By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
A saffron-dressed salad was equally perfect: greens of all kinds, curly, dark, pale, bitter, tender, juicy. I did have some doubts about the pinwheel of mozzarella rolled with goat cheese plopped on top. One or the other, please. Soup, though, was one of those outlandish-sounding concoctions that it takes the confidence of an experienced palate to create: a velvety cream of blended pumpkin and butternut squash, gently flavored with licorice-like star anise, given a buttery crunch with sliced toasted almonds.
Then four ice swans floated to the table, glowing like jack o' lanterns. Inside each, a scoop of mango sorbet to "refresh" our palates, presented on a frozen lemon disk between the frosty wings. They were lit by a battery candle from underneath (I peeked)--an outrageous, old-fashioned, over-the-top presentation that gave the otherwise lonely dollop a lot of punch.
But it's a typical Pyramid gesture. There's nothing low-key about the place. It's not ostentatious, but they do go out of their way to give you the royal treatment, whether you're ordering table d'hote or a la carte. This service was not just professional and efficient, but gracious. I was seated every time I returned to the table. We lingered over coffee as long as we wanted, with no check until we requested it. We were discreetly asked for our valet ticket. This is service with a flourish: these are people who understand service, who love their jobs, or seem to.
So, of course, entrees were presented, all four at once, under silver domes, all lifted simultaneously so the pent-up bouquet reached our noses in a mouthwatering waft. Fire-roasted filet of beef, chocolate brown-crusted, bloody within, served with souffle potatoes--do you know what it takes to make those potatoes? Sliced precisely, soaked in ice, fried once, fried twice till they puff like balloons and turn gold, these are potatoes that vanish in the mouth as if you'd just eaten crisp air. A tangle of leek and radicchio, slivered and sauteed till slightly sweet, their leaking coat of barely syrupy caramelized madeira glaze saucing the meat as well, lending it a complexity of flavor often missing in tender beef.
Potato-crusted salmon was the special fish of the day, a lovely, thick, fish-shaped fillet covered with a golden shag of potato threads, served with a phyllo "enchilada" stuffed with vegetables; and there was lamb shank, tenderly braised like osso buco, slow and sweet, with white bean "stew." The only thing we didn't try from the table d'hote menu was the chicken, and we all agreed we couldn't face another chicken. A perfect rack of lamb from the a la carte menu was drizzled with a thick, dark-green pesto, made of mint jelly and fresh mint--you never tasted anything so green--served over thick polenta with sugary little yellow tomatoes and asparagus.
Bread pudding, a peasant dish if there ever was one, had found its way onto the dessert menu and remained stubbornly itself: no gimmicks, no tricks, just moist, eggy pudding in a vanilla sauce. However, the polenta had a fairy godmother in the kitchen, although I might have preferred it after midnight, returned to its former self. On this plate, it had been infused with chocolate, formed into a little dome, stuffed with warm caramel, sauced with chocolate, sprinkled with raspberries. It was still warm and recognizably grainy, but I'm not sure cornmeal accomplished anything here that chocolate cake couldn't have.
Desserts from the cart were excellent. A chocolate-coated triangle of cheesecake stood straight up on the plate in a raspberry-studded sauce, served at room temperature so it melted on the heat of your tongue, and you could appreciate the full-fat, lightly lemoned luxury. This is how cheesecake is supposed to taste. And as if pecan pie weren't rich enough already, this one was made with macadamia nuts and chocolate, with a caramel sauce.
Even the coffee was outstanding, though an after-dinner cup of coffee is flavored largely by the memories of flavors that went before.
So the Pyramid Room lives happily ever after as one of Dallas' premier dining rooms, one you can afford to go to, one where you can get a reservation, one where you don't need to know the maitre'd to get a good table. Good service at some restaurants is an investment: go often enough, tip well enough, and you'll get the red carpet when they see you coming. The Pyramid serves strangers just as well.
There's just one thing for part-time princesses to watch out for--that pea under your mattress. It's a bitch.
The Pyramid in The Fairmont Hotel, 720-5249. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. For dinner Monday-Sunday 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday brunch 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Jackets required.
The Pyramid Room:
Prix-fixe dinner $24
Roasted rack of lamb on creamy polenta with asparagus and mint pesto
Warm chocolate polenta dome filled with warm caramel on a bourbon-chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream $