By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Dinghy's gumbo was so clear I bet I could have spilled it on my shirt without leaving a stain, but it tasted awfully good. The success of the pseudo-gumbo hinged on the sweet Gulf shrimp that suffused the dish with a rich, oceanic flavor. I had shrimp in three guises at Dinghy and liked them all. But I'm not sure I liked any dish better than the unadorned peel-and-eat shrimp, an eloquent—if inconsistently deveined—testament to the stubborn goodness of Gulf seafood. A pound of peel-and-eat shrimp is a losing proposition if the starring ingredient isn't smartly sourced; the shrimp at Dinghy are sensational.
So's the catfish, although perhaps the restaurant's cooks shouldn't be trusted with it. According to the menu, Dinghy gets its catfish from Des Allemands, the owners' bayou hometown that proudly calls itself the "catfish capital of the universe." The catfish tastes buttery, creamy and clean, which seem like three good reasons not to drown the grilled fish in butter and blackening spice.
The kitchen's apparently more comfortable with less-nuanced dishes: A burger was serviceable, and saucy hunks of slow-cooked pork shanks were extraordinarily tender. The pork's sold as "pork wings," a novelty item that food service companies have lately been pushing as a pricier alternative to chicken. I don't know who first came up with the cut, but can picture pork industry leaders sitting around a table, brainstorming a porcine response to ye olde turkey legs served at Renaissance fairs.
Service at Dinghy is friendly, competent and honest. When I asked a server to tell me about dessert options, he sighed and said, "We're still getting dessert sorted out." For now, all that's on the dessert menu is a mound of undistinguished chocolate lava cake.
"This is the kind of dessert people like," my dinner date decreed.
Indeed, the four ladies at the table adjoining ours seemed to have judged the cake a fitting riposte to their vodka martinis. With its pedigree, Dinghy could have set its ambitions higher, but settled on delivering what people like. Defying expectations, the restaurant's created a speck of beach in North Texas, taking the passport and airfare hassles out of the beer, seafood and sunset equation. And who doesn't like that?
Dinghy Bar & Grill
1481 E. Hillpark Road, Lewisville, 972-625-4461, www.pier121marina.com. Open 5-10 p.m. Thursday and noon-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday. $$