By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
Though not spawned from the same wastewater as the house wines, the entrées still flailed in mediocrity. Steak au poivre was a flat-flavored, mealy strip of flesh dressed in a tire-black crust with a barely perceptible pepper tread. Salmon, branded with hatch grill marks, was equally bland and thoroughly parched besides. Plus, it didn't flake. Duck a l'orange, parked on a bed of spinach with thin almond slices, sat in a sauce that was watery instead of rich. The duck flesh itself was chewy and rubbery with a rank, gamy flavor that made it seem like gnawing on a wet dog.
Perhaps the best entrée sampled was the linguini in red sauce. The pasta was firm, and the sauce was light and smooth in texture, yet full-flavored.
Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Friday & Saturday
5 p.m.- 2 a.m.
Onion soup $4
But our most profound We Oui spectacle occurred at lunch. It was an afternoon when Romano himself strolled into the restaurant with a small klatch of guests and took seats at the table next to us.
We ordered frog legs and the club crepe (chicken, ham, and cheese). Both plates were generous heapings of food. Frog legs, battered and fried golden red, were well-seasoned, greaseless, and tender, with full, fleshy thighs. Along one side was a pile of those delicious pommes frites. On another was a mound of greens flecked with diced tomato and haricots verts spread over the top. A ramekin of stiff, forgettable hollandaise for dipping teetered on the plate's edge.
The crepe sandwich, a huge folded sheet swaddling pedestrian scraps of chicken and ham and stingily scattered bits of brie, had the consistency of a deflated whoopee cushion (Bun Man?). Next to the big rubbery crepe was a salad topped with more haricots verts.
But the true dynamism of these entrées didn't emerge until I swapped my frog legs for the club crepe of my lunch companion. It was she who discovered the true depth of the dish. Just after she set the plate down at her place and picked up one of those golden legs to gnaw, the leaves began to move, the ones upon which the haricots verts rested. And just like that it was out. She screamed.
Right there, on the plate's edge, was a bug the size of a Bentley, a car that, incidentally, Romano drives. It was fluttering its translucent wings, only it couldn't take flight on account of the oily vinaigrette wreaking havoc with its aerodynamics. It limped around the plate, its wings spread, like some sort of aborted Leonardo da Vinci experiment.
Having been a prep cook for a number of years and having washed numerous heads of lettuce and countless bunches of greens, I can attest to the large number of critters that find their way into restaurant produce. Yet amazingly, I have never come across a food-borne insect in a Dallas restaurant. In fact, I've never detected one in a restaurant anywhere, though that doesn't mean I haven't eaten a few. My companion swears she has discovered dead fruit flies in her food on several occasions over the years. But neither of us has ever seen or heard of a living, thriving vermin crawling out from under a side dish to frolic with the radicchio, and certainly not one of such epic proportions.
In all fairness, once the bug showed his face, the response of the We Oui staff was swift, decisive, and gracious. Drawn by my companion's scream, the busboy immediately took the plate and presented it to the manager and Executive Chef Nick Badovinus, a Mansion alumnus who looks like a surfer from Venice Beach. Badovinus promptly stopped by our table, apologized, and comped the whole lunch, which is to be expected. Yet Badovinus handled it with style and flair and, well...what is he doing at a place with lips on the walls and flavored condoms as nightcaps?
Now my entomological acuity has certainly faded since college, but after consulting a few textbooks, I believe I have pinned down this We Oui side salad mascot. It is blaberus craniifer, or a giant South American cockroach. These shy nocturnal creatures breed well in captivity, love warmth, and move about under rotting plant matter, which should in no way be construed as a slam against We Oui salads. When aroused, these bugs emit a hissing sound, except, one presumes, when they are covered in salad dressing.
Yet the blaberus craniifer presents a substantially relevant opportunity for We Oui. Because now at last call, in conjunction with those We Oui condoms flavored with a kiss of mint, Romano can take his social responsibility to a new level and distribute little motels.
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