Fish Flushed

Fish restaurant, the nationally lauded downtown seafood spot that businessman Steven Upright and chef Chris Svalsen launched some four years ago in what was then the Paramount Hotel, is now a floater, done in by hot air. According to Upright, one of the three air conditioner compressors on the building's roof burned out, putting a severe strain on the remaining pair. It eventually blew out the whole system, a scenario which has played out over the last three years, he says. People don't like to sweat while eating fish, so he closed Fish and held his breath waiting for the air conditioning to be repaired as promised by April 13. It didn't happen, so with his cash flow choked off, he put Fish out of his misery. "You can only take so many right hooks, and after a while you want to stop bleeding," Upright says. "I just want to get out of here and make the horror story stop." He also wants a new Fish home with an air conditioner and a workable thermostat. Upright says he'll move all of his equipment and furnishings out of the hotel over the next few weeks. He's in the process of raising funds to relaunch Fish (with Marc Haines as chef, he hopes) in another part of the metroplex--but most assuredly not in downtown Dallas--sometime next fall. Meanwhile the 75-year-old hotel, which was renamed The Hotel Lawrence, is in the grip of a $4 million renovation begun last fall by the building's new owners, Big D Hotel Associates of Annapolis, Maryland. "You can describe it in two different scenarios," Upright says derisively of the renovation. "One is urban and the other is country. The urban one is the emperor has no clothes, and the rural saying is somebody has put a dress on that monkey. Now it looks pretty, but it's still a monkey ain't it?"

Grapevine's ninth annual New Vintage Wine Festival, where you can sample the newest fermentables from the Texas earth, will buzz in this weekend with wine tastings both Saturday and Sunday afternoon plus "A Taste of Austria" (Austria?) Saturday evening. Nineteen Texas wineries plus wines from some 13 international wineries, including Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Italy, will be offered for swirling and spitting (don't swallow if you're driving). For info, contact the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-457-6338...The Wheat Foods Council, in cooperation with the American Bakers Association, recently commissioned a Gallup poll of 1,000 households on diet and nutritional attitudes. Among the findings are that 94 percent of consumers agree that grain foods help maintain proper bowel movements, 58 percent admit that they twirl their spaghetti, and two out of three respondents drink the milk in the bowl when the cereal is gone. It's difficult to determine which question is the most compelling.

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