Mystic Chords of Memory

The Burning Question crew looks back at 2002

The final bill: $63. If Dallas prices matched that, our editor would still be gazing at Leif's feathered locks.

Things We Will Avoid

Quite often we encounter inept service, poorly prepared drinks and nondescript meals. Well, that last part is not entirely true. It's just that any accurate description requires adult synonyms such as "malodorous," "expulsive" and "fecal matter." Let's just say it's best to avoid Christina's, a Tex-Mex place on Belt Line Road (three top-shelf margaritas, no buzz, and they should change the word "seafood" to "bait" wherever it appears on their menu). On separate outings we waited six minutes for service on a slow day at The Loon and 10 minutes on an equally slow day at Chuy's--harrowing moments of alcohol deprivation for the entire crew. To make things worse, the bartender at Chuy's poured our sipping tequila into a tiny shot glass. At 7 Salsas in Coppell we waited close to half an hour for a menu, and the food, when it arrived, compared unfavorably to Gerber's.

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

Not that we've tried Gerber's recently.

We now avoid Sipango after a frustrating evening when the manager offered us--by phone--entry into The Sellar, the Knox-Henderson mainstay's private room, but failed to add our names to the list. Sipango's staff dug in their heels when we explained the situation and asked to see the aforementioned manager. Thus they end up here. By comparison, Sense, a well-run private club, took our reservation several days in advance, recognized our names immediately on arrival and ushered us through the door smoothly.

The most disappointing moment, however, was the Samba Room's demise. Once a Burning Question favorite, corporate management turned the Knox-Henderson establishment into a crypt. We watched as they fired one bartender for offering a selection of wines to an uncertain patron and another for pouring just a bit more alcohol than the prescribed amount (see "shrinkage" above). Oh, they still attract a crowd for now. But people frequent bars for the expertise of the bartenders and the vibe, the intriguing swirl of interesting patrons. The Samba Room now reminds us of an expensive version of Razoo's or any other soulless chain.

One more thing to avoid, and we learned this during our work on a story: According to multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns featuring wild encounters in laundries, the mere sight of a man sipping flavored malt beverages will send women into unrestrained sexual frenzy. When we asked female bar patrons about the appeal of an adult male drinking Smirnoff Ice, Skyy Blue or any of the other artificially flavored beers, however, their responses amounted to "shrinkage" on an unprecedented level. A young blonde named Izabela said, "I'd think you're a wuss"--by far the kindest answer. Rachel Wise, another young blonde, looked at the flavored malt and snarled, "I'd be like, 'You fucking pussy.'" Although not a blonde, Jamie confirmed the deflated value of the trendy new drinks: "There's not a guy anywhere who has a Zima or any one of those drinks in his hand that I'd even think of having sex with."

We now know to avoid flavored malt beverages.

Downward Trends

In a recent Dallas Morning News restaurant review, a critic complained about margaritas at Javier's. While waiting at the bar for her table, the cocktails were good and sweet. Once seated, however, she received tart, unpalatable "top shelf" margaritas.

This sort of thinking annoys us. The margarita is a sour mixture of tequila, orange liqueur and lime. Most bars, however, splash at least a dash of sweet and sour--usually bar syrup with a lemon-lime flavoring--into their version of the cocktail. As a result, patrons learn to appreciate the sweetened margarita rather than the stout classic, served up or on the rocks. Sweet and sour mix eliminates the precision necessary for a well-crafted cocktail and sweetens the drink for a broader, less sophisticated audience. "It is gross stuff," said Allen Roach, a bartender at The Mansion, when we addressed this topic last spring. "I don't like it at all."

We hope that in 2003, people will learn to appreciate the original margarita, heavy on the tequila. Try Frankie's Margarita at Monica's or the tequila martini at Sense for a taste of reality.

During the year we also watched bartenders pour countless vodka drinks. David Liberto, bartender at Beau Nash, drains five bottles of vodka each night, on average. At Palomino on a Friday night, we saw the bar staff empty seven bottles by 9 pm. "Vodka is the most popular of all liquors--over gin, over bourbon, over scotch," says Dennis Hayslip at Palomino. Unfortunately, he adds, "Everyone's into Grey Goose because they read in Wine Spectator that it's a 94."

In other words, people respond to marketing, packaging and price--the crucial triumvirate in our quest for recognition among peers. High-end vodkas drive the market, and people willingly shell out $30 or more for bottles of the odorless, colorless, tasteless spirit. We hope that in 2003, people will discover that Monopolowa tastes better at $12 a bottle than Grey Goose or any of the other heavily marketed brands. More important, it reflects accurately vodka's rough, unfiltered heritage.

Mostly, we hope to remember just a bit more of 2003 than we managed to recall of this past year. Or at least take better notes.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help