In Bloom

Though it's named after a dog, Iris is no mutt

For help she turned to Hodges and former Riviera general manager Hector Garcia (who has since split from Iris, an event Priore won't comment on as lawyers are involved). She also sold, cashed and maxed all the personal assets (including a horse) and credit she could lay her hands on. Priore has enough conversation material for 12 neighborhood restaurants.

Iris is tight and crisp with a pair of secluded dining areas, one wall paneled in Big Spring limestone, slatted ceilings, etched glass panels and lots of artwork depicting all manner of Irises, including watercolors of the flower, a photo of the Iris Theater in Terrell, a painting of her dog Iris and depictions of the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Angels stumble here, though. Saffron angel hair pasta with vine-ripened tomatoes was overcooked into a rat's nest of sticky filaments.

Howdy, neighbor: Iris fares well as a neighborhood eatery.
Peter Calvin
Howdy, neighbor: Iris fares well as a neighborhood eatery.

Details

Shrimp cocktail $13
Russell's seared foie gras $16
Angel hair pasta $8
Sea bass $21
Lemon risotto with shrimp $18
Rack of lamb $28
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But virtually everything else glittered. Lemon risotto with jumbo shrimp was creamy with a citrus potency that was almost rude, which risotto should be sometimes. Rack of lamb, four chops arranged in a semicircle with a dab of double-mint apricot chutney and meaty medjool dates, was juicy, though the grain in two of them was mealy instead of smooth and silky. Cannellini beans made an appearance here, too, an unexpectedly hearty implement that performed some interesting interplay with the dates.

Those beans also were busy in the pan-seared sea bass. This is an unusual dish, one Hodges crafts as a bourride, a Mediterranean fish soup often served in hollowed-out bread. This mild, nutty and juicy fish rests on a piece of garlic toast with red and gold plum tomato confetti in a bath of white wine, Pernod and shrimp stock. A shard of braised fennel flanks the bread, war-tugging with the Pernod. Cannellini beans dot the fluid. This is a profoundly tasty dish. Weirdly, though, it's even better after a day in the refrigerator followed by two minutes in the microwave, a process that made us wince after we spied the steaming mottled fish winking from a slice of soggy bread. But courage prevailed, and we took a forkful--and gad if it wasn't delicious. The bread and fish absorbed all of the wine and Pernod and shrimp juice and merged them into an accident of glorious harmony. This sequel was better than the original. Maybe someone will open a neighborhood haunt composed of nothing but dishes that come alive as day-old, nuked leftovers.

What could be more neighborly than that?

5405 W. Lovers Lane, 214-352-2727. Open 5:30 p.m-10:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday & Saturday. $$$

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