Wednesday, June 29, 2022 Jun 29, 2022
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Food & Drink

Restaurant Review: FT33

Chef Matt McCallister still manages to surprise.
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Righteous Collar: Pork collar with baba ghanoush, minted compressed cucumber, plum, and spiced eggplant puffs is one of chef Matt McCallister’s successful experiments.

FT33 has always felt like Matt McCallister’s personal laboratory. From the start, he did his own thing: foraged for herbs, plated with an eye for artistry, dared a tasting menu sparingly sprinkled with well-sourced meats. Each dish can feel like a story, an intriguing fable of flavor. One evening, a hamachi crudo unexpectedly took us to the South, with a surprise of cornbread crumbles and a kiss of tomato, peach, and dandelion pesto. House-made tagliardi, delicately seasoned with summer savory, was made irresistible with chanterelles, peaches, and a sugo of chicken, pork, veal, and duck. Both dishes played whimsically, not quite delivering the narrative you expect. I wished entrées had had equal force. Pork collar was perfectly cooked, with baba ghanoush, minted compressed cucumber, plum, and spiced eggplant puffs. But lemony ricotta gnocchi failed to shine under a pungent sauce of shiitake mushrooms and charred onions. The $29 vegetable composition was an artist’s palette: six color studies of vegetables done various ways. But execution was uneven. Cauliflower dusted in sumac with pomelo and peanuts was undercooked; summer squash veered bitter. As an ensemble, it could have used fewer elements better executed. Dessert, though, was subtle and powerful: lemon verbena chiboust over a crunchy gingersnap crust with lemon curd, blueberries, and house-cultured sour cream—simple, balanced, and artful. It was a triumph of the restaurant’s delicate rusticity.