Real cuisine--or gator bait?

Blue Conch brings Florida fare to Dallas

The salmon carpaccio, however, was a disappointment with fish that was dry, stringy, and sliced much too thick, while the fried capers were hard and possessed little flavor. Flirting dangerously with the pathetic were the six-inch pizzas. Our "divine" pizza with smoked prosciutto and duck confit with Roquefort cheese was a dry mix of meat plopped on a spongy whole wheat crust with no sauce of any kind and tiny bubbling blobs of cheese. This is pizza? The creme brulee was a soup topped with a burnt-sugar crust in an edible cookie crust that we thought was plastic. Oh my.

The Grape Escape is a tiny, casual space with bright orange walls and flat black accents, including ceiling ductwork and a black string bass hanging on one wall. The bar top is an unusual creation--poured concrete stained in a red-orange sunburst. Decibel levels tend to get unbearably high when crowds move in, so the best time to come for serious tasting is on weekdays.

Although it needs to tighten up its food a bit, The Grape Escape is unquestionably one of the best wine bars in the nation. Look for a Dallas version to open some time after the first of the year. Maybe here they'll get the wherewithal to offer a vertical flight of MD 20/20.

Blue Conch Florida Bar. 1919 Skillman. (214) 824-1170. Open Monday-Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The Grape Escape Wine Bar. 500 Commerce, Fort Worth. (817) 336-9463. Open Monday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight. Closed Sunday.

Blue Conch:
Oyster-artichoke soup $5.95
Blue crab claws $5.95
Conch and shrimp pasta salad $5.95
Grilled grouper burger $5.95
Fresh grouper tacos $5.95
Sloppy joes $3.95

The Grape Escape:
America's Chardonnay Flight $8.46
The Cabernet Escape Flight $12.38
Country pate $4.95
Cap d'ail $3.95
Divine pizza $7.95
Salmon carpaccio $7.95

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