La Touraine. It’s not clear whether the warehouse district in the West End can sustain as many ambitious restaurants as it is gradually acquiring, but here is another very good one. La Touraine is the name of one of the most beautiful regions of France, and its Dallas namesake is one of the loveliest-and most reasonably priced-French restaurants in town. The high ceilings and stout beams of the old building have been fitted out with elegant blond wood, mirrors and brass trim. The decor is festive enough to turn a visit here into an event, yet breezy enough to fit in with the restaurant’s unpretentious and authentic menu.
La Touraine offers everything from a light meal to the most substantial and hearty old-fashioned French fare. The exemplary French onion soup can fit into either sort of experience-we don’t know a better version of that old standby in town. The other appetizers are equally unfussy: a bounteous selection of ham and cold sausages, a grapefruit stuffed with crab meat, a very salty anchovy dip served with a bowl of all sorts of vegetables for dipping, including avocado and several stalks of fresh fennel. The salads, sadly, are something of a disappointment. They’re all too large to fit reasonably into a meal (portions of everything are very large), but not really exciting enough to make a meal on their own. Neither the salade nicoise nor the salad with slices of duck liver were interesting enough to entice us to order them again.
The main dishes mercifully shy away from nouvelle cuisine, which is paradoxically seeming more and more old-hat. The one exception we tried-grilled swordfish accompanied by a sauce made from peppers-was unprepossessing. The kitchen at La Touraine seems much more comfortable with hearty stews like the navarin of lamb or boeuf bourguignon: These needed only a bit more seasoning to be very satisfying.
As you would expect at a place whose co-owner is the proprietor of La Madeleine(there’s even a branch of that bakery at theentrance to the restaurant), the baked goodsare among the best things here. The hot apple tart is superb, and the assortment ofdesserts that the establishment offers includes such delicacies as a velvety white-chocolate mousse. The only disappointmentamong the sweets we’ve tried has been thecrépes soufflés, which lacked flavor. Another notable thing about the restaurant is theprices: You can eat more reasonably herethan at many comparable places. And wehave found the service to be courtly and efficient beyond our expectations. (1701 N.Market. 749-0080. Mon-Thur 7:30 a.m.-10p. m., Fri & Sat 5:30-11 p. m. Closed Sun. Allcredit cards. $$-$$$) 6.5
Mr. Shishkabab. We hope the location- which last housed Cafe Moustache and is hard to get to when approached from the north on Marsh Lane-doesn’t prove a jinx to this new place, because it’s an answer to a lot of prayers. Finally, Dallas has a really good Middle Eastern restaurant again. Mr. Shishkabab offers mostly the basics. Among the appetizers, you’ll find hummus, the wonderful Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sesame paste. Our other favorite appetizer is the tabouleh, a refreshing salad of minced parsley, bulgur wheat and lemon juice.
Otherwise, save your appetite for the main courses, because they come garnished with some of the best tidbits that can be ordered as appetizers-falafel (fried patties of chickpea paste topped with a fillip of yogurt sauce) and stuffed kibbeh (a paste of meat and wheat formed into diamond shapes, stuffed with pine nuts and fried). The entrees they accompany are pretty fine, too. The kebabs of lamb and shrimp are delicious, and even a simple steak takes on an international flair here. The menu holds little else except a few cookies and some homemade baklava pastries that are miraculously crisp and light.
About the only thing that could improveMr. Shishkabab would be a more completeselection of Middle Eastern specialties, butconsidering the small staff, we probablyought to be grateful for the restaurant’s competence in a limited number of dishes. As itis, if the restaurant gets busy, you may findthe kitchen and the well-meaning serviceslow. The premises, which have been redecorated in blue, are still nothing fancy, but the”wine cellar,” a small private dining roomoff one corner, is very quaint. There is a section of the restaurant that passes for a cocktail lounge, and we hear that there’s bellydancing on the weekends. (9454 MarshLane, north of Northwest Highway. 350-9314.Daily 11-11. All credit cards. $$) 6.5
Massimo da Milano. For a city that has never been very sophisticated about Italian food, it’s remarkable that a place like Massimo da Milano should appear. Essentially, it’s an Italian bakery, with cases full of tempting breads of all sorts, baskets of cookies and sybaritic trays of pastries. Many of these are exotic to all but the most well-traveled Texan. Have you ever imagined, for instance, that the Italians bake a type of corn-bread? You can find it at Massimo da Milano. It turns out to be a coarse country loaf, something like a dry rye bread in texture. All the baked goods are excellent and unparalleled around here, and the pastries are especially winning. We swoon at the memory of the vanilla mousse cake topped with perfect strawberries, the cream horns filled with chocolate pastry cream and the large, very expensive ($5 for one and worth every penny) crusty envelopes filled with apples, pine nuts and raisins.
If this description reminds you of an Italian La Madeleine, you’re right, although Massimo da Milano (named for its ubiquitous owner, Massimo Alberti, who hails from Milan) is decorated in a sleek Italian-modern style rather than the quaint rustic decor of Dallas’ leading French bakery. Like La Madeleine, Massimo da Milano has a selection of other foods that can be eaten as meals at the tables inside. Here you’ll find many variations on the theme of bread dough with savory toppings, but none is much like the pizza we are used to. Foccaccie is perhaps the closest, but the toppings (perhaps ham, rosemary and anchovies) only exist to spark the taste buds-there’s no sign of gooey cheese and tomatoes.
Massimo da Milano also offers the pastasalads that are so popular these days, butwith a difference. A sophisticated mixture ofspiral-shaped pasta, bits of smoked salmon,small lengths of blanched fresh asparagusand chopped pistachios is only lightlydressed and seasoned. The subtlety of suchpreparations is uncompromising-perhapstoo much so (there really ought to be moreexcitement in such a dramatic combination).There are also a couple of hot dishes available, such as lasagna rich with a creamybesciamella sauce. For all this you will haveto wait in line-there is no table service, andyou may even wind up clearing away thedishes from the first table you grab if you arrive at a busy hour. But Massimo da Milanois such a unique addition to the Dallas scenethat you probably won’t mind the duty. (5519W. Lovers Lane. 351-1426 Tue-Thur 10a.m.-9p.m., Fri & Sat 10-10, Sun 10a.m.-6p.m.MC, V. $) 6.0
Blue Goose. We heard very good reports about this new Mexican place on the site of the defunct Champagne Johnny’s, and the funky new cantina atmosphere certainly looked promising. Exposed heating ducts, bare concrete floors, cases of Mexican beer everywhere and a few exotic cacti gave the Blue Goose a kind of “high-tech Mex” atmosphere. The menu appeared to be challenging, too, with everything from quail to lobster grilled over mesquite.
The reality at Blue Goose, however, didn’t live up to its promise. The cooking, even the grilling, often seemed perfunctory. Great chunks of meat are served in huge proportions, but the pork cubes we tried were underdone, and both those and the beef fa-jitas had been robbed of any subtlety by an excess of lemon juice. The chicken breast was tasteless, the shrimp tasted of too much margarine, the swordfish was too fishy and the lobster was coarse in texture. So much for the grilled dishes, all served with a presentable pot of frijoles a la charra and some smooth guacamole.
The Tex-Mex we sampled at the Blue Goose wasn’t much more convincing. The beef enchiladas, for instance, were ratherstrange: Made with the fresh flour tortillasthat are one of the most appealing things here,they seemed almost more like burritos in a bitof sauce. The friendly service in a rather outgoing style couldn’t really make up for ourdisappointment in the food. (2905 Greenville. 823-8339. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Fri 5:30-11, Sat & Sun 5-11; Sun brunch: 11-4. MC, V, AE. $$) 4.5
Thai Café. It’s easy to miss this little place in a strip center at the corner of Irving Boulevard and Pioneer Parkway in Irving- the sign on the building just says “Fast Food.” But inside this place are cheery yellow walls and contemporary cane-bottomed chairs (with a high-tech shrine in one corner complete with a large television, a VCR and a computer). Thai Café is truly a mom-and-pop operation; he cooks and she serves. The couple turns out very pleasant versions of most of the standard Siamese dishes and some that are unusual as well.
Probably the best of the appetizers are the delightful fish cakes, with a texture something like egg foo yung. The pork sate (strips of meat marinated in curry, then grilled on a stick) and the spicy steak (grilled beef that’s sliced and tossed with lime juice, pepper and fresh mint) both have marvelous flavors, but we found the meat in both dishes gristly. The egg rolls are a compromise between the Chinese variety and the Thai-style spring rolls, but they still satisfy. The soups manage a wonderful variety simply with a few changes of ingredients-large slices of chicken or pork float with bean thread or bean curd, peppery cauliflower or savory pickled mustard greens.
Our favorite among the main dishes we’ve tried is the pork fried with garlic and pepper; large, thinly cut slices of meat taste delectable with their crunchy coating of garlic and accompanying sprigs of fresh coriander. The beef fried with curry sauce, also known as Panang Beef, was too oily for our tastes, but like every other main dish here, it came with a garnish of a fresh herb (in this case lime leaves). There’s a list of specialties at the end of the menu printed in Thai characters. As we were describing a shrimp dish we had tried at other Thai restaurants, the proprietress directed us to one of them-it turned out to be shrimp cooked with crunchy rounds of what we took to be lemon grass, an unusual treat. The fried noodles with shrimp, listed on other menus as Pud Thai, strikes us as too sweet but still enjoyable. Although we often don’t care for Thai desserts, the banana in coconut milk makes a refreshing ending to a meal that can be searingly spicy. Many dishes here are very inexpensive, but we can still run up quite a bill by ordering all of our favorites. (1704 W. Irving Blvd., Irving. 259-3124. Daily 10-10. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$) 5.5
D’s listings are updated and supplemented periodically. Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment Inclusion in this directory has nothing to do with paid advertising.
The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They indicate a general price range.$ Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.
$$ Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.
$$$ Expensive. Expect to spend more than $20 tor a complete meal for one (excluding wine and cocktails).
$$$$ Very expensive.
“Reservations” indicates that the restaurant will accept reservations.
Credit card notations: MC/MasterCard, V/Visa, AE/American Express. DC/Diners Club. CB/Carte Blanche “All credit cards” indicates that all five are accepted.
Restaurants have been rated on a 1 to 10 scale, with a rating of 10 being the highest recommendation. Restaurants receiving a rating of 7.5 and above have been designated with a bold D.
D Blom’s. Dallas is blessed with hotel restaurantsthat transcend the category, and Blom’s is oneof the finest The chef is magnificently inventive,offering a dozen new dishes nightly and a whole newmenu every season. On our last visit, we were impressed by the luxurious taste of smoked shrimp in asalad with watercress, another salad of lightly sautéedvegetables, tender slices of beef in a sauce made frompickled walnuts and a dessert crepe filled with hazelnuts. Less exciting but still very good were a West Texasgame pie. pan-fried monkfish with tomato coulis and achocolate Charlotte. On this visit, the service was themost polished and professional we have encounteredhere. (Westin Hotel, Galleria, 13340 Dallas Pkwy. 934-9494 Mon-Thur 6-10 pm, Fri-Sun 6-10:30 pm, Sun brunch: 10-2 Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5
D. Michael. This temple of the New Southwestern Cuisine is settling into some fine cooking.The best dishes have become magnificent: patties of lamb sausage served over fettuccine in three colors and a walnut-and-apple cake surrounded by twosauces. We also liked the autumn salad and the venisonin Cabernet sauce. Some dishes we tried still don’twork- the okra served with the red snapper and shrimpdidn’t jibe with the achiote sauce, and both fish andshellfish were burnt But chef David Pisegna is weedingout most of the losers, and the slow service that onceprevailed has been replaced by a reserved efficiency.(2917 Fairmount. 871-0123. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Tue-Sat 6:30-10:30 Closed Sun & Mon. MC. V. AE. $$$) 7.5
D Dakota’s. You enter Dakota’s from a kiosk inthe middle of an intersection adjacent to thenew Lincoln Plaza building. From the jewel-boxelevator, you view a waterfall cascading onto a triangular patio. Once you take your eyes off the dazzlingsurroundings, you’ll find that Dakota’s specializes inmesquite-grilled things-from artichokes and othervegetables to every conceivable meat. Those we tried,including steak and pheasant, were exemplary. Themenu also provides some good choices for those whoaren’t in the mood for mesquite. Among the appetizers,the barbecued shrimp were as good as any we havehad outside New Orleans. The lobster bisque also wentto the top of its class, and the fresh lobster was cookedto perfection: tender, rich and meaty. (600 N Akard. 740-4001 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3. Sun 11-2:30. dinner.Sun- Thur 5-11. Fri & Sat 5-11:30; Sun brunch 11-2.30.All credit cards Lunch $$. dinner $$$) 8.0
Gershwin’s Bar & Grill. You’ve never seen so muchtrendiness packed under one roof as you will see here.Every fad of the last two or three years may be found onthe menu: pizzas with odd ingredients, homemadepastas, intricate salads, blackened redfish, charcoal-grilled everything, lots of fresh herbs and even kiwi fruit.A large number of wines are available by the glass-everything from the humblest American blend to Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The decor, of course, featureslots of marble and polished wood. The goal proclaimedby the owners of Gershwin’s-to fill the niche betweenthe TGI Fridays and Houlihans of this world and the bestand most expensive places in town – is a laudable one,especially since the plan includes relatively moderateprices. It’s perhaps surprising that so much at Gershwin’s works so well, since any menu that attempts somuch is bound to have some less successful dishes.(8442 Walnut Hill at Greenville. 373-7171. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-midnight. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-1 am, Sun 11:30am-midnight. All credit cards. $$-$$$) 6.0
D The Mansion on Turtle Creek. When you arrive, you feel as if you ought to roll up in a 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. Sun 11 -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. $$$$) 8.5
Nana Grill. This aerie atop the new addition to theLoews Anatole has lost the chef that made its NewSouthwestern Cuisine offerings so singular, butthat’s not to say that the change has been all bad.The menu is still very much the same, and if thereare less adventurous combinations now, there isalso less alarm at those that don’t quite work. Weliked very much the grilled oysters with a cilantroand chile pesto, the corn soup and the black-eyedpea salad (served with fresh artichoke bottoms,strips of peppers and bacon dressing). The grilledentrees include a fine brochette of shrimp andscallops and a large, well-cooked but undersea-soned Porterhouse. The wild turkey is still juicy, butthe garnish is less interesting than before. The new,shortened selection of desserts is much improved.(Loews Anatole Hotel. 2201 Stemmons Frwy.748-1200. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: daily 6-10:30. Reservations recommended lor dinner. Allcredit cards. $$$) 6.5
Parigi. Marilyn Romweber, whose previous ventures include The Little Mushroom and Pacific Express, hasteamed up with daughter Andree Falls and CalifornianJennifer Burns to open this smallish place in one ofthose slick new buildings contributing to the “gentrifica-tion” of Oak Lawn. Someone has said that the placelooks like a big closet, but it’s a very chic closet, full ofthe nicest clothes (albeit informal ones) on the nicestpeople. The food at Parigi is very chic, too, althoughmercifully most things are not cooked over mesquite. Inthe evening, there is a selection of a half dozen appetizers (including several recherche salads and onesoup), three or so pastas of some ingenuity and threeor so entrees, plus a short list of desserts and a wide-ranging wine list-all on a handwritten menu thatchanges every couple of days. (3311 Oak Lawn, Suite102. 521-0295 Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Tue-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Closed Sun & Mon.MC. V. AE. $$-$$$) 6.5
D The Verandah Club. Chef Dean Fearing is doing wonders in his elegant dining room one floor above all the swimming pools and tennis courts. Our last meal was perfect and daringly imaginative (and even reasonably healthy and non-caloric). The savory Southwest Vegetable Soup was second only to the incredible salads: slivered warm quail atop a tangle of chicory and endive, and tiny green beans, juihenne jicama and other vegetables with roast pine nuts and cactus pear vinaigrette. Our Gulf snapper with tomato pasta and tomatillo sauce and our pheasant with plum and port wine sauce were poetry, and this time even the desserts (a coconut cake as dense as a macaroon and an ethereal chocolate cake cooked without flour) couldn’t have been bettered. The service has developed into discreet accommodation, and although this place is in principle a private club, members of the public still seem perfectly welcome. (Loews Anatole Hotel,2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Daily 6-9 pm. MC, V. AE, DC $$$$) 8.5
D Routh Street Café. Try not to schedule a hard-to-get reservation here right after the restaurant has been closed for a vacation; it takes awhile for chef Stephan Pyles to get back up to full speed. When he regains his form, he turns out what is probably the best food in town. Everything we had on our last visit was marvelous, sweetbreads and shrimp with chervil and saffron sauces, grilled sea scallops with sun-dried tomatoes and pecans, veal scallops with pomegranate and leek sauces, roast squab with ancho chiles and shitake mushrooms In between, we were served matchless ices and salads, and spectacular pumpkin-pecan and chocolate brownie pies ended the meal. (3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161. Tue-Sat6-10:30 pm. Lounge: Tue-Sat 6 pm-1:30 am. ClosedSun & Mon. Reservations recommended MC, V, AE.DC. $$$$) 9.0
Sam’s Bar and Grill. Here’s an ambitious new placethat courts the after-hours trade with a vengeance: It’sopen 24 hours a day, and its hefty dinner menu isserved until 2 a.m. (after that, sandwiches, omelettesand desserts are available). It’s a pleasure to have Sam’sto go to after a play or concert, but it does feel odd dining in full view of the street in what one might perceiveto be a slightly rough part of town in the wee hours of themorning. All the food at Sam’s is very good, but it canbe quite expensive. The best bets are the mesquite-grilled items, such as the Black Angus steaks and theswordfish. (Bradford Plaza Hotel, 302 S Houston.761 -9090. Open 24 hours daily. All credit cards. Break-last & lunch $$, dinner $$$) 6.0
Chickeria. We can imagine a lovers’ quarrel gettingstarted by a meal here. He has the lamb ribs, the barbecued sausage, the not-too-gooey potato salad andthe pecan pie and claims that Chickeria is one of thefinest inexpensive restaurants in Dallas. She has thedried-out beef brisket and ribs, the oddly sweet turnipgreens and the off-tasting mashed new potatoes andmaintains that it has to be one of the worst. They’re bothright, but who’s going to butt in and adjudicate? (601 NHaskell. 821-9072. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm. ClosedSun. AE. $) 5.5
Good Eats Café. It seems odd when an interloper from Austin sporting Texas funk moves into the space formerly occupied by one of Dallas’ great bad restaurants (Phil’s Delicatessen), but it has happened, and we guesswe should make the best of it. Still, it’s hard to (figure outGood Eats- maybe the Austin milieu just doesn’t translate very well, although there is an ample mix of typesranging from urban cowboys to Highland Park slum-mers- Almost everything the place serves is grilled overmesquite The barbecue is at least interesting: Thesausage is our favorite, with a coarse texture and ahomemade flavor, but the paprika-red chicken is tasty,too. The specials at Good Eats are the various kinds ofmesquite-grilled fish, but when we visited, all they hadwas cod, and it was nothing to write home to Austinabout. (3531 Oak Lawn. 521-1398. Sun-Thur 7am-11:30 pm. Fri & Sat 7 am-midnight. All credit cards$$) 5.5
Ples’ Barbecue. If you like your barbecue on the sweetside, pay a visit to Mr. Ples in his converted Oak CliffDairy Queen. Not only do the ribs, beef and sausagehave a decidedly sweet flavor, but so do the pinto beansand turnip greens. The peach cobbler is fresh, but it suffers from too much nutmeg If you’re an impatient type,you may find the cafeteria-style service oppressivelyslow (1212 W Kiest. 371-5533. Mon-Thur 11 am-8 pm,Fri & Sat 11 am-9 pm No credit cards. $) 5.0
August Moon. Shine on, shine on, August Moon! We don’t know how you manage to keep the quality so high with your awesomely complete menu, the huge volume of your customers and the very moderate prices you charge But we have never had a better crispy fish Hunan-style than the red snapper you served us on our last visit. Everything we tried was outstanding, from the unusual lalapeno 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-10:30pm. Fri&Sat 11-11. Reservations for fouror more or for special banquets. Bar by membership. All credit cards. $$) 7.0
China Inn. Pardon the pun, but this is one place where you’ll welcome fowl play. The almond chicken pales only beside the king bo gai ding – tender chicken strips stir-fried with Chinese greens and topped with roasted peanuts in a fragrant hot pepper sauce. And a luncheon buffet with simple but filling Cantonese fare has been added. (6521 E Northwest Hwy. 369-7733. Sun-Thur 11 am-1 am. Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am. All credit cards. $) 5.5
Chu’s. Although Addison and the other far northparts of the city have become strong in Chinese restaurants, one of Addison’s first Chinese places,Chu’s, is still one of the finest. You can’t find a better appetizer tray than the one here, with fresh-as-spring egg rolls and whole shrimp in the shrimptoast. There are some excellent – and fairly expensive-specialties, such as Peking ribs (in a hot,slightly sweet sauce) and garlic shrimp (still in theirshells). On the regular menu, one of the most appetizing dishes is the chicken with pecans. (15080 Beltway, Addison. 387-1776. Lunch: Mon-Fri11-2:30; dinner: Mon- Thur 4:30-10, Fri & Sat 4:30-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 6.5
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 during thefirst weeks the restaurant was open. It ranged from excellent (the crispy oysters appetizer) to very good (thesharks’ fin soup and the minced pork in lettuce leaves).Unfortunately, we still found the prices high. No doubtall the luxurious trappings (the silver-and-gilt souptureens, the rosewood furniture) cost plenty. And to besure, the portions are quite large, as with the Dragonand the Phoenix, which contained enough shrimp tosatisfy the most avid seafood lover. But we wonderwhether these factors justify a check that can easily total$35 a person. (Garden Inn. 4101 Belt Line. Addison.385- 788.8 Mon- Thur & Sun 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat11 am-11:30 pm. Jackets required after 6 pm. All creditcards. $$$) 6.5
1st Wok. New Chinese places come along with suchfrequency that it’s hard for one to get much attention, but1st Wok serves food good enough to attract notice. Wetried the noodles in sesame sauce and the scallion pancakes (also called Chinese pizza) and found both delightful. The Orange Flavor Beef and the 1 st Wok Double Flavor Feast (shrimp in hot chili sauce and pork inblack bean sauce) are top-notch. One sure test of a Chinese kitchen is how well it cooks a simple dish like chicken with snow peas. 1st Wok passed with flying colors:The chicken was particularly tender and juicy. (7001 Fair Oaks. 369-2737. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm. Fri& Sat 11:30 am-2 am. Sun noon-11 pm. MC. V. AE. DC.$$) 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 11am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am. Sun noon-10:30pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0
Fortune Garden. Amazingly enough, Richardson is reported to have the highest percentage of Chinese residents of any city in Texas, and it contains the beginnings of a new, middle-class Chinatown, Among thefanciest and best of the new places is Fortune Garden.The hot and sour soup is unequivocally the best in theMetroplex, with good flavor and no extraneous ingredients. The Steak with Orange Flavor is an unusuallyfine version, with large, pillowy pieces of meat that aren’tdrowned in a gooey sauce. The Pan Fried Shrimp (Chinese-style) are delicious but hard for a Westerner to eat- you have to peel the crustaceans at the table and stillfind a way to get the flavor of all the garlic and gingerthey’ve been cooked in. (Keystone Park Shopping Center. 13929 N Central Expwy. Richardson. 235-3032. Daily 11 am-10:30 pm. MC. V, AE, DC. $$) 5.5
Han-Chu. The most sophisticated-looking Chineserestaurant 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 rollsand hot and sour soup, take on real elegance here. Themenu includes lots of innovative dishes, but not all ofthem are cooked with the finesse that one might expect.The beef with asparagus, for instance, can be marredby raggedly cut and overcooked meat. The Wu Shispareribs, though, are tantalizing in their camphor-flavored sauce. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy at Park Lane, Suite 191. 691-0900. Mon-Thur 11:30am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30, Sun 5-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 7.0
Hunan Dynasty. We were most pleasantly impressedby the look of this second-story restaurant (overlookingonly Highway 183, sadly), with its tasteful colors and appointments and unusual wooden furniture. There issome talent in the kitchen, too. The shrimp toast wesampled had a tingly flavor of fresh ginger, and the frieddumplings (with a tasty filling and slightly crunchy skin)came with a garlicky sauce for dipping. The maincourses demonstrated that Hunan Dynasty can executethe new standard Chinese menu with flair The “gourmetspecialties’ are really |ust wholesale mixtures of ingredients or platters presenting several different dishesfrom the regular menu, but it was fun to try the Jewelsof Hunan, which gave us a chance to sample Kun Paochicken, Hunan beef and the braised shrimp in Hunansauce. (1111 W Airport Frwy at MacArthur, Suite 201 .Irving. 252-0126 Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0
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-3 am. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.5
No. 1 Chinesa Seafood. Here you’ll find live lobstersin a tank (we know of only one other Chinese placearound that has them) and a number of other fresh seafood dishes The lobster cooked in a chili sauce showedthat the kitchen cannot boast notable refinement – thesauce contained a lot of coarsely chopped onion, nevera good sign in a Chinese restaurant-but the barelycooked crustacean was delectable anyway. A steamedwhole red snapper was tender and succulent, and itcame (after a few minutes’ delay) beautifully topped withshreds of ginger and black mushroom. The Neptune’sDelight contained a lot of juicy shrimp, fat scallops andbeautifully colored vegetables, but it was rather oily.(333 W Spring Valley, Richardson. 669-3166. Daily11:30 am-2 am MC. V. AE $$) 5.0
Plum Blossom. The fate of some restaurants parallelsthe fate of certain rock stars and TV minisenes: Theirdelivery cant match their hype. Or did we catch the chefon an off night? It was his Great Dynasty Banquet, afterall, that began the evening with crispy shrimp and softnoodles that were both far too salty; his Mongolian firepot was a forgettable blend of beef, pork, chicken andgreen 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, thelatter in a fine kumquat sauce. But these top-flight disheswere followed by a disappointing afterthought of dessert, a yawn-inducing mix of pineapple and other fruitIf our banquet was indicative of the other multicoursemeals here, wed suggest ordering a la carte from theregional 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. $$$) 6.0
Taiwan. One of the city’s nicest Chinese restaurants inthe evening. Taiwan also offers less formal dim summeals by day Traveling carts bring around all sorts ofunusual delicacies We haven’t worked up the courageto try the duck’s feet or the sticky rice topped withChinese sausage yet But the various styles of dumplings (stuffed with beef, pork, shrimp or vegetables) arealways a hit. One of the best things about the dim summeals are their price. $1 75 a plate. (6111 Greenville.369-8902; 4980 Belt Line. Addison. 387- 2333 Mon-Fri 11 am-3 am. Sat 10:30 am- 3 am. Sun 10 30 am-10 30pm at Greenville location; Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10:30pm. Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30 at Addison location Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$) 7.0
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 details that 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. Mon-Wed 11 am-10:30 pm, Thur & Fri Ham-midnight, Sat noon-1 am, Sun noon-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0
D Uncle Tai’s. This is a great restaurant if youknow your way around the menu, but there aresome ordinary things here, too. Among the bestappetizers are the Two Delicious Platter (shrimp withpeppercorns and Hacked Chicken) and the ChickenPackets. The spicy dishes on the list of specialtiesgenerally stand out. In addition to the fabled Uncle Tai’sBeef, we are partial to the boneless frog’s legs with eggplant. Standard things such as chicken with walnuts andcrispy duck are good, but they’re no better than whatyou’d find at a number of less expensive Chinese restaurants. (Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 3370.934-9998. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30pm. Closed Sun. Jackets required for dinner. Allcredit cards. $$$) 8.5
Bagelstein’s. This used to be a somewhat surly bagelfactory with a few tables; now it’s a spacious, invitingdeli-restaurant with a long, long menu. Maybe the menuis too long – the shrimp quiche we sampled was strong-tasting. But lots of the deli standbys are respectable:borscht, pastrami sandwiches, blintzes (a bit sweet forour taste, but still perhaps the best version in town) andcheesecake. And you can pick up an assortment ofbagels to take home as you pay your bill. (8104SpnngValley. 234-3787. Tue-Sun 6 am-9 pm, Mon 6 am-3 pm.MC, V, AE. $) 5.5
Frenchy Café. The neighborhood deli is alive and wellin Preston Royal: Step into Frenchy’s, and you step intoa 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 the lasagna weren’t quite astasty as they appeared, the ham, spinach and pep-peroni quiche (as well as the cappuccino pie we hadafterward) proved outstanding. (5940 Royal Lane.369-1235. Mon 11 am-3 pm, Tue-Fri 11 am-7 pm, Sat 11am-5 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V; personal checks accepted. $$) 5.5
Kuby’s. A visit to this German delicatessen/restaurantis truly a European experience. The store is crammedwith German foodstuffs, meat, pastries and otherdelicacies. The lunch menu in the restaurant includes avariety of sandwiches, both German and Americanized,as well as soups (a different one each day of the week)and plates of Polish sausage, knackwurst or bratwurst.We opted for a sandwich of peppered beef rolled in aslice of cheese and served on a delicious light rye. Thetartar sandwich of raw lean beef seasoned with onionsand spices and the |agdwurst sandwich of sausage andpistachio were very good, too. We also enjoyed thehearty, tangy German potato salad. (6601 Snider Plaza.363-2231. Store hours: Mon-Sat 8 am-6 pm: restaurant hours: Mon-Fri 8 am-5:30 pm, Sat 8 am-5 pm. Closed Sun. MC. V for purchases over $15; personal checksaccepted. $) 5.5
Richard’s Café Americain. How delightful to ventureto the top of Dallas’ only downtown apartment building(the Manor House) and find a bright and lively luncheonrespite. The delicate sea green-and-ivory decor,drenched (weather willing) in sunlight and spotted withvarious and changing works of art, may outshine thefood, but there are some successes on a menu that includes salads, sandwiches, soup and quiche du jour.We sampled a chicken sandwich on rye that was justright and a cold spinach fettuccine that wasn’t (too vinegary). The vegetable quiche was flavorful andchock-full of vegetables, but our favorite items were theminiature muffins served with fruit-flavored butter thatchanges each day with the whim of the chef (we hadscrumptious strawberry). (Manor House, 1222 Commerce, 25th floor. 761-0143. Tue-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm &4-7 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0
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, just seem ordinary. Service is willing but not highly polished. (2500 Promenade Center, Coit Road between Belt Line and Arapaho. 437-0133. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30. Closed Mon. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0
D Au Bon Gout. This place offers extraordinary lunches and takeout specials by day and serves prix fixe dinner on Friday and Saturday nights by reservation only. We were surprised to find sofew tables occupied on our last evening visit, since thefood is usually perfect. After a tiny hors d’oeuvre of puffpastry, the waiter brought cream of wild mushroomsoup, a sorbet and a salad We had a choice of entreesand selected venison and salmon – both of which weresuperb. The dessert was a rich, rich, rich terrine ofchocolate. Maybe the unprepossessing environmentand the influx of lavish restaurants in the neighborhoodmakes people unwilling to shell out the stiff price for adinner here, but we think they are missing an opportunity (4424 E Lovers Lane. 369-3526 Restaurant hours:Mon-Thur 11:30 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 6-10:30 pmTakeout hours: Mon-Sat 10 am-9 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations on weekends. All credit cards: personal checks accepted Lunch $$, dinner $$$$) 8.5
D Café Royal. Trying to reclaim its place at thetop of the heap. Cafe Royal has lowered prices(to $31 50 prix fixe) and has become moreclassical and less nouvelle in its cooking style The foodcan be marvelous, as with the terrine of fresh Americanfoie gras or the mullet with a watercress sauce that wesampled. Or it can be ordinary, as with the beef Well.ington that the captain recommended Besides thelapses in the food, what keeps Cafe Royal from thehighest rank in Dallas restaurants is the service, whichwe found courteous but woefully inefficient on our lastvisit. (Plaza of the Americas, 650 N Pearl. 747-7222 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10 30 Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0
D Calluaud. Our latest visit produced the richest, most masterly meal we have_ever hadhere, with the most courteous and cordial service We began with a terrine of fresh American foie gras.satiny and lush beyond all expectation. For entrées, wehad a filet of salmon (which tasted a tad strongly ofsmoke and was accompanied by a Madeira sauce thatseemed a bit too much), but the venison was succulentand satisfying. The lemon souffle at the end was as lightas gossamer. (2619 McKinney. 823-5380. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30:dinner Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat seatingsat 7 & 9:30 Closed Sun. Reservations. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0
Chez Gerard. In the few short months that this bistro(owned by the Calluauds) has been open, it has grownmore competent and confident. The menu changesmonthly, so you never know what will turn up on yourplate. We tried the earthy cassoulet (a garlicky beanstew with pork and two kinds of sausage) and the toniersweetbreads and chicken with mushrooms in a pastryshell Both were superb. So were the mussels mari-meres – the tenderest we’ve ever had in Dallas The desserts included such delicacies as a cake au trois mousses and a homemade chocolate-walnut ice cream.(4444 McKinney. 522-6865 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon- Thur 6-9:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 7.0
D Chez Philippe. The food here may not alwaysbe perfect (we were served tough, overdonescallops and a heavy, cakey chocolate souffleon our last visit). But most of it is so audacious in conception and expert in execution that we still think ChezPhilippe is among a handful of the most memorablerestaurants in Dallas. The menu changes frequently, butamong the standouts are quail stuffed with paté, awhole lobster in a vanilla-bean and ginger sauce, andmedallions of veal with plums. Sauces tend to be verybold, heightened with pepper and just the right touchof spices and vinegar Even apparently simple things,such as a green salad or a cranberry souffle, can berevelatory. (5027 W Lovers Lane 353-9444. Tue-Sat seatmgs at 6 & 9 pm. Closed Sun & Mon All credit cards $$$$) 9.0
D The French Room. Like something out of a Fragonard painting with its Corinthian columns and swags of drapery, the French Room offers the most lavish table in town. It can be difficult to get a reservation (we called a week ahead and had to settle for a 10 o’clock seating), but the food was worth it. from the opening pithiviers of snails to the concluding pastries. The lamb cooked in a brioche-dough crust andthe assertively garlicky loup (a European sea bass)topped with an eggplant puree were both mightily impressive. The service, although still quite polished, didn’tseem quite as stately as before. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321Commerce. 742-8200. Daily 6:30-10:30 pm. Reservations required. Jackets and ties required. All creditcards. $$$$) 9.0
The Grape. This bistro and wine bar has been around for so long that it’s easy to forget how good it is. We enjoyed the light, fresh mushroom soup and the hearty paté with our selections of wine by the glass. For something heavier, try the veal selections (the menu changes frequently). And for dessert, there’s pecan pie with lots of bourbon in the recipe. (2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 6.0
D Jean-Claude. Unfortunately, the impressionwe had on our previous visit was confirmed byour most recent one: The glories of Jean-Claude are a sometime thing these days. There arealways some fine dishes in any meal here; for instance,the chocolate souffle with Grand Marnier always seemsto be perfect. But on our last visit, three dishes were offthe mark. Both a shrimp appetizer and a venison entreetasted 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-Satseatings at 6 & 9 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations required. MC, V. AE, DC $$$$) 8.0
D Jennivine. Now that Jennivine has decided toplay in the big leagues by offering nouvellecooking, the dear old girl has to be judged bythe highest standards. And she holds up very well: Onour last visit, the shrimp and scallops in a honey vinaigrette were outstanding, and the duck in ginger saucewas crisp on the outside and pink and juicy within. Thepates are still among the best in town (we love the platters with several pates, cheeses and fruits). The saladsand desserts aren’t quite up to the level of the rest of thefood, but Jennivine’s prices are moderate enough thatthere is still plenty of value. (3605 McKinney. 528-6010.Lunch: Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30am-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations. All creditcards. $$$) 7.5
D L’Ambiance. The unchanging character ofthis place might strike some as a bit dull, butwe value the dependability of L’Ambiance.Our favorite dishes never disappoint. The salad ofwatercress, bacon and goat cheese, for instance,is always perfect, and the Floating Island dessert,with its high cloud of meringue topped with crunchycaramel and almonds, has never been better executed. Entrees such as lamb in a dark herbalrosemary sauce or grilled medallions of vealbrightened with ginger come with a selection ofvegetables (potatoes dauphinoise, a terrine of carrots, a puree of turnips). In a city in which restaurants have shorter lives than spring flowers, L’Am-biance is bidding fair to becoming an old master.(2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun. Allcredit cards. $$$) 8.0
D L’Ancestral. We were a mite disappointed byour last visit to this cozy purveyor of la cuisine bourgeoise. The lentil salad and the greensalad were tasty, but both suffered from a heavy handwith the vinegar. First-rate french fries accompanied asteak that was more rare than we had ordered it, andthe special of the day, a lamb stew, was stringy and undistinguished. The desserts, pot de crème (a softcustard flavored with caramel) and a chocolate cakedusted with cocoa, were some compensation, however.(5631 Alta. 826-0006. Tue-Sun 6:30 pm-1 am. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5
La Cave. We’ve never taken very seriously the pretensions of the original La Cave on Henderson to being arestaurant rattier than merely a pleasant wine bar. Butthe new branch, located in a rather deserted corner ofthe West End warehouse district (where Lamar runs intoWoodall Rodgers Freeway), serves food that clearlyshould be reckoned with. In addition to the patés,cheeses and sandwiches that make up most of the fareat the original location, there are some more ambitiousdishes at the new La Cave. We found the arlequin of fish(sole wrapped around spinach served alongside perchin a coral-colored sauce) buttery and delicious. (2926 NHenderson. 826-2190:2019 N Lamar, 871-2072. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 pm & 5 30-10:30 pm, Sat 11:30 am-10:30 pm at Henderson location. Lunch: Mon-Sat11:30-4, dinner: Mon-Sat 6 pm-midmght at Lamar loca-tion. Closed Sun. MC. V, AE, DC. $$) 6.0
D La Champagne. Numerous staff changessince its 1983 opening have made this mostelegant of Far North Dallas restaurants a muchbetter bet for dinner, but the news doesn’t seem to beout yet An intricately designed terrine of duck andlobster sausage and a flamboyant salade composée ofjulienne vegetables and a variety of lettuces all makegood openers. We admire the sea bass cooked with atouch of fennel and the veal topped with three kinds ofmushrooms, too. We like a lot of things about La Champagne these days, from the little tidbits served “on thehouse’ (nicely sauced venison sausage, brandied cherries, a gateau of Roquefort) to the Mexican harpist. Butwe wish that business would pick up enough to permitthe rehiring of a sommelier to guide patrons through thewonderful wine list, (The Registry, 15201 Dallas Pkwy386-6000 Mon-Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Sun. All creditcards. $$$$) 8.0
La Madeleine. This slowly growing group of bakeriesboasts Dallas’ finest croissants and other wonderfulgoodies (an almond tart we tried recently was heavenly) The old-country ambiance of the original Mockingbird location may tempt you to sit down and rest aspell, and you can order quiches and other meals to eaton site. The roast beef sandwich we sampled was creditable, and the vegetables in the ratatouille kept their individual textures and flavors, although they were coatedwith too much gloppy tomato sauce. (3072 Mockingbird. 696-6960, 3906 Lemmon. 521-0182. Daily 7am-9 pm at Mockingbird location; Tue-Sun 7:30 am-9:30 pm at Lemmon location. No credit cards; personalchecks accepted. $) 6.5
D La Vieille Varsovie (The Old Waruw). If softlights, lavish trappings and a violin-and-pianoduo can entrance you. this is your spot Thefood can be very good, as with the tournedos Rossiniand the sea bass garnished with lobster and crab thatwe sampled on our last visit. It can also be dull, as thesalmon feuillete and oysters arlequin proved. On thewhole, this doyenne of Dallas restaurants has slipped abit from the heights it had attained a year or so ago.(2610Maple. 528-0032. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat6-11 30 pm Reservations. Jackets required. All creditcards. $$$$) 7.5
Le Boul’ Mich. This cozy gray house across from theQuadrangle has been the favorite “little French restaurant” of many Dallasites for many years. But lately we’venoticed a little graying around the temples, a fadingfrom glory, a surrender to Old Man Time The food isbasically sound: A seafood omelette and a lunchtimequiche we had recently were definitively French andfirst-rate The veal Francais was tender and tasty,although underwhelmingly sauced in a simple lemonbutter. But the accompanying string beans and carrotsarrived shriveled, presumably from overcooking, andthe overall presentation |ust wasn’t impressive What’smissing here is the aura of festivity so prevalent at Dallas’more popular French restaurants; Le Boul’ Mich offersthe laid-back comfort of home (2704 Worthmgton 826-0660 Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30pm Closed Sun MC, V. AE. $$$) 5.5
D Pyramid Room. After some years of wander-ing 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 and 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. 720-2020. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: daily 6-10. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0
Le Panier. On our last visit, this place, which servessimple lunches at noon and more elaborate fare inthe evening, was preparing to expand. We hopethat the forthcoming change was responsible for thedrop in the quality of the cooking we experienced.This kitchen has been using the technique of charring food since before it became fashionable-themenu has long boasted something called “Oklahoma Burn,’ a blackened steak-but the blackenedfish we tried was not impressive. Nor was the skewered shrimp, which tasted mostly of bacon. (3404Rankin. 369-3241. Mon 11 am-3 pm, Tue-Sat 11am-10pm. ClosedSun. Reservations for eveningsonly. All credit cards. $$) 5.5
D The Riviera. An evening at The Riviera isalways a treat (and now it’s open for lunch, too).Host Franco Bertolasi remembers your faceafter the first visit and gives you a warm welcome. Thebright blond interior of the place is cheery, and the foodseldom disappoints. The specialty is the cooking of thesouth of France, reproduced lovingly if not exactly. Thechefs (a married couple) have a special way with seafood, and among the best dishes here are the warmscallop salad (lightly touched with orange), the lobsterstew and the mixed seafood grill of scallops, shrimp andsalmon. Desserts range from light sherbets to richcrème brulée and mocha cake. (7709 Inwood. 351-0094. Mon- Thur 6:30-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6:30-11 pm,Sun 5:30-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0
D Restaurant Silvano. It’s not necessarily agood sign when a fine restaurant begins tooffer a fixed price menu – it may be a bargain for the buyer, but it may also mean that therestaurant is scrambling for customers (especiallyin the newly overcrowded downtown market). Thenew fixed price menu at Silvano lowers the price ofthe evening meal, but the dishes we tried from itwere disappointing. The shrimp appetizer still hada bit of the old magic, but the entrees (stuffed quailand grilled veal) were lackluster. Even the desserts(cheesecake and Floating Island) couldn’t measureup to our memories. (311 Market. 747-0322. Lunch:Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. ClosedSun. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0
St. Martin’s. Sometimes a wine bistro isn’t just a winebistro. Granted, this is an ideal nightspot for a romanticinterlude -the tables are candle-lit and covered withcrisp white tablecloths and freshly cut red carnations-and its claim to fame seems to have been built on itswine and cheese-and-fruit or pate board offerings. ButSt. Martin’s also has a small yet varied menu rangingfrom roast beef and veal to pasta and swordfish. Although we are usually wary of varied menus, we werepleasantly surprised with the swordfish and veal medallions we were served. And the service is tops. (3020Greenville. 826-0940. Mon- Thur 11 am-3 pm & 5-11 pm,Fri & Sat 11 am-3 pm & 5 pm-1 am, Sun 5- 11 pm; Sunbrunch: 11-3. All credit cards. $$) 6.0
Belvedere. Almost everything the chef of this Swiss-Austrian restaurant attempts he accomplishes well, whether it’s perfectly preparing meaty, tender scallops, grilling a T-bone of veal or assembling a rich and colorful veal Oscar. Some pre-meal choices may be betterthan others, however: The plates of smoked salmon andveal we ordered were tasty but too overwhelming to beserved as appetizers A homemade soup or a housesalad dressed with generous amounts of bleu cheeseis a better bet. The look of Belvedere has improved substantially since our last visit (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. ClosedMon. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5
Bohemia. This tiny, romantic jewel never fails to leaveus happily replete after a sturdy, country-Czech mealserved in a room dancing with Viennese waltzes andflickering candlelight on lace tablecloths. Our favorite issauerbraten served with cranberries, soup or salad,several choices of vegetables and boiled potatoes orthick, pasty dumplings. The sauce is dark and viscousin appearance, but one bite proves it light and delightfully spiced, a waltz in itself. Pfefferhasen (roasted rabbit) is a real native treat. And, as always, we didn’t passup the homemade apple strudel Bohemia offers perhaps the most filling and romantic under$40 meal fortwo-including two glasses of Czech wine and dessert-in the city (2810 N Henderson. 826-6209. Sun& Tue-Thur 5:30-9:30 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30 pm.Closed Mon. Reservations recommended. All creditcards. $$$) 6.5
Cafe Kashtan. We almost hesitate to recommend CafeKashtan, despite some unique and very appetizingfood, because of the sometimes maddeningly slowservice. But after all. |ust how many Ukrainian restaurants can Dallas boast? It’s the only place in town weknow of where you can order chicken Kiev cooked bya native of Kiev. We love the soups and the KashtanSampler-mounds of cold salads made from beets,radishes and homemade sauerkraut. The chickenTabaka (flattened, flavored with garlic and grilled), themustardy beef stroganoff and the cabbage rolls are allworth exploring. The desserts change every night, butthe ones we’ve tried (almond cake with raspberry sauceand a raisin strudel) have been exceptional. (5365Spring Valley at Montfort 991-9550 Lunch: Mon-Fri11-2: dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10 Closed Sun MC, V. AE, DC.$$) 6.0
Lechner’e Brass Bull. Here, in a pleasant roomtucked away in the labyrinthic lobby of the RegentHotel, are the folks who bring you German specialties with a few Texas favorites. Werner Lechner. thepersonable chef, is accomplished in both old-country dishes like Wiener Schnitzel and Schnitzela la Holstein and in flown-in fish specialties from theseafood markets of Boston, where Lechner haslived. An unusual shrimp scampi appetizer smothered in red and green peppers was good, but weexpected more than two shrimp for $7.95. The entrees, however, were superb-veal cordon bleuwas fresh, with a delicate balance of its three tastes;Boston scrod was well-seasoned, nicely brownedand generously portioned. We topped off our mealwith what was touted to be the house specialty-apple streudel – which was tasty but rather skimpyon the apples for our Americanized tastes. (TheRegent Hotel. 1241 W Mockingbird. 630-7000.Daily 5-11 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0
D Rolf’s. On our last visit, we had the most German – and probably the best – meal we’ve ever eaten at Rolf’s. The appetizer of smoked eel. served with dark bread and thinly sliced onions, was much more delicate than it sounds and not at all Oily The sauerbraten was beautifully braised and sliced, and its sauce was not too emphatic. We were amused by the platter of smoked pork and sausages, which came with a puree of split peas and sauerkraut that were the Cinderellas of the table, promoted from downtrodden handmaidens to true royalty. Even the Black Forest cake transcended its middlebrow reputation and proved extraordinary With its subdued, romantic atmosphere. Rolfs is a treasure. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 NCentral Expwy, Suite 117. 696-1933. Lunch: Mon-Sat11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat5:30-11. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Allcredit cards. $$$) 8.0
Marty’s. One of our writers has a fantasy of being sequestered overnight in Marty’s-enslaved to a nocturnal orgy of pates and pesto, chocolate truffles and marzipan cake, endive and escargots. The chefs paté deChampagne and a wonderfully creamy French ulem-bert cheese were a robust beginning to a recent picnicwe packed here. They were followed by smoked sabe(one taste sufficed), mussel salad with hearts of palm,a pasta concoction welded with goat cheese (pungentbut tasty) and a loaf of French bread. A Greek spano-kopita, thick with spinach and feta cheese, was a tadsoggy when reheated but was solid and satisfyingdespite its heaviness. We finished with a chocolateyTexas pecan bar (a glorified brownie) and a lovelylemon tart. Marty’s has. it’s safe to say, everything for theneed-it-now gourmet, including fresh herbs whenthey’re unavailable elsewhere, a salad assortment thatis evergreen, a changing medley of freeze-and-reheatentrees and an enviable selection of accompanyingwines. (3316 Oak Lawn. 526-4070. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. DC, Marty’s charge.$$) 6.5
Mirabelle. For anyone who loves to eat, entering Mirabelle is an emotional experience. The refrigerated cases hold the most glorious-looking goodies imaginable. Treasures such as the fruit salad with fresh raspberries and the tiny chilled white beets with oranges don’t come cheap, of course, and there are a few disappointments lurking among all the wonders (the chicken mousse, for instance, was bland and heavy). But the array of patés, cheeses and entrees to take out and heat up usually reward any giving in to temptation. Perhaps the best things of all are the desserts, from a heart-shaped peach tart to definitive chocolate-chunk cookies. (Highland Park Village, Preston at Mockingbird. Suite 73-74. 528-7589. Tue-Sat 10:30 am-7 pm, Sun & Mon noon-6 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.5
Crackers. We were once crackers about this restaurantin a refurbished old house on McKinney, but our lastvisit didn’t live up to our memories. We’re glad that themenu concentrates more heavily on the Greek specialties, but they could have been better. The spanokopita(spinach pie) was soggy, and the dolmas (stuffed grapeleaves) were undistinguished. The moussaka was better than the souvlaki (skewered lamb), which was toughand overdone. Maybe it was just as well that there wereno Greek desserts: The coconut chess pie and thewalnut cake were the best part of our meal. (2621McKinney. 827-1660. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri &Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. MC. V, AE. $$) 4.5
Little Gus’. One disadvantage of living in a melting potis 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 someof the best hamburgers around at noon, but we preferhis restaurant after dark. The taste for the heavy Greekresin 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 & 6-10 pm. Fri & Sat7:30 am-4 pm & 6-10 pm. Sun 9 am-1:45 pm. No creditcards; personal checks accepted. $$) 6.0
Panteli’a. This Lowest Greenville Avenue restaurant and wine bar gets high marks for its mostly Greek menu Among the appetizers, the tried potato balls shouldn’t be missed. As for the main courses, the gyro pocket sandwich with yogurt dressing, the keftethes (Greek meatballs) and the souviaki (a Greek version of shish kebab) are all excellent choices. The only disappointment was our waitress, who was pleasant but inattentive. (1928 Greenville 823-8711 Mon-Thur 11 am-12:30 am. Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. Sun 11-11. MC. V. AE. $$) 5.5
D Kebab ’n Kurry. “A Passage to India”? It’s assimple as a trip up Central Expressway or downWalnut Hill Lane to Dallas’ premier Indian restaurant. The decor may be unspectacular, but the foodis sublime. On our last visit, we ordered a mixed grill ofthe tandoori specialties, and the barbecued meats wereall delicious. The lamb in a delicately spicy spinachsauce and the curry of mushrooms and peas were bothsublime. We love to splurge on one of the Indiandesserts-the cakelike cheese fritters called gulabjamun or the cheese patties in cream called roshmalai(401 N Central Expwy, Suite 300, Richardson, 231-5556; 2620 Walnut Hill Lane. 350-6466 Lunch: Mon-Fri11-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10. Fri & Sat 5 30-10:30;brunch: Sat & Sun 11:30-2:30. Reservations. All creditcards. $) 7.5
Queen of Shaba. Ethiopian food is one of the most difficult of the foreign cuisines to become accustomed to.Maybe it’s because everything is served on a huge platter of injera, the flat bread with a texture of sliced spongerubber that is plate, fork and staff of life to the Ethiopians.On it come spicy stews such as doro wott (chicken andeggs in a red sauce), accompanied by greens andyogurt. Queen of Sheba is a good place for the adventurous to try it all out, since the atmosphere is pleasantand the prices are very low. (For the less adventurous,Queen of Sheba also has a few Italian dishes.) (3527McKinney 521 0491. Mon-Fri 11-11. Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $) 4.5
Tanjore. This Indian restaurant across from Preston-wood Town Center offers lots of pleasures. Most of thedishes, from the spicy fritters and other savory appetizers on the Tanjore Tray to the delicious Indianbreads, are cooked with authority. The chicken Tanjore(like chicken Tandoori. except that the restaurant lacksa tandoor oven) is moist and delicate, and the spicy cur-ned eggplant and potato dish has plenty of zing Somedishes, such as a lackluster lamb shahi korma and atough shrimp masala, aren’t quite so successful. Thestaff works hard to please, but the kitchen seemsdaunted by a complicated order-take the menu’swarning of long preparation time to heart if you ordermore than a couple of dishes. (Prestonwood CreekShopping Center. 5409 Belt Line 9600070. Lunch:Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 6-10; brunch: Sat &Sun 11:30-3. Bar membership available. All creditcards. $$) 5.5
Alfredo’s. This small pizza joint has attracted a lot of notice, and one of the biggest surprises is just how far north it turns out to be (there’s a lovely view of the Ad-dison airport, way to the south). The pies Alfredo’s makes have a wonderfully crisp crust, and they’re made entirely to order We do wish the pizzas had more tomato sauce to give them a bit more flavor, though There are also some other standard Southern Italian dishes available, we liked the cannelloni and the eggplant parmigiana very much. (4043 Trinity Mills at Midway. 242-7135. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-mid night, Sun noon-10 pm. No credit cards; personalchecks accepted. $) 5.0
Bugatti. This popular Italian restaurant has slipped along way since the time a couple of years ago when itwas (under different management) the best Italian spotin town. But even in decline, Bugatti can be worth a visit.The appetizers we tried contained the best food. A saladof marinated octopus was tender and delicate; thetortellini were just chewy enough in their light creamsauce; and the special of mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat was more interesting than the usual clichéd version. The various veal dishes we sampled were saucednicely, but all of them suffered from a heavy coating ofbatter (why do so many Dallas Italian restaurants thinkthey have to imitate egg foo yung when sautéeing veal?) (2574 Walnut Hill Lane. 350-2470. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2;dinner: Mon- Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. ClosedSun. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5
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 be haphazard, the heaping platter of crab claws drenched ingarlic 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 lor six or more.No credit cards. $$) 4.5
Capriccio. Of all the remodeled old houses that haveserved as restaurants in Dallas, this one may have keptits character the best and turned out to be the loveliest.Some care has also been given to the food, although it’snot as exciting as the look of Capriccio. The spaghettitopped with chicken livers is an interesting choice forthose with a taste for giblets, and the angel-hair pastain fresh tomato sauce has a lively taste of fresh basil. Theentrees we’ve tried have been pleasant but unexceptional; the best is probably the tournedos in a light winesauce. Desserts at Capriccio. though, are somethingspecial. Both the Concord cake (of chocolate and meringue) and the rum cake (something like a cheesecakein texture, with lots of raisins) are memorable. (2616Maple. 871-2004. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. MC, V, AE, DC.Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 5.5
Cremona. Hidden away at the end of Routh Street in Oak Lawn, this place gave us one of the most pleasant outdoor dining experiences we’ve had. The tiny little restaurant isn’t elegant or sophisticated, but it is comfortably casual-just the sort of place to take a friend for lunch. There aren’t more than 10 selections on the menu, but the fettuccine with mushrooms and the lasagna were well-prepared and flavorful and were delivered to our table by handsome Italian waiters. The entrees came with a salad that was tasty, although the lettuce could have been fresher. Desserts are typical; cheesecake and mud pie. (3136 Routh. 742-4330. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.0
DiPalma. This crowded deli/wine store/pastry shop/restaurant may be the most exciting and lively Italian restaurant in Dallas, but it’s hardly the most consistent. Our most recent meal had everything from a wonderful shellfish soup with succulent scallops and shrimp in a garlicky broth to inedibly underdone veal grilled on a skewer 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. $$) 6.0
Ferrari’s. The veal dishes are wonderful here, but on a recent visit, the service was uneven. The veal drenched in lemon-wine sauce and the fettuccine were worth waiting for. The tomato-based sauces are fresh, and thepastas include a rich cannelloni. When the dessert cartfinally arrived, we found the chocolate mousse cake tobe especially good. (1713 Market. 741-5538. Lunch.Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat530-11 MC. V. AE. $$$) 6.5
II Sorrento. With an elegant, serene atmosphere,courtly yet friendly service and food that doesn’t disappoint, II Sorrento satisfies. In this dimly lit dining room,decorated in an Italian piazza motif that might be a bitmedieval for some tastes, we enjoyed appetizers ofmushroom caps stuffed with crab meat and baked egg-plant adorned with shrimp and clams The swordfishsteak was truly exemplary, although the veal entree wetried was a trifle tough. But the hard rolls – served nonstop – were irresistible, and the side dishes of fresh asparagus and lightly tried zucchini were pleasant accompaniments. Our chocolate mousse desserts were sinfulbut delicious. (8616 Turtle Creek Blvd. 352-8759. Sun-Fri 5:30-11 pm. Sat 5:30 pm-midmght. All credit cards$$$) 6.0
Prego Pasta House. Although Prego is a bit hard to peg-with a casual menu reminiscent of Campisi’s served in a simple, elegant setting – that hasn’t affected its popularity. And why should it? Here you can have the best of both worlds: Whether you’re dressed in denim or Dior, you can dine on such delicacies as Iinguini with white clam sauce and chicken breast piccata or opt for the inexpensive (and always enjoyable) pizza. Indulge in an amaretto freeze or a brandy Alexander for the ultimate culinary conclusion. (4930 Greenville 363 9204 Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri 11 am-rnidnight, Sat 5 pm-mid-night. Sun noon-11 pm. All credit cards $$) 5.0
D Ristorante Valentino. Our last meal herewas marked by an elegant simplicity Ouropening pastas were marvelously subtle:The lasagna contained tiny bay scallops and a lightcheese (and no tomatoes, of course), and the cava-letti proved to be small elongated shells sauced withfresh tomato and basil The salads were gentlydressed with good olive oil, the scallops of vealwere crowned with wild mushrooms, and a vealchop was anointed with a delicate Marsala sauce.Desserts had improved since our first visit – the pro-fiteroles were first-rate-but the quality of servicehad declined somewhat. (2929 N Henderson. 826-7804 Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 5 30-11 pm.All credit cards. $$$) 7.5
Ristorante Vincenzo. This restaurant in the locationthat Sergio’s and Via Veneto used to occupy offers aninteresting assortment of dishes from all over the Italianpeninsula. The pasta selections are unusual, rangingfrom spaghetti with julienne eggplant to small pastashells in a sauce rich with ricotta. Main courses includea flavorful grilled swordfish steak with a sauce loadedwith olives and garlic, chicken topped with Swisscheese and mushrooms, and classics such as scampiand veal (with ham in a brown sauce flecked with sage).(The Quadrangle. 2800 Routh. Suite 165. 742-3872.Lunch. Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner Mon-Fri 5 30-10. Sat530-11. ClosedSun All credit cards. $$$) 6.0
Sergio & Luciano. The pasta dishes and the veal arethe two main reasons to try this tasteful restaurant/baron Addison’s restaurant row The Iinguini dishes comewith a bewildering array of sauces, and the veal sautéedwith brandy, cream sauce and truffles was superbly anddelicately seasoned Try some of the off-menu specials,as well as the ingenious salads prepared with babyshrimp and other delectables. (The Quorum, 4900 BeltLine. Suite 250 387-4441 Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2 30. din-ner: Mon-Thur 6-10 30. Fri & Sat 6-11. Sun 6-10 Allcredit cards. $$$$) 6.5
Kobawoo. This Korean restaurant reopened after a fire last year. It’s bigger (if not fancier) than before, and the food seems better than ever. The menu lists Chineseand Japanese dishes, too, although they tend to befiltered through a Korean sensibility. (The shrimp friedwith vegetables, for instance, has at least a dozen ingredients, including broccoli, cauliflower, squash and twokinds of mushrooms.) The Korean barbecued beef, bul-goki, is good here, as are the fiery-hot pickled vegetables such as kimchee. Kobawoo also offers a numberof more unusual dishes, such as the whole fried fishKorean-style, which we found delicious. (3109 Inwoodat Cedar Springs. 351 -6922. Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm, Satnoon-10 pm, Sun 1-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.0
Fuji-Ya. This tiny Japanese restaurant looks moreauthentic than it once did (there is now a kind ofsushi bar), and the food remains a pleasant introduction to this Asian cuisine. There are the usualcombinations of tempura and teriyaki, plus moreout-of-the-way items like yaki soba (slightly spicyJapanese noodles), shabu shabu (simmered beefslices and vegetables) and grilled fish. A few varieties of sushi are available either as a main course oran appetizer. (13050 Coit. 690-8396. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2, dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat5:30-11. MC.V,AE.$$) 5.0
Kobe Steaks. One of the most popular places alongthe Addison strip, this restaurant combines food andshow in one event. Japanese cooks who look like samurai chop and flip pieces of beef, seafood and vegetables on a teppan yaki grill with martial abandon. It’s allvery entertaining, but the steak, shrimp, zucchini, beansprouts, etc., all wind up tasting pretty much the sameunder the avalanche of oil, salt, soy sauce and sesame.(The Quorum, 5000 Belt Line, Suite 600. 934-8150.Sun-Thur 5-11 pm, Fri & Sat 5 pm-midnight. All creditcards. $$) 5.5
A.J. Gonzalez. The West End finally has a Mexicanrestaurant now that A.J. Gonzalez has moved into oneof the renovated warehouse buildings there (althoughthe address is on Market Street, the only street entranceto the restaurant is on Record, downtown’s westernmoststreet). The decor is simple but attractive, and the samemight be said of the food. If you have a yen for old-fashioned Tex-Mex, you could do a lot worse than makethe trek here. The enchiladas are gooey and tasty, thetamales have more flavor than at most other places, andthe puffed tacos have an unusual filling of picadillo (achopped meat filling that includes a bit of potato). Themore ambitious grilled dishes are less satisfying. (1701Market. 651-9507. Mon-Thur 11 am-3 pm & 5:30-10pm, Fri 11 am-3 pm & 5:30-11 pm. $$) 5.5
Café Rincon. We wish the dinner menu here didn’thave such small type -with the dim lighting, it’s especially hard to read – but otherwise we love this fine little restaurant. The queso is not overwhelmingly cheesy;the jalapenos have a sweat factor of eight, and thecheese on the nachos has a stretch factor of seven,although the meat is slightly salty. The snapper Veracruz is the pescano de resistance: one of the juiciest,meatiest fish imaginable resplendent in a delicious herband tomato sauce. That, plus a tasty flan for dessert,made up for the rather pedestrian chicken enchiladas.And the lighting, with the right company, gets better asthe evening goes on. (2818 Harry Hines. 742-4906.Mon-Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat noon-midnight. ClosedSun. All credit cards. $$) 7.0
Cantina Laredo. This new place in Addison purports to serve comida casera (real Mexican home cooking). Well, if most of what Cantina Laredo serves isn’t quite that authentic, it certainly has things on its large menu that few other upscale Metroplex Mexican restaurants serve. 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 where we’ve tried the dish. But we had excellent quesadillas (tortillas stuffed with cheese and mushrooms), tacos al carbon and guacamole. The beef faji-tas had perhaps the richest, smokiest flavor of any wehave tried, and even the grilled red snapper (toppedwith tomato and peppers a la veracruzana) was fresh-tasting and tender. (4546 Bell Line, Addison. 458-0962.Sun-Thur 11 am-10pm.Fri & Sat 11-11. All creditcards. $$) 5.5
Cantu’s. This pleasant, sparkling-clean restaurantserves some of the mildest Mexican food we’ve evertasted. It’s just right for beginners, though not too exciting for a true lover of hot and spicy dishes. Everythingfrom the beef enchiladas to the chile relleno stuffed withcheese is mild, mild, mild. But our fajita expert says thatthe mesquite-grilled beef fajitas are better than those atnearby Raphael’s, although they’re a little heavy on themarinade. (5290 Belt Line. Suite 132. Addison 991-9105. Tue-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Sun 5-10pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$) 4.5
Gonzalez. Over the years, this funky little Mexican place (where you can order and drive through to pick up) has suffered both from overpraise and from too summary a dismissal. It does serve some very good Mexican food, though it’s by no means consistent these days. Not everybody likes the exotical-ly flavored fajitas (the secret is lots of oregano). but we do. And the burritos made of all sorts of authentic fillings (such as the stews called guiso and carne guisado) are well worth investigating. (4333 Maple 528-2960. Daily 7 am-9 pm. All credit cards $$) 5.5
Guadalajara. Some of the finest Mexican cooking inDallas can still be found in this classic dive just east ofdowntown. On our last visit, we had an excellent mil-anesa (which is rather like a Mexican chicken-friedsteak) and a tasty, if rather tough, steak cooked withgarlic and chile pequin The side dishes, such as gua-camole, fried potatoes and refried beans, were exceptional. But if you venture to this place, be prepared forfunky surroundings and service that can border onabusive (3308 Ross at Hall. 823-9340. Daily 11 am-3am. All credit cards. $$) 6.0
Herrera Café. This dumpy little shack, with its crumbling facade, air conditioning unit jutting out in front andfading fresco proclaiming “Cafe 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 pmClosed 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 |udg-ment. 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, Fri11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-11 pm. Sat noon-11 pm, Sunnoon-9 pm. MC. V. AE $$) 5.0
La Calle Doce. Sitting in the shadows of the Oak Cliff Bank, this bright, airy house-turned-restaurant is one of the few Tex-Mex spots in the southern part of the city that offers more than the usual fare. Among the more authentic specialties, all of the beef dishes are excellent (especially the chile rellenos). and the seafood items (described on the menu as “fresh from the Trinity”) are also worthy of praise. The shrimp are meaty and cooked in garlic butter, and the snapper is covered with spicy tomatoes and bell peppers The only disappointment was the rice, which was rather dry (415 W 12th St. 941-4304. Mon-Thur 11 am-9 30 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. Sun 11 am-8:30 pm. All credit cards $$) 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 entrees 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. $$) 4.5
Mario & Alberto. We were in the mood for a fiestawhen we last visited this uptown Mexican restaurant,and it did not disappoint. The nachos and shrimp flautasdistracted us from the tostadas and cilantro-laden hotsauce until the main courses arrived. Then we delightedin beef dishes: alambres (Mexican shish kebab), pun-tas de filete (tiny slivers of beef sautéed with garlic) and filete de la casa (a slice of rare tenderloin topped withherbs and garlic). On the way out, we couldn’t resist acinnamon-rich praline. (Preston Valley ShoppingCenter, LBJ Frwy at Preston, Suite 425. 980-7296. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm.Closed Sun. Drinks with $5.50 membership charge.MC. V, AE. $$) 7.0
Moctezuma’a. It’s a |ungle out there, but no matter howmany Mexican restaurants pop up around Dallas, thisone will remain a staple of fine Mexican cuisine, from thehot sauce and chips to the “especiales”-specialtydishes that make this south-of-the-border menu distinctive. We were also favorably impressed with some of themore simple Mexican dishes: the enchilada de polio(sour cream chicken enchiladas) and the puffed tacodinner. The decor is nothing fancy, but this is nonetheless a pleasant place to sip tasty margaritas. (3202McKinney. 559-3010. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11am-12:30 am. Sun 11 am-10:30 pm. Reservations lorparties of six or more. All credit cards. $$) 5.5
Puerto Vallarta. So far, this small but ambitious Mexican restaurant doesn’t seem to have caught its stride.The tasty hot sauce has bits of cilantro, and the serviceis polite. Some of the food is fine. From the name, we expected to find some seafood dishes on the menu, butthe only one-shrimp-was unavailable when we visited. We enjoyed some of the more unusual dishes,such as the vegetarian enchiladas and the chicken Mil-anesa (a breast beaten thin and sautéed with a bit ofgarlic). But the standard Tex-Mex items, such as beefenchiladas, tacos and guacamole, were dull, and the fa-jitas lacked taste. (2525 Wycliff. Suite 126. 522-9173.Mon-Thur 11 am-3 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 pm & 5:30 pm-4 am, Sun 6-10 pm. All credit cards.$$) 5.0
D Atlantic Café. Having your own yachtcouldn’t be much nicer than the experienceof dining here: It’s probably the best-andcertainly the sleekest – seafood restaurant ever tohit Dallas. Sashimi here consists only of immaculateslices of the freshest salmon – a good appetizer ifyou don’t want to hazard the richness of pastacrowned with shrimp and crab meat. The Doversole, simply sautéed, will make converts of even themost resolute landlubbers. Even the salads (suchas the Caesar and the fabulous mozzarella-and-tomato) and the desserts are special here. (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. All credit cards. $$$) 8.5
Bachman Café. We cant say enough nice things about this comfortable little cafe (especially since it’s owned by a rather large fellow named Mean Joe Greene). Seriously, we enjoyed the live music and the simple but filling fare. The menu has a slight hint of New Orleans; anything made with oysters is a winner. And don’t miss thecheesesteak sandwich with mushrooms and greenpeppers on French bread. Joe, one problem: The service was just a bit slow-not much, mind you. Just a little. (3049 W Northwest Hwy. 351-0959. Mon-Sat 4:30pm-1 am. Closed Sun. MC,V,AE.$) 5.0
Best Pacific. This new restaurant wouldn’t attract much notice if it were on McKinney Avenue, but in northwest Garland, it’s enough of a sensation that it has a lot of business on weekends. The proprietor, branching out from a small Chinese takeout place in Piano, has created an unassuming neighborhood place devoted mostly to seafood. Although the recipes aren’t Oriental, there are some benefits from the Asian heritage, such as the indisputable freshness of most of the foodstuffs, including some barely cooked green beans accompanying our entrees. The two standouts among the entées we sampled were the sautéed scallops- brown and slightly crunchy on top, but tender and juicy within – and the crisp cornmeal-coated filets of catfish. (4 750 N Jupiter at Arapaho, Garland. 530-1574. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5-10 pm. Sat 5-10 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. All credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$) 5.5
Blue Point Seafood. If you stick to the basics- boiled shrimp and fried things-you will probably come away happy from this new place. The boiled shrimp are huge,and the fried oysters, fried shrimp and whole catfish cancompete with those almost anywhere. Order anythingfancier and you are likely to be disappointed. We foundthe ’House Special.” a pasta and seafood salad, to beabsolutely tasteless, and the broiled trout had an offtaste and an oily texture that made us wish it were stillswimming in the Gulf. (2720 McKtnney. 827-7720. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-9 pm. MC,V, AE. $$) 5.0
D Café Pacific. Has this bastion of fresh seafoodcooked with a continental flair gone New Southwestern on us? The specials of the day we triedwere fettuccine (cooked with fresh mussels and juliennepeppers) and blackened filets of salmon and halibut.sauced with an Anaheim pepper beurre blanc. The fishdish was a notable success. The pasta wasn’t, nor wasthe ceviche of shrimp, lobster and scallops, in which theshellfish were overmarinated and chewy. We werepleased, though, with the rich, tender pepper steak andthe desserts of silk pie and cheesecake with two sauces(strawberry and kiwi). No one could accuse the servicehere of being warm and overly familiar, but it is efficientand professional. (Highland Park Village, Preston atMockingbird, Suite 24. 526-1170. Lunch: Mon-Fri11:30-2:30. Sat & Sun 11-2:30, dinner: Sun-Thur5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V, AE. $$$) 8.5
Charley’s Seafood Grill. Charley’s has been aroundlonger than most of the places that grill seafood overmesquite. and it doesn’t make such a big thing of it. Bothswordfish and a mixed brochette of shrimp and scallopstake well to the treatment. Or, if you like, you can getgood fried or sautéed fish instead. For starters, weprefer the boiled shrimp or the chowder to the gumbo.(5348 Belt Line, Addison. 934-8501. Sun-Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. MC. V. AE. $$) 5.5
Fishmonger’s Oyster Bar. This used to be mainly a takeout place with a few tables for dining in. Recently, it more than doubled its seating capacity, and while there is still fresh seafood on sale at the market and plenty of take-home business, Fishmonger’s now feels more like the oyster bar in its name. The food is Louisiana-style, and it compares favorably with some of the middle-rank places in New Orleans. We’re crazy about the grilled redfish special and the odd but satisfying sole stuffed with whole shrimp, crab and cheese. The fried seafood is fine – although, like the gumbo and even the fries, it can be overly spicy-and the bread pudding is wonderful. On weeknights, there are all-you-can-eat specials. (1915 N Central Expwy, Suite 600, Piano. 423-3699 Mon- Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11 -11, Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5
D Newport’s. This stylish, handsome West Endpurveyor of seafood isn’t always perfect, butyou can usually count on at least one major success per meal. We were impressed with the crabcocktail – long strips of meat from the leg served with asweetish sauce for dipping – and the grilled Gulf snapper. More ordinary were the ceviche (slightly over-marinated so that the shrimp and scallops were tough)and the trout amandine (it turned out to be freshwatertrout rather than sea trout and was too oily for our taste).We were appeased, though, by the excellent salads,the nonpareil french fries and the silk pie of dark, darkchocolate. (703 McKinney in the Brewery. 954 0220.Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. MC, V. AE. DC.$$$) 7.5
Rocco Oyster Bar. The white-tiled walls and stark surroundings are a bit too high-tech to remind one of New Orleans, but the food here is much more characteristic of the Crescent City. To start our meal, we indulged in some fresh oysters on the half shell and a cup of hearty, spicy gumbo that ranked with the best we’ve ever tasted. Our friendly, efficient waitress suggested the house specials (displayed on a blackboard above the serving bar), so we tried that trendy favorite, blackened redfish, and a steamed Maine lobster. The lobster was rather tough, but the redfish was a sensation, with a spicy, char-broiled flavor and an incredibly tender texture. From a list of side dishes, we ordered fat homemade fries, chunky coleslaw and fried okra.(2520 Cedar Springs. 747-6226. Tue-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri-Sun 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Mon. MC, V.AE. $$) 5.5
Seascape Inn. This place has the look and feel of anupscale restaurant, with valet parking, romantic surroundings and pricey entrees. It’s too bad the fooddoesn’t carry the image through. Our meal, from start tofinish, was just a notch short of outstanding -whichwould be forgivable if the prices hadn’t been so high.One baked oyster we were served as an appetizerlacked the oyster and was more aptly titled “mincedonions on the half shell.” And the scallops provencalewere overcooked. The white chocolate cheesecakewas the richest, most memorable part of the meal. (6306Greenville. 692-6920. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner:Sun- Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30. All credit cards.$$$) 5.0
Sawatdee. To a newcomer, most of Sawatdee’s disheshave unpronounceable names and unlikely-soundingdescriptions. But a little sampling will usually allay anymisgivings. Thai cuisine has influences from all over andoffers something to please everyone. Appetizers include delicious grilled skewered pork with a spicy peanut sauce and whole shrimp wrapped up in thin noodledough and deep-fried. It’s sometimes hard to tell fromthe menu descriptions just how peppery a dish is goingto be. so consult the waiter. Our shrimp in pepper pastewas quite innocuous-and delicious-but some Thaidishes leave you spouting fire like a real live dragon.(4503 Greenville at Yale. 373-6138. Lunch: Mon-Fri11:30-2:30: dinner: daily 5-10:30. All credit cards.$$) 6.0
Thai Lanna. This unassuming place has been toutedas the best Thai restaurant in Dallas. We enjoyed thehospitable welcome and admired the very extensivemenu, but we didn’t think the cooking was all that good.It might be a question of the quality of ingredients-thevarious meat dishes we tried had strong smells, asthough the meat was old. And the spicy beef salad wasstringy and overcooked – not at all like the delicatelycharcoaled version we have had elsewhere. The delightful idea of eggplant curry, heavy on the mint leaves,was also compromised by the taste of the pork. (4315Bryan. 827-6478. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5-10 pm,Sat & Sun 11 am-10 pm. MC, V. $$) 4.0
Bubba’s. We continue to come here for the crisp, juicyfried chicken and the sweetish, yeasty rolls (drippingwith honey, if you like). But the rest of Bubba’s food isproblematical. The selection of vegetables is commendable, but the greens, green beans and pinto beans areall cooked (authentically) with salt pork, and all come outsaltier than any sailor’s language. And the mashedpotatoes taste like cardboard. Neither the catfish nor thechicken-fried steak can be recommended, either. Still,Bubba’s is prettier than Church’s and offers unbeatableopportunities for preppy-watching. (6617 Hillcrest.373-6527. Mon-Fri 6:30 am-3 pm & 4-10 pm, Sat & Sun6:30 am-10 pm. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $) 4.5
Dovie’s. With so much that’s new in Addison, it’s a realtreat to spend an evening dining in the old and elegantranch house of soldier/actor Audie Murphy. But frankly, we think Dovie’s charges too much for the ambiance.The specials of the day, at $15 each, included a tastytenderloin and a huge slice of char-broiled swordfish.Side orders of sautéed veggies were fresh but a littlebland. In spite of the fact that five out of 12 entrees werenot available, the service was excellent. We still think theonion soup is one of the best we’ve had, but the dessertscould stand major improvement. (14671 Midway.233-9846. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30, dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-9:30. Fri & Sat 5 30-W. Sun 5 30-9; Sun brunch:11-2:30. V. AE. CB. $$) 5.5
Gennie’s Bishop Grill. Area grandmothers may nowretire. In this frill-less, cafeteria-style refuge, lunchborders 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, 9348800. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm at Cole location; Mon-Sat 11am-8 pm. Sun 10:45 am-3 pm at Sakowitz Village location. No credit cards; MC. V, AE for takeout orders ofover $10 at Sakowitz Village $) 6.0
Southern Kitchen. The crowds at these twovenerable Dallas institutions at either end of Northwest Highway reflect the American love of plenty.All the shrimp, crab meat and oysters you can eat(and that’s |ust for appetizers!) is a powerful draw.It matters little that the supposed main course (friedand barbecued chicken, fried seafood and trimmings, again in unlimited quantities) is |ust a bit better than good cafeteria level. If you prefer – and youmight – you can order a steak or broiled swordfishinstead. The homemade biscuits and cinnamonrolls and the very hard-working service are alsoma|or attractions here. (6615 E Northwest Hwy,368-1658; 2356 W Northwest Hwy, 352-5220. Mon-Sat 5:30-10 pm, Sun 5-9:30 pm. All credit cards.$$$) 4.5
STEAKS, BURGERS, ETC.
Prospect Grill. This Lowest Greenville restaurantis a quaint dining spot, but we have mixed feelingsabout the food and service The fresh chips withmild guacamole and pico de gallo were fine, but thefrench fries were too greasy. And the special saladwith chunks of chicken, bacon and bleu cheesewas a little heavy on the onions and bleu cheese.We did enjoy the mild chicken fajttas and themesquite-grilled chicken breast sandwich, but ourorder was served haphazardly: Entrées camebefore appetizers, guacamole came without chips,and the chicken sandwich was forgotten until wereminded our waitress. We hope these inconsistencies can be remedied, since the Prospect has muchpotential. (2100 Greenville. 828-2131. Daily 11am-2 am. AE.$$) 5.0
Boulevard Café. This pioneer in the Jefferson Boulevard renaissance only dimly resembles any place on Lower Greenville. There are plants around, but the place isn’t really trying to be chic. This is urban populism at its most appealing, with diners of every description. They come for the sandwiches (good burgers and grilled chicken) and thin, honest steaks at reasonable prices. The homemade chili (filled with big, ragged chunks 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 Jet-ferson 941-2812. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 prn. Fri & Sat 11am-midmght. 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 11 am-5 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted $) 6.5
D Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Reward food witha vengeance is what you get here: the biggest,tastiest steaks imaginable. We lean toward therib-eye, which is anything but lean. It is rich, marbledand sinful, and we never even take home a doggie bag.The sirloin is also of superb USDA Prime quality,perfectly cooked in its butter and parsley sauce. II youdon’t want to break the bank, forego appetizers anddesserts – your bill will be big enough just paying for thebeef. (6940 Greenville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri 11:30-1130,Sat & Sun 5-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5
Trail Dust Steakhouse. Almost more a theme park than a restaurant, this is the place in Dallas to take a visitor who wants to see the Texas of his childhood fantasies Actually, the dance floor – with dozens of patrons from kids on up who can actually do the Cotton-Eyed Joe in unison-and other entertainment, such as the steep slide, make for more fun than you might expect. The reasonably priced steaks, which are inviting-looking as they all cook over a big fire, are good if you don’t mind their being doctored up with brushed-on barbecue sauce. Salads are plain, and potatoes cost extra. (10841 Composite. 357-3862. Mon-Thur 11 am-2 pm & 5-11 pm, Fri 11 am-2 pm & 5 pm-midnight, Sat 5 pm-midmght, Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.5
LAS COLINAS/MID CITIES
China Terrace. With its rosewood antiques and assortment of fine Oriental ornaments, China Terrace creates the perfect atmosphere to enjoy fine Chinese 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 hors d’oeuvres platter only whetted our appetites for what was to follow. We savored the beef with broccoli and indulged in prawns so artfully arranged on our plates that it seemed a shame to devour everything so quickly. Our waiter never let our teacups run dry or our supply of rice dwindle. (5435 N Mac-Arthur, Irving. 258-1113 Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11. Sat 5-11 pm. Sun 5-10 pm. MC, V,AE.$$) 6.0
D Enjolie. The new chef has instituted an alternative menu that’s low in calories but stilldelicious. We tried the Bourbon Shrimp, the tomato and mushroom salad and the Dover sole (rolledup into pinwheels with salmon mousse and spinach)and found it hard to believe that a meal so deliciouscould be good for us. The richer dishes were fine, too:lobster cooked with cabbage, rabbit in two mustardsauces and desserts like the Praline Parfait and the LeSucces (a meringue and butter cream cake). (MandalayFour Seasons Hotel. 221 S Las Colinas Blvd. Irving5560800. ext. 3155. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2.30, din-ner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30 Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0
Flying Lobster. Grapevine is undergoing a majorfacelift these days, and the Flying Lobster, with its freshentrees and dockside decor, is among the community’snewest and best offerings. Although this might be catfish territory to some, there’s nary a fried fish sizzling onthe stove. The lobster is flown in daily from Maine; thecrab comes from the Gulf. The entrees lack imagination,but freshness makes up for creativity. The cook hastaken the chore out of eating lobster by removing all butthe most tender chunks of meat, and the creamy saucethat covered the meat added just enough flavor toenhance an already delightful meal. We had to work abit harder to get through the seafood platter, whichfeatured everything from frog’s legs to swordfish. Thesampling of steamed clams, shrimp and lobster madefor an interesting mix, but after the first few bites,everything tasted the same. (1321 W Northwest Hwy,Grapevine. (817)481-4135. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon- Thur 5-9, Fri & Sat 5-10. MC, V, AE: personalchecks accepted. $$) 6.0
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 Settlement Rd. (817) 3320357. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm.Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 6.0
Aventino’s. This small West Side Italian inn is becoming a consistent winner with us. On our last visit, we had some of the best tortellini in Fort Worth – perhaps the entire Metroplex. Creamy, with just the right amount of seasoning and fresh garden peas, the pasta-wrapped bites of veal and beef were delissima. Perhaps we were so impressed with the tortellini Aventino that our accompanying entree of sautéed veal paled by comparison (it was bland and had too much breading). But everything else shone: The melted-cheese appetizer (to dunk piping-hot bread in) was gooey and rich; and the live classical guitar music was a perfect backdrop for our dessert of espresso and coconut flan. And although the diminutive restaurant is enjoying a big business, you can still get a table on weekends without a reservation. (3206 Winthrop Ave. (817) 731-0711. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-/0, Fri & Sat 5-11, Sun 5-9. MC, V, AS. $$) 5.0
Benito’s. This funky place on the near South Side offersreal Mexican dishes rather than Tex-Mex. A wait of onlya few minutes will produce an appetizer of sopes, acousin of the chalupa with a thicker base of cornmealdough. Fajitas come with grilled scallions in true Mexican fashion, but they can be a bit tough. Part of the funhere is the homey atmosphere and the courtly service.(1450 W Magnolia. (817)332-8633. Sun-Thur 10-10, Fri& Sat 10 am-3 am. No credit cards. $) 6.0
The Carriage House. Leisurely service is thebyword here. Nothing is rushed, and given the ambition of the new menu, you need the time to carefully peruse the bountiful offerings of steak, seafoodand veal. We could have made an entire meal of thefresh, perfectly seasoned paté maison. Our grilledswordfish was taken from the flames not a momenttoo soon, but the large tenderloin suffered under asuffocating blanket of peppercorns. Despite thecompetition of younger restaurants, the Old GuardCarriage House remains one of the most popularplaces in Fort Worth – and by our observations, it isaging as gracefully as its clientele. (5136 CampBowie. (817) 732-2873. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11, Sun 6-10; Sun brunch: 11-2.All credit cards. $$$) 6.5
DCalhoun Street Oyster Co. The decor and the menu at this place are borrowed from New Orleans, but the service we encountered during a recent visit had an in-viting Texas flair. The veggies with dip kept us busy until the main course-lobster tails-arrived The oysters were so good you could easily make a full meal out of them, and the waiter who customizes the sauce at your table knows how to please customers’ palates. The night we visited, the amaretto cheesecake was made more tasty with chocolate swirls. II you’re not set on oysters (the house specialty), choose from the blackboard menu, where fresh seafood items vary daily. (210 E Eighth at Calhoun (817) 332-5932 Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm.Fri & Sat 11-11.Sun 5-9:30 pm MC. V. AE. $$) 5.0
D Nectary’s. Some things at Hedary’s were betterthan ever on our last visit, including the serviceby the members of the Lebanese-Americanfamily that owns the place. The assortment of appetizerswas nothing short of spectacular, with definitive eggplant and chickpea dips, falafel. vegetables and saladsAnd the baklava and other desserts were light, delicateand delicious. We confess to some disappointment withour main dishes, though. Our skewered lamb wastough, and our frarej (chicken broiled in olive oil) didn’ttaste as boldly of garlic as we remembered. (3308 Fair-field at Camp Bowie (817)731-6961. Tue- Thur & Sun5-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5-11 pm Closed Mon. No reservations All credit cards $$) 7.5
La Poele d’Or. This restaurant, in its storefront location,is very small, with crowded tables, slow service anddecor that’s nondescript at best But the food is stillworthy of consideration, even though the appetizers areunexciting and the salads are simple. We tried sautéedfilets of orange roughy, a fish from New Zealand, andfound them delicate, and the specialty of the house(called Shrimp Vance) is divine-lightly battered andcrunchy crustaceans in a buttery sauce. The Veal Nor-mande was heavy but tasty, and the Chicken AuxChampignons was satisfying, too. (5718 Locke. (817)738-6670. Mon-Thur 6:30-10. Fri & Sat 6-11 All creditcards. $$$) 6.0
Le Café Bowie. This Fort Worth favorite, which is nowbeginning to show its age a bit, maintains a high quality in the evenings by keeping things simple. Everyonegets soup and salad as starters, and the entrees aremostly variations on beet tenderloin and veal scallops.Sauces lean toward rich hollandaise and béarnaisesauces. If Le Café Bowie is seldom exciting, it is mostlydependable. (4930 Camp Bowie. (817) 735-1521.Lunch: Wed-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10. Fri& Sat 5:30-11: Sun brunch noon-2. MC. V. personalchecks accepted. $$$) 6.0
St. Emilion. Inside an inconspicuous A-frame building,this new restaurant achieves the feel of a country inn inFrance better than any other place in the Metroplex. Ifthe food gets any better, St Emilion will be the bestrestaurant in Fort Worth. And with a $20 prix fixe for fourcourses, it’s already the biggest bargain. On the blackboard menu (eventually there will be a written one),there’s a choice of about a half dozen choices of bothappetizers and entrees. Among the appetizers, the seafood salad – marinated shrimp and salmon seasoned toa turn – was a knockout. Perhaps the most striking entree was the roast duck, which could be seen turning ona spit in the rotissene imported from France. (3617W Seventh St. (817) 737-2781. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30pm & 6-10:30 pm. Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC. V.AE. $$$) 7.0
Tours. Inside, this doesn’t look like the storefrontrestaurant it is: Tours is small, but it’s very sophisticated-looking The menu is sophisticated, too, but on our mostrecent visit, the food didn’t quite come up to the level wehad experienced previously. The seafood gumbo wasreally not a soup – the shellfish were sauced with a bitof okra and a lot of spicy tomato. The chicken with winevinegar and garlic proved to be an interesting versionof a nouvelle classic. The desserts- boule de neige andlime mousse – were interesting but unexciting. (3429BW Seventh St. (817)870-1672 Lunch. Tue-Fri 11:30-2:dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservationsrecommended. MC. V. AE. $$$) 6.5