Let the trumpets blare! Let cymbals sound! Our Millennial Best & Worst presents the capstone of 1,000 years of human endeavor and travail on the plains of North Texas.
Only we don’t. To tell you the truth, we didn’t even try. One thousand years ago the fork of the Trinity River and all the territory around it was occupied by-absolutely nobody. Not even a wandering Kiowa was likely to pass through. One thousand years ago nothing happened. Zilch. Sure, we could have invented it. Who. after all, would contradict us? But Best & Worst is not about invention.
Best & Worst is about fact. Best & Worst, by long tradition (not 1,000 years long of course, but a long tradition nevertheless in magazine-years, which are like dog-years, only shorter) is about What Really Happened.
Oh sure, we could have presented our Turn-of-the-Century Best & Worst. The historical record from 100 years ago is chock full of facts. The only problem is, we don’t have any opinions on the facts. What’s Best & Worst without opinions?The very name screams Opinion. In 1900 what was the best restaurant in Dallas? Who the hell knows? Best & Worst is as much opposed to inventing opinions as it is to inventing facts.
So were back to where we always are, the end of one year and the beginning of another. We say: millennial, schmielliel. We say: Let the century rest in peace. To be perfectly honest with you, which we always are, one year is hard enough to keep track of.
Let’s he thankful for the we’ve got, as full of human foible and human triumph as any year history has ever known, at least around here. While Old Man Time shuffles off stage and the New Year Babe prances on, Best & Worst is here to remind you where the old fellow won and lost, and to watch with admiring anticipation as the new kid wiggles into place.
BEST: When American pilots continued a February sick-out. Federal Judge Joe Kendall warned them the fine would be so high their union’s , assets could be “safely stored in the overhead bin of a Piper Cub.”
WORST: “Please don’t arrest me,” Magistrate Charles McClure told police when they found him in his car reeking of alcohol. “I’m a judge.” Taken to Lew Sterrett jail, he : was charged with DWI.
Grimes Against Mother Nature
BEST: Following last year s bulldozing of an egret rookery, Carrollton may now be the most egret-sensitive place on the planet. This year, when test blasts for the annual July 4th fireworks upset the newly resettled birds, city officials smoothed ruffled feathers by can- celing the display.
WORST: Developers Peter Shaddock and John Baker bulldozed 317 protected trees in Flower Mound for their Wellington Estates. They were fined $1.8 million, or more than $50,000 a tree.
BEST: Police were searching a, remote area for stolen cars when they discovered Judge Wayne Bowman, 49, in a car with a partially clothed woman. Have these people never heard of motels?
WORST: Police arrested an East Dallas woman for locking her mentally retarded 15-year-old son inside her 1993 Ford Thunderbird to keep it from being repossessed.
BEST: To get your engines running, ladies, check out www.latinofire-
WORST: Seagoville Middle School teacher Renée Franklin, 40, induced two 15-year-old students to dance shirtless in her apartment while she stuffed dollar bills into their pants.
BEST: Thieves dressed as repairmen calmly hit six area hospitals last winter, driving up in trucks in broad daylight, strolling in with dollies, and rolling out massive 800-pound X-ray machines, each valued at $250,000.
WORST: Two Parkland nurses were .’ indicted for stealing morphine intended for patients. Gwen Christen-sen.39, who worked in the burn unit, and Caley Crook, 27. who worked in intensive care, allegedly pilfered an automated drug-dispensing machine.
BEST: Defense attorneys told the jury that that deejay Gary Faison had been adopted at birth and therefore may have an unknown twin with identical DNA who was really responsible for seven area rapes.
WORST: Dallas code inspector Brenda Crowley was given several months off and $18,000 in benefits when she reported she had been raped while inspecting an apartment complex. But a semen sample from the alleged attack turned out to belong to her husband. Crowley pled guilty to fraud.
Kidnapping for Fun and Profit
BEST: A woman dressed in a nurse’s uniform gained access to an assisted living center in Far North Dallas and abducted 101 -year-old Elizabeth Clark. The kidnapper look the patient shopping before leaving her unmolested at a grocery store.
WORST: Alter being bound, sedated, thrown in the back of a car, and driven to Pennsylvania. Donald Sims, 71. of Farmer’s Branch was confined in a VA hospital. Sims . secured his own release, relumed to Dallas, and discovered his bank accounts, car title, and house deed had been changed. Federal authorities indicted wife Diana Sims and son-in-law Melvin Turner.
BEST: Nurse Kristi Bramlett saw a drunk driver hit a motorcycle cop, knocking him 30 feet. She rushed to his aid, cleared his airway. and kept him conscious until paramedics arrived, saving his life.
WORST: After rescuing Taylor While from a house lire, Matthew Stubbert drove her and her bleeding 2-year-old son to a police station. When questioned, White fled the station, stole Stubbert’s car, and crashed it into a wall. Tunis out she had slashed her son’s throat, slit her own wrists, and set the fire.
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention
BEST: Using nail clippers to fiddle with a lock. Bobby Marcantel escaped from the Parker County jail. He was apprehended when deputies searching a creek saw Marcantel’s foot, presumably well-manicured. sticking out of the water.
WORST: Legally blind, convicted child molester Jimmy Ross Bulgier lured a 4-year-old girl inside his Granbury apartment by promising her she could pel his seeing-eye don. “Happy.”
Desperation Is the Mother of Stupidity
BEST: 90-year-old Minnie Spain was discovered dead with a newly typed will clutched in her hand, naming former nephew-by-mar – liage Albert Richardson sole beneficiary. Suspicious detectives ordered fingerprint tests. When the results came in. Richardson confessed to murder,
WORST: When David McCarter needed $500 to pay for courtordered sex-offender counseling, he knocked his father dead with it crescent wrench, put the body in the bathtub, attended an afternoon counseling session, and paid the court fee from his father’s flea-mar-ket earnings.
Hit And Runs
BEST: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was hand-cuffed and arrested for fleeing the scene of a traffic stop in Highland Park. Jones said he was just trying to get to church to be on time for his grandchild’s baptism.
WORST: Deputy Chief Willard Rollins was demoted three ranks and assigned to supervise the jail on the graveyard shift after Gaelle Anginot accused him of bumping her car in Uptown and leaving the scene of the accident.
Fun & Games
Use of the M Word “
BEST: Millennium “countdown clocks” were ordered removed from Fori Worth area post offices when customers began timing how long they were waiting in line.
WORST: Millennium Madness! 2000 Ways to Mark the Moment, by Dallas writers Annemarie Marek and Debbie Berens, contains such nuggets as “Dare to be unique.” (No. 365); “Think foryourself.”(No.375); “Use what you own.” (No. 1162); “Create an M frisbee.” (No. 1783).
Do You Want Fans or Nit?
BEST: Fort Worth Brahmas announcer Rocco Pendola had a bright idea to draw attention to Alcohol Awareness Week; downing a shot of beer for every Shot on go:il and penalty during one of the minor league hockey team’s games. And the best news for Rocco is-he’s still employed.
WORST: Rangers marketing whiz Jeff Cogen decided to spice up the downtime between innings and pitching changes. His idea of spice? Earaplitting heavy metal and techno music. People fled the stands. Meanwhile, team executives wondered aloud why attendance was so bad.
Hokay Pokey Hocus Pocus
BEST: Dallas Star Brett Hull’s foot in the crease got by the refs as he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in triple overtime. Bui Where’s he been this season?
WORST: “Nine-Toed” Deion Sanders’ foot mysteriously kept him out of last year’s playoffs, but not the Pro Bowl,Then surgery kept himout of the early season action this year. Maybe he should stick to baseball.
Making a Change
BEST: Southland signaled its corporate mission in unmistakable terms by renaming itself 7-Eleven.
WORST: Showtime Pizza signaled its corporate confusion by renaming itself CEC Corp. Why CEC7 Those art Chuck F:.Cheese’s initiais. Cet it?
Moo News From Cowtown
BEST: The Star-Telegram’s Brett Hoffman is the nation’s bast full-time rodeo reporter because, according to the American Journalism Review, he’s the nation’s only full-time rodeo reporter.
WORST: The famed King Ranch was not amused by the new brand Fort Worth designed for ils Stockyards longhorns, a wavy W resembling the ranch’s 130-year-old trademark. When the city backed down, the ranch graciously donated a longhorn to Cowtown’s herd.
Didn’t We Tell Yon Timing Is Everything?
BEST: At 12:15 a.m., the moment the Rangers lost the first game of the playoffs to the Yankees 7-0. KLUV-FM cued up Frank Sinatra’s “New-York, New York.”
WORST: TCI’ basketball star Lee Nailon was a hot property last year bill didn’t enter the NBA draft. Too bad. He had a mediocre season, was ignored in this years draft, got busted for drugs, and ended up playing in Europe.
You Gotta Have Game
BEST: John Carmack’s Dallas-based Id Software is headed to the Internet with Quake III, which will let gamesters searchthe Web to find fellow players in cyberspace.
WORST: While enjoying die penthouse at Chase Tower. John Romero anil his leant at Ion Storm have whipped through a reported $25 million and produced only one product. It didn’t sell.
Marriage and Divorce, Corprate Style
BEST: After buying the Stars in 1995 for $84 million and the Rangers in 1998 for $250 million, Tom Hicks partnered in September with Fox Southwest for cable broadcast rights that will give him back $300 million. Oh, and Hicks threw in the Mesquite Rodeo, too.
WORST: With parents Bel! Atlantic and Air Touch Communications pulling the plug on their partnership. Irving-based PrimeCo and its 3,500 employees will be split geographically right down the middle of the country.
Into the Wild Blue Yonder
BEST: Avoiding LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports. Southwest Airlines landed in the lucrative New York market by Hying into Islip. Long Island, where all those business executives actually live.
WORST: When Ozark Airlines proposed flying twice daily between Love Field and Columbus, Missouri, it was stymied when the FAA asked a simple question: What’s in Columbus that would interest anyone in Dallas?
Dropping the Ball
BEST: Dallas’ Justin Leonard dropped a4S-footputl into the hole to win the Ryder Cup for the United Slates.
WORST: The new marketing whizzes ;il the Rangers dropped the old-timey “Hit it here, win a suit” sign above the right field home run porch, replacing il with a Coots Lite ad.
BEST: Nolan Ryan may have spent only the hist live of his remarkable 27-year pro career as a Texas Ranger, but it was as a Ranger that he made history with his 5.000lh strikeout and as a Ranger that he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.
WORST: Belo bought a 12.4percent stake in the Mavericks for $24 million, which doesn’t bother us. What does bother us is the Obligatory Disclaimer now required for every Morning News story even tangential- ly connected to the new arena.
Proof That the End Is Near
BEST: Condemned murderer William Prince Davis’ last words, as doctors administered the lethal injection, were, “Oh, and I’d like to say in closing, what about those Cowboys.’!
WORST: A three-week showing of the Stanley Cup ;it the Dallas Museum of Art drew more crowds than any exhibition in the institution’s history.
WORST: Egomaniac Juan Gonzalez refused to play a Hall of Fame exhibition game because he didn’t like his special uniform pants. He was last reported searching for a new tailor in Detroit.
BEST: The DISD banned baggy pants, citing safety problems. Let’s make things even simpler: uniforms.
BEST: Staffed with (he area’s lop craftsmen, Mastercraft Pools always finishes on lime and onbudget; it’s also the only service in town with an in-housearchitect.
WORST: While on probation for DWI, long time Crown Royal Pools owner Gene Cullen skipped the country for a little pool side R&R in Cancun financed by customer deposits on unfinished pools. Police greeted him at the airport. The good news: He’s in jail. Bad news; The unfinished pools are still unfinished.
BEST: When Southwest Airlines started a paid intern program this year, the word among college students spread fast. More than 1.000 résumés flooded in for 20open slots.
WORST: The Cheater’s Handbook: The Naughty Student ’$ Bible, written by SMU graduate Bob Corbell, doesn’t include a chapter on what to tell Dad when your school kicks you out.
BEST: You’re greeted at the entrance to Gateway Computers (four locations) and treated like a real person from Mart to finish.
The stockprice ofCompUSA is somewhere near the Wednesday special at El Fenix. Maybe that’s because eustomers are catching on. Our testers were quoted high prices and charged “diagnostic fees” for fixes that were easily done at home. Forlree.
BEST: In a double win for Dallas cooks. Sur-la-Table opened on Travis and Santa Fe-based Cookworks opened on the Tollway. featuring top-of-the-line. professional quality cookware and cooking classes with master chefs.
WORST: Target introduced kitchen accessories by Michael Graves. Someday architects will realise they cannot design everything.
Feeling Younger, Looking Better
BEST: To be treated like the princess you are. go to Lea Mallison and Associates for a facial. She’s fast but expert, and oh-so soothing.
WORST: The two testers we sent into Maria Morris’ Dallas Center of Clinical Aesthetics came out affronted by the hard-sales techniques and upset by the rough skin treatments.
Retail You Didn’t Realize You Needed
BEST: The Celtic Store at Live Oak and Skillman offers Gaelic music, a beautiful collection of Celtic crosses, and cool gifts from Scotland. Ireland, and Wales.
WORST: Haggling is the style at Deja Vu a Paris designer resale in Snyder Plaza. “How much is this?” we asked. “How much is it worth to you?” replied the owner. Our answer: “Goodbye.”
Going to the Dogs
BEST: After a car killed Michelle J. Lamoat’s dos Nixon, she decided to start a business in his honor. Nixon’s Top Dog Gourmet Co. bakes all-natural doggie treats and is on 40 retailers’ shelves, including Tom Thumb, Five percent of the profits go to charities that help dogs.
WORST: Among other money wasters. Haute Dogs & Fat Cats in Preston Royal oilers cocktail attire for your pet.
BEST: No lime to get to !he shop? On Site Services comes to your car. With mobile units they can do everything from tune-ups to oil changes while you work.
WORST: You gel what you pay for at Discount Tire, and in our case that was three blown tires in two days after they put them on.
Reason to Sleep Downtown
BEST: Renovated by Denver-based Holtze Corp. and designed by architect Guy Thornton, the new Magnolia Hotel’s neo-classical interior is sophisticated yet warm, and the staff is well-trained and friendly.WORST: The Paramount Hotel across from Union Station has plenty of potential. as demonstrated by the success of the restaurant Fish on its first floor. But the place is falling apart. Want a busted shower? A hole in your ceiling? This is the place to stay.
BEST: Customers became volunteers when Half Price Books enlisted their muscle 10 help it move into ils sparkling new 53.000-sqmire-foot store on Northwest Highway.
WORST: Victims of a landlord dispute they didn’t even know about. Knox Street Antique Mall dealers found themselves evicted overnight. left standing with their knick-knacks on the street.
Movie Theater Experience
BEST: The New 3-D IMAX in the Cinemark 17 megaplex opened in September with an exciting T-Rex movie, making the prehistoric creatures seem so close you could scrape the plaque off their teeth.
WORST: West End 10 in the West End Marketplace is small, dirty, and very noisy.
Life & Leisure
BEST: On [he 50th anniversary of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific the Dallas Theater Center took a big risk and came up a big winner with a beautifully staged and poignantly rendered production.
WORST: Taking a more conventional approach, Dallas Summer Musicals delivered a tamer and niter version of the beloved musical. No real surprise here: A hand-picked, enthusiastic local ensemble will usually outdo a tired touring company of Broadway castoffs every time.
A Dallas Newcomer We’d Like to Go Home
BEST: Morning News columnist Steve Blow made a simple offer. He’d become a believer if anyone cured by TV-faith-he a 1er Benny Hinn would submit to medical verification. His second offer came after 18.000 people limped and hobbled into Reunion Arena to “share the annotating.” Nobody responded.
WORST: The now-confirmed-as-bogus Benny Hinn says he will build a $30 million. 50-acre “spiritual healing” theme park near Texas Stadium. Somebody say Amen. Okay, say something else.
Keeping Up With the Joneses
BEST: Michael a?d Elysiann Bishop bought Dallas’ only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house for S4.9 million. Although not the most historically important of Wright’s residences. the 10.000 square-foot, four-bedroom home is his largest.
WORST: Contractor Claud Yeldell promised Ruth Peoples, 72. he could fix her crumbling South Dallas home. He gutted the five-bedroom house in September, 1997, and never returned. Two years later. Yeldell was convicted of three code-enforcement violations and fined $4,500, which the city termed “symbolic progress.”
BEST: In October Dallas native Edie Brickell and the renewed New Bohemians made their re-debut at the Gypsy Tea Room.
WORST: Richardson native Jessica Simpson got more exposure man she bargained for when her pants split during her New York premiere.
BEST: Morning News critic John Ardoin capped his pen after covering the international classical music scene for 32 years. Ardoin always demanded the best and never settled for less, writing scathingly with grace, passion, knowledge, and wit.
WORST: The Eagle, a mammoth orange sculpture by Alexander Calder at the Bank One Plaza in Fort Worth, was dismantled into 14 pieces and loaded on a truck whose driver did not know the final destination until he was hallway across the country. Outraged residents later discovered the sculpture had been moved to Manhattan.
Temper Tantrums as a Form of Communication
BEST: Dallas Superintendent Bill Rojas. engineering a supercontract with the ’ Edison company to i privatize an unprecedented 12 schools, threw a public fit when the school board rebuffed him. It worked: The board reversed itself.
Responding to voices in his head and expressing his need to rebel. Douglas Savrtkaused a crowbar to smash a marble dining table, antiques, pottery, andseveral windows at The Mansion at Turtle Creek.
Contribution to the Visual Arts
BEST: After a two-and-a-half-year worldwide search, Raymond Nasher selected Italian architect Renzo Piano to design the much- anticipated $32 million Nasher Sculpture Garden in the downtown Arts District.
WORST: Tunnelvisions, officially sanctioned graffiti in the Good-Latimer tunnel to Deep Ellum, was refurbished, which only compounded a bad idea. We’re in favor of a more minimalist approach: whitewash.
BEST: What a difference one puck in triple overtime makes. After years of low-budget and low-paying TV commercials. Mike Modano this year is expected to pull in S2 to $3 million in endorsements.
WORST: Taking on the appearance of a rock diva, complete with limousine, security entourage, and adoring faces pressed up against the windows. Monica Lewinsky signed books at the Preston Royal Borders. Gag us.
Examples of “New Urbanism” BEST: Craig Hall’s Kirby Building and Post Properties’ Wilson Building-formerly office buildings, now newly renovated lofts- opened downtown to rave reviews and waiting lists of prospective apartment tenants.
WORST: Trying its hand al urban development, suburban apartment builder Camden Property began construction of a 1200-unit complex in the Farmers Market. Unfortunately, its designers didn’t notice the change of location, importing standard suburban style to an urban setting. Hello: If we wanted the suburbs, we’d rent in the suburbs.
BEST: After years of giving post-grame interviews with a wad of snuff wedged in his cheek. Troy Aikman swore it off. Even better, he starred in public service announcements warning against the nasty habit.
WORST: After years of playing hard-to-figure with gossip columnists as Dallas’ most eligible bachelor, Troy Aikman announced his engagement to former Cowboys employee Rhonda Worthey. Sigh.
Politics & Media
New Radio Waves
BEST: Want to check the tempera-lure in Negril. catch the latest news on CNN, and hear a little Pearl Jam while you’re doing it? Log on to
WORST: “The New Hot 100” is the old 100.3 FM. which used to be “V100”, and which now pitches itself as “a little bit blacker than KISS-FM.” If the lack of original!- ty doesn’t bug you, morning DJ Joey Dwill.
Reversal of Fortune
BEST: Dismissed earlier this season by sportswriters as a chronic bench warmer, Maverick guard Brick Strickland has been one of the team’s most consistent players.
WORST: Almost a week after his election to the Glenn Heights City Council, Ron Trygstad learned that he had been unseated in a routine recount-by one vote, 178-177.
Enter Our Web
BEST: Area chanties were offered free web pages by Belo Corp. through its Morning News, WFAA-TV. anil TXCN sites. No obligation, no cost, free orientation workshops, and unlimited access.
WORST: The Morning News deemed its parent’s gift so extraordinary that it gave the Belo press release a news headline on the Metro sec-lion’s front page.
BEST: In June Highland Park junior Taylor Ann Mounts won a role on Passions, HBC’s newest soap opera, playing the out-of-control daughter of a small town chief of police.
WORST: After a felony convidian and $108 million malpractice judgment against him. Dallas lawyer Bobby Goldstein has turned to a new line of work: Cheaters TV. a syndicated show that “could help curtail adulter)’ and improve relationships,” says the newly reformed Goldstein.
BEST: Fort Worth filmmaker J. Mitchell Johnson produced Red Files, a four-part documentary about modern Soviet history for PBS. Johnson’s company holds the international marketing rights to the Russian stale film
and photo archives.
WORST: Docs Oliver Stone have a Dallas fixation? After Born on the Fourth of July and JFK, now we get On Any Given Sunday. Thanks for all the attention. Ollie. but have yon ever considered Tampa?
Watching the Bottom Line
BEST: Dallas City Auditor Robert Melton blew the whistle on City Council favorite Margie Reese for rigging a half-mi lion dollar architectural bid.
WORST: Under director Gay DeHoss, Dalla*’ Property Management Division lost track of $575 million of the city’s assets. You read it right: $575 million. City officials blamed the mess on the city’s dated computer system, which leaves us breathlessly awaiting their Y2K excuses to come.
So What Are You Trying to Tell Me?
BEST: Two weeks before Easier. 18 billboardsappeared in Dallas with such messages as “Let’s meet at my house Sunday before the game” and “Loved the wedding. Invite me to the marriage”-all signed by God Himself.
WORST: An ad for a performance art troupe called Traumatic Stress Discipline appeared in The Met: it featured a baby in diapers dangling from a meat hook.
BEST: KDMX at 102.9 FM got as tired as we were of the inane morning chatter of Alan Kabel and Kale “U-Turn” Garvin
WORST: When Jennifer Suttonobeyed a summons to jury duty, requiring lier to miss work, her employers at computer software company ACS tired her.
The Best Council That $50 a Week Can Buy
BEST: Ai an event to raise money for his defense fund 73-year-old City Councilman Al Lipscomb, who’s been indicted for public corruption, jumped on stage with the choir, singing and swaying to “God’s Got a Way Oui for You.”
WORST: City Councilman John Loza apologized for gelling a DW1 in Austin. The apology’s liming was a little suspect, coming after a Travis County jury found him guilty.
Snoozing on the Jib
BEST: Two security guards at a DISD warehouse slept through a surprise inspection by outside fraud auditors checking the warehouse’s vulnerability to theft.
WORST: Dallas City Manager Ted Benavides admitted in a deposition that he had not interviewed Terrell Bolton prior to selecting him as police chief and had no idea what Bolton’s goals and priorities for the department are.
Operating at One’s Level of Competence
BEST: City Councilwoman Laura Miller sel a lofty goal for her second term: banning roosters from the city limits. “I vowed if there was one thingI”ddo.it would be to get rid of those roosters,*’ Miller said.
WORST: Saying he was just following guidelines. Judge “Bubba” King sel bail ai $30,000 for Tim : Richardson, arrested for the murder i of his wife in front of his children.
Scoop On George Dubya
BEST: The Morning News’ Pete Slover made St. Martin’s Press eat its words, forcing it to put] and shred 80,000 copies of Favorite Son after he reported author J. H. Hatfield was on parole for a murder rap.
WORST: Want to know everything nasty anyone has to say about our next president? GeorgeBush2000.com is the site for you, Every innuendo, twisted fact, and flawed analysis is displayed for your entertainment, if not your education.
Food & Drink
BEST: Every plaie at Bob’s Steak and Chop House comes with a beautiful whole carrot gently glazed with brown sugar: sim ple and sublime.
WORST: “General’s Chicken In Orange Sauce” al Royal China translates into fried chicken balls with brown orange peels marinated in orange juice.
Hottest Not Drink
BEST: A mysterious blend of clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper Chat tea has been consumed in India for thousands of years. Suddenly chic, it’s now possible to pick up Chai Latte with a bakery stick at 7-11,
WORST: The overdone Caramel Macchiato at Starbuck’s is the ultimate in designer caffeine absurdity. This sweet, foamy hodgepodge of ingredients, with espresso somewhere in the mix, has taken a cup of Java beyond break time and has half the city up all night wondering why they can’t sleep.
Beast On A Bun BEST: The grilled steak sandwich al Biernet’s is an 8-ounce hand-butchered. aged prime strip marinated for three hours and grilled to a warm pink center.
WORST: The “Wild Boar Sandwich” at Piano’s Love & War in Texas (who invents these restaurant names?) is a chewy, shredded mystery meat stuffed in a hard roll disguised by sautéed green and yellow peppers.
Reason to Talk Turkey
BEST: The VIP. turkey at Street’s Famous Sandwiches is piled (not too high) with moist fragrant slices of fresh baked white meal and layered with herb stuffing, a thin lettuce leaf, and cranberries. The bread is so fresh it sticks to the roof of your mouth.
WORST: The -Green Plate Special” at Buttermilk Cafe hides tough bites of turkey under a thick, brown glob of gravy – and after trying it. we understand why.
Menu Term of the Year
BEST: ’”Drizzled.” The sauce may only be dribbled, but the inference is that it’s sizzled, and for some reason thai makes il taste better.
WORST:“Wind-dried tomatoes.” What do they do at The Mercury -hang them out back on a clothesline? .
Key Lime Pie
BEST: The cold tart custard at S&D Oyster Company is the perfect citrus break after a meal of lightly breaded fried shrimp-and has been for 25 years.
WORST: The creation served under the guise of “pie” by the Chaparral Club was a pastry shell full of frothy lime-scented meringue that reminded us of scrambled eggs Crazy Restaurateur
BEST: Call Avner Samuel the PigPen of Dallas -wherever he cooks, a cloud of controversy surrounds him. Bui his food is as dramatic as his personality, and he continues to recreate himself successfully in every new kitchen drama.
WORST: Former Sipango superstar Matt Antonovich’s dead grandmother told him in a dream to open a restaurant in Piano. He served inspired Italian food for about a month-until the bit! collectors came by. He is now rumored to be slinging hash somewhere in Memphis.
Do You Want Fries with That?
BEST: Nothing tops Jack’s at the Slate Fair, but for the other 49 weeks of the year, we’re content with hand-cut crispy thick strips of potatoes at St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin. The seasoned fries are served with dip containers of ranch and blue cheese dressing.
WORST: The thick, greasy, and salty fries at Snuffer’s are about as subtle as a train wreck. If thai wasn’t enough of a cholesterol nightmare, they offer cheddar fries covered with melted cheese, bacon, and jalapenos.
BEST: Served properly on wax paper in a red plastic basket. Theo’s simple white bread and American cheese combination is grilled in garlic butter.
WORST: The menu at Lucky’s says its combination of cheddar. Swiss, onions, tomato, green chilies. and bacon on Texas Toast is the “sleaziest, cheesiest grilled cheese in town.” Believe.
Using Your Noodle
BEST: We found noodle heaven al Saigon’s Pho in Carrollton: over 70 Vietnamese-inspired takes on the ultimate comfort food.
WORST: Hardened lasagna doused in a watery tomato sauce is not what you’d expect at Dallas icon Campisi’s. But it’s what you get.
BEST: The caviar carl at Nick & Sam’s features a custom-designed silver bowl of beluga from the Caspian Sea. Customers are baited with small complimentary samples of osetra and hooked by a spoonful of soft sturgeon eggs.
WORST: Advertising itself as ’Dallas’ premier champagne and caviar bar.” Champagne Gold Bar not only doesn’t serve champagne by the glass, but our waiter didn’t know what caviar is.
Place to Pick Up Chicks
BEST: Sit family style at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Garland, enjoy a home style smoked half chicken, pass the creamy mashed . potatoes around, or take your order home with a piece of chocolate meringue pie.
WORST: The sad, scrawny, fajita-seasoned birds wrapped in plastic at Tom Thumb will make you feel guilty for being a carnivore.
Service With a Smile
BEST: Despite the jackhammer-decibel noise, the kids climbing over booths, and spilled purple ice cream on the floor, the servers aim to please at Purple Cow.
WORST: We showed up at Pappas Bros, without a reservation and after a 90 minute wait, we were given a card and told. “Next time call ahead.” We don’t think so.
Duck’s the Thing
BEST: The crispy version of duck ’a I ’orange at Clare de Lune will have you wondering why you have ignored the bird so long.
WORST: Take. 10 one- inch strips of gristly duck and mold into “fingers.” Dip each in flour and deep-fry beyond recognition. Serve on a lettuce-lined plaie with a ramekin of chipolte honey mustard. Now send it back to the kitchen ai Pecan House Grill in Frisco.
Hummus Among Us
BEST: Heavy on the garlic, the smashed chickpeas at Ali-Baba are sprinkled with fresh parsley and lightly coated with fragrant olive oil. WORST: The pasty glob we were served at Mel’s on Main was strangely infected with horseradish and swathed in a thick layer of yellow olive oil.
The Course, of Empires
BEST: M Crowd is king of the Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant scene: Mi Cocina. The Mercury. Taco Diner, and the smart, new Euro-Asian cuisine at Citizen.WORST: Foodstar. the brains behind the once-hot Mediterraneo and PoPoLo’s, is “regrouping.” That’s another way of saying the venture capitalists have put in new management.
Trends in Dining
BEST: The mussels with coconut milk at Suze were the dumbest idea of the year, until we tried them. Wonderful!
WORST: Sheets of butcher paper on top of the white tablecloth at upscale places such as Bibcndum obviously are supposed to cut laundry costs. Hey guys,the secret is to be cheap without looking cheap.
BEST: The simple poached pear as a post-dinner sweet has made a com-back. Soho serves it in a light cognac sauce. Yum.
WORST: The pear at Mel’s was supposed to be poached. We don’t know what the brown liquid was supposed to be. Yuck.
New Twist en an Old Dish
BEST: Think you know hamburgers? Try the Z Burger, double meat with melted feta. grilled onions, and jalapefios at Z Cafe.WORST: Ethnic food has finally gone too far with Yummus-a “Mexi-terranean” hummus dip made From chickpeas, cilantro, brown rice, and sesame seeds.
BEST: The Yucatan at Primo’s. No argument.
WORST: The bright lime-green concoction al Herrera’s is served in plastic beer mugs and tastes like bathroom disinfectant.
BEST: Harry Coley of Wild About Harry’s, the hole-in-the-wall on Knox Street, has teamed with Phil Romano to spread his custard creations to Richardson. Piano, and beyond.
WORST: After 17 years of creating culinary magic in Dallas. Nick Barclay is closing the doors to move back to England. Oh, where shall we find our bubble and squeak?
New Taste Sensations
WORST: If you thought Ffutie Flakes were a fluke, check out Hull-Os. No, don’t.
BEST: Dallas-based Hot Sauce Harry’s teamed up with Fort Worth-based Renfro Foods to produce a tailgaters delight: salsa, hot sauces, and nacho cheese packaged with NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NCAA team logos.
OFFICIAL TASTE GROUP #1 Best Wedding Cake
Our judges were recent newly-weds, making them veterans in the pursuit of the perfect wedding cake. Before her big day, each had spent weeks scouring specialty bakeries to pick the perfect confection to seal their affections. Our mission was no piece of cake, but we managed to narrow the field to five finalists: Fort Worth’s famed Taste of Europe by Gisela, Frosted Art. Aston’s. Le Gateau, and of course we were at the Hotel Crescent Court so they had home icing advantage. Everyone agreed that the price had nothing to do with choosing a cake-it’s all about the taste. After all, it is daddy’s money. Comments started Hying over the layer of icing around entry #4 (Aston*s). ’This looks like tile caulking,” wrote one judge, while another worried that “I would never be able to get this out of my hair.” But one bride’s trash is another’s treasure as one gushed, “I love this creamy texture. I could swallow the whole thing.” The majority favored lighter, less sweet cakes with fruit fillings over the traditional white bakery cake. After a big, fat bite of #1 (Frosted Art), one bride blushed. “The raspberries remind me of my wedding night.” -Nancy Nichols
For better or worse:
BEST: Frosted Art
ALSO RAN: Hotel Crescent Court Taste of Europe Le Gateau worst: Aston’s
OFFICIAL TASTE GROUP #2 Best Ice Cream Clap, clap. clap. “Ladies, open your arm out to second, please.” instructed Evelyn Brown Johnson, daughter of Denise Brown, who has been teaching classical dance at Dallas Ballet tor over 50 years.
As piano music filled the room, the prima ballerinas plied, releved, plied. and pointed to perfection. Their eyes concentrated on the commands from their teacher.
Then we started unpacking the ice creams they would soon be sampling. “Hallee. shoulder down, watch your port de bras.” But Hallee couldn’t have cared less about her form-she was ready to eat. All the dancers twitched nervously like a bunch of bunnies waiting for an elusive carrot. So much for the discipline of dance. At the sound of the last chord, pink tutus fluttered across the room, starving swans swarming across the hardwood lake.
Once they bellied up to the barre, our petite prima ballerinas transformed into a gaggle of giggling girls with a passion for chocolate ice cream. The only daunting task of the judging was the score sheet, which some thought was a pop quiz. (Hey, they’re only kids, after all.)
Assured there were no wrong answers, they danced an adagio on their sundae cups. “Yuck, #3 is too chocolaty” and “#4 is weird.” summed up the fate of chi-chi designer brands Milwaukee Joe’s of Euless and Marble Slab Creamery in Addison. It took us a while to figure out that “i( tastes like cold hot chocolate” was a good thing and “tastes like the smell of coffee” was a bad thing. As the taste-test progressed, the sugar levels rose to a crescendo. One of our dancers, speaking for the rest of her troupe, gushed: “#5 (Blue Bell) is awesome, I love, love, love it.”-N, N.
We all scream for ice cream:
BEST: Blue Bell
ALSO RAN: Wild About Harry’s Henry’s Ice Cream Milwaukee Joe’s
WORST: Marble Slab Creamery
Official Taste Group #3 BEST SUSHI
Sugar Ferris knows fish-how to catch them, how to clean them, and how to eat them. Hooked on fishing in 1976, she formed the Arlington-hased Bass’n Gal. a national organization that eventually bloomed to a membership of 32,000 female anglers. Sugar also published Bass’n Gal Magazine and set up a series of national fishing tournaments for women. She closed the doors last year to become a full-time grandmother and woman’s fishing instructor, leaving more time to fish for fun. She docked her bass boat long enough to call some Gal pals and some members of T.O.W.N. (Texas Outdoor Women’s Network) to complete our sushi samplers. The level of expertise of our panel ranged from raw-stuff rookie Margie, who didn’t know the difference between a spider roll and a Shimmy Babe, to Rachael, whose sushi habit was picked up by her kids who now demand sashimi for afternoon snacks.
Sitting roadside beside the Fina Mart and Bait Shop near Lake Lavon in Wylie. we found out that wasabi may scare off diners, but it. doesn’t do squat for Hies. For our tasting, we went basic: California rolls and tuna rolls. Since our panel was loaded with catch-and-releasc Gals, we were relieved when Rachael took over the tasting, instructing the group on the finer points of sushi: how to properly mix the soy and wasabi, that chopsticks were utensils and not tiny little fly rods, and the technical aspects of a good piece of uncooked fish (visible gills are never good).
Of course, not everything went swimmingly. At one point, Margie stabbed her tuna roll showing good spear fishing technique but poor sushi etiquette. “Shug” cleaned her plate before Anne and Suzieevcn got to contestant #3. Like a tournament-winning lunker, our judges were looking for something elusive. They wanted “crunchy vegetables,” “firm fish,” and “sticky rice.”-N. N.
Catch of the day:
BEST: The Blue Fish
ALSO RAN: Royal Tokyo
Ghaya Sushi & Grill
Yamaguchi Bar & Sushi
OFFICIAL TASTE GROUP #4 Best T a c o s
Chihuahua breeders judging the best taco sounded like a good idea. The association worked for Taco Bell, which unleashed an award-winning advertising campaign featuring a taco-sized mutt as their spokesdog. We were sure surprised as the Wizoo Chihuahua Breeders unloaded plastic cases of yapping dogs in the parking lot of Fuente Produce and Party Supplies. Chihuahuas may be loyal, loving lap dogs at home, but we couldn’t put our hands near a cage without fear that we would lose a finger or two. The self-described “Chihuahua-obsessed” owners who had volunteered to judge admitted that, like potato chips, you can’t have just one. We gave up any hope of conducting a semi-scientific tasting, and we tossed the dogs on the tasting table. At least we could finally hear. The next hour was a feeding frenzy. “Diva” carried a taco twice her size the full length of the table, snarling at anything in her path. Judge Natalie picked up a sample to find long coat champ “Funny Face” clamped to the other end. She didn’t seem to notice the dog dangling in the air as she took a bite out of the other end and muttered. “I love the spicy flavor of the meat on #2.” In the madness we managed to learn that meat was the most important taste to a taco. but sour cream was a must to make the fiesta complete. If we learned anything about judges, we learned they could sniff out a mutt in the mix. The only ribbon Taco Bell took home was Worst of Show. – N. N.
The ayes have it:
BEST: Mi Cocina
ALSO RAN: Mia’s Sol’s Taco Lounge Primo’s
worst: Taco Bell
OFFICIAL TASTE GROUP #5 BEST CAESAR SALAD
Act I [A street at the Studios at Las Colinas decorated to look like ancient Rome. Voices and music are heard as toga-clad actors from Scarborough Renaissance Faire make their way down the cobblestones toward the set.] D Magazine: Hark, who comes here?
Chorus: Do not be afraid, we come in peace.
We are merrymakers. Caesar is long since buried, and we have come to praise his salad!
Act II [ The commoners are seated around the golden throne of Caesar. A flourish of trumpets announces the arrival of a silver bowl of romaine lettuce. A large crowd has assembled for the great event. Enter Michelle, J anna, Shayla, Rikie and Scott. The crowd is hushed.] D Magazine: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your forks. We have gathered to determine the king of all Caesar salads in Dallas on this night.
Shayla: We will not be deceived! Our worthy thoughts will be true! [Peasants distribute the samples. The jovial judges frolic to their duty.]
Scott: Peel me a grape; I can no longer stand the tang of #3.
Rikie: Truly sir, I beg to differ. A good tang is hard to find in a dressing.
Michelle: I mean no disrespect, but I find #4 a bore. I’ll trade all my crowns for another bite of #2.
Janna: The rotten fish flavor of #4 is unfit even for Brutus!
Act III [The sound of belches signal an end to the feast. A new ruler has been crowned. Trumpets blare.]
Chorus: So call the field to rest, and let’s away to part the glories of this happy day.
The End -N. N.
ALSO RAN: Marty’s Tugogh
Palamino Euro Grill
WORST: La Madeleine