Hip Hugger

Stolik is too cool for its own good

With all of the hints of rusticity, it is perhaps predictable that Stolik would be at its best when it leans more into the robust than the urbane. Moroccan organic chicken arrives in a beautiful bowl--a chicken in a pot to deliver us from hip. It is anchored in lemon couscous, roasted vegetables and harissa sauce, a blistering Tunisian ooze made with chilies, garlic, cumin, coriander and olive oil. The aromatic tease rings the nostrils once the lid comes off. It deepens into a lusty rush. Though slightly dry, the chicken is dolled up with all of the sensual perfumes and tongue teasers you could ever wish for in a hip lounge. Sprigs of rosemary, cinnamon sticks, carrots, pepper strips, mushrooms and raisins wreathe the chicken. Delicious, separate couscous, well-drenched in lemon, injects a briskness that keeps it from collapsing under the weight of ornamentation.

Cast-iron seared fillet of beef is even more delicious: a silky, rich and juicy medallion. The skillet branded a wisp of a crust over the top that is crowned with thin cooked lemon slices. It sits in a garlic vodka jus.

Mussels held so many promises. Served in a metal pan with a hinged lid, the shellfish rest in a delicious broth of white wine, salpicao (marinated smoked pork) and chourico sausage with bits of tomato, slices of garlic and bay leaves the color of army fatigues. But the mussels kill this beautiful slurry. They're loose--almost a custard-like gel--and they leach the horrifyingly strong flavor of standing swamp muck that crashes into consciousness before you can swallow it away with a tortured wince. It frightened us from slopping up the broth with pieces of bread.

Stolik: cool, hip, edgy, sleek--ouch
Tom Jenkins
Stolik: cool, hip, edgy, sleek--ouch


Ceviche $12
Foie gras $16
Mussels $10
Lobster Nha Trang $21
Fillet $29
Moroccan chicken $19
Mahi mahi $26
Crme brle $7
Closed Location

Lobster Nha Trang, with mango and Thai chili orange sauce flecked with fried basil leaves, was gummy and void of succulence. A fine crème brûlée, as tightly detailed as Stolik's décor with a bowling pin set of blueberries tucked in the corner of the dish and a bead string of raspberries around the plate, is creamy and rich with a thick, brittle blowtorched lid.

Despite the careening, Stolik has all of the ingredients to congeal into a distinctively luscious venue: crisply rustic décor and a menu that thrives when robust, even as it falters when consciously urbane. Dumping hip for a shameless plunge into colorful, unassuming basics would make this little table as charming as the stamping on the menu cover.

2816 Fairmount St., 214-220-9992. Open for dinner 5-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-midnight Friday & Saturday. $$$

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