frank. is an underground dinner party whose catch phrase is “food, to the point.” You submit your interest in attending via their website <https://frankunderground.com> and then 20 attendees were chosen by lottery ( or possibly by one of the cute dogs named Frank). Chefs Jennie Kelley and Ben Starr met at the MasterChef competition when they were finalists and later Jennie came up with the idea of hosting private, or underground, dinner parties where all would sit around one table and enjoy a meal of the freshest and finest local ingredients they could source and recruited Ben to help her bring the idea to reality. The concept has flourished over many years and now it make take some time to have your name drawn to participate. However, you can also watch their Facebook page where they post opening from last minute cancellations. It was a multi course meal that included generous alcoholic beverages, amuse bouche and lots of food talk. It took about three hours. After being accepted they will email a menu and location of the dinner which is generally close to downtown. Continue reading
The Charles had just been open 5 weeks when we visited. It is a good sized place with their own parking lot and a valet. The room is divided by a low wall with a variety of dining table options on both sides. Some are booth seating and the table sizes and materials (stone, metal, wood) vary. The ones in the middle of the room have clothes but others don’t and are reasonably close together. One side of the room is a long bar that also has some stools but across from it are dining tables. At the end of the room is the open portion of the kitchen. There is music in the background but the noise in the room is from the people that packed the place while we were there. Service is helpful, friendly and efficient. The menu is set up with sections of dining options and most plates are made to be shared. The food is really tasty and nicely packed with flavor. I give this place 2 thumbs up. Continue reading
Fachini is a large second floor place in an upscale shopping village. I would advise using the valet parker near the entrance as parking in the u shaped lot is a nightmare. There didn’t seem to be a charge for this service. As you enter you find yourself in a good sized well lit bar area with the dining room across the long hallway. On the way in you pass by the wood fired oven and grill where the chef had the fire stoked to a red flame. The room is finished to resemble places of times past with a tin ceiling, tile floor, lowered lighting and formally dressed male waitstaff. White table clothes and napkins are set at each of the widely spaced large tables or booth seats. Large photos cover one wall and part of one wall is a glassed in wine area. The guests are a range of ages and fairly casual. Service is efficient, friendly and helpful and there is a significant noise level to deal with. Continue reading
Urban Vines is a large place in East Dallas. They are open for lunch and dinner and offer snacks if you just want a place to drink some wine. You enter through a patio with a large fireplace and plenty of outdoor seating into bar area that adjoins the dining area. Some bench seating, regular tables and high top tables are available. Tables are bare wood but cloth napkins are part of the set up. The walls display art, some of which is for sale. Different days offer specials and Thursday is half price wine by the glass. Two of the walls have large windows letting in some natural light in the daytime but in the evening the lighting is fairly low. The menu offers sandwiches, flatbreads and a few bigger dishes. Frankie and I visited a couple times to try some of the options. It is a casual place with friendly and helpful servers and while the food is not outstanding it is a perfectly adequate place to meet with friends over wine and food.
The flatbreads are thin crust pizzas. The Jalapeno Flatbread is made with jalapeno cream cheese spread, mozzarella, red wine onions, roasted tomatoes and crispy prosciutto. It had a bit of spice but was not overwhelmingly hot. Good flavors made it a fun choice.
The Steak Flatbread came with chimichurri sauce, mozzarella, skirt steak, onions, tomatoes, avocado and jalapenos. The bits of beef were quite chewy and it was okay.
The Italian panini was composed of hard salami, capicola with mozzarella, roasted red peppers, field greens, tomatoes and roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette on a grilled panini bread. All paninis are served with a choice of pasta salad, pita chips or fruit. We tried the pasta salad and it was pretty ordinary, but the sandwich was well stuffed and quite tasty with a nice crispy bread.
On a second visit, this time at lunch, we tried two other panini options – the waitress said they were the 2 top sellers. The Turkey and Brie panini was made with oven roasted turkey, brie, cranberries and raspberry vinaigrette served on grilled panini bread. It was well stuffed but the brie flavor dwarfed that of the the turkey.
It didn’t come together as well as the Braised Chicken and Drunken Goat Panini made with roasted tomato pesto aioli, braised chicken and drunken goat on a grilled panini bread. Drunken Goat is a wine infused goat cheese. It was quite good. With the sandwiches we got pita chips which were very crisp and unseasoned. They added a nice crunch but had a fairly dull flavor. All paninis also came with a dill pickle that was very strongly flavored and full of juice – nice.
On the side we had a small Wedge Salad made with blue cheese dressing. It was plenty to split and the lettuce was fresh and crisp but I found the blue cheese flavor wasn’t strong enough for me.
For dessert we had daily special chocolate torte. The crust was made with ground chocolate graham crackers and then that was spread with layers of dulce de leche and chocolate. It was gooey and sweet and apparently sells out every time they make it.
The Purepecha Room is a small room for about 14 in the back of Revolver Taco Lounge. Opened in April 2017 it is run by Chef Regino Rojas who was a 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist. It is meant to resemble his mother’s kitchen and recipes he ate growing up. Indeed, his mother, Juanita Rojas, is in the kitchen still helping as is his aunt and I understand his father was helping inside the kitchen. This is a family operation and it feels like that as you sit in the cozy room with dishes that feel like your grandmothers and the chef cooking close enough you really feel like you’re in his dining room. A totally different ambiance than in the noisy, casual front Taco Lounge. They offer a tasting menu only and there is no printed menu, however you can let them know about allergies. Service is efficient, friendly and paced on the quicker end of the continuum. Continue reading
Bullion is a very stylish and large place on the second floor of a high-rise downtown building. The restaurant, created by Chef Bruno Davaillon, juts out as a gold rectangle protruding from the second floor, which he calls a French brasserie. Shiny lacquered tables are outfitted with lots of banquette seating, except for the center tables, and are fairly close together. You enter on the ground level and first notice a two story art piece that looks like giant glass beads. Upstairs there is a large lounge area where you are invited to stop and have cocktails before dinner. The bar is adjacent to the dining room which provided background noise but not so much that you couldn’t easily talk at the table. Continue reading
The French Room, in the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, just finished being restored to its original finish and re-opened in October 2017 after being closed 14 months. Gilded chandeliers and arches now preside over the high ceiling that used to house clouds and cherubs. It is a nice, elegant new look but it’s formality is not matched by the shortened tablecloths draped over metal pedestal tables. The previously red upholstered chairs are now white to go with the walls and lightened interior. A couple of the side windows have been popped out to put in a bench seat that looks out toward the restaurant. Carts are still used to deliver your food but the silver domes are missing and the carts are ridiculously short for anybody over 5 feet to push around. The partially partitioned smaller room is still there but was unoccupied the evening we were there and yet fairly brightly lit, which I found to be a distraction to those in the main dining room which has pretty low lighting. Continue reading