The kitchen uses fresh ingredients like mushrooms liberally, and we enjoyed all the main dishes here except the shrimp with snow peas, which suffered from overcooked pea pods and a gummy sauce. (1111 W. Airport Frwy. at MacArthur, Suite 201, Irving. 252-0126 Sun-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11 p.m. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Cantina Laredo. The El Chico chain of Mexican restaurants already had one venture at an upscale spot in town: Casa Rosa on Lovers Lane, the prep-Mex purveyor of fa-jitas and such. This new place in Addison is more ambitious, turning out what purports to be comida casera (real Mexican home cooking). Well, even if most of what Cantina Laredo serves is not quite that authentic, it certainly has things on its large menu that few other upscale Metroplex Mexican restaurants serve. The most unusual dishes are not necessarily the most successful here, however. Cabrito (baby goat), for instance, is unusual enough in these parts, but Cantina Laredo doesn’t do any better job with it than the other North Texas places at which we’ve tried the dish. The tender meat tasted as if it had been parboiled before it was grilled over the coals. Similarly, the carne guisada, the classic Mexican pork stew, was unsatisfactory here, tasting of lots of cumin and little else.

But there is some good food at Cantina Laredo. The selection of appetizers had excellent quesadillas (tortillas stuffed with cheese and mushrooms) and tacos al carbon. The guacamole was very much to our taste (loose, slightly acidic, long on the onions and short on the garlic), as were the chips that accompanied it, served in a large, sombrero-shaped container. The beef fajitas had perhaps the richest, smokiest flavor of any we have tried, and even the grilled red snapper (topped with tomato and peppers) was fresh-tasting and tender. Desserts, too, turned out to be above average for local Mexican restaurants. We’re generally not fond of capirotada, the strong-tasting Mexican bread pudding, but the version here almost won us over. The flan (caramel custard) and churros (doughnutlike fritters) would have satisfied any sweet tooth. Our receptivity to the food was doubtless boosted by the attentive, friendly service. (4546 Belt Line, Ad-dison. 458-0962. Sun-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Good Eats Café. It seems odd when an interloper from Austin sporting Texas funk moves into the space formerly occupied by one of Dallas’ great bad restaurants (Phil’s Delicatessen), but it has happened, and I guess we should make the best of it. Still, it’s hard to figure out Good Eats-maybe the Austin milieu just doesn’t translate very well, although there was an ample mix of types ranging from urban cowboys to Highland Park slummers when we visited.

Almost everything the place serves is grilled over mesquite. The barbecue is at least interesting: The sausage is our favorite, with a coarse texture and a homemade flavor, but the paprika-red chicken is tasty, too. The pork ribs, however, have that dried-out, overcooked, falling-off-the-bone texture that seems trendy these days. The big specials at Good Eats are the various kinds of mesquite-grilled fish, but when we were there, all they had was cod. It was nothing to write home to Austin about, and neither were the side dishes (thick pinto beans, onion rings, watery squash, dull cornbread). But the coconut cream pie was pretty good. (3531 Oak Lawn. 521-1398. Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Blue Point Seafood. If you stick to the basics-boiled shrimp and fried items-you will probably come away from this new place happy. The boiled shrimp are huge, and you peel them yourself. The fried oysters and fried shrimp can compete with those almost anywhere, and the fried whole catfish is succulent, if you can get the meat off the tiny bones. Stuffed crabs are also available (one or two to a basket). The wide, flat french fries make fine accompaniments to all these.

Order anything fancier, and you’re likely to be disappointed. The “House Special” is a pasta and seafood salad, which we found to be tasteless. Every day there’s a special of broiled fish, but the trout we tried had an off taste and an oily texture that made us wish it were still swimming in the Gulf. The gumbo is of the gummy variety, and even something as simple as oysters on the half shell seemed to have been botched-our Blue Points weren’t cold enough and didn’t seem fresh enough for our taste. At lunch, you’re served cafeteria-style; at dinner, waiters seem harried but serve you promptly. One of the interesting things here is the selection of imported beers, but some were out of stock when we ordered them. (2720 McKinney. 827-7720. Mon-Thur 10-10, Fri & Sat 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-9 p.m. AE. $$) 5.0



RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS



D’s listings are updated and supplemented periodically. visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment. Inclusion in this directory has nothing to do with paid advertising.

The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They 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. Expect to spend more than $20 for a complete meal for one (excluding wine and cocktails).

$$$$ Very expensive.

“Reservations” indicates that the restaurant will accept reservations.

Credit card notations: MC/MasterCard, V/Visa, AE/American Express, DC/Diners Club, CB/Carte Blanche. “All credit cards” indicates that all five are accepted.

Restaurants have been rated on a 1 to 10 scale, with a rating of 10 being the highest recommendation. Restaurants receiving a rating of 7.5 and above have been designated with a bold D.



AMERICAN NOUVELLE



D BIom’s. Dallas is blessed with hotel restaurants that transcend the category, and Blom’s is one of the finest. The chef is magnificently inventive, offering a dozen new dishes nightly and a whole new menu every season. On our last visit, we were impressed by the luxurious taste of smoked shrimp in asalad with watercress, another salad of lightly sautéedvegetables, tender slices of beef in a sauce made frompickled walnuts and a dessert crêpe filled with hazelnuts. Less exciting, but still very good, were a WestTexas game pie, pan-fried monkfish with tomato coulisand a chocolate Charlotte. On this visit, the service wasthe most polished and professional we have encountered here. (Westin Hotel, Galleria, 13340 Dallas Pkwy.934-9494. Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30; Sun brunch:10:30-2:30. Reservations recommended. Jackets andties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5

D D. Michael. This temple of the New Southwestern Cuisine is settling into some fine cooking. The best dishes are now magnificent: patties of lamb sausage served over fettuccine in three colors and a walnut-and-apple cake surrounded by two sauces. We also like the autumn salad and the venison in Cabernet sauce. Some dishes still don’t work – the okra served with the red snapper and shrimp doesn’t jibe with the achiote sauce, and both fish and shellfish were burnt. But chef David Pisegna is weeding out most of the losers, and the slow service that once prevailed has been replaced by a reserved efficiency. (2917 Fair-mount. 871-0123. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 7.5

D Dakota’s. You enter Dakota’s from a kiosk in the middle of an intersection adjacent to the new Lincoln Plaza building. From the jewel-boxelevator, you view a waterfall cascading onto atriangular patio. Dakota’s specializes in mesquite-grilledthings – from artichokes and other vegetables to everyconceivable meat. Those we tried, including steak andpheasant, were exemplary. The menu also providessome good choices for those who aren’t in the mood formesquite. Among the appetizers, the barbecuedshrimp were as good as any we have had outside NewOrleans. The lobster bisque also went to the top of itsclass, and the fresh lobster was cooked to perfection:tender, rich and meaty. (600 N Akard. 740-4001. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, Sun 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10:30, Fri & Sat 5-11:30; Sun brunch: 11-2:30. MC. V,AE, DC. Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 8.0

Laurel’s. The dishes here look as if they had been liftedoff the pages of “Bon Appetit”: too pretty to eat andalmost too pretty to be appetizing. Petals of cold roastlamb and rectangles of goat cheese, for instance, faceeach other on a plate and are surrounded by a pinkishsauce and garnished with a tomato rose. Everythinghere, such as the beef and the salmon we tried last time,is cooked competently, but the sauces lack depth andflair. Desserts can seem tasteless, but the view highabove the lights of the city is one of the loveliest in town.(Sheraton Park Central Hotel, 12720 Merit. 385-3000.Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.0

Mason’s. Masons isn’t the exciting purveyor of American nouvelle dishes that it seems when you read themenu: The cooking doesn’t have much flair or authority. The fixed-price table d’hote dinner, however, is abargain at $18.50. If you choose wisely, you may bepleased with the bay scallops in vermouth sauce, thethick cut of roast beef or the veal medallions (served withtwo shrimp stuffed with a salmon-colored mousse). Thea la carte menu is wildly overpriced. (Sheraton DallasHotel & Towers. Southland Center, 400 N Olive. 922-8000. Mon-Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Sun. All creditcards. $$$) 4.5

D The Mansion on Turtle Creek. When you arrive here, you feel as if you ought to roll up in your Rolls-or at least a Jag (this is still the toniest place in Dallas). The food can be extraordinary: Our venison with black-bean polenta and our filets of salmon and halibut in a mild mustard sauce scaled the heights, and the grilled shrimp on a bed of pasta with horseradish sauce was superb. The filet of sole in a sauce of yellow peppers was an appealing combination. But our desserts-chocolate-chip ricotta cake and chocolate mousse cake-lacked the ultimate refinement that one expects in a restaurant of this caliber. (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Main dining room(jackets and ties required, except at brunch)-lunch:Mon-Fri noon-2:30; brunch: Sat noon-2:30, Sun11 -2:30; dinner: Sun- Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11; supper: Mon-Thur 10:30 pm-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 pm-midnight. Promenade Room-breakfast: daily 7-10:30;lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; tea: Mon-Fri 3-5:30. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5

D Routh Street Cafe. Try not to schedule yourhard-to-get reservation here right after theplace has been closed for a vacation; it takes awhile for chef Stephan Pyles to get back up to fullspeed. When he regains his form, he turns out what isprobably the best food in town. Everything we had onour last visit was marvelous, so we’ll just reel off a fewdelicacies to set your mouth watering: sweetbreads andshrimp with chervil and saffron sauces, grilled sea scallops with sun-dried tomatoes and pecans, veal scallopswith pomegranate and leek sauces, roast squab withancho chiles and shitake mushrooms. In between camematchless ices and salads, and to end the meal werespectacular pumpkin-pecan and chocolate browniepies. (3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Lounge: Tue-Sat 6 pm-1:30 am. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations recommended. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 9.0

Sam’s Bar and Grill. Here’s an ambitious new place that courts the after-hours trade with a vengeance: It’s open 24 hours a day, and its hefty dinner menu is served until 2 a.m. (after that, sandwiches, omelettes and desserts are available). It’s a pleasure to have Sam’s to go to after a play or concert, but it does feel odd dining, with very little company, in full view of the street in what one might perceive to be a slightly rough part of town in the wee hours of the morning. All the food at Sam’s is very good, but it can be quite expensive. The best bets are the mesquite-grilled items, such as the Black Angus steaks and the swordfish. (Bradford Plaza Hotel. 302 S Houston. 761-9090. Open 24 hours daily. All credit cards. Breakfast & lunch $$, dinner $$$) 6.0

D The Verandah Club. Dean Fearing, formerly at Agnew’s. may be the most talented chef in town, so it was good news to hear that he has a kitchen to work in again at The Verandah Club, a sports-and-spa establishment on the grounds of the Loews Anatole Hotel. Here, Fearing produces some of the New Southwestern Cuisine dishes that made Agnew’s so distinguished, plus some further innovations in the style. Although The Verandah Club is private, it accepts non-member diners who want to give it a try. There are a few disappointments among the mostly fabulous opening salads and elegantly sauced entrees, but you couldn’t have a better dish than the grilled salmon in a jewel-like golden sauce that we tried recently. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Daily 6-9 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 8.5



BARBECUE/TEXANA



D REVISITS

Chickeria. We can imagine a lovers’ quarrel getting started by a meal here. He has the lamb ribs, thebarbecued sausage, the not-too-gooey. potatosalad and pecan pie for dessert and claims thatChickeria is one ol the finest inexpensive restaurants in Dallas. She has the dried-out beef brisketand ribs, the oddly sweet turnip greens and the off-tasting mashed new potatoes and maintains that ithas to be one of the worst. They’re both right, butwho is going to butt in and adjudicate? (601 N Haskell. 821-9072. Mon-Thur 11 am-9 pm, Fri &Sat11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. AE. $) 5.5



Tolbert’s Texas Chill Parlor. The late, great Frank Tolbert’s big, open restaurant is an easy place to relax over a beer or get rowdy while watching games on the tube. But it’s an even better place to chow down on some of the area’s best Texas cooking: burgers, nachos, chicken-fried anything and, of course, Tolbert’s famous bowl of red. The generous portion of chicken nachos (fried flour tortillas topped with big chunks of spiced chicken, lots of melted cheese and jalapenos) was a meal in itself, and the “Wild Bill Hickory” burger, with hickory sauce, pickles, cheese and onions, was a perfectly cooked, satisfying sandwich. The huge taco salad was rather ordinary-a bit heavy on the lettuce and light on the cheese sauce. But the golden onion rings and the delicious Chicken Fred sandwich (moist grilled chicken on a wheat bun with crisp bacon and Cheddar) were fine. We appreciated the efficient, friendly service at lunchtime. (4544 McKinney. 522-4340. Mon- Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $) 5.0



D REVISITS



Ples’ Barbecue. If you like your barbecue on thesweet side, pay a visit to Mr, Ples in his convertedOak Cliff Dairy Queen. Not only do the ribs, beefand sausage have a decidedly sweet flavor, but sodo the pinto beans and turnip greens. The peachcobbler is fresh, but it surfers from too much nutmeg. If you’re an impatient type, you may find thecafeteria-style service oppressively slow. (1212 W Kiest. 371-5533. Mon-Thur 11 am-8 pm, Fri & Sat 11am-9 pm. No credit cards. $) 5.0



CHINESE



August Moon. Shine on, shine on, August Moon! Wedon’t know how you manage to keep the quality so highwith your awesomely complete menu, the huge volumeof your customers and the very moderate prices youcharge. But we have never had a better crispy fishHunan-style than the red snapper you served us on ourlast visit. Everything we tried was outstanding, from theunusual |alapeno pork to the oldest dish in the book,moo goo gai pan, which was distinguished by evenlycut and perfectly tender chicken, the freshest of vegetables (including mushrooms, so often canned even atexpensive Chinese places), and a gravy of just-rightconsistency made with rich broth. We would havebounced you up into the starry heavens of our “D” ratingif your service hadn’t been a bit off – due, no doubt, tothe gala wedding party that filled up half the diningrooms. (15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227. Sun-Thur11 am-10:30 pm, Fri Sat 11-11. Reservations tor fouror more or for special banquets. Bar by membership. Allcredit cards $$) 7.0

Dynasty. So many people told us we were wrongabout Dynasty that we went back sooner than usual.Sure enough, the food was much better than in the firstweeks the place was open. It ranged from excellent (thecrispy oysters appetizer) to very good (the sharks’ finsoup and the minced pork in lettuce leaves). Unfortunately, we still found the prices high. No doubt all theluxurious trappings (the silver-and-gilt soup tureens, therosewood furniture) cost plenty. And to be sure, the portions are quite large, as with the Dragon and thePhoenix, which contained enough shrimp to satisfy themost avid seafood lover. The question is whether thesefactors |ustify a check that can easily total $35 a person.(Garden Inn, 4101 Belt Line, Addison 385-7888. Mon-Thur & Sun 11 am-10:30 pm,Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

1st Wok. New Chinese places come along with suchfrequency that it’s hard for one to get much attention, but1st Wok serves food good enough to attract notice. Wetried the noodles in sesame sauce and the scallion pancakes (also called Chinese pizza) and found both delightful. The Orange Flavor Beef and the 1st Wok Double Flavor Feast (shrimp in hot chili sauce and pork inblack bean sauce) are top-notch. One sure test of a Chinese kitchen is how well it cooks a simple dish like chicken with snow peas. 1st Wok passed with flying colors,since the chicken was particularly tender and juicy.(7001 Fair Oaks. 369-2737. Mon- Thur 11:30 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-2 am. Sun noon-11 pm. MC. V,AE. $$) 6.0

Forbidden City. Our last meal here was our best todate. The beef with scallops was succulent, with lots ofcrisp vegetables, and the shrimp with hot garlic sauce,though hardly incendiary, was assertive enough. Thechicken with cashew nuts rounded out the meal perfectly. Our waitress took rather a long time to take our order,but once the meal began, it proceeded at a good pace.(5290 Belt Line. Suite 144. 960 2999. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am. Sun noon-10 30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Fortune Garden. Amazingly enough. Richardson isreported to have the highest percentage of Chineseresidents of any city in Texas, and it contains the beginnings of a new, middle-class Chinatown. Among thefanciest and best of the new places is Fortune Garden.The hot and sour soup is unequivocally the best in theMetroplex. with good flavor and no extraneous ingredients. The Steak with Orange Flavor is an unusuallyfine version, with large, pillowy pieces of meat that aren’tdrowned in a gooey sauce. The Pan Fried Shrimp(Chinese-style) are delicious but rather hard for aWesterner to eat – you have to peel the crustaceansat the table and still find a way to retain the flavor of allthe garlic and ginger they’ve been cooked in. (Keystone Park Shopping Center. 13929 N Central Expwy.Richardson 235-3032. Daily 11 am-10 pm. All creditcards. $$) 5.5

Han-Chu. The most sophisticated-looking Chinese restaurant in town, with black-mirror tiles and hand-painted murals, also offers some of the best food. Dishes that are ordinary elsewhere, such as spring rolls and hot-and-sour soup, take on real elegance here. The menu has lots of innovative dishes, but not all are cooked with the finesse one might expect. The beef with asparagus, for instance, can be marred by raggedly cut and overcooked meat. The Wu Shi spareribs, though, are tantalizing in their camphor-flavored sauce. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy at Park Lane, Suite 191. 691-0900. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30, Sun 5-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 7.0



D REVISITS



New Big Wong. When you want to eat as the Chinese do, go to the New Big Wong. Start with the Winter Melon soup (which also contains shrimp, chicken and other delicacies). Move on to a live lobster (from the tank near the door) cooked in ginger sauce. (The carp, eels and other sea creatures seem to have gone the way of all flesh.) Add a dish of beef with Chinese broccoli (with looser flowers and a stronger taste than the European variety) or one of shrimp with garlic sauce, and you have an instant trip across the Pacific. (2121 S Greenville. 821-4199. Daily 11 am-4 am. MC. V, AE. $$) 5.5



Peking Szechuan. In its location next to a motel and amidst the snarled traffic patterns at the west end of the Bachman Lake area, Peking Szechuan doesn’t seem very prepossessing. But it serves some of the best Chinese food in Dallas. Among the chefs suggestions, the shredded duck is most unusual – stir-fried in a spicy sauce and rolled in delicate Chinese pancakes. The orange flavor steak packs plenty of punch, and the shrimp with black beans is exemplary. (2560 W Northwest Hwy. 353-0129. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat & Sun noon-11pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Taiwan. One of the city’s nicest Chinese restaurants by evening, Taiwan also offers less formal dimsum meals by day. Traveling carts bring around allsorts of unusual delicacies. We haven’t worked upthe courage to try the duck’s feet or the sticky ricetopped with Chinese sausage yet. But the variousstyles of dumplings (stuffed with beef, pork, shrimpor vegetables) are always a hit. One of the bestthings about the dim sum meals are their price:$1.75 a plate. (6111 Greenville, 369-8902; 4980Belt Line. Addison, 387-2333. Mon-Fri 11 am-3 am,Sat 10 am-3 am, Sun 10 am-10:30 pm at Greenvillelocation; Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat11:30-11:30 at Addison location. Reservationsrecommended. All credit cards. $$) 7.0



Plum Blossom. The fate of some restaurants parallels the fate of certain rock stars and TV mini-series: Their delivery cant match their hype. Or did we catch the chef on an off night? It was his Great Dynasty Banquet, after all, that began the evening with crispy shrimp and soft noodles that were both far too salty; his Mongolian fire pot was a forgettable blend of beef, pork, chicken and green noodles salvaged only by some tender scallops. The bad dream was momentarily dispelled by the arrival of the main course: duck, lobster and sea trout, the latter in a fine kumquat sauce. But these top-flight dishes were followed by a disappointing afterthought of dessert, a yawn-inducing mix of pineapple and other fruit. If our banquet was indicative of the other multicourse meals here, we’d suggest ordering a la carte from the regional dishes of China, which include a lovely chickenand eggplant in garlic sauce. (Loews Anatole Hotel,2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm.Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets required.All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Tea Pot Inn. We still find this place one of the mosthandsome mid-priced Chinese restaurants in town. It’sbasically European, but with enough Oriental detailsthat we don’t think we’re eating Italian food. The cooking is slightly better than average, with special successes among the spicy dishes. The shrimp with beancurd, with lots of garlic and ginger, is one of our favoriteChinese offerings in Dallas. (11343 N Central Expwy. 369-6268. Sun-Wed 11 am-10:30 pm. Thur & Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat 11 am-1 am. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

D Uncle Tai’s. This is a great restaurant if youknow your way around the menu, but there aresome ordinary things here, too. Among the bestappetizers are the Two Delicious Platter (shrimp withpeppercorns and Hacked Chicken) and the ChickenPackets. The spicy dishes on the list of specialtiesgenerally stand out. In addition to the fabled Uncle Tai’sBeef, we are partial to the boneless frog’s legs with eggplant. Standard things such as chicken with walnuts andcrispy duck are good, but they’re no better than whatyou’d find at a number of less expensive Chinese restaurants. (Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 3370.934-9998. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Jackets required for dinner. Allcredit cards. $$$) 8.5



DELI/LUNCH



Frenchy Café. The neighborhood deli is alive and well in Preston Royal. Step into Frenchy’s, and you step into a world that’s immediately intimate and familiar. Friendlyand gracious service is provided by Josey, Yvon andChris Bouguyon. and the dishes they serve generallymatch the ambiance they’ve created. We enjoyed a hotcroissant drizzled with baby Swiss cheese and a goodtruffle paté before biting into our lunch entrees. Although the Frenchy crêpe (with turkey, spinach andbleu cheese sauce) and lasagna weren’t quite as tastyas they appeared, the ham, spinach and pepperoniquiche (and the cappuccino pie we had afterward)proved outstanding. Frenchy’s provides takeout service, too. (5940 Royal Lane. 369-1235. Mon 11 am-3 pm, Tue-Fri 11 am-7 pm. Sat 11 am-5 pm. Closed Sun. MC,V, personal checks accepted. $$) 5.5

Kuby’s. A visit to this German delicatessen/restaurant is truly a European experience. The store is crammed with German foodstuffs, meat, pastries and other delicacies. The lunch menu in the restaurant includes a variety of sandwiches, both German and Americanized, as well as soups (a different one each day of the week) and plates of Polish sausage, knackwurst or bratwurst. We opted for a sandwich of peppered beef rolled in a slice of cheese and served on a delicious light rye. The tartar sandwich of raw lean beef seasoned with onions and spices and the jagdwurst sandwich of sausage and pistachio were very good, too. We also enjoyed the hearty, tangy. German potato salad (served warm), the cheesecake and the German chocolate cake. (6601 Snider Plaza. 363-2231. Store hours: Mon-Sat 8 am-6 pm; restaurant hours: Mon-Fri 8 am-5 30 pm. Sat 8 am-5 pm. Closed Sun. MC. V; no credit cards tor purchases under $15: personal checks accepted. $) 5.5



FRENCH/CONTINENTAL



Agnew’s at the Promenade. Tom Agnew’s new restaurant, tucked away in a hard-to-find cranny of the Promenade shopping center, looks nice with its burgundy and brown appointments. But the food is not as memorable as it was at his previous place. A few dishes, such as the blackened fish, stand out. Others, such as the salmon in red pepper sauce and the duck Chinese style, |ust seem ordinary. Service is willing but not highly polished. (2500 Promenade Center, Coit Road between Belt Line and Arapaho 437-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

D Au Bon Gout. This place offers extraordinary lunches and takeout specials by day and serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights by reservation only. We were surprised to find so few tables occupied on our last evening visit, because the food is usually perfect. After a tiny hors d’oeuvre of purl pastry,the waiter brought us a cream of wild mushroom soup,a sorbet and a salad. We had a choice of entrees andtook venison and salmon -both superb The dessertwas a rich, rich, rich terrine of chocolate. Maybe the unprepossessing environment and the influx of lavish restaurants in the neighborhood makes people unwilling toshell out the stiff price for a dinner here, but we thinkthey are missing an opportunity (4424 E Lovers Lane. 369-3526. Restaurant hours: Mon-Thur 11:30 am-9 pm; Fri & Sat 6-10:30 pm. Takeout hours: Mon-Sat 10 am-9 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards: personal checks accepted. Lunch $$, dinner $$$$) 8.5

D Café Royal. Trying to reclaim its place at thetop of the heap, Cafe Royal has lowered prices(to $31.50 prix fixe) and has become moreclassical and less nouvelle in its cooking style. The foodcan be marvelous, as with the terrine of fresh Americanfoie gras or the mullet with a watercress sauce that wesampled. Or it can be ordinary, as with the beef Wellington that the captain recommended. Besides thelapses in the food, what keeps Cafe Royal from thehighest rank in Dallas restaurants is the service, whichwe found courteous but woefully inefficient on our lastvisit. (Plaza of the Americas. 650 N Pearl 747-7222. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended Jackets andties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0

Bay Tree. After our previous visit to this elegant restaurant, we complained of the elbow-to-elbow crowding. This time, we had the place almost completely to ourselves, but we couldn’t avoid hearing every word of a couple’s argument three tables away. Our roasted duck was marvelously pink-centered and juicy, a beautiful sight in its nest of sculpted nouvelle veggies. The souffles are an ethereal choice for dessert, but skip the specialty torte. (The Wyndham Hotel, 2222 Stem-mons Frwy. 631-2222, ext 4141. Daily 6-10:30 pm. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5



D REVISITS



D Calluaud. Our latest visit produced therichest, most masterly meal we have everhad here, with the most courteous and cordial service. We began with a terrine of freshAmerican foie gras. satiny and lush beyond all expectation. For entrées, we had a filet of salmon(tasting a tad strongly of smoke and accompaniedby a Madeira sauce that seemed a bit too much),but the venison was succulent and satisfying. Thelemon souffle at the end was as light as gossamer. (2619 McKinney. 823-5380. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon- Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat seatings at 7& 9:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. Jackets and tiesrequired. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0



Ceret’s Crêparie. Upstairs at Ceret seems pretty much like downstairs at Ceret: bare concrete pillars from the brewery days, no tablecloths, somewhat frazzled service But crêperie prices are an original idea. Imagine, inDallas, an elegant meal lor as little as $5. We hadescargots and mushrooms rolled in a light, delicatelysauced crêpe. The dessert crêpes. as might be expected, are heavenly and well worth a post-theater visit.(703 McKinney in the Brewery. 720-0297. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 6.0

Chez Gerard. Guy and Marline Calluaud have installedtheir French associates, Gerard Rousset and PascalCayet, as chef and manager, respectively, of this tinynew establishment, which is about as close to theFrench provinces as you can get on upper McKinney.The food is hearty country fare, French style. The swordfish grilled on a skewer that we tried was marvelouslycooked, and the casserole of rabbit braised in red winewas tasty, if a bit chewy. The pepper steak (filet in acreamy black peppercorn sauce) was an excellent version of this standard dish. Desserts struck the same highaverage as the rest of the food. Chez Gerard also offersa light lunch menu, with omelettes, sandwiches andsalads. (4444 McKinney. 522-6865. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner; Mon-Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. MC, V,AE. Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 6.0

D Chez Philippe. Philippe Carré, who was thechef at Jean Claude for a while, has recentlyventured out to set up his own establishment. AtChez Philippe, the cooking is serenely self-assured andaccomplished. The many interesting innovations arewell within the framework of classic cuisine, and theresults are delectable. The lobster we tried, serveddramatically in its hollowed out shell, had a subtle saffron sauce; the venison had a sauce sparked with raspberry vinegar; the tournedos of superb beef wereserved with a hearty wine sauce; and the veal (crownedwith a magnificently cooked kidney) had a most unusualsauce flavored with puréed carrots. The chocolatekirsch cake is one of the city’s great desserts. Our onlycomplaints were the crowded tables and the insufficiently polished service. (5027 W Lovers Lane. 353-9444. Tue-Sat seatings at 6 & 9 pm. Closed Sun & Mon.MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 9.0

D The French Room. Like something out of a Fragonard painting with its Corinthian columns and swags of drapery, the French Room offers the most lavish table in town. It can be difficult to get a reservation (we called a week ahead and had to settle for a 10 o’clock seating), but the food was worth it, from the opening pithiviers of snails to the concluding pastries. The lamb cooked in a brioche-dough crust and the assertively garlicky loup (a European sea bass)topped with an eggplant puree were both mightily impressive. The service, although still quite polished, didn’tseem quite as stately as before. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321Commerce. 742-8200. Daily 6:30-10:30 pm. Reservations required. Jackets and ties required. All creditcards. $$$$) 9.0



D REVISITS



The Grape. This bistro and wine bar has been around for so long that it’s easy to forget how good it is. We enjoyed the light, fresh mushroom soup and the hearty paté with our selections of wine by the glass. For something heavier, try the veal selections (the menu changes frequently). And for dessert, there’s pecan pie with lots of bourbon in the recipe. (2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



D Jean-Claude. Unfortunately, the impression we had on our previous visit was confirmed by our most recent one: The glories of Jean-Claude are a sometime thing these days. There are always some fine dishes in any meal here; for instance, the chocolate souffle with Grand Marnier always seems to be perfect. But on our last visit, three dishes were off the mark. Both a shrimp appetizer and a venison entrée tasted as if someone had gone berserk with a vinegarbottle. The lovely-looking individual lobster wasn’t hotwhen served, and its sauce was tasteless. Jean-Claudekeeps its “D” for now by virtue of successes like the frog’sleg mousse, but we hope that the downward trend canbe reversed. (2404 Cedar Springs. 748-6619. Tue-Sat seatings at 6 & 9 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations required. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 8.0

D Jennivine. Now that Jennivine has decided toplay in the big leagues by offering nouvellecooking, the dear old girl has to be judged bythe highest standards. And she holds up very well: Onour last visit, the shrimp and scallops in a honey vinaigrette were outstanding, and the duck in ginger saucewas crisp on the outside and pink and juicy within. Thepatés are still among the best in town (we love the platters with several pates, cheeses and fruits). The saladsand desserts aren’t quite up to the level of the rest of thefood, but the prices are moderate enough that there isplenty of value. (3605 McKinney. 528-6010. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards.$$$) 7.5

D L’Ambiance. The rather small menu heredoesn’t change much, and the frequent visitorcan soon find favorites such as the salad ofwatercress, bacon and goat cheese or the veal withmushrooms in a port sauce. But specials of the daykeep boredom from creeping in. We were enchantedwith the lobster and shrimp in a tingly ginger sauce andthe fresh asparagus salad. The desserts are magnificent, and we can’t seem to stray very far from the extraordinary Floating Island or the Concord cake. The onedisappointment here is the appetizers; most of themdon’t come up to the quality of the rest of the offerings. (2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner. Mon-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun. All credit cards.$$$) 8.0

La Cave. We’ve never taken very seriously the pretensions of the original La Cave on Henderson to being arestaurant rather than merely a pleasant wine bar. Butthis new branch, located in a rather deserted corner ofthe West End warehouse district (where Lamar runs intoWoodall Rodgers Expressway), serves food that clearly should be reckoned with. Besides the patés, cheesesand sandwiches that make up most of the fare at theother location, there are some more ambitious dishesat the new La Cave. We found the arlequin of fish (solewrapped around spinach served alongside perch ina coral-colored sauce) buttery and delicious. (2019 N Lamar. 871-2072. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-4; dinner: Mon-Sat 6 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. All creditcards. $$) 6.0

D REVISITS



D La Champagne. Numerous staff changes since its 1983 opening have made this most elegant of Far North Dallas restaurants a much better bet for dinner, but the news doesn’t seem to be out yet. An intricately designed terrine of duck and lobster sausage and a flamboyant salade composée of julienne vegetables and a variety of lettuces all make good openers. We admire the sea bass cooked with a touch of fennel and the veal topped with three kinds of mushrooms, too. We like a lot of things about La Champagne these days, from the little tidbits served “on the house’ (nicely sauced venison sausage, brandied cherries, a gateau of Roquefort) to the Mexican harpist. But we wish that business would pick up enough to permit rehiring a sommelier to guide patrons through the wonderful wine list. (The Registry. 16250 Dallas Pkwy. 386-6000. Mon-Sat 6 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0



D La Vieille Varsovie (The Old Warsaw). If soft lights, lavish trappings and a violin-and-piano duo can entrance you. this is your spot. The food can be very good, as with the tournedos Rossini and the sea bass garnished with lobster and crab that we sampled on our last visit. It can also be dull, as the salmon feuillete and oysters arlequin proved. On the whole, this doyenne of Dallas restaurants has slipped a bit from the heights it had attained a year or so ago. (2610 Maple. 528-0032. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat6-11:30 pm. Reservations. Jackets required. All creditcards. $$$$) 7.5

Le Boul’ Mich. This cozy gray house across from theQuadrangle has been the favorite “little French restaurant” of many Dallasites for many years. But lately we’venoticed a little graying around the temples, a fadingfrom glory, a surrender to Old Man Time. The food isbasically sound: A seafood omelette and a lunchtimequiche we had recently were definitively French andfirst-rate. The veal Francais was tender and tasty,though underwhelmingly sauced in a simple lemon butter. But the accompanying string beans and carrots arrived shriveled, presumably from overcooking, and theoverall presentation just wasn’t impressive. What’s missing here is the aura of festivity so prevalent at Dallas’more popular French restaurants; Le Boul’ Mich offersthe laid-back comfort of home. (2704 Worthington. 826-0660. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30pm Closed Sun MC. V. AE $$$) 5.5



D REVISITS



Manhattan. If you cant fly to Manhattan for a meal, don’t think that the Manhattan restaurant in the Preston Forest Shopping Center is even a remote substitute. The place was virtually deserted at lunch, and with good reason. It’s too expensive torthe quality and amount of food that is offered, andthe service is slightly patronizing. A shrimp saladfeatured a mound of iceberg lettuce, one tomato,one carrot curl and four shrimp. The chicken Kieventree was served with the waiter’s offer to do a”C-section” on it. The meat was tough, and thepreparation was uninspired. The “shrimp du chef”($7.95) featured three small marinated shrimp witha side dish of spinach. We must admit that theFrench onion soup was as tasty as any we’ve had.but not good enough to salvage this meal. (1482Preston Forest Square. 385-8221 Lunch: Mon-Fri11-3; dinner: daily 530 pm-midnight. All creditcards. $$$) 4.0



D Restaurant Silvano. Noise and an overly relaxed serving pace continue to plague this toniest of West End eateries. The look of the single dining room with its arched alcoves never fails to impress, but smaller spaces would offer more peace and quiet. Similarly, host Silvano Zanetti goes out of his way to exude warmth and friendliness, but we would be happier if we could gel the menu or the check when we wanted them. The food this time around wasn’t quite asgood as it was on our previous visit. We still think thechefs talent with seafood is extraordinary: Our shrimpand scallop appetizers were perfectly cooked andbeautifully sauced. But the main courses (steak in awine and mushroom sauce and stuffed quail) were lessdistinguished. Happily, the desserts, including a spectacular Floating Island, restored our faith in Silvano’s.(311 Market. 747-0322. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. ClosedSun. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0



D REVISITS



D Pyramid Room. After some years of wandering about, this great Dallas institution seems to be back on track. We had a wonderful meal here at the peak of luxury. The splendor of the room is restored, so we felt we had to live up to it with splendiferous dishes: blinis with caviar, lobster salad, pheasant sauced with foie gras, rack of lamb. Aside from the canned asparagus in the lobster salad, everything satisfied our expectations. And the Linzertorte for dessert (a tart made with raspberry jam) even exceeded them. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross at Akard. 748-5454. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: daily 6-10. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0



The Riviera. An evening at The Riviera is always a treat (and now it’s open for lunch, too). Host Franco Bertolasi remembers your face after the first visit and gives youa warm welcome, the bright blond interior is cheery,and the food seldom disappoints. The specialty is thecooking of the south of France, reproduced lovingly ifnot exactly. The chefs (a married couple) have a specialway with seafood, and among the best dishes here arethe warm scallop salad (lightly touched with orange), thelobster stew and the mixed seafood grill of scallops,shrimp and salmon. Desserts range from light sherbetsto rich crème brulée and mocha cake. (7709 Inwood.3510094. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur6:30-10:30, Fri & Sal 6:30-11. Closed Sun. All creditcards. $$$$) 7.0

St. Martin’s. Sometimes a wine bistro isn’t just a winebistro. Granted, this is an ideal nightspot for a romanticinterlude-the tables are candle-lit and covered withcrisp white tablecloths and freshly cut red carnations-and its claim to fame seems to have been built on itswine and cheese-and-fruit or paté board offerings. ButSt. Martin’s also has a small yet varied menu rangingfrom roast beef and veal to pasta and swordfish.Although we are usually wary of varied menus, we werepleasantly surprised with the swordfish and vealmedallions we were served. The service is tops. (3020 Greenville. 826-0940. Mon- Thur 11 am-3 pm & 5-11 pm,Fri & Sat 11 am-3 pm&5 pm-1 am, Sun 5-11 pm; Sunbrunch: 11-3. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



GERMAN/EASTERN EUROPEAN



D REVISITS



Belvedere. Most everything the chef of this SwissAustrian restaurant attempts he accomplishes well,whether it’s perfectly preparing meaty, tender scallops, grilling a T-bone of veal or assembling a richand colorful veal Oscar. Some pre-meal choicesmay be better than others, however: The plates ofsmoked salmon and veal we ordered were tasty buttoo overwhelming to be served as appetizers. Ahomemade soup or a house salad dressed withgenerous amounts of bleu cheese is a better bet.The look of Belvedere has improved substantiallysince our last visit: The country wallpaper prints andthe candlelight help a lot. (Crestpark Hotel, 4242Lomo Alto. 528-6510. Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2; dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10:30, Sun 6-9; Sun brunch: 11 -2:30.Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5



Bohemia. This tiny, romantic jewel never fails to leave us happily replete after a sturdy. country-Czech meal served in a room dancing with Viennese waltzes andflickering candlelight on lace tablecloths. Our favorite issauerbraten served with cranberries, soup or salad,several choices of vegetables and boiled potatoes orthick, pasty dumplings. The sauce is dark and viscousin appearance, but one bite proves it light and delightfully spiced, a waltz in itself. Pfefferhasen (roasted rabbit) is a real native treat. And, as always, we didn’t passup the homemade apple strudel. Bohemia offersperhaps the most filling and romantic under-$40 mealfor two in the city, including two glasses of Czech wineand dessert. (2810 N Henderson. 826-6209. Sun & Tue-Thur 5:30-9:30 pm. Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30 pm. ClosedMon. Reservations recommended. All credit cards.$$$) 6.5

Café Kashtan. We almost hesitate to recommend Cafe Kashtan, despite some unique and very appetizing food, because of the sometimes maddeningly slow service. But after all, just how many Ukrainian restaurants can Dallas boast? It’s the only place in town we know of where you can order chicken Kiev cooked by a native of Kiev. We love the soups and the Kashtan Sampler-mounds of cold salads made from beets, radishes and homemade sauerkraut. The chicken Tabaka (flattened, flavored with garlic and grilled), the mustardv beef stroganoff and the cabbage rolls are all worth exploring. The desserts change every night, butthe ones we’ve tried (almond cake with raspberry sauceand a raisin strudel) have been exceptional. (5365 Spring Valley at Montfort. 991-9550. Lunch: Mon-Fri11-2; dinner:Mon-Sat 5-10. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE, DC.$$) 6.0

D Rolf’s. Echt deutsch dishes and those in a more international style divide the menu here, and the quality is high either way you choose. Three of our choices involved beef, and all were excellent. The Rinds Roulade (beef rolled around sauerkraut and pickles and braised) showed that a hearty dish can be refined. The Baden Baden plate set tender medallions of beef and veal alongside each other, both topped with rich sauces. The appetizer of steak tartare was perfectly fresh and not overseasoned Our only complaints: The appetizer of shrimp in a brandy-horseradish sauce was skimpy despite a hefty price tag, and the only dessert that we have found outstanding is the apple cake. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy, Suite 117. 696-1933. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30, dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 8.0



GOURMET CARRYOUT



Chow To Go. Caterer Mike Hearn has opened a takeout establishment with a few tables available for eating lunch on the premises. A blackboard beautifully decorated with colored-chalk drawings advertises the sandwich selections. They sound fairly far-out, and they taste that way, too. The lamb sandwich, for instance, comes with caprino (a goat cheese that’s made in Dallas) and sun-dried tomatoes – but it comes off as a trifle gimmicky and even a bit dry. The sandwich of smoked turkey, cheese, guacamole and salsa is much more successful. Perhaps the best things at Chow to Go are the baked goods. Muffins are available in many flavors, as are the brownies and the extraordinary cookies. (2404 Cedar Springs at Maple. 871-7145. Mon-Fri 10 am-7 pm, Sal 10 am-6 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards for purchases under $25; MC, V $$) 5.5



GREEK



Little Gus’. One disadvantage of living in a melting pot is that over the years, all the food runs together and begins to taste the same. Thank goodness for Little Gus; he makes his Greek specialties live up to their heritage. The moussaka is at once sharp and sweet and creamy, with layers of beef and spicy eggplant. Gus offers some of the best hamburgers around at noon, but we prefer his restaurant after dark The taste for the heavy Greek resin wine may be an acquired one, but the candlelightand food speak a universal language. (1916 Greenville.826-4910. Mon-Thur 7:30 am-4 pm & 6-9 pm, Fri & Sal7:30 am-4 pm & 6-10 pm. Sun 9 am-1:45 pm. No creditcards; personal checks accepted. $$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Crackers. We were once crackers about thisrestaurant in a refurbished old house on McKinney,but our last visit didn’t live up to our memories. We’reglad that the menu concentrates more heavily onthe Greek specialties, but they could have been better. The spanokopita (spinach pie) was soggy, andthe dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) were undistinguished. The moussaka was better than the souv-laki (skewered lamb), which was tough and overdone. Maybe it was just as well that there were noGreek desserts: The coconut chess pie and thewalnut cake were the best part of our meal. (2621McKinney. 827-1660. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri&Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. MC,V,AE.$$) 4.5



INDIAN/ETHIOPIAN



D REVISITS



Queen of Sheba. Ethiopian food is one of the most difficult of the foreign cuisines to BECOME accus-torned to. Maybe it’s because everything is served on a huge platter of injera, the flat bread with a texture of sliced sponge rubber that is plate, fork and staff of life to the Ethiopians. On it come spicy stews such as doro wat (chicken and eggs in a red sauce), accompanied by greens and yogurt. Queen of Sheba is a good place for the adventurous to try it all out, since the atmosphere is pleasant and the prices low. (For the less adventurous, Queen of Sheba also has a few Italian dishes.) (3527 McKinney. 521-0491. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $) 4.5



D Kebab ’N Kurry. At lunch or dinner, this plain-looking little place serves unexcelled Indian food. At noon, the shrimp masala, served in a rich red sauce, comes with soup, rice and curried vegetables. In the evening, it can be part of a repast that might include some of the juicy meats grilled in the tan-door (a clay oven), a frighteningly spicy beef vindaloo and a dish of homemade cheese cubes in a thick spinach puree. The shahajani biryani (chicken in a delicate rice pilaf) and the Indian breads are sensational. (401 N Central Expwy, Suite 300, Richardson, 231-5556; 2620 Walnut Hill Lane. 350-6466. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10. Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30; brunch: Sat & Sun 11:30-2:30. Reservations. MC, V, AE, DC. $) 7.5



D REVISITS



Tanjore. This Indian restaurant across from Pres-tonwood Town Center offers lots of pleasures. Mostof the dishes, from the spicy fritters and other savoryappetizers on the Tanjore Tray to the delicious Indian breads, are cooked with authority. The chickenTanjore (like chicken Tandoori, except that the restaurant lacks a tandoor oven) is moist and delicate,and the spicy curried eggplant and potato dish hasplenty of zing. Some dishes aren’t quite so successful, such as a lackluster lamb shahi korma and atough shrimp masala. The staff works hard toplease, but the kitchen seems daunted by a complicated order-take the menu’s warning of longpreparation time to heart if you order more than acouple of dishes. (Prestonwood Creek ShoppingCenter, 5409 Belt Line. 960-0070. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 6-10; brunch: Sat 11:30-3, Sun 11-4. Bar membership available. All creditcards. $$) 5.5

Alessio’s. The daily specials in this intimate (and oftencrowded) place are so appealing that you may neverlook at the menu. We tried the soup and pasta of the dayas appetizers, and we found the soup (zucchini withfresh basil, sour cream and pine nuts) extraordinary; thepasta (angel-hair noodles with tiny shrimp and fresh tomato), underseasoned. The salad of fresh mozzarellaand tomato was worth the stiff price, and the entrees ofveal Toscana (with artichokes and mushrooms) andgrilled swordfish can’t be beat in Dallas. Save room forthe white chocolate ice cream or the lemon ice, bothtopped with lots of fresh raspberries. (4117 Lomo Alto.521-3585. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm, Sun & Mon 6-10 pm.MC. V, AE. $$$) 7.0

Alfredo’s. This small pizza joint has attracted a lot ofnotice, and one of the biggest surprises is just how farnorth it turns out to be (there’s a lovely view of the Ad-dison airport, way to the south). The pies Alfredo’smakes have a wonderfully crisp crust, and they’re madeentirely to order. We do wish the pizzas had moretomato sauce to give them a bit more flavor, though.There are also some other standard Southern Italiandishes available; we liked the cannelloni and the eggplant parmigiana very much. (4043 Trinity Mills at Midway. 242-7135. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Sun noon-10 pm. No credit cards; personalchecks accepted. $) 5.0

Campisi’s. Is it still worth jockeying for a hard-to-findparking place and waiting in the inevitable long lines todine here? We think so. Although the dimly lit diningroom is cramped and noisy, and the service can behaphazard, the heaping platter of crab claws drenchedin garlic butter is, at $9, a bargain; the Italian dishes (wetried veal parmigiana with mostaccioli) are satisfying;and the locally famous pizza (we went “all the way”) is stillthe tops in town. (5610 E Mockingbird. 827-0355, 827-7711. Mon-Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat 11 am-1 am, Sun 11:30 am-midnight. Reservations for six or more. No credit cards. $$) 4.5

Capriccio. Of all the remodeled old houses that haveserved as restaurants in Dallas, this one may have keptits character the best and turned out the loveliest. Somecare has also been given to the food, although it’s notas exciting as the look of Capriccio. The spaghettitopped with chicken livers is an interesting choice forthose with a taste for giblets, and the angel-hair pastain fresh tomato sauce has a lively taste of fresh basil. Theentrees we’ve tried have been pleasant but unexceptional; the best is probably the tournedos in a light winesauce. Desserts at Capriccio, though, are somethingspecial. Both the Concord cake (of chocolate and meringue) and the rum cake (something like a cheesecakein texture, with lots of raisins) are memorable. (2616 Maple. 871-2004. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. All credit cards.Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 5.5

DiPalma. This crowded deli/wine store/pastry shop/res-taurant can be the most exciting and lively Italianrestaurant in Dallas, but it’s hardly the most consistent.Our most recent meal had everything from a wonderfulshellfish soup with succulent scallops and shrimp in agarlicky broth to inedibly underdone veal grilled on askewer with chicken and sausage. Pasta is usually impeccable here (although the pasta salads are sometimes overcooked and mushy). But the decorative desserts sometimes don’t taste as good as they look. (1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.0

Ferrari’s. The veal dishes are wonderful here, but on arecent visit, the service was uneven. The veal drenchedin lemon-wine sauce and the fettuccine were worthwaiting for. The tomato-based sauces are fresh, and thepastas include a rich cannelloni. When the dessert cartfinally arrived, we found the chocolate mousse cake tobe especially good. (1713 Market. 741-5538. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V, AE. $$$) 6.5

La Trattoria Lombardi. From our appetizers of cratclaws sautéed with white wine sauce to the order o’creamy fettuccine Alfredo, from our entrees of shrimp(sautéed in garlic butter) and veal (breaded and toppecwith cheese and tomato sauce) to the delicious dessertof homemade cappuccino pie, this pleasant restaurantexcels. The candle-lit green-and-white interior is charm-ing, as is the attentive service. This is food – and am-biance – to savor. (2916 N Hall. 823-6040. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Pizzeria Uno. This is the Dallas franchise of the originaChicago deep-dish pizza establishment- The pizzascome in three sizes (even the smallest is quite substantial), and they arrive at the table in heavy iron potsalmost like skillets. The crust is at once doughy andcrisp, and it contains inch-high mixtures of tomatocheese and meats of various sorts. Among the otherdishes, we liked the marinated mushrooms, the vegetables for dipping and especially the pizza skins (whichare, in effect, slices of mashed-potato pizza). (4002 Belt Line. 991-8181. Daily 11 am-2 am. MC, V, AE. CB $$) 5.0



D REVISITS



Prego Pasta House. Although Prego Pasta House is a bit hard to peg-with a casual menu reminiscent of Campisi’s served in a simple, elegantsetting – that hasn’t affected its popularity. And whyshould it? Here you can have the best of bothworlds: Whether you’re dressed in denim or Dior,you can dine on such delicacies as linguini withwhite clam sauce and chicken breast piccata or optfor the inexpensive (and always enjoyable) pizza. Indulge in an amaretto freeze or brandy Alexander forthe ultimate culinary conclusion. (4930 Greenville. 363-9204. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri 11 am-midnight. Sat 5 pm-midnight. Sun noon-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0



D Ristorante Valentino. The menu at this excellent new Italian restaurant is small and imaginative, with notable successes at every stage.The lasagna with scallops-lots of rich cheese, wholeleaves of basil and no tomato- is sublime, and the smallpasta shells with tomato and garlic and the angel-hairpasta with lobster, cognac and tomato are not far behind. The beef tenderloin in a cream sauce with greenpeppercorns has an assertive flavor, and the red snapper with tomato sauce couldn’t be fresher and lighter.(2929 N Henderson. 826-7804. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5

Ristorante Vincenzo. This restaurant in the locationthat Sergio’s and Via Veneto used to occupy offers aninteresting assortment of dishes from all over the Italianpeninsula. The pasta selections are unusual, rangingfrom spaghetti with julienne eggplant to small pastashells in a sauce rich with ricotta. Main courses includea flavorful grilled swordfish steak with a sauce loadedwith olives and garlic, chicken topped with Swisscheese and mushrooms, and classics such as scampiand veal (with ham in a brown sauce flecked with sage).(The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh, Suite 165. 742-3872. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Fri 5:30-10, Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Sergio & Luciano. The pasta dishes and the vealare the two main reasons to try this tasteful restaurant/bar on Addison’s restaurant row. The linguinidishes come with a bewildering array of sauces,and the veal sautéed with brandy, cream sauce andtruffles was superbly but delicately seasoned. Trysome of the off-menu specials, as well as the ingenious salads prepared with baby shrimp andother delectables. (The Quorum, 4900 Belt Line,Suite 250. 387-4441. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur & Sun 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Allcredit cards. $$$$) 6.5



JAPANESE/KOREAN



Kobe Steaks. One of the most popular places alongthe Addison strip, this restaurant combines food andshow in one event. Japanese cooks who look like samurai chop and flip pieces of beef, seafood and vegetables on a teppan yaki grill with martial abandon. It’s allvery entertaining, but the steak, shrimp, zucchini, beansprouts, etc., all wind up tasting pretty much the sameunder the avalanche of oil, salt, soy sauce and sesame.(The Quorum, 5000 Belt Line, Suite 600. 934-8150. Sun-Thur 5-11 pm. Fri & Sat 5 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Mr. Sushi. This cozy but stylish nook is far and awayour favorite Japanese restaurant. The sushi bar boastsa vast variety of fish and shellfish, and everything we’vetried has been impeccably fresh and flavorful. At thetables, the service is warm and efficient, and standardJapanese dishes such as tempura, chicken teriyaki andkara age (fried marinated chicken chunks) receivecareful treatment. A surprise is how good the dessertsare (Westernized, but all the better for that): homemaderum cake and pina colada or green tea ice creams. (The Quorum. 4860 Belt Line, Addison. 385-0168. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Sun 5:30-10. All credit cards. $$) 6.5

Royal Tokyo. Royal Tokyo has something for everybody: tatami rooms for those who want comparative authenticity, hibachi tables for those who want a show, a sushi bar for those who crave raw fish and even a piano bar for those who just want a drink. The sushi bar turns out the best food: The selection of fish and seafood is wide, and each item we tried was at the peak of freshness (the yellowtail and mackerel were especially fine) On the down side were the sukiyaki (carelessly boiled instead of prepared ingredient by ingredient) and the tempura (with lots of heavy, underdone batter). (7525 Greenville. 368-3304. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2. Sun 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun & Mon 5:30-10:30. Tue-Thur 5:30-11. Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30. All credit cards $$) 5.0



MEXICAN



Cantu’s. This pleasant, sparkling-clean restaurant serves some of the mildest Mexican food we’ve ever tasted. It’s just right for beginners, though not too exciting for a true lover of hot and spicy dishes. Everything from the beef enchiladas to the chile relleno stuffed with cheese is mild. mild. mild. But our fajita expert says that the mesquite-grilled beef in the fajitas is better than at nearby Raphael’s although they’re a little heavy on the marinade. (5290 Belt Line. Suite 132, Addison. 991-9105. Tue-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 5-10 pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Guadalajara. Some of the finest Mexican cooking inDallas can still be found in this classic dive just east ofdowntown. On our last visit, we had an excellentmilanesa (which is rather like a Mexican chicken-friedsteak) and a tasty, if rather tough, steak cooked withgarlic and chile pequin. The side dishes, such as gua-camole, fried potatoes and refried beans, were exceptional. But if you venture to this place, be prepared forfunky surroundings and service that can border onabusive. (3308 Ross at Hall. 823-9340. Mon-Fri 11 am-3:30 am, Sat & Sun 10:30 am-3:30 am. All creditcards. $$) 6.0

Herrera Café. This dumpy little shack, with its crumbling facade, air conditioning unit jutting out in front andfading fresco proclaiming “Café Herrera!.” was recently described in National Geographic as a “nine-tableTex-Mex eatery.” Beneath the water-stained ceiling,hungry folks crowd in for the generic but well-preparedfare of tacos and tamales, enchiladas, rice and beans.Neither beer nor margaritas are served, so you’d betterbring your own beer or order a tall glass of iced teabefore trying the hot hot sauce. (3902 Maple. 526-9427.Mon, Wed & Thur 9 am-8 pm. Fri-Sun 9 am-10 pm.Closed Tue. No credit cards $) 5.5

J. Pepe Gonzalez. A turquoise and pink decor definesthis Oak Lawn establishment as “nouveau-Mex,” and theshrimp and spinach enchiladas confirmed our judgment. This is a successful hybrid, with a plethora of excellent traditional Tex-Mex dishes sometimes temperedby annoyingly mild sauces. Desserts like the praline pieand sopapillas with strawberries make it worthwhile tolinger over your meal. (The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 871-0366. Mon-Thur 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-11 pm, Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Javier’s. Don’t expect to find Tex-Mex here. The menuruns more to fantasies on Mexican themes- steak andseafood with rich sauces made from exotic ingredients- that can be excellent in their own right. The steak can-tinflas, for example (named after the famous Mexicancomic), is split laterally, stuffed with cheese and toppedwith a sauce made of mild chiles anchos. The red snapper with garlic sauce is less unusual but just as satisfying. The soups are the best starters, and the dessertsare very sweet. (4912 Cole. 521-4211. Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30 pm, Sun 5:30-10 pm. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

La Calle Doce. Sitting in the shadows of the Oak CliffBank, this bright, airy house-turned-restaurant is one ofthe few Tex-Mex spots in the southern part of the citythat offers more than the usual fare. Among the moreauthentic specialties, all of the beef dishes are excellent(especially the chile rellenos), and the seafood items(described on the menu as “fresh from the Trinity”) arealso worthy of praise. The shrimp are meaty and cookedin garlic butter, and the snapper is covered with spicytomatoes and bell peppers. The only disappointmentwas the rice, which was rather dry. (415 W 12th St. 941-4304. Mon-Thur 11 am-9:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. Sun 11 am-8:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Mariano’s. This Old Town restaurant has undergonesome changes during the past few years, including a recent remodeling that has made the place much moreairy and attractive. We chuckled at the notice on thedoor that pronounces the restaurant’s membershippolicy: “Members and non-members only.” Exclusivityaside, we still love Mariano’s famous frozen margaritas,tostadas and hot sauce, nachos and guacamole: All arecan’t-miss appetizers. But the Tex-Mex entrées wererather ordinary. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville at LoversLane. 691-3888. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-midnight. MC. V. AE. $$) 4.5

Pepe’s Café. The gentrification of Oak Lawn has left atleast one sanctuary of ethnic unchic. The folks who eatat Pepe’s may be upscale, but the place is resolutelyunpretentious-this is a frame shotgun house amid allthe high-rises and tony nouvelle establishments. TheTex-Mex is much better than average (we can’tremember the last time we enjoyed old-fashioned beeftacos as much), and the fancier dishes like fajitas andchiles rellenos are creditable. (3011 Routh. 871-9445. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Sat 10:30 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 5.5

Puerto Vallarta. So far, this small but ambitious Mexican restaurant doesn’t seem to have caught its stride. The tasty hot sauce has bits of cilantro, and the service is polite. Some of the food is fine. From the name, we expected to find some seafood dishes on the menu, but the only one -shrimp -was unavailable when we visited. We enjoyed some of the more unusual dishes, such as the vegetarian enchiladas and the chicken Milanesa (a breast beaten thin and sautéed with a bit of garlic). But the standard Tex-Mex items, such as beef enchiladas, tacos and guacamole, were dull, and the fajitas lacked taste. (2525 Wycliff, Suite 126. 522-9173. Mon-Thur 11 am-3 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-10 pm; Sat & Sun brunch: 8-3. All credit cards. $$) 5.0



SEAFOOD



D Atlantic Café. Sleek and snazzy with its etched glass, brass and marble, Atlantic Café offers food as chic as its decor. No Mexican place in town can match the ceviche of scallops and shrimp,bright with the taste of cilantro, and no Italian place canmatch the mozzarella-and-tomato salad. This is one of Dallas’ premier seafood restaurants; the tender “buster”(baby soft-shell) crabs and the delicately sautéed Doversole prove that. But it also has some fine things for thosewho abhor fish: The pepper steak is exemplary. Desserts are remarkable, too, the crepe filled with freshstrawberries is tasty (though overpoweringly sweet),and the cream custard is rich and light beyond belief.(4546 McKinney at Knox 559-4441. Lunch: Mon-Fri & Sun 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$) 8.0



D REVISITS



Bachman Café. We can’t say enough nice thingsabout this comfortable little cafe (especially since it’sowned by a rather large fellow named Mean JoeGreene). Seriously, we enjoyed the live music andthe simple but filling fare. The menu has a slight hintof New Orleans; anything made with oysters is awinner. And don’t miss the cheesesteak sandwichwith mushrooms and green peppers on French loafBread. Joe. one problem: The service was just a bitslow-not much, mind you. Just a little. (3049 WNorthwest Hwy. 351 0959. Mon-Wed 4:30 prn-1am. Thur & Fri 4:30 pm-2 am. Sat 5 pm-2 am.Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. $) 5.0



Fishmonger’s Oyster Bar. This used to be mainly a takeout place with a few tables for dining in. Recently, it more than doubled its seating capacity, and while there is still fresh seafood on sale at the market and plenty of take-home business, Fishmonger’s now feels more like the oyster bar in its name. The food is Louisiana-style, and it compares favorably with some of the middle-rank places in New Orleans. We’re crazy about the grilled redfish special and the odd but satisfying sole stuffed with whole shrimp, crab and cheese. The fried seafood is fine – although, like the gumbo and even the fries, it can be overly spicy – and the bread pudding is wonderful. (1915 N Central Expwy, Suite 600, Piano. 423-3699. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri 11-11. Sat noon-10 pm, Sunnoon-9pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5



D REVISITS



Charley’s Seafood Grill. Charley’s has beenaround longer than most of the places that grill seafood over mesquite, and it doesn’t make such a bigthing of it Both swordfish and a mixed brochette ofshrimp and scallops take well to the treatment. Or,if you like, you can get good fried or sautéed fish instead. For starters, we prefer the boiled shrimp orthe chowder to the gumbo. (5348 Belt Line. Ad-dison. 934-8501. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat11-11. MC.V. AE.$$)



D REVISITS



Rocco Oyster Bar. The white-tiled walls and stark surroundings are a bit too high-tech to remind one of New Orleans, but the food here is much morecharacteristic of the Crescent City. To start our meal,we indulged in some fresh oysters on the half shelland a cup of hearty, spicy gumbo that ranked withthe best we’ve ever tasted. Our friendly, efficientwaitress suggested the house specials (displayedon a blackboard above the serving bar), so we triedthat trendy favorite, blackened redfish. and asteamed Maine lobster. The lobster was rathertough, but the redfish was a sensation, with a spicy,char-broiled flavor and an incredibly tender textureFrom a list of side dishes, we ordered fat homemade fries, chunky coleslaw and fried okra (2520Cedar Springs. 747-6226. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-10pm. Sun 4-10 pm. MC. V. AE. $$) 5.5



S&D Oyster Co. This often crowded haven for landlocked lovers of the bounty of the sea never tails to satisfy its large and loyal clientele. Everything isprepared perfectly here, from the seafood gumbo(chock-full of oysters) to the broiled redfish and hushpuppies that aren’t too greasy. The beaded board wallsand ceiling and the pictures of 19th-century sailingvessels give the place a wharfside appeal, and the mintleaves in the iced tea are a nice touch. (2701 McKinney.823-6350. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11.Closed Sun. No reservations. MC, V. $$) 5.5



SOUTHEAST ASIAN



Sawatdee. To a newcomer, most of Sawatdee’s dishes have unpronounceable names and unlikely-sounding descriptions. But a little sampling will usually allay any misgivings. Thai cuisine has influences from all over and offers something to please everyone. Appetizers include delicious grilled skewered pork with a spicy peanut sauce and whole shrimp wrapped up in thin noodle dough and deep-fried. It’s sometimes hard to tell from the menu descriptions just how peppery a dish is going to be, so consult the waiter. Our shrimp in pepper paste was quite innocuous-ana delicious-but some Thaidishes leave you spouting fire like a real live dragon.(4503 Greenville at Yale. 373-6138. Lunch: Mon-Fri11:30-2:30: dinner: daily 5-10:30. All credit cards.$$) 6.0



SOUTHERN



D REVISITS



Bubba’s. We continue to come here for the crisp,juicy fried chicken and the sweetish, yeasty rolls(dripping with honey, if you like). But the rest of Bubba’s food is problematical. The selection of vegetables is commendable, but the greens, green beansand pinto beans are all cooked (authentically) withsalt pork, and all come out saltier than any sailor’slanguage. And the mashed potatoes taste like cardboard. Neither the catfish nor the chicken-friedsteak can be recommended, either. Still, Bubba’s isprettier than Church’s and offers unbeatable opportunities for preppy-watching. (6617 Hillcrest. 373-6527. Mon-Fri 6:30 am-3 pm & 4-10 pm. Sat & Sun 6:30 am-10 pm. No credit cards; personalchecks accepted. $) 4.5



Gennie’s Bishop Grill. Area grandmothers may now retire. In this frill-less, cafeteria-style refuge, lunch borders on a religious experience. Aside from a potluckat First Baptist, we know of no place where you canleave so happily stuffed for less cash. Consider Gennie’schicken-fried steak: The gravy is thick and peppery, thecrust is thin and crisp, and the beef tastes like real steak.The vegetables-mashed potatoes, greens, corn -areheaped on your plate, and the desserts are enormoushomemade fluffs of sweet meringue or peanut butterpie. (308 N Bishop. 946-1752. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. Nocredit cards; personal checks accepted. $) 6.0

Highland Park Cafeteria. A trip to the Prestonwood-area location of this old Dallas institution can be a bitdisappointing. Some of the most famous dishes, suchas the unique chopped spinach salad with horseradish,are usually not available, and the fried chicken often failsto come up to the standard of the original Knox-Colelocation. There are still many pleasures, though, suchas the stuffed peppers and the incredible desserts. (Wealways seem to go for the coconut pie or the Germanchocolate cake.) (4611 Cole, 526-3801; Sakowitz Village, 5100 Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600. 934-8800. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm at Cole location; Mon-Sat 11am-8 pm, Sun 11 am-3 pm at Sakowitz Village location.No credit cards at Cole; MC. V, AE at Sakowitz Village. $) 6.0

The Mecca. Outside, it’s a two-story house with carscrammed into the parking lot, set in the busiest commercial tract of Harry Hines. Inside, it’s a diner of the old school, swamped by folks of every sort-from politicosto truckers. Best noted for its whopping breakfasts, theMecca also puts a hearty lunch on the table. Chicken-fried steak is a standby, of course, but there are otherdown-home things such as ham and cabbage. Bravethe crowds and get there early if you want your choiceof vegetables-the greens, carrots and macaroni andcheese go fast. (10422 Harry Mines. 3520051. Mon-Fri5:30 am-3 pm, Sat 5:30 am-2 pm. Closed Sun. All creditcards. $) 4.5



STEAKS, BURGERS, ETC.



Boulevard Café. This pioneer in the Jefferson Boulevard renaissance only dimly resembles any place onLower Greenville: There are plants around, but theplace isn’t really trying to be chic. This is urban populismat its most appealing, with diners of every description.They come for the sandwiches (good burgers andgrilled chicken) and thin, honest steaks at reasonableprices. The homemade chili (filled with big, raggedchunks of meat, just enough grease and lots of flavor-the real Texas thing) is the best item on the menu. Wehope that the service we experienced here was atypical- it was inattentive and extremely spacey. (367 W Jefferson. 941-2812. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri &Sat 11am-midnight. Closed Sun. MC. V, DC. $) 4.5

Chuggs. Chuggs has opened a back room and put upa mural, but it’s still the same lovable place we discovered last year. The Chicago-style sandwiches aresomething special: Vienna hot dogs, huge hamburgers,definitive Reubens. There are even gyro sandwiches forthose who are in the mood for something a bit more exotic. The revolving glass case full of homemade desserts holds some real treasures. (730 W Centerville, Garland. 686-1500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11,Sun noon-10 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $) 6.5

The Palm. Our first visit to the Palm was a bit disappointing, in view of the expectations raised by a $72 lobster-or, for that matter, a $20 steak. Now we knowwhat to order (filet mignon) and how much (one steakfor two people). As a friend observed about the Palm’spolicy on splitting orders, “Sometimes you have to staredown the waiter, but they’ll do it.” We also sampled thepork chops, which were flavorful and moist. Side dishesare superb: light, crisp onion rings, bountiful salads andreal New York cheesecake. And the rowdy ebullienceon a Friday night is a true tonic at the week’s end. (701Ross. 6980470. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri11:30 am-11 pm. Sat 5-11 pm, Sun 5-9:30 pm. All creditcards. $$$$) 6.0

D Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Just as an experiment, on our last visit we ordered one each ofthe three basic steaks Ruth’s Chris offers (sirloin,tenderloin and rib-eye), each at a different level ofdoneness. All were spectacularly good in their rich butter sauces, but to our surprise, we liked the rib-eye best.(We had thought that a true prime rib-eye would be tooheavy and fatty, but we were happy to be provenwrong.) Each of the great hunks of beef was cooked toorder, if a little on the rare side. The accompanyingpotatoes (fried or baked) would have pleased any meat-and-potatoes fan. (6940 Greenville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri11:30-11:30. Sat & Sun 5-11:30 pm. All credit cards.$$$) 7.5

Snuffer’s. This small, casual restaurant next to theGranada Theater is one of those rare places where youfeel at home immediately. Snuffer’s has a limited butsomewhat varied menu (burgers, chip-and-dip combinations, salads-even peel-and-eat shrimp). Everything we tried was wonderful. We started with fresh, hottostadas and perfectly flavored guacamole studdedwith chunks of fresh tomato. Then we tried the justifiablyfamous burger – medium-rare beef on a bun with all thebest trimmings- and a tasty chicken sandwich. The accompanying fries, served in a big basket with a generous shake of seasoned salt, were crunchy and hot.(3526 Greenville. 826-6850. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sunnoon-2 am. All credit cards. $) 5.5

LAS COLINAS/MID CITIES



D REVISITS



China Terrace. With its rosewood antiques andassortment of fine Oriental ornaments, China Terrace creates the perfect atmosphere to enjoy fineChinese dining. And from the egg rolls to the fortune cookies, that’s exactly what we did. The foil-wrapped barbecue ribs found on the hot horsd’oeuvres platter only whetted our appetites forwhat was to follow. We savored the beef with broccoli and indulged in prawns so artfully arranged onour plates that it almost seemed a shame to devoureverything so quickly. Our waiter never let ourteacups run dry or our supply of rice dwindle. (5435N MacArthur, Irving. 258-1113. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri 11-11, Sal 5-11 pm. Sun 5-10 pm. MC, V.AE. $$) 6.0



D Enjolle. The new chef has instituted an alternative menu that’s low in calories but stilldelicious. We tried the Bourbon Shrimp, the tomato and mushroom salad and the Dover sole (rolledup into pinwheels with salmon mousse and spinach)and found it hard to believe that a meal so deliciouscould be good for us. The richer dishes were fine, too:lobster cooked with cabbage, rabbit in two mustardsauces and desserts like the Praline Parfait and the LeSucces (a meringue and butter cream cake). (MandalayFour Seasons Hotel, 221 S Las Colinas Blvd, Irving.556-0800, ext. 3155. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0

La Deli. The bountiful assortment of appetizers at thisLebanese restaurant includes some old favorites suchas humus tahini (a dip made from chickpeas) and babaganouf (a dip made from eggplant), but they don’t havethe piquant flavor we recall from the owner’s previousplace, Khalil’s Beirut. The broiled shrimp taste mostly ofpepper, the lamb shish kebabs are undistinguished,and the sampler platter contains run-of-the-mill stuffedcabbage and grape leaves and overcooked falafel(chickpea patties). The most successful entree isperhaps the kibbie nayeh-tartar- raw beef and bulgurwheat ground together and served cold. Service can bedisorganized. (5433 N MacArthur. Las Colinas. 258-1163. Mon 11 am-6 pm, Tue-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Los Canarios. Friday and Saturday nights are special nights here, since that’s when the house offers its seafood specialties: shrimp enchiladas, crab-meat flautas and chimichangas. At first, we suspected the regular menu of being typically Tex-Mex. But soon we saw that the usual chili and melted-cheese toppings were absent; instead, the kitchen prefers a green mole sauce. Another diversion is the ceviche that’s available Thursday through Saturday nights. The strip-shopping-center locale of this restaurant makes it a hard place to find, but scores of Mid-Cities dwellers make it a weeklystop. (Hwy 10 at Raider Dr. Euless. (817) 283-4691.Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10. Fri & Sat5-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Milano’s. Judging from the wooden exterior and blueawnings of this Collins Boulevard stop, we didn’t expectto find such a lavish dining room and menu. The dimlylit, paneled dining room, with its intimate booths anddeep cushions, spells romance. This Italian restaurantis a place for lovers-if they have hearty appetites. Theexpansive menu offers several attractive selections inthe veal, seafood, beef, chicken and pasta categories.We heartily recommend the veal scampi, a dish thatweds huge Gulf shrimp with delicate medallions of vealMarsala. The fettuccine was better than any we’vetasted in a long time, and the appetizer of crab claws indrawn butter was scrumptious. (815 N Collins, Arlington. (817) 261-2216. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner:Sun-Fri 5:30-10:30. Sat 5:30 pm-midnight. Reservationsrecommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

FORT WORTH



Angelo’s. Is Fort Worth’s most famous barbecue jointslipping, or did we just have some bad luck on our lastvisit? The huge portion of ribs was as satisfying as ever,and the side dishes, such as potato salad and slaw,were far above average. But the thickly sliced brisketwas so dried-out that the tangy sauce could hardlyredeem it. Angelo’s mystique can’t survive many disappointments in the quality of the beef. (2533 White Set-tlement Rd. (817) 332-0357. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 6.0

Benito’s. This funky place on the near South Side offersreal Mexican dishes rather than Tex-Mex. A wait of onlya few minutes will produce an appetizer of sopes, acousin of the chalupa with a thicker base of cornmealdough. Fajitas come with grilled scallions in true Mexican fashion, but they can be a bit tough. Part of the funhere is the homey atmosphere and the courtly service.(1450 W Magnolia. (817)332-8633 Sun-Thur 10-10. Fri & Sat 10 am-3 am. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $) 6.0

Crystal Cactus. From salad to dessert, the food was even better this time around than on our last visit. The appetizer of salmon wrapped around ratatouille sparkled, and so did our veal Diane, with a sauce that was both piquant and delicate. The atmosphere, which is the epitome of highbrow Texas chic, is relaxed – maybe too relaxed, given the extreme levels of noise that tablesclose to the bar area have to suffer. The service wasn’tquite as elaborate as we remembered it. but we werestill amused by the after-dinner bonbons that arrived ona tray over a container of smoking dry ice. (Hyatt Regency Hotel, 815 Main. (817) 870-1234. Lunch: Mon-Fri11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11; Sun brunch: 10:30-2. Allcredit cards. $$$) 7.0



D REVISITS



D Hedary’s. Some things at Hedary’s werebetter than ever on our last visit, includingthe service by the members of the Lebanese-American family that owns the place. Theassortment of appetizers was nothing short of spectacular, with definitive eggplant and chickpea dips.falafel. vegetables and salads. And the baklava andother desserts were light, delicate and delicious. Weconfess to some disappointment with our maindishes, though. Our skewered lamb was tough, andour frarej (chicken broiled in olive oil) didn’t taste asboldly of garlic as we remembered. (3308 Fairfieldat Camp Bowie. (817) 731-6961. Tue-Thur & Sun5-10 pm. Fri & Sat 5-11 pm. Closed Mon. No reservations. All credit cards. $$) 7.5



Le Café Bowie. This Fort Worth favorite, which is now beginning to show its age a bit. maintains a high quality in the evenings by keeping things simple. Everyonegets soup and salad as starters, and the entrees aremostly variations on beef tenderloin and veal scallops.Sauces lean toward rich hollandaise and b?arnaisesauces. If Le Caf? Bowie is seldom exciting, it is mostlydependable. (4930 Camp Bowie. (817) 735-1521.Lunch: Wed-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri& Sat 5:30-11: Sun brunch: noon-2. MC, V; personalchecks accepted. $$$) 6.0

D Michel. In a stately old house that’s been nicely redecorated, the owner/chef offers a fixed-price dinner with five courses and exudes his own personal charm (he makes it a point to visit each table during the evening). It takes a photographic memory to recall all the dishes the waiter describes. We settled on sweetbreads and red snapper, and both were done to a turn. Little things like the sorbet of raspberries and the very French green salad were executed with panache, but we were surprised that the highly touted chocolate-Grand Marnier dessert was flavorless. And for a restaurant of such pretensions, the housekeeping was a bit careless. (3851 Camp Bowie. (817) 732-1231. Tue-Thur 6-10 pm, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight.Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$) 7.5

Reflections. Tall columns shaped like lotuses grow outof the tiny reflecting pool that flows through the centerof this sophisticated hotel restaurant. The food invitesmeditation, too: We found the lobster bisque and thelamb served with lamb sausage especially worthy. Butthe shrimp grilled on a skewer was too sweet for ourtaste, and the Black Forest cake lacked distinction. (200Main. (817) 870-9894. Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30 pm, Sat6:30-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 7.0

Ristorante Lombardi. The cobblestone, brick andwrought-iron entryway. subdued lighting, fragrantaromas and bustling waiters and busboys all combineto make this among the most romantic spots for dinnerin Fort Worth, And the European-inspired dining room,decorated in moderate tones of green and creamagainst dark wood, adds to the overall charm. Onedetraction, though, is that the tables are very closetogether. The appetizer of fried calamari, mozzarellaand shrimp let us enjoy several of the appetizer offeringsin moderation, which happily left us room to try the frequent special of steamed clams, plump and rich withherbs. Lombardi’s offers several seafood selections,and the seafood brochette (with shrimp and scallops) included ample portions of two of them. The veal piccata,served in a light wine sauce, didn’t overwhelm oursenses with citrus. (Sundance Square, 300 Main. (817)877-1729. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$) 7.0

Robert’s. Housed in the building where Hamp’s Hoffbrau used to be, Robert’s is making an impressive showing on the local dining scene. The best steak, appropriately called Robert’s Steak, is as thick as it is wide. The fajitas are top-notch, and the guacamole surpasses all others we’ve tasted in Cowtown: It’s chunky and spiked with just the right amount of hot sauce. (215 University. (817) 877-5515. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Szechuan. We wish we could find another Chinese restaurant in the Fort Worth area that can match this place. What Szechuan lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for in heaping portions and helpful, good-natured service. On every visit, our waiter has spent time with us, going over the menu’s best selections and steering us clear of those that may be too hot and spicy for timid palates. Our recommendations are the house specialties. The house beef arrives garnished with fresh, crisp broccoli and Chinese mushrooms, and the house pork is a consistent winner, with a mild garlic sauce complementing the shredded meat. Pass on the exotic drinks, but try the deep-fried green beans in the pu pu tray. (5712 Locke off Camp Bowie. (817) 738-7300. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri &Sat 11:30 am-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. MC, V, AE, CB. $$) 6.0

Tours. Inside, this doesn’t look like the storefrontrestaurant it is: Tours is small, but it’s very sophisticated-looking. The menu is sophisticated, too, but on our mostrecent visit, the food didn’t quite come up to the level wehad experienced previously. The seafood gumbo wasreally not a soup-the shellfish were sauced with a bitof okra and a lot of spicy tomato. The chicken with winevinegar and garlic proved to be an interesting versionof a nouvelle classic. The desserts-boule de neige andlime mousse-were interesting but unexciting, (3429BW Seventh St. (817)870-1672. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2;dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservationsrecommended on weekends. MC, V. AE. $$$) 6.5

Tuscany. The exterior of Tuscany is not very inviting,but what the restaurant lacks in atmosphere it makes upfor in food and service. The fish soup was served in acrock brimming with scallops, shrimp and pasta. Lessadventuresome types can’t miss with the classic vealparmigiana, served with a side dish of pasta; the vealwas tender and smothered in sauce and mozzarella.For dessert, we love the Italian pastries; they’re so sweetand rich, they’re worth skipping a week’s worth of mealsfor. (4255 Camp Bowie. (817) 737-2971. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat5:30-11, Sun 5-10. All credit cards. $$) 6.0