July 2010

I finally meet up with Oishii Chef Thanh Nguyen, Dallas.

A bunch of my buddies (a crew of Mansion alumni) are always talking about their late-night escapades at Oishii on Wycliff west of the Tollway. I've been before, but always seem to miss "the Man" – Chef Thanh.

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I got it right last weekend. Here is the evidence:

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^ Thanh sends out some Vietnamese specialties to our motley crew.

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The great food and flowing Black & Gold sake made for a large time.

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Oishii does boffo business and boasts an extensive menu of Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai dishes.

I will be returning to sit at the Sushi bar and order a kind of omakase meal from Thanh – chef's choice – whatever's good. I hear good things. So far so good!

Oishii on Urbanspoon

Chef Tim Byres infuses Smoke Restaurant at the Belmont Hotel, Dallas

The Carnivores Delight.

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I've eaten at Smoke at the Belmont Hotel here and there over the last year and always pretty much enjoyed it just fine – but this time it was different. At the one year mark of this hipster-cool Oak Cliff joint, chef Tim Byres has reinvigorated the menu. Familiar barbeque favorites are now accompanied by inspired and creative dishes that remind me that there is, indeed, an executive chef in the kitchen.

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^Dry Cured Pork Jowl Bacon w/ House-made Half Sour Cucumber Salad, Sweet Chiles, Molasses and Mustard.

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^Crispy Veal Sweet Breads & Fire Roasted Figs w/ Jalapeños, Asparagus, Lime, Blistered Onions, Our Smoke Bacon, Wild Mushrooms & Goat's Milk Crema; ^Spicy Lamb Meat Balls and Pasilla Chile Mole, Garlic Potato, Golden Raisin Chutney & Preserved Lemon.

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^Smoked Sausage: All Spiced Rabbit, Spice Pork Andouille & Beef Paprika Fennel Seed w/ Mustard Sauce and Caraway Pickled Cabbage. LOVED 'em; ^Tamarind BBQ Salmon w/ Roasted Sweet Peppers, Tomato & Watermelon Vinaigrette.

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^Bricked Cornish Game Hen w/ Chicken Salad Vinaigrette – Walnut Oil, Verjus. Get all the components in one bite and it's chicken salad – cool.

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^ Beef Short Rib Chimichurri & Dry Rubbed Pork Spare Ribs.

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^Tim shows off the Primal 3 Bone Short Ribs: spice-rubbed and reverse-braised "low and dry" for about 22 hours. Yep.

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^More Rib porn; and the Ham.

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^ Smokehouse Cured Ham w/ Sorghum Molasses, Honey Peach Preserves and Sweet & Sour Jalapeño Jelly.

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^Look at that friggin' ham! ^One of Tim's smokers…

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^Mescal & Key Lime Meringue Pie – the meringue alone was so delicious we could have done away with the rest, even. ^And a Michael Martensen cocktail: Cedar Infused Tequila & Sour Bourbon Cherries.

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The new menu went live a couple weeks ago, get over there and check it out. Really. And don't forget about brunch – my buddy Matt is always jonesing for Tim's Blueberry & house made Ricotta Cheese Pancakes.

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Smoke on Urbanspoon

‘Fuego’ Heating Up at Stephan Pyles, Dallas.

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^ Stephan Pyles and his Exec. Chef Matt McCallister at the four seat restaurant-within-a-restaurant “Fuego” at Stephan Pyles in Dallas.

The guys put this concept on the front burner after they returned from the Madrid Fusion conference in Spain earlier this year. The idea is reminiscent of José Andrés minibar at his Café Atlántico in D.C. You will hear the buzzterm “molecular gastronomy” associated with this concept – but there’s more to it than that. Perceived practitioners of this style of cooking including Ferran Adrià of elBulli and Grant Achatz of Alinea distance themselves from the term, with Adria even stating: “Well, for starters, [molecular gastronomy] doesn’t exist. That’s the biggest lie out there in terms of cooking. What is molecular cooking?”

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^ Stephan Pyles Exec. Chef Matt McCallister and his book of tricks.

To be sure, there will be spherification, reverse spherification, agar agar, sodium alginate, methylcellulose, liquid nitrogen and all that, but more importantly – whimsy.

Matt says, “So ‘Fuego’ for me is a creative outlet for food I can’t pull off in a busy high cover count setting – it’s complex plating and long or difficult and precise prep.  I am calling it cuisine of the moment ’cause it can change whenever, I don’t want to be tied to a specific style.  We will use some avant garde techniques but not just that. I want to entertain our guests and give more of an experience than your normal dinner.  Dinner and a show…. “

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^ Salmorejo (Gazpacho encased in Cocoa Butter).

I’ve had the occasion to be a Guinea pig over the last few months, to the delight of my dinner guests. Here are some dishes we had fun with here and there – don’t look for them on the menu necessarily, but this gives a slight clue as to what we might see starting August 5th at Fuego.

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^Kampachi Tiradito (Spanish style) with Pil Pil and Crushed Tomato.

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^Uni with Potato and Gambas; ^Carrot, Mint and Tarragon Gel, White Beet, and Olive Oil Pudding.

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^ Sous vide Farm Egg with Migas, Truffle, Chervil and Asiago.

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^Beef Tartare.

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^Coconut Rice Crispy and Sticky Rice with Mango, Vanilla Raspberry Ice Cream, White Chocolate Foam and Black Olive; ^Study in Beets – Salad.

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^Foie Gras microplaned into liquid nitrogen, creating ‘Snow.”

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^Lobster Carpaccio with Foie Gras, Apple and Mexican Chocolate.

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^Matt ‘splaining a theory; ^Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Samphire.

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^Short Rib Pot au Feu “Southwestern” – Boracho Beans (w/ Estrella Damm), Short Rib, Foie Gras, and Quail Egg.

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^Desserts!

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^ The design and the dish (Matt’s pic): Sous vide Foie stuffed with a Fig, Maple, Sherry Vinegar and Citrus Glaze, toasted Brioche Shavings, toasted and shaved Pecans (powder) with Juniper Skins, Seaweed and good evoo emulsion, Malted Milk Crisps, Fig (Rocks, Fennel, Thyme, Rosemary, Bradford Pear Flowers, and last but not least, Maldon Sea Salt.

So there.

See you there.

Fuego: Two seatings (6:30 and 9:00) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. $125pp – wine pairings for an additional $75.

Stephan Pyles on Urbanspoon

Dali Wine Bar and Cellar has Closed, Dallas.

Heartbroken. Dali Wine Bar & Cellar was one of my faves.

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Here are just a few moments from countless hours spent at this establishment that I was so happy to passionately champion during it's far too short run.

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For much more, check out my Dali Wine Bar & Cellar category.

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Paul Pinnell is with family, I wish him well – and look forward to the next. Meanwhile I'm gonna grab chef Joel Harloff and buy him a drink at Tei-An. Bummer. Of course, in this business – who knows…?