By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
A pack of Carltons, a tumbler of bourbon and Coke, and a tin of Altoids.
All the accoutrements of a successful evening were lined up in a tidy row on the polished bar in front of the blonde in body-hugging blue. She swung one perky leg over the other as she waited with all the confidence of a gambler with a good hand for the next BanLon man to ask her to dance. She was the Dallas ideal, with more bust and more blonde hair than Barbie, every detail--from the bouffant 'do to the silver shoes--as culture-specific and stylized as a Kikuyu king's monkey robes or a punker's pierced nose. And her barstool was square in the middle of her natural habitat: She was parked in Addison, in Yvette, the swanky new restaurant whose main claim to paparazzi fame is its part-ownership by Barry Switzer and Jerry Jones.
In Dallas, it doesn't take much, does it? We're so desperate for celebrity and glamour that we'll fall into file behind a couple of guys hailing from Arkansas and Oklahoma, who apparently have in common a lug-nut sense of high style--a taste for rare steak and red velvet. Yvette received breathless mentions daily in the gossip columns for weeks before its opening; the question now is whether its celebrity will fade in the paying public's scrutiny. Is Yvette worth a second date?
There's something about the name "Yvette." Joni Mitchell and David Crosby wrote, fax to fax, a song called "Yvette in English" for Mitchell's Grammy-winning Turbulent Indigo. It's about a woman, a wary French stray, her high heels clicking, "with her lips wrapped around a cigarette." "Avez-vous un allumette?" she asks. "Please have this little bit of instant bliss..." "Yvette" has an evocative sound, a flirtatious flaunt of worldliness, the taint of slightly used sophistication.
Of course, Dallas' version of Yvette would follow 'instant bliss' with an Altoid. Besides the blonde in blue, the closest thing to a temptress we saw at this Yvette was a masculine-looking platinum blonde in eye-averting, ruffled, backless black. Most of the diners were business-attired, as usual, clearly not planning on fun in the piano bar after their meal.
And, of course, this Yvette is not an original place, or style, or concept. There's a first Yvette in Chicago. But perversely, that this is Yvette's second location, that it started elsewhere, makes it all the more essentially a Dallas kind of place. Meaning, as "Dallas" so often does, Addison.
Yvette (just south of Belt Line) is in an anonymous-looking brick building, an island in asphalt, guarded by sleepy valets the night we went for dinner, its wannabe glamour lent a suburban air by the faraway neighbors (Morton's, another Chicago idea, is the closest) and the easy parking. Inside, the first thing you see is the souvenir shop, where you can buy cool glassware printed with the retro logo, a black-gowned chanteuse arched back on a Big-sized keyboard as provocatively as Honey West. You're escorted down a seemingly narrow, speakeasy-long hall, with press clippings about Chicago's Yvette hung above eye level, into the dining room. They had lost our reservation, but it didn't matter; there were plenty of tables in the multi-level room, a place of noncommittal romance, swathed unabashedly in ruby-red velvet. Where's Eydie Gorme? you wonder. Because here's her setting. A mural covers one wall with a crazy, lost-perspective mishmash of unrecognizably caricatured celebrities, crossing Sardi's unfortunately with the Palm.
We were seated on a banquette beneath the amazing chandelier, elbow-to-elbow with a young couple who hoped to get to know each other better by the end of the evening. We already knew each other, so we ate the food they only picked at. And we all kept an eye on the blonde in blue, entertainingly visible from the banquette on the dance floor.
And the food, if you didn't have your mind on something else, was pretty good, though most remarkable for the richness of its price tag.
Satiny tongues of house-smoked salmon, a first course, were curiously pallid, anemic, lacking in smoke or texture, submissive under the hopeful spark of capers. Had the smoky odor escaped into the walk-in while it waited for us? We looked for stray Saran Wrap. But another starter, a pair of naked, brown-basted quail, splayed baldly on the plate, was miraculously rose-fleshed under the thin, crisped skin. An excellent salad followed, a lovely toss of oak leaf lettuce, mingled with thin, crisp slivers of Granny Smith apples with buttery blobs of Maytag blue cheese clinging to the leaves and fruit and all glossed with a maple-sweetened vinaigrette.
We like a strip better than a filet, and this one was why: crusted dark, running red, the salted exterior civilizing the cool, primal taste of rare meat. With it, as though we were in an upscale Friday's--which we were--a plate of sauteed mushrooms, exuding juice. There is fish on the menu--more salmon, of course, and sole--and chicken in the form of poussin, as well as shrimp and lobster. Entrees are often as high as $30, and most of the choices on the wine list are gauchely overpriced. The whole veal tenderloin came sliced on the plate, with the darling red bliss potatoes carved into little mushroom caps, or perhaps dreidels, each browned and rounded shape plugged with a stem. Or handle.