How you feel about Saint Ann may depend upon how you feel about Jägermeister ice cream drizzled with a Red Bull reduction.

As that sugary debacle demonstrates, the new Uptown restaurant has a firm grip on its young and trendy clientele. Saint Ann is designed to appeal to diners who are disappointed when a hostess offers to seat them immediately, since that surely means the stylish crowds have congregated elsewhere. "The wait's two, three hours on the weekends," a bartender recently assured a drinker who wondered why every table wasn't taken early on a Monday night.

The team behind Saint Ann understands its perfectly appointed customers have come to strut, and generously gives them the time and space to do so. The space is stunning: Only longtime Dallasites and eaters in the habit of Googling their dining destinations could guess it once housed a Catholic school. (The menu's design provides a subtle clue, but it's an Olympic leap from noting faux ruled paper to figuring out the 1927 building served as the city's first school for Hispanic students.)

The food and people certainly look pretty at Saint Ann.
Sara Kerens
The food and people certainly look pretty at Saint Ann.

Location Info

Map

Saint Ann

2501 N. Harwood St.
Dallas, TX 75201

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn

Details

Saint Ann 2501 N. Harwood St., 214-782-9807, www.saintanndallas.com. Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. midnight Sunday. $


Shaved beef sandwich $12 Hummus $6.50 Smoked salmon $16 Tomato mozzarella salad $8 Onion soup $5.50 Linguine with bchicken $14.50 Steak $20 Scallops $15 Ice cream $3

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The dining room is all wood and shiny surfaces. There's even a trompe l'oeil trick of flooring running alongside the marble-topped bar, where a deep, pebbled terrarium sits beneath spotless glass. It must be disorienting after a few Jägermeisters, but the element nicely echoes the very pretty patio that's bound to become a summer destination. Outfitted with an attractive central bar, strings of white lights and an array of slatted wooden tables and chairs, the exterior scene would make a splashy centerfold for an outdoor furniture catalog.

The Saint Ann renovation couldn't have come cheap, but the developers wisely resisted the temptation to decorate in a way that would flatter their achievements at the expense of the restaurant's guests. The room's honeyed lighting and white oak color scheme help diners to look as beautiful as they believe themselves to be.

But diners have had a tougher time making sense of Saint Ann. The restaurant certainly looks swanky, and there are ritzy dishes like steak and scallops on the menu. But service is consistently abysmal, and as the food inches up the fancy ladder, it becomes more and more horrifying. While the prices are frighteningly reasonable (What sort of scallops can a restaurant afford to unload for $15 a portion?), it's hard to make a case for a nice night out at Saint Ann.

And therein lies the problem. The displays of samurai armor, borrowed from the museum that shares the building, and the guests clad in designer suits and dresses are terribly misleading. Saint Ann isn't a nice restaurant. It's a sports bar with a very impressive floor.

Perhaps the preponderance of televisions should have tipped me off to Saint Ann's true identity: They're scrunched in every corner of the otherwise elegant dining room. Or maybe I should have fully thought through what it means when there's a cheap burger, cheese pizza and ranch dressing on a menu.

Instead, I reached the conclusion painfully, after suffering through a series of miserable dishes. I gather other diners have endured the same ordeal. But you, you who weren't swept up in the buzz that made Harwood Street sway when the restaurant opened in early November, can be spared such hardship by ordering a sandwich.

Easily the best thing I sampled at Saint Ann was a French dip sandwich, featuring loads of salty beef bits on a soft white roll. It wasn't flawless: The horseradish sauce could have been more generously applied, and the accompanying sweet-potato fries were ghastly. The flavor of sweet potatoes, it seems, has been confused with the marshmallow-forward flavor of sweet-potato casserole: If Willy Wonka got into the fry business, he'd probably produce something like this cloying concoction.

So I stuck with the sandwich, which a server told me he ate two or three times a week. I didn't ask his work schedule, but I'm guessing he eats it almost every night he's at the restaurant, since I couldn't find anything else as appealing as the shaved beef.

A few dishes were beset by small problems: An onion soup was saddled with too much pepper and too little texture. The requisite floating slice of French bread wasn't toasted, so it started out spongy and got spongier, making it impossible to politely devour with a spoon. And the crowning layer of cheese, which should have been broiled to a burbling gold, was just barely melted.

I liked a garlicky hummus, but didn't know what to make of the novelty fried pita wedges that came with it. While I wholeheartedly support a restaurant's right to fry whatever fits in the fryer, the results tasted quite a bit like funnel cake, an odd foundation for a grilled salmon dinner.

Salmon shows up twice on the menu. Among the priciest items listed is an appetizer of smoked salmon served with capers, onions and a crushed hard-boiled egg. It's a basic brunch plate and unobjectionable. It would certainly pair well with vodka, which I'm guessing is the spirit of choice at Saint Ann.

The real trouble comes when the kitchen's called upon to do more than chop onions and roll up smoked fish. When I visited, basic skills like boiling and grilling seemed to elude whomever was on the line.

Soggy scallops were served burrowed into a sticky, lumpy heap of grits that had a weirdly smooth consistency most diners would associate with mashed potatoes. Nobody could be persuaded to eat much of it.

On our server's advice, we ordered a linguine with chicken and lemon pesto cream sauce, a humdrum-sounding dish I probably wouldn't have considered without prodding. The entrée turned out to be worse than I feared: The pasta was so overcooked that I suspect I could have patted the whole mushy mass into a noodle snowball. The sauce was badly over-salted. Still, I can excuse issues of timing and seasoning. I'm far less forgiving when I find a hair in my chicken.

I typically wouldn't mention finding hair in my food, since it's rarely clear whom to hold responsible. A stray hair could have belonged to the server, or—more likely—the eater. That's not what happened at Saint Ann. I couldn't immediately extract the hair from my mouth because the chicken was attached to it like a fish on a line: Pulling the hair out of my mouth would mean exposing already-chewed meat. Which I did, allowing me and my steel-stomached tablemates to discover the long human hair was cooked into the chicken. Although I had little doubt a cook was at fault, I swung by the open kitchen to check out the headgear situation. On that particular night, nobody was wearing a head covering (on another visit, one of the five cooks I saw was wearing a white ball cap with a Texas state flag patch).

The hair situation was the second signal that Saint Ann's kitchen doesn't really care. The first was a "baseball sirloin," a steak cut to mimic a filet mignon. The sirloin's billed as "steak and frites" on the strength of a handful of scraggly potato sticks. Fine: At $20, maybe fries are too much to ask. The real issues concerned the steak, which I'd ordered rare. The steak, the color of a Cleveland winter sky, was cooked medium well. Since a sour smell was emanating from the meat, I wondered whether it was overcooked for my safety. That's not a worry any paying diner should have.

Saint Ann looks great. The televisions are crystal clear. If someone invited me there to drink a beer and watch a game, I'd probably go, especially if it was warm enough for us to sit outside. I just wouldn't get anything to eat.

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30 comments
KAREN SMITH
KAREN SMITH

ummmm its actually redbull ice cream with a jagermeister reduction!!! get it right ! and its was amazing ...our whole table was pleasantly suprised as were the tables next to us! sometimes you just have to open to new things.

garcon
garcon

While I usually don't like Ms. Raskin's restaurant reviews, this one is pretty accurate. I'm probably one of the diners that she would consider "young and trendy"; however the last thing I would call myself is trendy. However bitter her comments about the patrons may sound, she definitely got it right on the food. I ordered the scallops last weekend, and was appalled at what I received: 3-4 scallops that were not much larger than a quarter in diameter, and very overcooked. My grits were also not cooked completely, resulting in a hard, sticky lump in the middle. I understand they are trying to keep the prices low, but the quality was completely unacceptable, and I would've sent it back immediately if I hadn't been with a large group. They seem to have better luck with the appetizers, as the bolognese dip was great and so were the chicken sizzlers (not undercooked on my visit). Many of my companions also came away unimpressed with their entrees. As a final complaint, I ordered a dirty martini, and it looked like they had given me a small shot of vodka in a glass, then charged me $12...

Jennifer_carmine
Jennifer_carmine

Hanna I totally and completely agree with you. If you want to talk sanitation issues a friend of mine went to a party there where they served a steak that tasted and smelled an awful lot like a bit of fish and was over cooked to the point of well well done. Not to mention lack of preventive head wear, and whilst looking back there raw salmon being cut by what looked to be salads!!! The food was all over cooked (except for my sizzlers with raw chicken inside) over seasoned whoever is running that kitchen needs to take a better look at what they are doing and go back to the drawing board with that menu

Ms. T
Ms. T

A friend and I tried it out this past Saturday. I definitely agree that it is a very beautiful space. I very much enjoyed the cocktails I tried...I wish I remembered their specific ingredients, but one was a blackberry/tequila cocktail and one was a Tito's vodka/ginger liquer/raspberry cocktail. Both were very good. As for the restaurant, I was also surprised with how many televisions they had scattered about. I felt like it ruined the ambiance a tad, but they were easy enough to ignore by simply talking to the person you're at dinner with. As for the food, I would normally not order the grilled chicken on any menu but it actually sounded like the best option out of everything...and it was actually quite good, not that it's hard to execute chicken or anything, but I was happy with it. My friend got the scallops, and they were tiny, but she seemed to enjoy their flavor. We also shared a bolognese dip which was tasty, and we both had the soup of the day, a cheese tortellini and veggie soup, which was brimming with sage and I thought tasted fine. We ended the meal with a chocolate chip bread pudding with espresso whipped cream...both of us thought it was very tasty, but it was not a pretty dessert by any means. Service was very good once we got to the table, though Hannah is right that it takes hours to get seated. Thankfully the tasty drinks made the time go by faster. I'd go back.

Frogette
Frogette

I'm happy to read an article from someone with a discerning palate. I'll continue to read Ms. Raskin's future reviews.

Rachel
Rachel

Hanna, is that Jagermeister dessert thing for real or a joke?!

Perpetual Warfare
Perpetual Warfare

Dallas Observer writers are almost always ugly trustafarian losers who are envious of people who are better looking and more successful than them.

J
J

Wow, that's brutal.

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

I too found Ms. Raskin's obsession with the other diners' appearance ("...look as beautiful as they believe themselves to be.") to be a bit odd. You can find a picture of her by Googling Images for "Hanna Raskin". Make of it what you will.

Lukejw
Lukejw

I agree with the service being an issue, but I'm sure that it can be worked out over time. I agree that the atmosphere is the first attraction.

I disagree with the food being terrible. I've mostly been there for lunch or weeknights, but as far as the taste of the food, I think is fine. It's nothing to rave about, but they do the basics well. Great burger, great pizza. I haven't had the more expensive items.

My suggestion is to go hang out there before a Mavs game. It's a good meal and you'd pay what you would if you were to eat at the game. Just give them time to get the food out to you, because, as noted before, the service can be a little rough.

Guest
Guest

You guys are out of your minds if you think the food is bad. It's wonderful each time I go. The sweetpotato fries are by far the best fries I've ever had! Keep it up Saint Ann!

bigdfoodie
bigdfoodie

I completely agree with you Hanna. This maybe a great place to hang out and have a drink, but the food is atrocious. You did forget to mention that the restaurant is owned and run by Harwood International, which is a real estate development and investment company. I believe their only other foray in the restaurant industry is the corporate lunch focused Marie Gabrielle. If a company like Harwood wants to own a restaurant that's fine, just make sure they have someone that can run one.

jb grapevine
jb grapevine

Sounds like the same person wrote most of the comments here, and let me guess, that person works for the restaurant!

Foodie09
Foodie09

Hmm... I couldn't disagree more. Saint Ann is FABULOUS! The atmosphere is phenomenal AS WELL as the food. I'd go so far as to say it's one of my favorite eateries in Dallas. I'm super super excited for Spring and Summer to roll around to hang on the patio. I'm on TEAM SAINT ANN!!!!!

Guest
Guest

I totally disagree with this ridiculous review. I LOVE Saint Ann! The atmosphere is fabulous and the food is terrific- I eat there weekly!! Also, the people who work there are welcoming and friendly. Keep up the good work!

David Platz
David Platz

Ha, not sure why this woman is so bitter about this restaurant, I have been thrice for dinner alone and there is obviously a reason I keep going back...Atmosphere is what first made me fall in love with the place, obviously the wait doesn't seem long when you enjoy such surroundings and people looking to have a good time!I recommend the Steak Frites and the Bolognese Dip!

Can't wait to break in that patio, keep up the good work guys!

St.AnnFAN
St.AnnFAN

Not sure why this author has such a problem with the young and single crowd in Uptown Dallas, but it's obvious the chip on her shoulder has also affected her taste buds. This is an excellent restaurant- and instead of the typically over-priced fare that you see at other restaurants. If this author would like to dine with her nose in the air, I suggest she try elsewhere. For everyone else, it's a fantastic restaurant- one that I would recommend.

Bethjohnson34
Bethjohnson34

I think the Dallas Observer lady doesn't know what she is talking about. Saint Ann is GREAT! Keep it up guys!

Saramathis08
Saramathis08

I have been to Saint Ann countless times and think the food is fabulous! The atmosphere is really fun and the servers and bartenders are all wonderful. Everything on the menu is a HUGE hit everytime I go!

bobwiegand
bobwiegand

Saint Ann is one of my favorite restaurants in town. The welcoming atmosphere paired with excellent food and service makes me want to go back every time. I hope DO's readers test it out themselves rather than rely on someone else's opinion.

HPrealtor72
HPrealtor72

I've eaten here several times and love it! I especially love the seared scallops!

Meh.
Meh.

Apparently a new website is "coming soon." Currently, the site is ugly, and the dinner menu on it is boring. The entrees sound like you'd find them in the frozen dinner section.Sigh.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Let the idiotic comments from the Dallas food DB's commence. The truth will set us free, Hanna! Thanks for being telling it "like it is"

Craig
Craig

That's what you get for going out to eat grits. Come on man. Grits are t-ren-dy!

Hanna Raskin
Hanna Raskin

For real. Saint Ann offers a selection of ice creams from an outfit near Waco that specializes in offbeat flavors. The Shiner Bock ice cream I tried was very good, although I'm not sure how it would have held up to a Red Bull reduction.

Kergos Ass
Kergos Ass

When did you get fired at the Observer?? Let it go...just let it go...

St.AnnFAN
St.AnnFAN

I do not own the restaurant nor work for the company. Try again.

Also, looking over some of Hanna's last articles, I've found that we do not share the same taste in food. Not to mention, many of her articles are negative. You would think a place like Eddie V's (where the atmosphere is admittedly pretentious but the food expensive) would be more up her alley, but even that did not please her difficult palate. I'll make note to not take any of her suggestions. Of her last 6 articles, 5 were negative food reviews. Unfortunate that the Dallas Observer keeps on such a negative food critic.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Does the phrase "Astroturf" have any meaning to you?

Chaco146
Chaco146

It's red bull Ice cream with Jager Reduction, it does sound weird but it is really good

 
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