Best Of :: Food & Drink
Pho is a little like Buddha: It invites nourishing contemplation. A Vietnamese beef-broth soup, pho is often described as the national dish of Vietnam. It's a fundamental part of the day, a mind-clearing tonic steeped in ritual, often served for breakfast. It's an arduous, labor-intensive thing created by simmering meat and bones for roughly eight hours to extract that soothing richness. To this are added long rice noodle strands, meat, scallions, and herbs. It's often floated with cuts of beef such as brisket, eye of round, and flank steak, as well as meatballs. But there's more yummy stuff to toss in. You can add gelatinous and chewy soft tendon (not so much a cabled ligament as a piece of knuckle) or bible tripe, a piece of ox stomach. The wide, steaming bowl arrives with a plate piled with knots of bean sprouts, Asian basil, a lime wedge, and tiny slices of green chilies that look like mag wheels, all for tossing into the soup. Pho Kim's pho is delicious: freshly light and perfumy with tender, separate noodles and chewy sheets of beef. There's nothing better to endulge in as the briskness of fall sneaks upon us.
Sometimes putting your money where your mouth is...doesn't taste very good. But not all the time. Sure, multimillionaire Scott Ginsburg has used his considerable shekels to assemble a world-class wine list (1981 Chateau Haut-Brion is served by the glass in the bar) and a stunning array of knickknacks. (They include an exploding dish chandelier by lighting designer Ingo Mauer and a bullet-proof glass case cradling a collection of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.) But if great bottles and swell gimcracks made great restaurants, Woolworth's lunch counter would not have faded away. You gotta have tasty hors d'oeuvres to go with all that eye candy. Or at least tasty liver sans onions (which Voltaire does, only they call it foie gras). There are those rare moments while dining when you slip a forkful of food into your mouth and time stops, or least your Hyundai payments do (Voltaire isn't cheap). This is what eating at Voltaire was like on two occasions months ago. The food was perfectly prepared, the sauces well orchestrated, and the plates brilliantly assembled. But then the restaurant was afflicted with serious stumbles, most notably with service. Missteps spread to the cuisine when Executive Chef George Papadopoulos diverted his focus from the kitchen to grease the gears grinding in the front of the house. All those shortcomings have been smoothed over, however, and Voltaire is once again as good as it was. Now if we could only find some money to put this tasty cuisine in our mouth.
A couple of these sly concoctions of Crown Royal, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice will turn a mousy brunette into a scarlet temptress. The pinkish red color and the deceptive sweetness hide the puissant punch that quickly brings out the tart in anyone. Drink at your own risk.
Il Sol's pan-roasted bobwhite quail with a truffled taleggio risotto cake is plump, juicy, and bursting with delicate flavors. The risotto cake edged the bird in racy cheese sharpness, putting the game in this game. It makes you wonder what kind of miracles they could perform with a parakeet.
We like our alcoholic beverages the same way we like our panty hose, perfume, and boyfriends--strong and cheap. The process for making this barroom staple isn't hard to master. Put ice in a plastic cup. Pour in Jack Daniels. Hose in some Coca-Cola. Sure, it happens all over town, but here it will cost a least a buck or two less per drink than other places. And with the potency, you'll save even more in the long run.
If you're looking for a quick, inexpensive meal, check out the Corner Bakery in North Dallas. Take-out or eat-in, pasta is prepared fresh as you wait. Entres include fettucine Alfredo, pasta with pesto, pasta with tomato, pasta with ragu, and pasta with marinara sauce. Each dish is served with a salad of your choice, and a fresh assortment of bread--all for less than $10.