Mystic Chords of Memory

The Burning Question crew looks back at 2002

How to define 2002? The most notable figures were pedophiles, Donald Rumsfeld and the Rally Monkey. Hollywood produced yet another Rob Schneider insult. Creative minds working with endless colors and fabrics from all over the world settled on bare teen-age midriffs as the year's fashion sensation. And when Trent Lott suddenly decided to become a white Mississippian with a long history of support for segregation, his announcement stirred only momentary surprise.

It was, in most respects, a pathetic year.

None of this matters in our retrospective, of course. We spent our time in Dallas-area bars and restaurants pursuing concerns of greater significance than politics or popular culture: high-end vodkas, pickup bars, chicken-fried steak, margaritas and the like. The Burning Question crew leaves the year littered with empty bottles and the decaying carcasses of brain cells. This, then, is our look back at a year in Dallas nightlife.

Location Info


Al Biernat's

4217 Oak Lawn Ave.
Dallas, TX 75219

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Cru: A Wine Bar

3699 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Arcodoro & Pomodoro

100 Crescent Court, Ste. 140
Dallas, TX 75201

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Sevy's Grill

8201 Preston Road, #100
Dallas, TX 75225

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Park Cities

Teppo Yakitori Sushi Bar

2014 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Paris Vendome

3699 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Fun Facts of 2002

Houston weighs in as the nation's fattest city, and residents of Dallas fairly topple the scales, as well. The reason, we learned in a December article, has little to do with sedentary lifestyles and super-sized fries--so lawyers can lay off the fast-food industry and turn their attention to truck stops and home kitchens across the state. That's right, chicken-fried steak, according to our calculations, adds roughly 183,000 pounds to waistlines in Texas every single day.

OK, if you must know, we based that figure on a rather sophisticated scientific process known as multiplication. You see, restaurants serve an estimated 800,000 servings of the breaded shoes each day. At about 800 calories and 54 grams of fat each, we rack up a daily intake of 640,000,000 calories and 43,200,000 globules of lard.

The curious mathematics of consumer culture and the free enterprise system ensure another simple equation: The more talented you are, the less money you make. For proof, we offer up Kenneth Lay, Donald Trump, Britney Spears, Emeril, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Clancy, Pauly Shore, Jerry Jones, that West Virginia Powerball winner...we could go on. Are we to believe these people represent our best and brightest? Thus it came as no surprise, earlier this year, when Todd Lincicome, wine director at Al Biernat's, informed us that "it's easier to become a neurosurgeon than a master sommelier." Only 50 people in this country qualify for the latter accolade. By comparison, 3,830 brain surgeons currently practice in American hospitals.

We're just happy that alcoholism demands stiffer prerequisites and greater academic rigor than surgery.

Speaking of alcoholism, we learned in 2002 that bar patrons attempt free-drink scams on a fairly regular basis. Indeed, "shrinkage," the loss of revenue resulting from theft, freebies and overpouring, cuts bar profits by an average of 20 percent.

The most effective ploy used to score free drinks, by the way, involves the public display of female breasts. We may revisit this story in 2003.

Memorable Moments

OK, most of the year vanished in an alcoholic haze. We even missed a week or two of work in the fall after suffering a rotator cup injury--the painful shoulder ailment caused by repetitive lifting from the bar to the mouth. Yet some events stand out, like the time Cru very nearly killed a member of the Burning Question crew by whacking her on the head--accidentally, we hope--with a wine bottle. Or the time we celebrated our 40th birthday ourselves...yeah, that's it...with several young women at Bali Bar and Whisky Bar. And then forgetting to write down their phone numbers. We had started the evening researching the dynamics of pickup attempts by older men, but the opportunity for success sidetracked our work. We're not certain if the alcohol or the quick turn we took through the Tom Thumb produce department to pick up a cucumber before hitting the bars enhanced our success ratio, but it's important, we learned, to document your success.

Otherwise no one believes it.

In the midst of an article on kitchen gadgets, we poked fun at Mike Smith, chef of 2900 and Thomas Avenue Beverage Company. He once owned a restaurant in Arkansas, you see, and we merely asked whether it was a Stuckey's or a Waffle House. For some reason he remembered this innocent little crack when we visited TABC for the first time. Imagine spending your entire evening wondering how the chef plans to retaliate.

It was a good spot, though. We plan to return one evening and order grits with sausage--just to rattle his cage a bit. Other places we enjoy and will revisit if we ever manage to pay off the credit cards include: Al Biernat's, Nikita, Paris Vendome, Tramontana, the Green Room, Arcodoro & Pomodoro, Sevy's Grill, Bali Bar, Z'Tejas, Whisky Bar, Green Papaya and Teppo. We've heard that Grapevine is worth a visit, as well.

To come up with the cash for our various excursions in the past, we've rummaged through our editor's desk for spare change, sold his vintage Leif Garrett posters on eBay and tried to pawn the odd battery-powered devices we discovered in his closet. Last month, we earned enough to embark on a whirlwind trip of rural America: chicken-fried steak in North Dakota, fish tacos in Minnesota and one very memorable evening in Belhaven, North Carolina, where six of us consumed two entire bottles of Grey Goose (see below) and assorted other liquors.

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