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EATING AROUND CHATEAUBRIAND’S WELCOME RETURN

Also: Satay, Stevie V’s, Cafe Le Jardin, Hard Shell Cafe, Lena’s Place
By D Magazine |

Chateaubriand



Second-guessing this city’s dining tastes can be a traumatic exercise. Who’d have thought, for instance, that downturned Dallas was ready to welcome an upscale Continental comeback? Yet here we were, less than two weeks after Chateaubriand’s unheralded opening, witnessing a midweek rush of revelers that would have done the trendiest fun palace proud.

Perhaps comeback is the key word here-in its original location at Fairmount and McKinney, Chateaubriand reigned as a restaurant landmark for upwards of thirty years; under the management of its founder, Jimmy Vouras, the pricey place was a favorite of high-rolling business types and special-occasion celebrants from 1954 until the early Eighties.

Comes now Pete Vouras, Jimmy’s son, bent on conjuring up a line-for-line reincarnation in the Bachman Lake neighborhood-same name, same effusive black-tie style, some of the same personnel; even the same menu, right down to a rather quaint introduction explaining the origin of the name.

The food, a straightforward melange of familiar Continental classics, held few surprises; those disappointments we encountered seemed more the result of overen-thusiastic seasoning than of any real kitchen ineptitude. Oysters Rockefeller, for instance, would have been perfect if their spinach-graced succulence had not been obscured by a too-heavy layer of cheese; and vichyssoise delivered a surprise punch of pepper that outlasted its cool, fresh flavor. Crabmeat crepes, though, were near-ethereal, plumped with moist, fresh crabmeat and mushroom slices in delicately lemoned sauce. And a small Caesar salad was all one could have asked, the fresh-torn romaine leaves crisp in zesty dressing just kissed with anchovy.

Our entrees were superior. Veal marsala, pounded paper-thin, was tender in heady wine sauce, flawlessly complemented by lemon-spritzed wild rice. A pair of double loin lamb chops, broiled rare, hardly needed the steak knife that came with them, and a thick cut of broiled red snapper flaked with fresh firmness under the fork. Vegetables served with these-broccoli, creamed spinach, and green beans with toasted almonds-were tender-crisp, although the broccoli’s hollandaise was entirely too tart.

Service, while hard-pressed by an apparently larger-than-expected swarm of diners, was unfailingly cordial, if at times awkwardly paced. No fault of Vouras-the man was all over the opulent house, whizzing from kitchen to tables, making every guest welcome, a sentiment all present seemed to return. Downturned economy notwithstanding, the dining Dallas we saw was clearly happy to have Chateaubriand back again. 3701 W. Northwest Hwy. (at Marsh Lane}. 351-2248. Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am. Open Sunday night during market. All credit cards. Expensive.

-Betty Cook



Satay



If you’re interested in the (generally) fiery food of southeast Asia, Satay is the place to be. The menu includes dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia; it gives the knowledgeable diner a chance to compare and contrast these neighboring cuisines, and the blissfully ignorant diner a chance to enjoy an overview or sampler of the similar but different dishes. The menu is divided into sections: appetizers, soups, yum-yums (miscellaneous?), noodles, fried rice, and entrees. The latter category has several subheads, including curry, and most of the groupings list dishes from several countries.

To begin, we tried the namesake satay- bamboo skewers of thin pork (or beef or chicken) strips, accompanied by a lovely-to-look-at but flavorless cucumber salad and a good spicy peanut sauce; it also came with “toasts.” which looked and tasted like salted styrofoam. Hot and sour soup was plenty sour, but not at all hot; we enjoyed it after the kitchen had reheated it for us. The Vietnamese soft spring roll was beautiful, with red shrimp and green basil showing through the translucent white skin, and the pure flavors of sweet shellfish and peppery, anise-scented basil contrasted well. Fried chicken wings were stuffed with a savory mixture of greens that would have been delicious minus the chicken-I preferred the stuffing alone.

Entrees were better-honey-roast pork, a platter of tender-crisp slices of rich pork loin, was unfortunately smothered with a cloyingly sweet sauce; “ubol” beef, a toss of beef strips, onion slivers, mint, and other greens in a searingly hot sauce, was exactly the kind of flavor blend that makes Thai food so addictive-near-painfully hot, but wonderful. Both curries we tried were delicious-bland-looking, but complexly seasoned- We tried “Mus-man,” an Indonesian curry with potatoes and peanuts whose heat was balanced by the sweetness of coconut milk, and “Gang-dang,” a hot red Thai curry with bamboo shoots and squash.

Satay has no liquor license yet, but you are welcome to bring your own fire-quencher. 4503 Greenville Ave. at Yale. 696-3210. Lunch II am-2.30pm daily; dinner Sun-Thur 5 pm-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5-11 pm. AE, MC, V. Inexpensive to moderate.

-Mary Brown Malouf



Stevie V’s



Every neighborhood should have an Italian restaurant this good. Stevie V’s doesn’t try to offer anything fancy or out of the way-just the usual Italian-American specialties that often make this the ethnic cuisine of choice on the East Coast but are seldom done with much authority or pizazz hereabouts. But here there is pizazz and authority, probably the result of having a chef of some distinction, Kevin Hopkins (who opened Nana Grill), in the kitchen-he’s one of the owners of the place, as well. The kitchen turns out the best conventional (as opposed to New Wave) pizzas in Dallas, with crisp, delicate crust, just the right amounts of cheese and sauce, and bountiful toppings like scrumptious homemade sausage. The best of the pastas we tried was the fettuccine with clam sauce. The noodles were perfectly cooked and coated with a rich cream sauce with lots of meaty pieces of clam. Except for pasta and pizza, the only main dishes offered are veal, chicken, and eggplant parmigiana. We opted for the eggplant and found it delicious, if not quite perfectly crisp. The nicest surprise at Stevie V’s is the high quality of desserts. We liked the “Lady of the Lake” (a concoction of cake, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream named for nearby White Rock) and the cheesecake, but we went out of our minds for the bread pudding-we’ve never had this dish better prepared. The service is extremely pleasant and willing, though the kitchen was a bit slow. 7324 Gaston Ave., Suite 319. 321-9755. Mon-Thur 11 am-11 pm, Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat 5 pm-2 am. Sun 5-11 pm. AE, MC V. Inexpensive. -W.L. Taitte



Café Le Jardin



Call it renaissance or call it retro-whichever, Dallas seems to be seeing a trend toward the pre-trendy in restaurants. How long has it been, for instance, since you’ve seen beef Wellington on a new eatery’s menu? You can see it now on avant McKin-ney Avenue, no less, at a resolutely non-nouvelle French entry called Cafe Le Jardin.

For starters, we found Cafe Le Jardin devoid of pomp or pretension: service was smooth and properly timed, plate presentations were pretty and polished, but the intimidation factor normally inescapable in French restaurants was totally absent here.

The food was in sync with the ambience. Crabmeat-stuffed mushrooms, a cliche if there ever was one. brimmed with texture and flavor, as did a quartet of shrimp sautéed with vegetables julienne. Molten brie bulged divinely from its fruit-garnished puff pastry. Vegetables in the fisherman’s soup were long-simmered in its dark broth, but its chunks of shrimp, scallop, and fish were cooked until barely firm.

A sauteed veal chop was a tender monster, anointed with mushrooms in a rich cream sauce; filet mignon au poivre vert was fist-sized, broiled rare and bathed in an assertive sauce studded with green peppercorns. The tri-colored pasta was only bi-colored. as it happened-spinach and tomato-but its burden of fresh assorted seafoods and shellfish was generous and delicious.

The beef Wellington would have fed two of me, even without the added richness of liver mousse, mushrooms, and paper-crisp pastry in deep red-wine sauce. Its size was formidable, its heart was rare.

Crème bailée was an appropriately light version, but poached pear was overkill, the fruit lost beneath a deep spill of chocolate over ice cream.

Prices for all these yum-yums are surpris ingly modest, considering the quality and portion sizes involved. Café Le Jardin is the combined enterprise of Hossein Nikrooh and George Bakhsahmandi, both formerly associated with the long-running Universal Restaurants group (Les Saisons, Old War saw, et al.). Their background translates happily in these more modest surroundings to a dining experience a good deal more charming than expected-by me, at least- for the price. 4900 McKinney Ave. 526-0570. Lunch Mon-Sat 11-3, late menu until I am; brunch Sat & Sun 11-3; dinner Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Ail credit cards. Moderate to expensive. -B.C.



Hard Shell Cafe



This seafood restaurant with a triple-pun name fills a real need. It gives Dallas a chance to buy simply prepared crustaceans at reasonable prices. We’re not talking a simple oyster bar here-there are three kinds of clam and four kinds of crab on the menu, not to speak of fresh mussels and lobsters (not found too often in places in this price range). The operative word is “fresh”-if the taste were not enough to convince. Hard Shell Cafe posts shipping receipts showing when the foodstuffs were received from purveyors on all three coasts.

Most of these are delivered to the table with a knowing simplicity. Both the New England clam chowder and the peel and eat shrimp make excellent beginnings here- neither of these standards is done better in Dallas. For the main course, diners must choose between large combos that range in price from $20.95 to $33.95 for two, or else opt for single-item dinners. We were warned that the Cajun combo is extra spicy, so (since we weren’t feeling incendiary) we ordered the New England combo. At $33.95 this most expensive dish on the menu seemed quite a bargain, since it included two one-pound Maine lobsters, a pound each of cultured mussels, and either Littleneck or Ipswich steamer clams, and new potatoes and corn on the cob. All this was served in a huge stainless steel bowl, with accompanying metal platters to hold discarded shells.

However, anything that needs cooking beyond a simple steaming process doesn’t fare too well at the Hard Shell Cafe. The special of charbroiled swordfish steak was mushy and underdone, the French fries had overdosed on salt and paprika, and the desserts were unmemorable. But the basics here-like the Florida Stone Crab claws and the fried shrimp-all seem excellent. Service, too, is hardworking and efficient, and there is a nice selection of beers and wines by the glass. 6403 Greenville Ave. 987-3477. Sun-Thur 5 pm-10 pm, Fri & Sal 5-11. AE. MC, V. Moderate. -W.L.T.



Lena’s Place



Here’s one for our Best and Worst issue- it has the best Southern cooking in Dallas (by far) and the worst service of any restaurant of any sort (by far). How you balance the pluses and minuses is your decision-we don’t make up these places, we just tell you about them.

The story behind this incongruity is that some young black entrepreneurs asked their mother to come to town to teach them the secrets of her wonderful food. She did. she took over the kitchen, and her name went up over the door. Her honor as a cook and as a woman seemed to go on the line too. because as of our visit she had been working sixty-four days straight without a day off. She was still turning out definitive chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, and catfish fillets-not to mention very good meat loaf and the juiciest hamburgers in Dallas. The sides are just as remarkable: exemplary green beans and black-eyed peas, just-right red beans and rice. fresh squash that is not at all watery or bitter, and mashed potatoes that belong in the Dallas culinary hall of fame.

Lena’s Place is the answer to everybody’s dream of a restaurant kitchen that turns out Southern cooking just like mom used to make-because mom is right there turning it all out. The prices are unbelievably rea sonable, too. But the problem is that neither mom nor anybody else here knows anything about the business of running a restaurant. The waits for the food are either maddening or laughable, depending on one’s disposi tion. The servers are charming but forget to bring you things like water or your appetizers or the check. The kitchen is forever running out of things on the menu, and liable to substitute something else you didn’t order and may well abominate (just pray they don’t run out of the macaroni and cheese if you bring the kiddies). Pray also that Lena finds somebody she trusts to help her in the kitch en and that the children master the intrica cies of getting the food to the table, because this could be one of Dallas’s great res taurants. Caruth Plaza. 9100 N. Central Expwy., Suite 117 (at Park Lane). 987-9152. Mon-Thur II am-8pm, Fri & Sat 10-10, Sun 10-8. AE. Inexpensive. -W.L.T.

RESTAURANTS



BARBECUE & BURGERS



Chips. Chips is the burger joint for me: 1 like its laid-back, not-too-loud atmosphere, I like the friendly and efficient service, i like (he pig sandwich (shredded pork with relish), (he chicken sandwich, and all the burgers I’ve tasted (chili, cheese, hickory, and plain). 1 like the skinny, sweet onion rings and the big basket of fries and I love having to choose between cold beer and an ho nest-to-gosh, from-scratch milkshake. 4501 N Central Expwy. 526-1092. 2445 W North-west Hwy, Suite 101. 350-8751. ’inexpensive.



Prince of Hamburgers. Lined up in a row with our trays hooked to the window and a waitress bearing beer and burgers heading our way, we felt a bit of a flashback, sort of like Peggy Sue in the movie. But (he food brought us back with a jolt: the burgers, served on a well-toasted bun in a basket with superlative fries, are tops; the chili dogs are served burger-style, and the old-fashioned milkshakes come in real glasses. Now, if only I had a convertible.. .5210 Lem-mon. 526-9081. inexpensive.



Riscky’s Barbeque. Riscky’s smoked catfish is an out-and-out Texas triumph. Our appetizer portions, a quartet of satiny fillet ribbons, were the stuff of which memories are made; if the whole-fish version offered as an entree is as good, I see no reason to order anything else on the menu. Not that there’s anything wrong with Riscky’s beef, pork, or chicken-all were top-quality meats, nicely spiked with the spice mix the menu calls “Riscky dust” before being slow-smoked in the traditional manner. Honest red beans, bland creamy cole slaw, skins-on French fries were all fresh; onion rings were crisp-battered and almost greaseless. Potato salad was a textureless disappointment. 1701 N Market, Suite 104. 742-7001. Inexpensive to moderate.



Snuffer’s. “Does this burger store have chocolate milkshakes?”’ “No.” “Then it’s not a good burger store.” Such was my eight-year-old companion’s pre-visit review of Snuffer’s. Snappy, friendly service was a plus; the nacbos were good and the chicken sandwich and French fries excellent. We agreed, though, that the burgers were way too salty and the buns way too soggy. And we both missed our milkshakes. 3526 Greenville. 826-6850. Inexpensive.



Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. In Texas, a barbecue place is rated by the qualify of its sliced beef on a bun. and beef on a bun is why Sonny Bryan’s stays on top of the barbecue heap. Yes, there are those who love the ribs and those who, inexplicably, love the inch-thick, hard-crusted onion rings. Stilt, the heart of the matter is the beef and Sonny’s beef is the best. Piled a couple of inches thick, the slices are a study in good barbecue-from (he charred outside to the bright red smoke band to the pink-brown interior- this beef is rich and tender and simple, all at once. 2202 Inwood. 357-7120. Inexpensive.



CAJUN



Arcadia Bar. The Cajun dishes in this funky little bar equal a lot of the best versions in Louisiana itself. The light-colored gumbo is unorthodox, but it and the red beans and rice are both terrific. The fried oysters are large and perfectly crisp, and the barbecued shrimp are better than those served these days at Pascal’s Manale in New Orleans, the restaurant that invented this spicy, buttery dish. Even the garlic bread, dripping with pungently herbed butter, is outstanding here. 2114 Greenville Ave. 821-1300. Inexpensive.



Cafe Margaux. This once stellar new-style Cajun restaurant had lately devolved into confusion, the menu a patchwork of leftover ideas from failed ventures (spa food from Margaux Natural, trendy American from Agnew’s Grill) and former chefs, along with vaguely Continental dishes introduced when Cajun cooking seemed on its way out. On my last visit this eclectic list had been pruned a little; it was focused more on what was originally done best here: contemporary Cajun cuisine. An appetizer of Cajun popcorn (fried crawfish meat) was hot and crunchy (accompanying sherry sauce was bland), crawfish étouffée was good, if a trifle spicy, and the crawfish and shrimp enchiladas were teriffic. Service was smooth, but the room is strangely soulless. 3710 Rawlins. 520-1985. Moderate.



CHINESE



August Moon. Not quite the standout it used to be among area Chinese restaurants, August Moon is still mostly reliable and pleasing. The moo goo gai pan has the most carefully sliced pieces of white meat, touched with a hint of garlic. The three kinds of meat in Mongolian barbecue have a rich flavor and an attractively chewy texture. But one of our favorite dishes on earlier visits. Papa Tsay’s Magic Basket. suffered from a fried noodle basket that looked pretty but tasted stale, and the bits of lobster in the dish were not overly fresh-tasting, either. 15030 Preston at Belt Line, 385-7227. N 2300 N Central Expwy. 881-0071. Moderate.



Forbidden City. Competition among Chinese restaurants becomes ever hotter along the Addison strip. Forbidden City has never seemed to us one of the very best of the contenders, but it does hold its own for quality. Two chicken dishes took the prizes at our last meal. The old standby moo goo gai pan contained a wealth of fresh vegetables and satiny meat. The chefs chicken was more unusual: shredded chicken meat flavored, but not overpowered, by touches of redhot pepper, and balanced with crisp bean sprouts. 5290 Belt Line, Suite 144. 960-2999. Moderate.



Jade Garden. Jade Garden looks exceptionally unpromising and serves food that turns out to be exceptionally good. From the standard-moo goo gai pan-to the unu-sual-curry pan-fried rice noodles-the food belies the setting. 4800 Bryan. 821-0675. Inexpensive.



Jasmine. Among the unusual appetizers is a wonderful vegetable roll, surrounded by the crunchiest casing imaginable. The shrimp rolls, on the other hand, are glutinous and fishy-tasting from their seaweed wrappings. Main courses include macadamian chicken that could have used a few more macadamia nuts instead of so much canned bamboo, and abalone Imperial that had chewy, canned-tasting abalone but exquisitely cooked scallops and shrimp just touched with ginger. The single best dish we have sampled here is Eggplant Delite; the single worst, a pastily under-cooked sesame apple dessert. 4002 Belt Line Rd, Suite 200, Addison. 991-6867. Moderate.



Taiwan. Ordinary things sit side by side with excellent dishes at the Addison Taiwan. The subnormal egg rolls seem to come from a different kitchen than the light, delicate shrimp dumplings. At least no one can complain any longer that they go loo easy on the spicy dishes here; both the Mongolian beef and the tangerine chicken (available on the bargain luncheon menu) we sampled were heavily spiked with hot red peppers. 4980 Belt Line. Addison. 387-2333. Moderate.



Tong’s House. This offbeat shopping center restaurant has attracted a loyal following because of its seafood specials like clams and whole fish (available mostly on the weekends) and its esoteric offerings that appeal mostly to Chinese customers (such as cattle stomach or jelly fish). Among the more conventional dishes, we almost always opt for the kon po scallops-not made with peanuts, just lots of juicy scallops with garlic and pepper pods. The poultry selection is not outstanding; the diced chicken, snowpeas, and mushrooms combo is the best of a mediocre lot. More interesting is the stir-fried fresh asparagus when in season. 1910 Promenade Center. Richardson- 23I-8858 Moderate.



Uncle Tai’s Hunan Yuan. People in Dallas seem to have forgotten about our local branch of the restaurant the great Chinese chef, formerly a star in New York, set up in Texas Can it be that Dallasites just don’t want to pay the admittedly steep prices, no matter how fine the food? There can be a few slip-ups here (some crab in a seafood dish tasted a mite fishy). And (he portions are smallish despite the high cost. But make no mistake: Uncle Tai’s Beef is soaked in brine so that it is almost like ham, deep-fried, then stir-fried with hot peppers, and the results are spectacular. Appetizers like crispy quail and grilled salmon with hot oil are also outstanding. Galleria. 13350 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 3370. 934-9998. Expensive.



FRENCH/CONTINENTAL



Cleo by Jean-Claude. Fans of the old Jean-Claude- once perhaps Dallas’s best restaurant-will find much to evoke nostalgia here. Jean-Claude Prevot himself is again much in evidence, and the menu has some old favorites like the pristine, very French, lettuce-only salads, the duck in an Oriental-inspired ginger sauce, and the ethereal chocolate souffles. The price of a four-course fixed meal is just $27.50-remarkably low for what you get. The standout appetizer is the garlicky escargots in a puff-pastry shell, and the best dessert is the hazelnut souffle. Among the entrées, both treatments of fish we sampled were superb. The Centrum. 3102 Oak lawn. Suite 110. 520-9264. Expensive.



L’Ambiance. On our last visit, the appetizers-a creamy tomato soup topped by a cheesy crouton, and a row of a dozen perfectly cooked asparagus spears-were especially good. Rack of lamb was traditional and well prepared: the duck breast, recommended as a house specialty, was nicely cooked, but its unidentifiable fruit sauce was overly sweet. The watercress salad with goat cheese, bacon, and hard-cooked egg was delicious, but desserts-a dry flourless chocolate cake and boringly sweet chocolate Concorde (layers of chocolate meringue and chocolate mousse)-were forgettable. 2408 Cedar Springs. 748-/291. Expensive.

L’Entrecote. Don’t come here too hungry-L’Entrecote’s menu is ambitiously extensive; the two long pages describing the complicated and subtle dishes dreamed up by chef Michel Platz take some time to peruse. Then there are the specials to take into consideration, so that composing a dinner for two is a challenge for the curious and easily tempted. In the end, everything we ordered was delicious, exquisite, and perfectly served, leaving us wondering about all the things we couldn’t try. Endive, watercress, and tarragon salad was refreshing; a salad of asparagus, baby com, and rose petals was good but slightly too precious. Vea] in lime and sage was followed by an ideal dessert of melting]y light frozen raspberry tone. Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Expensive to very expensive.



Mr. Peooe. Mr. Peppe is not so much a restaurant as it is a mindset. There exists a subset of monied, established Dallasites for whom fine dining begins and ends with Mr. Peppe. While the rest of us frantically trendy parvenus chase around from new hot spot to newer hot spot, the Mr. Peppe-ites are content to eat things like pepper steak and veal with lemon butter week in and week out. 5617 W Lovers Lane. 352-5976 Moderate.



The Riviera. Smoked red bell pepper soup with bacon and sun-dried tomatoes was a perfect blend of salt, sweet, and smoke: the special yellowfin tuna salad played the meaty fish against smooth avocado and balanced the combination with nutty sesame vinaigrette. Delicate halibut was given depth with a rich, though slightly salty, lobster sauce, and the suc-culently sweet loin of lamb was sparked by a green peppercorn sauce. Desserts-orangey crème brulèe and a chocolate cake with almond meringue-were only a little less mem-orable and service was gracious throughout. 7709 Inwood. 351-0094. Expensive so very expensive.



Watel’s. Our meal began with shrimp provencal. perfectly cooked crustaceans in a sunny tomato sauce, and soothing leek soup. Grilled baby salmon and pork chops with apples were better than the grilled ribeye. which was too chewy and overcooked. Chocolate fondant-layers of white and dark chocolate-was the best dessert choice, with the apple tart running a close second. 1923 McKinney. 720-0323. Moderate.



GERMAN/EASTERN EUROPE



Bohemia. This homey holdout against light-dining sissiness is as solid and staid as the food it serves-on our last visit an admirably long-simmered sauerbraten, the vinegar-spiked beef slices fall-apart lender, and half a slow-roasted Long Island duck, its moist succulence barely held together by burnished skin. The duckling’s bread-like dumpling was airy, accompaniments of boiled potato and caraway-scented sauerkraut mild and, yes, filling. Alas, we could hardly finish our flaky strodel and meringue-flourished strawberries on-vanilla glace before waddling homeward. 2810 N Henderson. 826-6209. Moderate.



Franki’s Li’s Europe. Entrées offered on our lunch and dinner visits ranged from Italian to French to German and Austrian, with side trips to Hungary and Yugoslavia. Top stop for my money was segediner, a Hungarian dish involving succulent pork chunks simmered with mild sauerkraut and cream. Cevapcici, described as the Yugoslavian national dish, was a half-dozen hand-formed ovals of veal, lamb, and pork sausage on saffron-scented rice. Chicken Pavarotti crossed the Italian border with a tender sautéed breast lavished with fresh mushrooms in a fine, fresh tomato sauce. Desserts included admirably flaky apple strudel and a particularly light, lovely bread pudding. 362 Casa Linda Plaza (behind the fountain), Garland Road at Buckner. 320-0426 Inexpensive to moderate.



GREEK



Crackers. The Crackers I visited recently seemed immensely improved since I last dined in its former incarnation. Appetizers were a benediction; tiropetes, the puff pastry-wrapped triangles of feta and ricotta cheeses, symphonic in flavor; tzalziki, a garlic-spiked yogurt cucumber dip, fresh and lively on small wedges of pita bread. Souvlaki was skewered succulence, its tenderloin cubes zipped with olive oil-and-lemon marinade. Baby lamb chops, a special of the day, were bite-sized sorcery, broiled rare as ordered despite our waiter’s dark warnings that lamb should always be cooked well done. Salads, side dishes, and a dessert of warm peach cobbler were all fresh and satisfying. 2621 McKinney Ave. 871-7268. Inexpensive to moderate.



Goldfinger. A multitude of baby crab claws heaped on a plate overwhelms me with the amount of stale-tasting grease-or is that Greece?-each tiny morsel has absorbed. But the rest of the meal is better, the soup a lemony delight in rich chicken stock, the lamb succulently broiled, the abundant feta salad fresh and crisp. The souvlaki’s creditable, and even the dolmas would have been nice if they’d been a little less salted. 2905 Webb Chapel Ext. 350-6983. Moderate to expensive.



D REVISITS



Little Gus’. Lowest Greenville’s flash may have faded, but Little Gus’s flame burns with the steady light of a perennial favorite. A sort of happy schizophrenia might be its secret: fay day a bare-bones breakfast and burger hangout, the lit tle place spreads blue table linens and adds flowers and candles at night to showcase its talents as a consistently top- notch Greek restaurant. The burgers are swell, but the night fare’s exemplary-a recent visit netted a day’s special of roast lamb slices cradled in deeply flavored wine sauce that could not have been more satisfying. A lofty cube of spinach-laden spanakopita was lighter than mountain air and tasted twice as fresh under papery puff pastry. Bread was brought hot, Greek salad provided feta-strewn crunch before both en trees, and the establishment’s trademark potato balls. I’m happy to say. were as delectably cheese-influenced as always. Greek wines, unpronounceable but quite pleasant. were provided by the glass, and the whole affair for two came to not quite $33 before the tip. What more could we have asked? Why, a serving of the lemony house dessert that may be one of the most meltingly marvelous anywhere, galactoburiko. They were out of it on our visit, but have it if you can. (Don’t even try to pronounce it-just mumble longingly at the waiter: he’ll understand.) 1916 Greenville. 826-4910 Inexpensive. -B.C



INDIAN



Ajanta Palace. The beef vindaloo at Ajanta Palace has a brick-red, vinegary sauce with lots of heft and just the right amount of spice, and the lamb biryani offers lacy basmati-style rice flavored with lots of meat and cardamom. But the real attraction here is the small selection of South Indian food available only between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and all day Sunday. The combination plate at $5.75 gives the adventurous diner a chance to sample most of the rare dishes. The textures and flavors of Southern Indian cooking are striking and memorable, and they make Ajanta Palace a special addition to the roster of local restaurants. 1250-C Northwest Hwy. Garland. 681-0087. Inexpensive to moderate.



India Palace Part of the excellence of this restaurant lies in ambition-India Palace has a somewhat larger, more adventuresome menu than its rivals. Pan lies in attention id detail: curried dishes like a superb beef punjabi or baigan bhurta (eggplant puree) are garnished with a superfine julienne of ginger and red pepper. But finally the superiority lies in skill in the kitchen. A dessert like rasmalai {a kind of homemade cheese bathed in sweet cream) can be a heavy disaster elsewhere: here it is light and delicate and delicious. 13360 Preston Rd. 392-0190. Moderate to expensive.



Kebab & Kurry. This north Dallas spot continues to serve some of the best Indian food in the area; lately, the service has been more personable and less inscrutable than in (he past. Any of the wonderful breads or selections from the tan-door make good choices for the novice (even my kids like it), while the shahajani biryani-a complicated mix of rice, chicken, and vegetables-exhibits the balance of innumerable ingredients that makes Indian food so exciting. Chutneys and vegetable dishes are also outstanding, but I have to confess 1 don’t understand Indian desserts. 401 N Central Expwy. Suite 300, Richardson. 231-5556. inexpensive to moderate.



ITALIAN



Caffé Paparazzi. This is the best little Italian restaurant in Dallas since Sergio’s (while it was still in its first location) nearly a decade ago. The main dishes do not sound particularly inventive, but they are cooked with an authority that makes them seem like fresh inspirations. Veal scallops cooked with cheese is a cliché that usually disappoints grandly: here, though, the veal valdostana is sheer poetry, flavored with a leaf of fresh sage. Of the pastas we tried, the penne all’arrabiata was the standout. Desserts at CafféPaparazzi looked as good as they tasted. We especially enjoyed the amaretto custard and the sliced oranges marinated in liqueur and orange zest. 8989 Forest Lane. Suite 112. 644-1323. Moderate.



La Tosca. Garlicky mussels steamed with tomato and black pepper in white wine are toothsome: tomato and fresh mozzarella slices with basil in the house dressing are fresh and fine: tagliolini takes heart from a generous topping of smoked salmon, caviar, and vodka. The carpaccio was admirable, its mustard sauce perfect, although Parmesan slices served with it were near-leathery-a flaw underscored by the mozzarella’s tenderness; and breasts of chicken seemed somewhat dry, although their caper-strewn tomato sauce Could not have been better. Small cavils, though, weighed against such generally consistent pleasures as fresh profile roles sinfully drenched with hot chocolate and whipped] cream. 7713 Inwood 352-8373. Expensive.



D REVISITS



La Trattoria Lombardi. It’s amazing that the menu here hasn’t seemed to be influenced by the newer bastions of the Lombardi empire. The offerings here haven’t changed much in a decade-crab cannelloni (a mite fishy-tasting), tortellini. dull and undersalted scallops of veal. One newcomer, a special of grilled snapper topped with bright green cream sauce, proved delicious and more than welcome. Desserts. tend to be heavy and old-fashioned, too-things like a white chocolate mousse cake (on the dry side) and Sachertorte (a leaden chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream under a chocolate glaze for the icing). 2916 N Hall. 528-7506. Moderate to expensive. -W.L.T.



Massimo da Milano Al Teatro. The day’s entrees, listed on a separate menu, yielded a very small serving of i excellent veal scallops, sautéed and brandy-flamed in cream sauce with plain and porcini mushrooms; and succulent chicken breast slices, rosemary-scented, grilled, and sauced with capers and white wine- A sautéed grouper fillet was laden with tiny bones, but the evening’s featured Tagliatelle alla Valdastana was positively ambrosial, the paper-thin pasta ribbons and sliced mushrooms bathed in cream and fontina cheese with a whispered accent of garlic. Steamed cauliflower and broccoli were adequate; a thick, gummy wedge of grilled polenta was severely disappointing. Desserts, however, gave absolute redemption, from demure plain cheesecake to chocolate-coconut mousse. The Quadrangle. 2800 Routh Street, Suite 180- 871-1900. Inexpensive to moderate.



D REVISITS



Memo’s Italian Specialties. This newest Memo’s i location-in Plano-has the most comfortable, if hardly chic, ambiance, and the servers are the most mature, if sometimes harried- The food, as at the other two locations, can be sensational and can mystifyingly miss the mark. Among the antipasti is something called affettati misti-a selection of cured meats that are much more authentic and unusual than those offered on antipasto trays at more conventional Italian restaurants, but sadly not all that much more interesting to eat. Much tastier are the gnocchi with sausage, in a creamy tomato sauce. Also a new dish is the maccheroni alla chitarrafat, square-cut noodles in an intriguing sauce made with chopped lamb and bell peppers. Alas, the pasta was cooked past limpness into the depths of sogginess. There are some absolutely wonderful successes to be found here: a seafood salad with scallops and squid redolent of tomato and fruity olive oil. homemade tortelli stuffed with a mixture of four cheeses, a crisp Milanese-style veal chop, and a veal alla pizzaiola bravely seasoned with anchovy and olive. Each of these is much more adventurous, authentic, and satisfying than anything you can get at almost .’ any other Italian restaurant in the city. Why then does one have to encounter the often soggy pasta, the not quite crisp pizzas, and the grossly over-alcoholic desserts at Momo’s, too? 3309 N Central Expwy, Suite 370 (in the rear of Ruisseau Village, on the northwest comer of the Parker Road intersection). Plano. 423-1066. Moderate to expensive.

-W.LT.



Montefiasone. This small Italian restaurant on a forlorn strip of Harry Hines has earned something of a reputation. but we can’t quite see why. The menu is the standard Italian fare of Dallas Italian places of the late Seventies, cooked without distinction. The octopus salad (one of the few appetizers listed) turned out to be plain, unmarinated, boiled octopus-a huge platter, with a tart dressing on the side. The chicken Villad’Este (with cheese, cream, and mushrooms) was bland, and the tortellini had strips of unappetizing boiled ham. The best dish we tried was the cannelloni, stuffed with meat and spinach and smothered in a cream sauce. 10976 Harry Mines at Walnut Hill. 350-2227. Moderate.



O.F. Sicli’s. The food served from the large menu of Italian specialties, while not exciting, is dependably pleasant and very modestly priced, Pastas and pizzas predominate in all their familiar variations-the lasagna was lusty, the spaghetti laudably meat-sauced on our visit-but the standout discovery was an appetizer I’ve seen nowhere else: a spicy melange of Italian sausage with onions, green peppers, and mushrooms rolled in homemade pizza dough and baked. O.F. Sicili’s calls it a sausage rall and sells it for $3.95; I call it wonderful and recommend it as an ample lunch entree for two. with salad. 5631 Alta. 828-9600. Inexpensive.



Pomodoro. Our first lunch here was pure delight: sunny minestrone, crisp-vegetable filled and deeply flavored; a salad of caper-strewn pepper strips. Toothsome spinach linguini held a wealth of shell-free clam meat in the freshest herbed tomato sauce imaginable. The second visit’s sampling revealed a few excesses: Bresaola, the famed sun-dried cured beef, was a trifle leathery: mussels and clams cooked with garlic in olive oil were oversalted. Thin-sliced calf’s liver was cooked past the rare I had ordered, but its white wine and onion sauce was delicate; a Cornish game hen, herbed, split, and broiled, was perfect all the way. 2520 Cedar Springs. 871-1924. Inexpensive to moderate.



Sfuzzi. Pizzas here are exceptional, with a thick but somehow light crust; the grilled salmon pizza with yellow tomatoes ranks as one of the best pies in Dallas, but the veal version, with sun-dried tomatoes, is also a winner. From the selection of “primi plates,” the salads were terrific. Arugula and radicchio were sprinkled with crisp pancetta and crumbled Gorgonzola and dressed in balsamic vinaigrette; spinach salad was arranged with grilled chicken chunks, toasted pine nuts, and yellow tomatoes. Pastas aren’t handled as well-a serving of angel hair was overcooked and under-sauced. But fettuccine with pancetla, Parmesan, and cream was surprisingly lighter than a classic Alfredo. 2504 McKin-ney. 871-2606 Moderate.



311 Lombardi’s. The waiters will hardly let you sit down without ordering the trademark focaccia (though a tariff of about five bucks for what is basically garlic bread-albeit very fancy garlic bread-seems a trifle outrageous). The fet-tuccine with fresh salmon is an interesting pasta choice, and the bone-in veal chop alla milanese, crisply breaded and fried, comes garnished with arugula and tomato-anyone for salad and main course all at the same time? The intricate cakes, heavily embellished with butter cream icing and flavored with liqueurs, seem too heavy an ending for an Italian meal. 311 Market at Ross. 747-0322. Moderate to expensive.



JAPANESE/KOREAN



D REVISITS

Korea Home Town. If you pine for the summer Olympics, try a visit to little Korea Home Town in the Little Asia neighborhood where Dallas. Richardson, and Garland meet. You won’t find many non-Koreaas. and the proprietors don’t speak much English. But by pointing you can have an interesting meal The set-up of the Spartan tables shows that you are supposed to order one of the versions of Korean barbecue, spelled here pul koki (marinated beef) and pul kalpi (marinated short ribs). Both are grilled right on the table. The adventurous will also enjoy the stir-fried squid and octopus and the wonderful Korean cold vegetables (barely cooked spinach, crisp bean sprouts in sesame oil. several kinds of radish salad)- The various soups and noodle dishes and the woeful “shrimp” fried rice made with some sort of artificial pink substance are best left to ethnic specialists. Take cash, because no credit cards are accepted. 10560 Walnut. Suite 600. 272-9909. Inexpensive. -W.L.T.



Sakura Japanese Restaurant. Years ago, when I dined at its original location, Sakura was the first restaurant where I’d ever been asked to lake off my shoes before entering This time, we dined to live piano music in a Western lounge furnished with cushioned rattan. The tempura-fried shrimp were almost as light and lacy as I remembered them; Shabu-Shabu. thin-sliced beef cooked quickly at table with fresh vegetables, was almost as delightful. The assortment of sushi we ordered as appetizers was impeccably fresh-tuna, jumbo clam, octopus, a salmon-and-egg standout marvelously sauced with a single quail egg broken over it. 7402 Greenville Ave, 361-9282. Moderate to expensive.



Nakamoto. This Piano restaurant (which used to be named Ishi-Sushi) may be the most decked-out Japanese restaurant in the Metroplex. with everything from Samurai armor to flocks of ikebana birds figuring in the decor The sushi bar offers a nice variety of fish of exemplary freshness. Among the cooked dishes, fish also stands out-the salmon butteryaki has a pleasantly charred exterior and moist meat. Less impressive are the slightly soggy shrimp tempura and tough pork tonkatsu. Don’t try desserts here unless you can fall in love with green lea or red bean ice creams. Ruisseau Village. Suite 360, 3309 N Central Expressway, Piano. 881-0328. Moderate.



Mr. Sushi & Hibachi. Mr. Sushi’s original location is one of (he favorite slops of local seekers of raw fish. This new establishment also includes a hibachi room for those in quest of Benihana-type slice-and-dice grilled thrills. On my visit I unintentionally ended up on the hibachi side, where the food was uninspired. However, my sushi scouts report that the sushi here is as terrific as at the original Mr. Sushi. 9220 Skillman, Suite227. 349-6338. Moderate to expensive.



MEXICAN



Blue Mesa. Chips and dip are usually effective forecasters in Mexican restaurants; Blue Mesa serves mixed blue and yellow tostados with a smoky chipotle-black bean salsa and a cumin-flavored tomato salsa. The chile relleno with chicken, cheese, and mango salsa was beautifully presented. and the sweet-tart fruit accented the spice and cheese surprisingly. The counterpoint was repeated in the contrasting flavors of savory black beans and sweet com pudding. Com meal pasta was cooked al dente; it was sauced with tomatoes, corn, and cumin and topped with pieces of chicken breast rubbed with red chili. Village on the Parkway. 5100 Belt Line. 934-0165. Moderate.



Cantina Laredo. Despite the hectic atmosphere, our service was brisk and attentive. Tex-Mex here is good, but (he specialties are better: cabrito barhacoa (barbecued goat) was rich and lender, and pollo ranchera was a tender breast with a spicy sauce of tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Desserts are good here, too: apple pie is served on a sizzling fajita skillet with cinnamon ice cream, and churros- cinnamon-sugar coated fritters-are freshly fried. 4546 Belt Line. 458-0962. Moderate.



Chuy’s. The menu listed combination plates ranging from the huge comida deluxe (two enchiladas, one flauta. one crispy taco, chile con queso, guacamole, rice, and beans) to Chuy’s “lite plate.” a single taco with guacamole and queso. But we chose instead a “Chuychanga.” a big fried flour tortilla encasing a half breast of chicken and some melted cheese, served with a selection of sauces. Without the sauce, the dish was underseasoned. Chuy’s special enchiladas. New Mexican blue corn tortillas stacked with chicken, cheese, and tomatillo. were gooey and good; the chile relkno. an Anaheim pepper stuffed with well-seasoned meat, was covered in a too-tomatoey sauce. 211 N Record St. 747-2838 Inexpensive.



L’Asadero Monterey. The specialty here is cabrito- baby goat-but it’s not always available in forms popular with most gringos-on my last visit only the kidneys and heart were still on the menu. If you can’t get the goat, not to worry. The rest of the menu is tasty, too. Polio a la parilla was tender and juicy, its topping of grilled onions sweet and tender. Cheese enchiladas were properly gooey and spicy; only the steak Milanesa (Mexican fried steak) was a tittle dry. 112 N Collect. 826-0625. Inexpensive.



La Botica. The mishmash of Dallasites who have found La Botica (it’s nearly hidden on Haskell Avenue about a mile east of Central) must like it for the same reasons I do: it’s casual, fairly quiet, and steeped in family-run friendliness. The food-Mexican staples with a hefty addition of beef dishes-is fine but rarely exciting. Particularly good: the tangy enchiladas verdes. the simple tacos. and the chicken soup. My otherwise happy visits met with two disappointments: the hohum and smallish came asada and La Botica’s tendency 10 be out of things I want to order. 1900 N Haskell. 824-2005. Moderate.



La Calle Doce. The motto on the menu reads “The Shrimp that Goes to Sleep is Swept Away”-the diner’s first clue that this appealing Oak Cliff restaurant specializes in marine Mexican cuisine. From the seafood side of the menu we tried camaron a la diabla, shrimp in a spicy-hot sauce; from the landlubber list we chose chiles rellenos. stuffed with shredded, not ground, beef and tacos de carne deshebrada, flour tortillas filled with the same tasty mixture. From chips to entree, the meal was delicious; only the strangely pasty flan was a disaster. 415 West 12th. 941-4304. Inexpensive.



Mario & Alberto. The standards of Mario Leal’s second restaurant don’t seem to have suffered with the opening of a third one-this popular North Dallas spot seemed as fine (and as busy) as ever. Among the main courses, the filete de la casa (tenderloin strongly flavored with garlic, accompanied by lightly fried potato slices) remains a favorite. Those who crave fajitas will find a relatively restrained version here-a manageably modest serving, and no sizzling fireworks. The Tex-Mex plates continue to run way behind the specialties in excellence. Preston Valley Shopping Center, LBJ Frwy at Preston. Suite 425. 980-7296 Moderate.



Tejas Cafe. Nearest thing to a standout we tried on a recent visit was a quesadilla filled with fresh spinach and cither good things along with molten jack cheese. Tortilla soup was salty and soggy, and carne asada. rather than the promised tenderloin filet, was a dry tenderized cut of the sort that goes into faiitas. A Tex-Mex combination plate named far the place pretty well exemplified its culinary character-enchiladas, taco, and standard accompaniments were adequate but undistinguished and, on the whole, rather bland. But we did enjoy the honey-drizzled sopapillas. 2909 McKinney. 871-2050. Inexpensive to moderate.



Uncle Julio’s. The decor is heavy on pink and purple, and the food is notable more for its quantity-portions range from generous to immense-than for its quality. One notable exception: the tamales. which are available with pork and with chicken, are excellent. Beware, however, of the mesquite-grilled specialties, which are overwhelmingly woody tasling. 4125 Lemmon Ave. 520-6620 Moderate.



MIDDLE EAST



Hedary’s Lebanese Restaurant. The menu is identical to the original Hedary’s in Fort Worth, every dish is fresh and lovingly prepared, and if there’s better Lebanese food anywhere. I’ve yet to find it. The best way to sample the appetizers is to order maza, an array of nine or ten mini-servings ranging from hearty tabuli and delicate hummus to delectably dressed minted cucumber and yogurt, garlicky lettuce, and onion-spiked tomato. Entrees lean toward beef and lamb; we particularly enjoyed kafta, sausage-like patties of fine ground sirloin and savory spices, charbrailed to succulence and folded into a bread loaf. Promenade Center, 15400 Coil. Suite 2500, Richardson. 669W-2U2. Inexpensive to moderate.



NEW AMERICAN



Actuelle. The most innovative and consistently exciting cooking at any Dallas restaurant these days is taking place at Actuelle. Everything on the menu here is an adventure, but be sure to try the fish. Chef Victor Gielisse has won two national contests in fish cooking, and the evidence can be found here in the likes of the grilled Norwegian salmon-light as a puff of smoke, crisp as an autumn day, sauced to perfection in a tomato vinaigrette with fresh marjoram. The pear poached in pinot noir swathed in butterscotch sauce makes an equally glorious Final touch to a meal. The Quadrangle. 2800 Routh. 855-0440. Expensive.



Beau Nash. Everything we sampled at Beau Nash this time had an assertive and appealing taste, especially the Chinese-dumpling-shaped ravioli filled with wild mushrooms and drizzled with two sauces, but sometimes the assertive tastes competed too strongly with one another. The thick, tender veal chop, for instance, hid abed of spaghetti squash in a sunny sauce and lay under a compote of fresh tomatoes and herbs-all surrounded by a wine-dark sea of sauce of another sort. Enough already! The mimosa cake we sampled for dessert looked prettier than it tasted. Hotel Crescent Court. 400 Crescent Court, Maple at McKinney. 871-3240. Expensive.



D REVISITS



City Cafe. In a city of fast lanes, this quiet, understated res taurant is a good place to slow down. The lighting is soft, and so is the music: the service is gracious, and the room is easy to look at. That leaves the food to consider and it was well worth it. The menu, which changes every Wednesday, is gently, not jarringly, original: we were especially pleased with the tomato soup, crawfish cakes, and a version of Jamaican hummingbird cake. 5757 W Lovers Lane. 351-2233. Moderate to expensive. – M.B.M.



Dakota’s. Our most recent visit brought us the most consistently fine food here to date. The appetizer sampler contained tantalizing bits of crisp calamari, succulent baby back ribs, zesty crabcakes. and langy marinated shrimp. The veal T-bone was perfectly cooked, though the side dish of linguini with black olives and sun-dried tomatoes proved the meal’s only disappointment, since it lacked coherence and subtlety. The fish special-marlin lopped with asparagus and lump crabmeai-and the sensational desserts of Key Lime pie and while chocolate ice cream with brownies and butterscotch sauce more than made up. 600 N Akard. 740-4001. Lunch moderate, dinner expensive.



Deep Ellum Cafe. This cafe in Deep Ellum has become a local favorite for all the right reasons-the food is exciting, delicious, and reasonably priced. On my last visit, starters were tops; goat cheese and sweet roasted garlic, sun-dried-tomato toasts with savory garlic and basil, and crabcakes with a spicy Thai-style sauce. Entrees were just as good, from the succulent salmon steamed in a corn husk to the roast chicken with rich aioli. The dill dumplings were so large they seemed heavy, but that’s a minor quibble-overall. I go along with the crowd. This place is one of my favorites. 2704 Elm St. 7419012- Moderate.

Garshwin’s. Judging from the crowds, Gershwin’s fills a genuine need for a moderalely priced restaurant suitable cither tor singles on a heavy date or for family occasions. Most of the food on the large menu is satisfying and (he portions tend to be huge. Both the mixed-seafood appetizer (delicious fried calamari. shrimp, crabcakes. and mushrooms) and the California-style pizza would have done as starters for [wo or even three people. The selection of three kinds of grilled fish and the king size desserts also offered good value. Only the veal scaloppine topped with fettuccine swimming in a sweetish sauce disappointed. 8442 Wilnut Hill at Greenville. 373-7171- Moderate to expensive.



Laurels. The menu dégustation, with a fixed price of $38.50, changes daily and is a good bet. A la carte choices are expensive, but choices tike Maine lobster, wild mushrooms, and basil with fettuccine and roasted pheasant with green apple pasta and blue cheese sauce are well worth the tariff. Desserts are killers here, especially the souffle of the day (apricot with raspberry sauce on my visit). Sheraton Park Central. 12720 Merit Dr. 851-2021. Expensive.



The Mansion on Turtle Creek. Star chef Dean Fearing is out of the kitchen and on the road much of the time these days, but the Mansion kitchen seems to be doing just fine without him. Aside from an incoherent list of specials (1 was tempted by an entree of Indian-inspired yogurt-marinated lamb with curry and chutney, but couldn’t find anything to complement it), the kitchen’s work was up to par. Mansion standards-lobster tacos with yellow tomato salsa, tortilla soup, chicken baked with maple-pecan crust-and specials-softshell crab with barbecue crust and Cajun sausage with onion pasta-scaled the expected peak of perfection, which at these prices, they should. However, the front of the house didn’t measure up. Our reservation was lost and so was our waiter for much of the meal-errors that might be forgiven in a lesser establishment, but are inexcusable at the Mansion. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Expensive.



D REVISITS



Parigi. The softly post-modern interior is as chic and inviting as ever, and the service here has always been very good. In the past, though, the food has been erratic, ranging from wonderful to weird. It was an adventurous kitchen. and sometimes the diner felt like a guinea pig. On my last visit, all the experiments were successful; everything worked, and looked good. too. The originality has been tempered by experience, it seems. A sage pesto pizza was the prize appetizer, followed by a terrific Caesar salad, lightened up with lemon juice and zest-the balance of rich and tart is so right you wonder why everyone doesn’l prepare it this way. Entrees, especially a veal chop with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken and spinach lasagna in spicy arrabiata sauce, were excellent: unfortunately, desserts didn’t measure up. Peach cobbler was a mushy mass of soft fruit and softer dough, the banana-strawberry bread pudding tasted good hut looked as if it had been served in a school cafeteria, and the berry tart on passion fruit cream looked lovely, but lacked flavor. Still, the wine list is nice, and all in all, there’s nothing in Dallas quite like Parigi. 3311 Oak Lawn. 521-0295. Moderate to expensive. -M.B.M.



Sam’s Cafe. After a rather shaky first few months, this chic spot has settled down to serving some excellent food. The huge, rich square of fried polenta smothered in sauce and cheese makes a happy beginning. The tenderloin topped with a béarnaise very mildly flavored with poblano pepper is meltingly tender, and the barbecued salmon boasts a crunchy exterior and a smoky taste (satisfying even if the sauce doesn’t taste all that different from the commercial variety). Only the desserts don’t always satisfy-the Reine de Saba chocolate cake can be curiously wimpy. 100 Crescent Court. Suite 140. 855-2233. Moderate to expensive.



San Simeon. This sleek-looking spot has the undeniable cachet of chic, as well as one of the most experienced teams of maitre d’ and waiters in town. But we are yet to be convinced that the food matches the ambience and the reputation. Attempts at the flashy eclecticism of New Southwestern cooking seem halfhearted; the crab in a Mandarin pancake in a spicy sauce, for instance, seemed awfully like an old-fashioned crepe in a classic French sauce americaine (and the crab seemed limp, with an unacceptable number of shell bits). Fish is the strong suit of chef Richard Chamberlain. formerly of Ratcliffe’s; the swordfish with a black-bean citrus sauce was the highlight of our meal. 2515 McKinney in Fairmount in Chateau Plaza. 871-7373. Expensive.



D REVISITS



Spatz. I had heard thai Spatz is a great little neighborhood bistro, and it is actually in my neighborhood. Still, Spatz is worth Mopping at even if it’s not in your neighborhood-the service is friendly, the place is cozy, but light and bright, and the food is imaginative and good. Highlights of our visit: shrimp and mango quesadillas, fettuccine with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic in a cream sauce, steak with chévre and roasted shallots, and orange macadamia nut cheesecake. 2912 Henderson. 827-7984. Moderate. -M.B.M.



SEAFOOD



Aw Shucks. The best fried things in life are fat-free, virtually, if they’re cooked right. And as far as I’m concerned, the catfish, oysters, and shrimp served at Aw Shucks qualify on both counts. I’ve never had a better whole farm-raised (as opposed to river-caught) catfish than the commeai-crusted golden beauties that are any day’s catch at Aw Shucks’s order counter, and the fillets, giant butterflied shrimp, and oysters of our latest visit were almost as succulent. If you’re crazy about crabcakes, you’ll find them here heavier on crabmeat than most. 3601 Greenville. 821-9449; 4535 Maple, 522-4498: Village at Backman Lake. 3701 W Northwest Hwy. Suite 310. 350-9777. 1718 N Market St. 748-4477. Inexpensive.



Bay Street. Bay Street has made some efforts toward climbing aboard the Cajun bandwagon with such dishes as Cajun popcorn (fried crawfish tails), gumbo, and crawfish étouffée. Still, these Cajun upstarts are outshone by the non-Cajun seafood choices like a simple charbroiled swordfish, which was impeccably fresh and juicy on a recent visit. (And if you are optimistic enough to order swordfish on a regular basis, you know how rare it is when the meaty fish does not emerge with the texture of fish jerky.) 5348 Belt Line. M-dison. 934-8502. Moderate.



Leo’s Seafood Grill. Among the starters, the shrimp in the cocktail are firm and resilient and flavorful, the gumbo is fine if you like the dense, highly spiced variety, and the fried calamari are tasty and crisp, if chewier than you might like. Main courses include exemplary versions of fried cat-fish and corn meal-coated fried shrimp. The only seafood dish that] disappointed us was the so-called seafood stew- the dish came with a thick sauce rather than as a soupy-type stew, and the shellfish included some rather over-the-hill mussels and tough scallops. The biggest surprise at Leo’s is the desserts-the Key lime pie is surprisingly tart and authenlic, and the chocolate-pecan pie has a splendid filling and a flaky crust. 12255 Greenville, Suite 130. 234-3474. Inexpensive to moderate.



Newport’s. Newport’s is at its best in its simplest dishes-grilled silver salmon, on our last visit, was perfectly plain and perfectly wonderful; a sampler appetizer tray of raw dams, shrimp, oysters, and ceviche could not have been fresher. Some of the trendier offerings are as delightful-a crab quesadilla. for instance, was to swoon over, lender flaked meat with cheese between crisp flour tortilla triangles-and some are not: a boned rainbow trout was eclipsed by its roasted tomatillo sauce, itself delicious but too heavy for the delicate fish. Desserts, ranging from a flawless ere me caramel to a chocolate truffle pie of surpassing richness, are exceptionally good. 703 McKinney in the Brewery. 954-0220. Expensive.



D REVISITS



Rusty Pelican. If you can’t make it to Hawaii, a visit to this upscale California-based restaurant is the next best thing, with its gently waving fans and tropical plants. The many available varieties of fresh fish are mostly either char-broiled or sauteed (sadly, the sauteed versions are sometimes underseasoned and bland). The more elaborate preparations are chancy. The ahi marinated in a Chinese pesto sauce was succulent-glazed a mahogany brown from its soy marinade and spiked with ginger. The mahi-mahi Hawaiian style, though, was a disappointment; the macadamia nut coating couldn’t disguise the whiff of ammonia that indicated the fish might have been sitting around a few too many days. The ice cream desserts are more than mere mortals can finish. 14655 Dallas Pkwy, Addis on. 980-8950. Expensive. N -W.L.T.



SOUTHERN



Brownie’s. The food here runs to plate-lunch daily specials (a tine, simple meat loaf, real chicken-fried steak, not-so-fine fried trout fillets on our visit, each with a choice of three vegetables, well seasoned and invariably overcooked, for $3.95) along with a broad selection of any-time breakfast and lunch standards. Desserts are downhome-admirable pies and cobblers, bread pudding too sweetly fruit-sauced. 5519 E Grand Ave. 824-2996. Inexpensive.

Good Eats. My companion’s strip steak was perfect. and my chicken pie, which looked deceptively like a lunar slab of cardboard pastry, turned out to be a miracle mix of lender chicken, new potato, carrot, corn, and green beans under its flaky crown. Black-eyed peas were blank-eyed from lack of seasoning, which we’re inclined to applaud these days (for health) even as we salt (for taste). Broccoli-rice casserole was a trifle dry but flavorful, and com on the cob was gloriously not overcooked. 3531 Oak Lawn. 521-1398. 6950 Greenville. 739-5088. Inexpensive.



Highland Park Cafeteria. As cafeterias go, the original HPC is the mama ofthem ail, a homey dispensary of all the revered classics (chicken-fried steak with cream gravy, crisp-battered fried chicken, sauteed calves’ liver and onions mercifully not cooked to death)- Where else can you find a good country sour slaw, or the minced crunch of carrots and celery in Jello? Closest thing to a new wrinkle here is mashed potatoes lavished with sour cream and all the other trimmings you’d pile on a baked one. And closest thing to paradise is getting the all-over-frosted end piece of a fresh-baked chocolate cake, or the highest meringue-pi led wedge of creamy caramel pie. 4611 Cole. 526-3801. Village on the Parkway. 5100 Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy. Suite 600. 934-8800. N Dmmwwn, 500 Akard at San Jacinto, Suite 220. 740-2400. Inexpensive.



Highland Park Cafataria-Casa Linda Plaza. On our last visit, I assembled a fine country vegetarian meal of macaroni and cheese (the latter probably processed, but palatable), col lard greens long-simmered with cubed side pork (as [hey should be), and sliced cucumbers marinated. by some happy miracle, in vinegar without sugar. My companion’s fried whole trout had gone dry from holding over heat, but his tomato-avocado aspic was firm, tart, and fresh, and his stewed corn was from-the-can but passable. 300 Burkner Blvd m Garland Rd. 327-3663. Inexpensive.



Kingsley Country Cafe. This newish enterprise seeks to fill the market niche between Grandy’s and the Black-Eyed Pea-you order at a counter, but a waiter then brings out the food, some of it surprisingly good. The big. delicate, crunchy catfish fillets are winners, and the chicken-fried steak is one of the better versions around. Our party was divided on the merits of the country-grilled pork chops; they had a smoky, intriguing, hard-to-place taste, but were rather chewy in texture. The barbecue lasted as though all its flavor came out of a commercial bottle of sauce, but the portions- in fact, all the portions here-were humongous. Some effort has gone into the vegetables, but why do all these country-style places think they have to douse their mashed potatoes in enough black pepper to cause a body to get a sneezing fit? Desserts are best skipped over. Skillman at Kingsley. 340-0500. Inexpensive.



Theo’s Diner. Don’t fret because this landmark has changed hands and undergone a minor face-lifting (the worn and wobbly old bolted-down stools have been replaced by movable ones). The only other visible change is a generally cleaner look throughout. And the tittle diner that could still does, making from-scratch burgers and garlic-breathed grilled cheese sandwiches as homey as any around, as well as the undisputed best skins-on fries that have ever passed my lips. A new special added to the daily lunch menu, Greek spinach-and-feta pie, must be good too; on our visit, it was all gone before we could try it. 111 S Hall at Commerce. 747-6936. Inexpensive.



STEAKS



Dei Frisco’s. The best steak you can buy in Dallas-if you can stand beef so laden with cholesterol and if you have the money-is Del Frisco’s ribeye. Its lush and perfectly aged and likely to be perfectly cooked. Another plus in Del Frisco’s favor is that the side dishes are much tastier than those usually found even in high-priced steakhouses. The shrimp remoulade, the au g rat in potatoes, and the rich desserts are all worth ordering. The one drawback is that now Del Frisco’s is more expensive than ever. The prices of the steak haven’t gone up. but now you don’t get a potato unless you pay extra-only marvelously crusty French bread and a salad are included in the basic price. 4330 Lemmon. 526-2101. Expensive.



Hoffbrau. Maybe you have to be a UT alum to appreciate this place, modeled on a famous Austin hangout. The mystique includes a particular, rigid formula for serving the steaks: they are preceded by a salad that includes lots of chopped green olives, they are accompanied by long, soggy fried potato quarters, and they are doused by a sauce of lemon and margarine. The steaks themselves really aren’t too bad. perhaps because the beef is cooked in a pan or on a griddle, rather than charbroiled. This gives a more reliable way to gauge doneness and keeps the steaks from tasting unpleasantly overcharred, the way they so frequently do at the chain beef establishments. 3205 Knox 559-2680. Moderate.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib. Everything you eat at Lawry’s is accompanied by elaborate ritual, beginning with the semi-bizarre spinning salad, in which a plastic bowl of greens is set whirling in a bowl of cracked ice as it is anointed from on high by bottled Lawry’s dressing. When the beef arrives, you expect trumpets to herald the beef cart, which looks somewhat like the QE2 as it lumbers down the aisle. The can is laden with six roasts in varying degrees of doneness. I available in different size cuts; once the beef is on your plate, accompanied by unexceptional buttered peas and mashed potatoes, you understand what the hoopla is all about. No one bothers to cook prime rib like mis anymore. The tender, marbled slice was raspberry-red, rimmed with fat, and flavorful to the last bite. 3008 Maple Ave. 521-7777. Expensive.



TAKEOUT/DELI



Bagelstein’s. This is more than Dallas’s best bagel emporium. Past the bakery, there is a deli. Past the deli, there is a restaurant with several levels of seating. Here you can order superior breakfast specials, complete with fresh hash browns and toasted bagels. Or you can order elaborate sandwiches made from pastrami or smoked tongue, and other deli fere like chopped liver, lox, or knackwurst. Or you can order complete dinners, including surprisingly tasty broiled fish accompanied by pilaf and fresh broccoli. Northwood Hills Shopping Center, 8104 Spring Valley. 234-3787. Inexpensive to moderate.



Crescent Gourmet. In addition to the daily menu of sandwiches and salads. Crescent serves hot and cold daily specials, a soup du jour, assorted cookies, cobblers, and sweets, and even offers a wine list. But while the ingredients are of high quality, most of the dishes we tried lacked seasoning: chicken and tuna salads were meaty but bland, shrimp bisque tasted only faintly of shrimp, and the brownies were more sweet than chocolate. On the upside, the focaccia bread on the tasty bacon-avocado sandwich gets our vote for best sandwich bread in town, the cinnamon-spiked three-berry cobbler was summer incarnate, and the white and dark chocolate chip cookies were killers. 400 Crescent Court. 871-3223. Inexpensive to moderate.



D REVISITS



The Good Life. Talk about coming a long way, baby. This enchanting little Lakewood establishment has grown nowhere but better since its modest opening some four years ago. Owner-chef Christine Carbone’s creative touch with light New American and Italian fare yields such happy daily features as flawless vichyssoise and fruit soups (garnished, on our visit. with liny lavender chive blossoms), imaginative sandwiches (try the chicken with apricots and almonds), and hearty tortas-domed layers of spinach, cheeses, and garlic- spiked roasted red bell peppers, for instance, wrapped in pastry and sold by the wedge. An immaculate array of salads ranges from pastas to seafoods, seasonal vegetables, and fruits, all intriguing!) dressed, and Saturday mornings find locals lining up for spicy Scotch eggs with homemade tomato thyme mayonnaise. 1 won’t even mention the desserts except to warn you that the only way to resist tasting one is to phone in your order and keep your eyes off the tempting display. There may be gaudier, glitzier takeouts in town, but I’ve found none consistently better. 6340 Gasion Ave. 821-3194. Inexpensive to moderate. -B.C.



Marty’s. The selection is enormous and eclectic-you can-purchase all or part of any meal, to prepare at home or ready-to-heat. Everything is here, from chicken fingers to pale, caviar to potato salad. We took home supper; chicken breasts marsala. lemon pasta, marinated vegetables, and Key lime pie. My immediate treat, a piece of orange marmalade cake, was the only disappointment- it was a little too moist to be pleasant. 3316 Oak Lawn. 526-4070. Moderate.



Pacific Express. The smoked chicken salad with walnuts and the beef tenderloin and Jartsberg cheese sandwich with jalapeno chutney were fine, but the tuna salad was overwhelmed by blue cheese and the tortellini in the pasta-vegetable salad were scarce and overcooked to the point of disintegration. Tropical fruits cake was dry; peach cobbler was mushy. Perhaps the kitchen was having a bad day; I hope so. Pacific Place Bldg. 1910 Elm, Suite 103. 968-7447. Inexpensive.



Pasts Plus. One of Dallas’s first fresh pasta shops is still one of the best, for pasta anyway. Prepared items-meat lasagna. baked ziti with three cheeses, and chicken cannelloni were our choices-were presented in Mom-style pyrex casseroles and looked delicious, but suffered in taste and texture when reheated. Salads (green, marinated vegetable, and pasta) were good, but the pasta outshines the pluses-rotelle. meat-stuffed tortellini and marinara and piselli (cream with mushrooms and peas) sauces were wonderful in any combination. Be forewarned-Pasta Plus doesn’t lake credit cards, which seems odd: takeout implies convenience, and for me, convenience means plastic. 225 Preston Royal East. 373-3999. Inexpensive.



Petaluma. This terrific takeout shop is pretty enough to eat in and the food’s good enough to take home to guests- not unexpectedly, since Petaluma shares a kitchen with San Simeon. Like so many spots with go-or-stay options, Petaluma suffers from confusing service procedures. It turns out that you place the order at a counter, but a waitress brings it to you if you take a table. Soups, salads, sandwiches, and dessens were uniformly excellent on my last visit, standouts being pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, potato salad with fresh dill dressing, and white chocolate “blondies.” 2515 McKinney. 871-2253. Inexpensive.



THAI



Chao Wang Thai and Chinese Restaurant. Though there are ethnic restaurants in most parts of Dallas, Thai restaurants are not so common yet that every neighborhood has one. That’s why Chao Wang seems a place to treasure, though its cooking can’t compete with the very best Siamese cuisine in the city. The moo satay-curried strips of pork grilled on a skewer-is especially flavorful here, and the Panang beef has a thick sauce in which lime leaves lurk. Sadly, the lunch buffet includes only Chinese dishes, which can be avoided on the dinner menu. Kevstone Park Shopping Center, Suite 400. 13929 N Centra! Expwy. 437-3900. Moderate.



VIETNAMESE



Arc-en-Ciel. The French name (which means ?rainbow”) points to the former French dominion in Southeast Asia, for this restaurant is mostly interesting because of its Vietnamese cooking, though a large menu of Chinese dishes is also available. The servers are willing but not able to help much about the terse Vietnamese menu. The Seven Courses of Beef turned out to contain the best dishes-some homemade sausages of various shapes and textures that hud been grilled to a turn. Most everything on the Vietnamese side of the menu is supposed to be rolled up in rice paper with julienned vegetables and dipped in a vinegary hot sauce, producing a kind of Southeast Asian taco. 3555 W Walnut at Jupiter, Garland- 272-2188. Inexpensive to moderate.



Mekong. Mekong’s menu gives Vietnamese and Chinese fare equal time. On the Vietnamese side, appetizers of shredded shrimp and pork rolled with lettuce in tender rice paper caught fire and flavor from the pepper-spiked carrot sauce that came with them. The hot pot soup was a stellar array of chicken and seafoods cooked barely tender with still-crisp celery, pepper, and onion strips in an ambrosial broth. I’d have bet nothing from the Chinese listings could possibly equal that soup. I’d have been wrong. An entrée of roast duck almost outshone it-roasted whole in a hot stone over camphor wood chips, the golden-skinned bird was delicately scented-served with a saucer of salted lemon juice heavily laden with fresh-ground black pepper, it was superb. 4301 Bryan Street. Suite 101. 824-6200 Inexpensive.



Saigon. First time I dined here. I ordered the shrimp wrapped around sugar cane simply to see what it was. Since, I’ve ordered it every visit because the dish is so transcendent-ly marvelous-the shrimp pureed and molded around slim sticks of sweet cane, then grilled and served with lettuce and cilantro leaves, cucumbers and carrot slices, all to be wrapped in rice paper and dipped in hoisin sauce for savoring. Savory it is. and addictive, too-but we did save room last trip to find several other dishes equally stellar. Among them: chicken simmered with beer in a deep, rich tomato sauce with bread for dipping (we fought over it); a special-of-fhe-day fried catfish, succulent to the bone, in whisper-delicate batter; chicken done yet another way, in hot chili and lemon grass-celestially incendiary, if that’s not an oxymo-ronie appraisal. 1731 Greenville. 828-9795. Inexpensive.



LAS COLINAS/MID CITIES



Cacharel. This pretty establishment with a glassed-in exhibition kitchen has a fixed price of $10 tor lunch and S24 for dinner. The fere-including such Gallic classics as green salad with goat cheese, asparagus soup, scallops with an assertive tarragon sauce, and lamb with a natural-juice sauce-would be worth twice the tariff. Brookhollow Two, 2221 E Lamar. Suite 910, Arlington. 640-9981. Moderate.



Moretti’s. Somebody wised us up on this little Italian restaurant in Grapevine-we would certainly never have found it on our own, tucked into its little shopping strip in a country setting, sitting opposite a gargantuan trailer park. There are real Italians doing the cooking, and the food is as good as we had heard. The luncheon menu is dominated by standard dishes like tortellini in a buttery broth, lasagna with a hearty tomato sauce, and veal Marsala with a delicious sauce (though the veal itself was a bit pasty from imprecise sautée-ing). The dinner menu lists more intricate creations, like veal with prosciutto and fresh zucchini and capellini with scallops-we want to return to try them. 2709 Mustang Drive, Grapevine. (817) 481-3230. Inexpensive to moderate.



Tandoor. Tandoor offers a superior assortment of appetizers: minced lamb patties, vegetables fried in chickpea batter, potato/chili patties, turnovers with potatoes and peas, and cheese fritters stuffed with mint chutney. A tomato and coconut milk soup provided a pleasurable interlude before our main dishes, which were a relative letdown: tough curried lamb, slightly overcooked tandoori chicken, and dull cheese and vegetable dumplings. 532 Fielder North Plaza, south of 1-30, Arlington. 261-6604. Moderate.



FORT WORTH



Benito’s. This funky little spot on the near South Side of Fort Worth serves some of the best Mexican food in Cowtown. Not Tex-Mex, real Mex. The menu features such uncommon appetizers as sopes, sort of a super-thick soft corn tortilla filled with beans, cheese, and green sauce, and chiles en rajas, strips of poblano peppers in cream. Entrees follow suit: tamal oaxaqueno is wrapped in a banana leaf. and the shredded (not ground) beef tacos are fried after they’re filled. Two kinds of molé, red and green, are offered as well as a selection of guisadas. The standards are well done, but this is a place to go exploring. 1450 West Magnolia. (817) 332-8633. Inexpensive.



Le Chardonnay. Former Ceret chef Philip Lecoq is a co-owner of this bistro, and ils combination of serious food and an informal atmosphere is reminiscent of that late, lamented establishment. The lamb chops topped with goat cheese. served with a rosemary sauce and accompanied by herbed French fries, are a standout. 2443 Forest Park Blvd. (817) 926-5622. Moderate.



Reflections. Port Worth’s most beautiful and most serene dining room is the scene for some of its best food. The goatcheese ravioli, served as an appetizer, sat in a creamy sauce and was dotted with caviar. Both the blackened redfish (accompanied by Maryland crabcakes) and the juicy, pink rack of lamb were perfectly cooked. And the dessert cart offered a raspberry tan with a firm, crisp crust and a chocolate cake with rich butiercream frosting. Our only reservations concerned some of the sauces-both the vinaigrette poured over the salads and the sauce accompanying the lamb had touches of sweetness that were not quite subtle enough. The Worthington Hotel, 200 Main. (817) 870-1000. Expensive.



St. Emllion. Considering the four-course fixed price of $20 per person, it’s surprising that more Dallasites don’t make the trek to St. Emilion. The last time I did, the results were impressive. A thoughtfully pu! together salad (leaf lettuce, radicchio, watercress, walnuts, and bits of bacon dressed with walnut oil), textbook lobster bisque, rich spinach cannelloni, and creditable snails in garlic butter made fora great start. Juicy swordfish provencal and nicely roasted duck with cherry sauce were all one could ask for. For dessert, pass on the fluffy, lightweight chocolate mousse and opt for the extraordinary crème caramel. 3617 W Seventh. (817) 737-2781. Moderate.



D REVISITS



Tejano Mexican Cuisine. Fort Worth Tex-Mex lovers wait in line to sample this West Side establishment’s not- your-normal-enchilada tare. Oh. enchiladas are here, along with all the usual combos, but proprietor Jesse Sanchez has added some unusual shakes of the Mexican-food maracas to his menu. One of the trendier touches that doesn’t work: an appetizer misleadingly called Arizona nachos and consisting of a lake of molten cheese on a single oversized flour tortilla, the whole hard-to-handle affair presented on a fiery foot-tall iron mini-grill. Forget it and order instead milk-fed cabrito (baby goat), roasted to a tender rum and lavished on a stand ard platter. If you must have fire on your table, a for-two specialty called parilla Tejano brings you the grill with a more manageable mèlange of sizzling chicken and beef fa- jila strips, grilled with onions and peppers, plus all the trim mings. Beware the salsa-it doesn’t sizzle, but you will. Cactus salad and a creditable gazpacho are among other offerings. 5716 Camp Bowie Blvd. (817) 737-7201. inexpen sive to moderate. -B.C.



Tutti Pazzi. Neither the appetizers we sampled (oysters baked with a pesto topping and a coarse rabbit paté with hazelnuts and dried figs) nor the salads {a version of Caesar and a house salad with greens, black olives, and marinated pinto beans) were impressive. The pastas and the small boutique pizzas proved more appealing. The fitsilli dell’orto are corkscrew noodles tossed with grilled zucchini and eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, yellow peppers, and roasted garlic-fine if you like the pungency of the garlic. The grilled lamb chops were a fairly standard version. Their Marinara mint sauce turned out to be a minty glaze and some chopped tomatoes on the side. 300 Main St. (817) 332-2664. Moderate to expensive.



NIGHTLIFE



Adair’s. The great old beer joint of Dallas continues to pull in its rednecks, loud-mouthed attorneys, chic city women who act country, and all-around fun-loving people who like to drink beer and spill it on the pool tables. Since Adair’s moved to its Deep Ellum location, cynics have been predicting its demise. But the half-pound hamburgers and whiny jukebox still draw a crowd. 2624 Commerce. 939-9900.



Amnizia. If you like lots of smoke, Madonna tunes cranked as high as they go, and you’re under the age of twenty-one, then Amnizia could be the stuff your dreams are made of. This hangout has to be one of the smokiest, loudest teenage paradises around. If you’re not of drinking age, they’ll let you come in and strut your young self but they won’t issue you a plastic yellow wristband, the necessary ID that must be shown in order to imbibe. 2829 W Northwest Hwy, Suite 632. 351-1262.



Bar of Soap. Wed like to see this place make it just because of its name. A combination art pub and launderette, you can do your wash in the back room while sipping your favorite beer or wine. But you’ll want to make sure you stay there long enough to hear original music and poetry readings performed on top of the “soap box” Along with the original artwork hanging on the walls, plans are in the works to provide people a chance to show their own productions on the bar’s VCR. 3615 Parry Ave. 823-6617.



Boiler Room. It’s easy to see how this bar got its name: it’s the actual boiler room of the old Sunshine Biscuit Company. However, this has nothing to do with its popularity as a dance club and singles bar close to downtown. Some may feel inhibited dancing in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows next to the dance floor; others won’t want to leave. Part of the Dallas Alley in the West End Marketplace. 2019 N lamar. 988-0581.



Club Clearview. The centerpiece of Deep Ellum’s alternative music and social scene, Club Clearview has been scorned and laughed at. but never ignored. Nowhere in Dallas can you find such a delightful combination of the outrageous and innovative, of modern music groups, weird shows, and nouveau fashion victims. But let none of it intimidate you. You can go in there in a business suit, lean against the wall, watch the parade, and nobody will bother you, 2806 Elm, 939-0006.



Club Dada. You may recognize the name from the avant-garde performing group, Victor Dada. That’s because three of the members opened it. and it does have an eclectic style: new music and jazz and “performance an.” 2720 Elm at Crowdus. 744-3232.



Dave’s. Dave’s is casual, friendly, and comfortable-not because of the surroundings, but by virtue of a friendly staff, a casual, eclectic crowd, and great bartenders. No one sits-in the uncomfortable metal chairs unless the place is too crowded to sit or stand at the bar, and no one can accuse Dave’s of being pretty, but the attraction’s still there-and the neighborhood crowd loves it. 2812 N Henderson. 826-4544.



Dave & Buster’s “There’s nothing quite like it” is Dave & Buster’s slogan, and they’re not kidding. The place is enormous, but the brass and dark wood decor adds a degree of sophistication. Head for the umpteen pool tables lining the walls; try shuffleboard, darts, Pente, or backgammon; or just sip a cool one at the large bar on the main floor. 10727 Composite, near Walnut Hill at Stemmons Frwy. 353-0649.



The Den. This is Dallas’s best little dark, intimate bar, and it hasn’t changed in years. It’s perfect just the way it is, from the strong drinks and attentive service to the funky autographed photos of celebs on the wall. When it’s 106 and steamy outside. The Den is the coolest bar in town, and when it’s rainy and cold, this is the coziest haven we can think of. Stoneleigh Terrace Hotel, 2927 Maple Ave. 871-7111.



Dick’s Last Resort. It’s easy to feel at home here. An average Dick’s crowd (which is almost always standing room only) consists of grandparents escorted by their college-age grandchildren, lawyers stepping in for a cold one, singles on the prowl, and a whole mess of folks who come back time and again for some of the best bar food around (the barbe-qued shrimp are a menu stand-out). But be prepared for the unisex bathroom upstairs-it’s not that we’re so old-fashioned, but it would have been nice to know beforehand. Corner of Ross and Record. 747-0001.



Empira. At Dallas’s latest club to the beautiful people, everyone wears black, they all look worldly, they don’t all look straight, and they absolutely adore this former dinner theater on the edge of Deep Ellum. The owners call Empire “elegant.” “classical,” “modern.” “minimal,” and “international,” and the truth is it’s all these things: the most ornate, fashionable nightclub we’ve ever had. It’s worth an evening just to come look at the fixtures, let alone the people. 2424 Swiss Ave. 828-1879.



Etcetera. Think of all the names this hot North Dallas bar has been called: Papagayo, In Cahoots, etc. Oh, wait. The last one is actually the name of the bar now, and it’s the latest one to attract long customer lines. It’s hot for all the right reasons: searchlights outside cross the sky, waitresses slink by in hand-painted uniforms, and a dress code encourages expensive clothes. 8796 N Central Expwy, in Nortk Park East. 692-5417.



Fast & Cool. The musk here is predominantly Motown sound and authentic soul from artists like James Brown and Ike and Tina Turner. The dance floor is the center of this tiny universe, and it has a magnetic effect on anyone who walks in the door. Unlike countless dance clubs that have come and gone on Greenville Avenue, this place has staying power. 3606 Greenville. 827-5544.



Fat Tuesday. The drinks (potent frozen slush concoctions, many of which contain 190 proof alcohol). Mardi Gras atmosphere, and unusual bar food (New Orleans-style Po’ Boys and other Cajun staples) have spelled survival for Fat Tuesday in these doom-and-gloom times. We only wish the dance floor were bigger and the music were live every night. 6778 Greenville. 373-7377.



Four Seasons Ballroom. This place offers big-band music for ballroom dancing. A strict dress code is enforced: dresses for the ladies and coats and ties for the gentlemen. Only setups, beer, wine, and soft drinks are served, except on Fridays, when food is available. Cover varies, and free dance lessons are offered. 4930 Military Pkwy. 644-5622.



Froggy Bottoms. We’d really love this bar if it weren’t so small and so dark. Froggy Bottoms has all the ingredients of being the ideal spot to rendezvous with a long-lost soul mate, and that’s why we’re confused. Here’s a crank-it-up rhythm and blues club with neither the dance floor to go along with the gyrating tunes nor adequate seating for those who want to sit back and enjoy the top-notch talent on stage. But if you don’t mind dancing in a dark comer while juggling your drink, it’s well worth the trip: the R&B played here is truly awesome. Part of Dallas Alley in the West End Marketplace. 2019 N Lamar. 988-0581.



Greenville Avenue Country Club. Chic. Understated-ly elegant. Exclusive. None of these words have anything to do with the GACC. and they’ll throw anyone in the pool who pretends otherwise. Despite the name, this remains one of the best beer-and-sandwich bars in town. The patio’s now covered, and the restrooms, thankfully, have been brought into the 20th century. Otherwise, this is the friendly, comfortable joint it always was. 3619 Greenville. 826-5650.



Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill. If Dallas had a Watering Hole of Fame, the Bar & Grill would certainly be in it. The kingpin of the Lower Greenville circuit won’t disappoint if you’ re looking for a good burger, a longneck beer, and a band that won’t let you hear yourself think. 2821 Greenville. 823-6691.



Highland Park Yacht Club. What can we say? The twentyish crowd is to-the-minute cool, bearing that air of polished affluence that must be reassuring to BMW dealers. The music (taped Top Forty with occasional live bands) is very danceable fare, though the acoustics could be better. But overall, this beach front-themed club may feel cliquish and uncomfortable unless you’re gorgeous or rich or both. Maybe it’s the sparseness of the furnishings, perhaps intended to encourage strolling and mingling. And that may be precisely the point of the place. But if you’re over thirty, the chichi REO Room in the back may be more your style. 4515 Travis. 521-6071.



Humperdink’s. It’s easy to figure out why this place has survived the bad times. It’s cozy for couples (huge, elegandy upholstered booths perfect for the two of you), bawdy and boisterous for those looking to shoot some pool (the game-room is hidden in the back so that you can be as loud as the evening demands), and blaring with television sets strategically positioned to ensure that everyone gets a good seat. As we reported a year ago. the beers are still ice cold wonders and if you’re hungry, don’t miss the fried zucchini. 6050 Greenville. 368-6597.



Joe Miller’s. The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s certainly true of Joe Miller’s. It’s still one of the best places in town for a real drink, and as always, after work there are plenty of good conversations going on that anyone can enjoy. That is unless you can’t say anything but “Come here often?” or “What’s your sign?” 3531 McKinney. 521-2261.



Library. Sit back in the big, cushy den chairs and sip a Manhattan or a martini or a scotch on the rocks. No strawberry daiquiris, please; this is a bar for adults. But a beer would be fine in this comfortable, sophisticated spot tucked away in a back corner of the Omni Melrose Hotel. There’s even a piano player to soothe your soul. Omni Melrose Hotel. Oak Lawn as Cedar Springs. 521-5151.



Louie’s. The crowd is an odd mix of media and legal types, neighborhood folks, and barflies, but it works. Louie’s has great drinks, cheap prices, good service, and wonderful pizza. What more could one ask for? 1839 N Henderson. 826-0505.



Max’s 403. Brace yourself! There’s another “high-energy dance club” on Upper Greenville. This one has been the rage of the dance-and-get-picked-up set since its December opening. In the same location where Packard’s and Brio were once the latest hot clubs, this latest hot club promises state-of-the-art music and sound systems and a more sophisticated crowd. In other words, it’s the same old thing-which seems just fine to everyone who packs the place. 5500 Greenville, Suite 403. 361-9517.



Matropol. Strobe lights, clouds of colored smoke, an incessant dance beat. Must be a nostalgia bar, right? Au contraire. The theme of this new venture (in the spacious shell of Confetti and R-n-R USA and…) seems to be The Future, judging from the stark, angular decor and the newest-wave music. Call it techno-hedonism. We’ve seen the future and it works pretty well, especially if you’re into mass contortion on the snug dance floor. The migratory herds of Beautiful People are here, or were, at least on our last visits. 5201 Matilda. 369-6969.



Mr. C’s Seafood. It may look like a bar in the American Airlines terminal (soundless TVs. lots of tile, and uncomfortable chairs), but it is a welcome refuge, far from the madding crowds of the rest of the West End. If you want hot R&B and even hotter homemade Cajun food, this is your place. Be sure to sample the “Hot Pups” (jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese). 601 Pacific. 698-9364.



Outback Pub. Australian bars are a rarity in these parts, but the Outback Pub is just that-a no-nonsense Aussie saloon. Outback offers pool, darts, and shuffle hoard. danceable live music in the evenings, and a friendly crowd. We only wish the bartenders and waitresses weren’t so surly. Australia’s supposed to be a friendly place, males. 1701 Market, Suite 105. 761-9355.



Plaza Bar. This bar is the perfect spot to grab a quick brewski and flag down your friends before making the great trek through the West End. Green and black marble, stone pillars, and black wrought-iron bar stools and tables make this a handsome hangout, but not a very cozy one. That’s okay, since the drinks are stiff and conveniently packaged to go. Part of the Dallas Alley in the West End Marketplace. 2019 N Lamar. 988-0581.



Poor David’s Pub. Has anything changed at Poor David’s-ever? Hmm. That poster, upper right from the stage, may not have been there in 1984. Hard to say. Pitcher. prices have nudged upwards a bit, but not much. Other than that. Poor David’s is happily frozen in time. Anson and the Rockets still provide straight-ahead blues several times a month; name acts tike Loudon Wainright and Guy Clark still drop in. In the alcove near the restrooms, there is a new video game cleverly designed to resemble a pinball machine. if you can believe it. (Wait a minute-that is a pinball machine.) 1924 S Greenville. 821-9891.



Sam’s Cafe. Yes. we know Sam’s is a restaurant. Yes. we know the burgers there cost almost $6. Yes, we know it’s the Southwestern sister of Mariel Hemingway’s chic New York bistro. But even if you aren’t planning to eat even one bite, the bar at Sam’s will welcome you with an open tab. A cocktail at Sam’s has now become the thing to do after Sfuzzi and before San Simeon, or before Sfuzzi and after San Simeon, or before San Simeon and Sfuzzi. Get the picture? 100 Crescent Court, Suite 140. 855-2233.



Stoneleigh P. Ask someone about the Stoneleigh P. and they’re likely to describe it as one of their favorite places for a casual lunch. Ask someone else, and they’ll tell you what a great bar it is for a late-night drink. Both are right. This would be a great neighborhood bar even if it weren’t in a great neighborhood. It’s a long-time favorite of the downtown set and advertising types. 2926 Maple. 871-2346



Studebakers. I mean, this place is gettin’ old, Johnny! 1 mean, I’m in there the other night, and this woman asks for my podiatrist’s phone number! Old, I tell ya! Seriously, folks, while the median age here is on the darker side of forty, this nostalgia bar is still rockin’ with Chuck, Dion, Elv, Bobby, Frankie. more Bobbies, more Frankies, and of course (hose famous dancing waitresses. The sound track is inching into the Seventies now. having reached the Eagles but stopped, mercifully, short of the Bee Gees. The no-jeans dress code is gone, but the generous happy hour buffet remains, now underwritten by a cover charge on most nights. The bar continues to make a major production of that loathsome classic of cutesy rock. “Hand Jive.” Arghh. But take heart: at least nobody refers to “Heard it Through the Grapevine” as “the raisin song.” NorthPark East, 8788 N Central Expwy. 696-2475.



Surf Club. Ten minutes here left us green around the gills and wishing for a Bennigan’s. The less-is-less decor-surfboards and sailboards and a few dead fish, housed in a windowless building that looks like a bomb shelter for the Balkan heads of state-is a minimalist joke that didn’t quite make “funny.” We understand that owner Angus Beavers and brother Mick troubled themselves to actually go out in the Caribbean and catch some of the piscine wallhangings; better to have trolled for decorators, or thrown back the ones they caught. But in spite of the decor, bassy “thumpa-thumpa” sound system, underwater acoustics, and the cold-fish staff, the place has managed to hook great huge shoals of Miffies and Skippers schooling up to be someone’s catch of the day. Don’t look for anything as straightforward as a sign saying “Surf Club.” It’s marked only by a blue neon wave. 4919 N Central Expwy. 528-S662.



Take 5. Though we were drawn into Take 5 by virtue of sheer volume, it’s hard to hit an off night here. The music is consistently good: on our first visit. Dallas Brass and Electric cranked out everything from Prince to vintage Chicago. Even on a Sunday, there’s reason here to celebrate. Part of Dallas Alley in the West End Marketplace. 2019 N Lamar. 988-0581.



Terilli’s. Terilli’s is always packed-with jazz lovers, serious drinkers, people wailing for a table for dinner, and Greenville Avenue wanderers. The bartenders are attentive and friendly; the drinks are on the money; the live jazz on Tuesday through Sunday is great if you can hear it above the roar of the crowd; and you can order Italchos-Terilli’s trademark Italian nachos-until 1 a.m. 2815 Greenville. 827-3993.



Tilt. This drinking man’s arcade is just the ticket if you’re experiencing withdrawal pains between visits to the State Fair’s famous Midway. Tilt is two long rooms lined with, among other things, pinball machines, shoot-the-duck-as-it-bobs-in-the-water games, motorcycles-with-screens-mounted-on-their-dash-that-simulate-obstacle-course games, and games testing marksmanship with a water pistol that could make you the winner of that stuffed Spuds handing on the top row, Kick back with your favorite libation and enjoy being a kid again. In the West End MarketPlace. 603 Munger. 720-7276.



2826. The latest addition to the Deep Ellum nightclub scene is as cool as it comes. Sleek, chic, and a little pretentious, the twenty-five-to thirty-five-year-old crowd eases into this avant-garde disco to expound on the latest greatest works of literature (in all fairness, they probably do actually read) while they sway to the free-flowing instrumental music. The immense floral arrangements atop the cool, polished stone bar and the living-room-style grouping of leather couches add a touch of elegance to this otherwise nondescript red bricked bar. 2826 Elm. 741-2826.



The Voodoo Bar. This is one of our favorite places in the West End. It’s dark as a cave, with candles, blue neon lights, and eerie masks on the walls, so it’s great change of pace from the office. Voodoo features live music late at night-reggae, New Age jazz, and Latin. And there’s even a saltwater aquarium behind the bar to help soothe your soul. 302 N Market. 655-2627.



White Rock Yacht Club. This unpretentious tavern has more to recommend it than its location, the last wet-the-whistle stop before entering the drylands of White Rock and the eastern burbs. You’ll find decent drinks at reasonable cost, an adequate burger-based menu, strategically placed TVs, a general comfort level, and a nice view of the East Dallas treetops from the second-floor balcony, which becomes a sandy “beach” in summer. We do think some of the waitpersons could have been friendlier, but maybe they weren’t having as good a time as we were. 7324 Gaston, Suite 301. 328-3866.



FORT WORTH NIGHTLIFE



Caravan of Dreams. Caravan of Dreams, which covers three floors of a chic Sundance Square building, has excellent live jazz/blues (and a bar) on the first floor, a theater with movies and live drama (and a bar) on the second floor, and an outdoor patio with a cactus garden (and a bar) on the roof. 312 Houston. (817) 877-3000.

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