Just beyond the frosted glass separating the dining room and lounge, it's a different experience. Behind the bar rest whiskey bottles by the dozen—the bartender claimed 75 labels, although the menu lists 65. An ethanol-fueled fireplace cube flickers in one corner, reassuring whatever trendy types wander in of the bar's worthiness. Soft, low-slung seating adds to this effect.

And here is where people, just a few, tend to stop.

So after a quiet dinner one evening, broken only by occasional bouts of rearranging as courses arrived and the rather startling appearance of four new guests as we finished up, I rode the escalator downstairs to Oceanaire. The long-established seafood destination, considered by many to be Dallas' best, swirled with activity and noise. Folks waited at the bar for tables, and a bevy of frocked servers waited on one particularly boisterous group.

Nothing up his sleeve: With a little culinary sleight of hand, executive chef J. Chastain makes this beautiful tuna vanish.
Meredith L. Moore
Nothing up his sleeve: With a little culinary sleight of hand, executive chef J. Chastain makes this beautiful tuna vanish.

Lacking Oceanaire's visibility, The Second Floor just seems to fade away, the unfortunate magic of location and signage—which, in some way answers another riddle: What's somber upstairs and rollicking down?

13340 Dallas Parkway (inside the Westin Galleria), 972-450-2978. Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday. Breakfast 6 a.m.-10:30 a.m. daily. $$$

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