FOOD & DRINK

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NIGHTLIFE

Patriotic Potables

THIRSTY NORTH DALLAS PEOPLE NOW HAVE another reason to head to “wet” Addison- The Capitol, a capital idea for an all-Arnerican restaurant with an all-American bar. Patriotism reigns here, from the downsized replica of the Capitol Rotunda in D.C. (complete with stately columns) to the signature red, white, and blue layered, frozen drink, “The Old Glory,” that tastes even better than it looks. The menu offers a slice of America, from a hearty appetizer of barbecued shrimp sautéed with country ham to pan-seared Arkansas chicken, both served with Wisconsin white cheddar grits. But it’s the bar that’s really different. Other restaurants may offer 80 different beers or more than 125 wines; but here they’re all American-no Heineken, no Molson, not even Chianti. California wines, no surprise, dominate the wine list, although it includes some from other states like Oregon, Washington, and Texas. Vintages are not listed, a drawback when selecting a red. The wines are j-grouped according to price-$18, $24, $32 \ and $38 {$22, $32 and $42 for sparkling J wines), and a special reserve list will appear c soon. The Capitol also offers a single barrel bourbon list, touted as the most complete in the city, as well as every mixed drink you can imagine. Bottoms up! -Suzanne Hough



BOOKS

CUTTING THROUGH THE FOG

Want to avoid those lengthy lines at the ultrapopular Fog City Diner on McKin-ney Avenue? Buy the Fog City Diner Cookbook, which will provide you with some of FCD’s most-loved recipes. The only thing you’ll miss will be spotting some of the celebrities who frequent the diner.

The appeal of FCD, both here and in its original San Francisco site, is the combination of old and new. You can get a classic burger or a trendy grilled eggplant and fontina sandwich. The “small plate” section of the book houses the most creative recipes, while the desserts are largely traditional. Basic cooking skills are needed, but not much more. Those of us with a life will automatically reach for the Hellman’s instead of using FCD’s mayonnaise recipe, and will appreciate the make-ahead tips throughout the book.

I tested the recipes for some of my FCD favorites-crab cakes with sherry cayenne mayo (heavenly), Caesar salad, and mashed potatoes, and added the free-form apple pie. The recipes were thorough, easy to follow, and everything worked perfectly, except for the croutons that took three times as long as stated to cook (though those garb’ckly devils were worth it).

Author Cindy Pawlcyn says her favorite recipe is the lobster gazpa cho. However, “I get yelled at all the time,” she says, for not including the often-requested recipe for her chocolate chili tart. Sorry, she made it up after the cookbook was pub lished. Wait for her next one. -S. H.

Cheap Eats

PANEER FOR PENNIES

DESPITE ITS NAME,TAJ EXPRESS, lodged between a 7-Eleven and a Baskin Robbins on Lemrmon near the Tollway, is not a drive-through but a genuine sit-down restaurant that serves an exemplary Indian buffet for only $5.95 at lunchtirne, $8.95 at dinnertime. All the dishes here arc harmoniously prepared with a knowing hand and an intricate balance of flavors. Try the unusual kaddi pakora, fried light dough balls in a yellow yogurt sauce, and the more common palak. paneer, homemade cheese adrift in deeply flavored spinach, rich with herbs and a touch of cream. Pakoras, hot deep-fried cl clusters of spicy spinach, are a welcome con -trast to samosas, a heavier dish of potato turnovers with peas, which arc especially enjoyable when dipped in a mint or tamarind chutney. Other must-try menu items include: rice pilau; chicken with mushrooms in a creamy yellow sauce with chilis, peppers, and cardamon (best sopped up on a large piece of naan, a homemade unleavened bread made of stone-ground whole wheat); tandoor chicken; and raita, a creamy yogurt and cucumber mix. Top it all off, if you’ve room, with plum-colored Gulab Jamum, pastry balls served in a cardamon-flavored honey. -Jill Harris



Critic’s Notebook

THE CHEFS

IS THE LUSH, PLUSH ERA OF CHEF STARDOM coming to an end in Dallas? Nobody wants to answer the question on the record, but some of this city’s savviest restaurateurs ardently hope so. Off the record, bitter stories abound of kitchen talent boosted to stellar status at management’s great expense, only to be wooed away by competitors or to walk out in a fit of pique.

Neither form of betrayal is peculiar to the dining trade, of course; and the blade can cut both ways-a no-longer-local entrepreneur I won’t name had a habit of promising his chefs promotion, then keeping them on the payroll only as long as it took his cheaper kitchen help to learn their recipes and techniques.

But tales of prima donna behavior in the back of the house are more titillating than dull dollar dealings, and restaurants are more immediately vulnerable than most businesses to loss of loyalty resulting from gossip or boat-rocking change. Case in point: One establishment slated for inclusion in this magazine’s August listing of “The 25 Best Restaurants” had to be dropped on the very eve of publication owing to its celebrated chefs abrupt departure. Not that the eatery’s quality was necessarily threatened-if the chef had not been a known name, his leaving would have caused little comment, but the potential effect of the change on the fare could not be measured on short notice. And while such recognition might not make major waves on a balance sheet, whatever income it might have generated can’t be counted either.

One former restaurant owner, a solid professional, badly burned when his chefs sudden abandonment in effect brought down his business, cites this and similar other incidents as evidence that superstardom for chefs is doomed. “One of the most dangerous things you can do nowadays is to have a restaurant ruled by the back of the house,” he says. “The days when a chef ruled the kitchen are gone-I feel that’s why we’re seeing more ’cooks’ than chefs in Dallas restaurants.” -Betty Cook



DRINKS

RECIPE FOR ROMANCE

Leave it to the French. No, wait, let’s rephrase that-take it from the French, who may not have invented romance, but know how to package it better than Eve ever did. This season’s prettiest temptation is Alizé (say Ah-lee-zay), a kicky blend of aged cognac and passion fruit juices. Poured straight on the rocks, it’s molten sunshine. Splashed with cranberry juice and club soda, it becomes the ultimate rosy afternoon cooler; stirred half-and-half with chilled champagne, it out-mimosas the standard orange juice mix. Locals like it best in a Passionate Margarita. The recipe: 1 1/2 ounces Alizé, 1 ounce tequila, 1 ounce L fresh lime juice. Blend with ice, and I pour for someone you care a lot about. I Alizé, by the way, means “gentle trade I wind.” Find it at most area liquor stores, priced around $18. -B.C.



GASTRONOMES

THE BAGELMEISTER

RETIRED PSYCHOLOGIST HERMAN Newmanisnodiscipleof Jung, but he knows just how the archetypal-and perfect-bagel should look, taste, and smell. It’s a memory he’s carried with him since the 1930s, when he was a child on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

He remembers them, those bagels of yore, strung from the ceiling of his comer grocery. He would unknot the rope and slide off as many as he wanted. They were smaller than today’s bagels, hard on the outside and chewy in the middle.

“Traditional water bagels,” says Newman. “That was before Gentiles got hold of them and gave us cinnamon raisin and blueberry.”

For an authentic bagel, Newman recommends the Bagel Boulevard Cafe (five Dallas locations) and Bagelstein’s on Spring Valley. Less satisfying to him are those from delis that don’t specialize in bagels-Cindi’s and Deli News, for instance, As for supermarket bagels? “Mounds of dough shaped to look like bagels,” he says. “Don’t bother.”

-Larry Upshaw

THE CHARTS



Rocky Road Decaf Lowfat Latte, Anyone?



ONCE MERELY A MORNING PICK-ME-UP, COFFEE IS NOW THE beverage of the moment for trendsetters of all ages, and coffeehouses have become “the bars of the ’90s,” says one coffee-cionado at Starbucks. For neophytes who think espresso means going somewhere in a hurry, here’s an overview of what to expect at some of Dallas’ popular Java joints. -Daria Hirsch

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