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Champagne shutters
In the wake of collapsing food quality and a largely absentee chef, Champagne restaurant shut down its lunch and dinner service in mid-July. Opening chef Bruno Mella, who had been shuttling between the Firehouse and Champagne, will no longer have an active role in the restaurant. Sources say that Champagne is negotiating with a chef from a top-tier local restaurant to take over the kitchen and that it plans to open with a new menu in a few weeks.

Red meat drool
Recent and announced Dallas restaurant openings must be scattering the city's few red-meat abstainers like a flock of spooked free-range chickens. Seems everyone wants to stuff our chops with steak. There's Biernat's (opened in late June), Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (mid-September), Texas de Brazil (mid-September), Phil Romano's Samuel's (early next year) plus a new Chamberlain's to hit sometime in the near future. Now Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, the Wichita, Kansas-based firm that owns Del Frisco's and Sipango, is dropping more red meat on the metroplex: Sullivan's Steakhouse is under construction off the Dallas North Tollway near Briargrove Lane. Named for boxing champion John L. Sullivan, Sullivan's is a midrange steakhouse with a $30-$40 check average (Del Frisco's has a $60 average) and features art deco decor and an open kitchen. Sullivan's has already hit Austin, Houston, Delaware, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baton Rouge, and Charlotte, North Carolina, with additional units scheduled to open outside Philadelphia, Anchorage, and Denver...Secrecy surrounds the transformation of the structure that was once Harper's on Keller Springs Road and the Dallas North Tollway. Sold earlier this spring after the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Harper's Restaurants Inc. shuttered the venue late last year, the building--not quite 2 years old--has been stripped and gutted right down to its steel skeleton, leaving just the roof, the back wall, and the vaulted brick entry intact. Sources say the restaurant was sold to a Dallas-based investor--whose identity remains a mystery--with no previous restaurant experience and ties to Tom Hicks. What is this apparently well-heeled budding restaurateur rumored to be doing with the space? Launching an upscale steak and chop house, what else?

List watch
A light, refreshing summer sipper, the 1996 King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris is an aromatic white wine with pronounced pineapple, honey, and floral tones threaded with a subtle mineral layer. It's crisp and refreshing, with a tiny spark of effervesce and a soft finish. Find this wine on lists at Cafe Pacific, Morton's, Newport's, Palomino, Ziziki's, and Mediterraneo in Plano.

--Mark Stuertz

 
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