By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
But Ekhtiar says his dream was always to open a comfortably sophisticated bistro merging French, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Together with his wife, Nahid, he assembled this Addison Circle venue, and as of this writing, he acquired a new French chef, Gil Ferme, who will perhaps tighten its loose ends.
The menu seems pregnant with potential, although the mazza plate ($8), billed as "a Middle Eastern experience," needs precious little work. Served in a collection of small plates with a basket of moist lavash bread (which could have been warmer), the plate was assembled with Olivier salad, yogurt and cucumber, dolmas, hummus, and tabbouleh. The weakest link here was the tabbouleh, which, though the core ingredients were fresh, had a sharp metallic taste, as though it were drenched in the juices of lemons starting to turn.
But that was the extent of the downturn. Olivier salad, one of Ekhtiar's creations, is a creamy, lively mesh of Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, potatoes, peas, egg, chopped cornichons, and scraps of roasted rotisserie chicken all punched with a touch of jalapeño. Though it was well blended, I found myself yearning for additional spark, hoping the faded green nubs peeking through the cream were capers instead of peas. Brisk simplicity was rampant in the thick yogurt lumped with chunks of a vegetable Ekhtiar says is a rare, near seedless Indian cucumber mixed with dried basil and fresh mint and dried mint. Dolmas were sheathed in tender grape leaves cored with firm, separate rice grains, while the hummus was elegantly smooth and briskly flavored.
5001 Addison Circle
Addison, TX 75001-3308
Saturday & Sunday
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The lunch menu incorporates downsized versions of dinner entrées. Even the calf's brain paccata (which Ekhtiar says has been changed to lamb brains, which are far more delicate) makes a lunch appearance at roughly two-thirds the price of its nighttime version.
Black Angus New York strip sirloin ($12), marinated in saffron-onion juice before it's grilled and sliced, was a neat row of tender, chewy strips of flesh a little shy on richness. The meat was interspersed with strips of grilled portobello that helped compensate for the tepid flavor intensity of the meat.
The lunch version of the Chilean sea bass ($12), assembled over a mango-ginger butter sauce, was better than the dinner menu version, but not by much. It was still thin, and it lacked firm sweetness, yet it was succulent and supple. The drawback here was the thick butter sauce, which, embracing a barely perceptible ginger flavor, was forming a thin layer of skin over its surface when it was delivered.
Desserts (called "The Sweet End" on the menu) hit and missed. Tiramisu ($5, lunch) was the best of the batch, coming through with moist, light delicacy, though the coffee flavors were a little sparse. Fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries--$6, dinner) in hazelnut crème fraîche weren't bad either: The fruit was plump, fresh, and sweetly tart, a good foil for that hazelnut puff. But the crème brûlée ($6) was a bit off target with a runny (though rich) custard implanted in a pastry crust that was served uniformly cool--instead of a warm singed sugar crust roof over a cool custard.
But the real mystery--especially for a place of French and Middle Eastern pedigree--was the coffee. It didn't have the strength or zest to wire a bug. Even the espresso was a nap drink.
But that's OK. The wine list, split between California and Mediterranean wines with the designations vin blanc, Euro blanc, vin rouge, and Euro rouge, is respectable (though geographic designations would be welcome). And I could think of worse things than sipping Euro rouge in an attractive room tastefully retrofitted in "Eurotrash." Sipping warm Pabst in a sports bar where they do the twist, for instance.