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Emerging Brands, the division of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide that came up with Samba Room, is scouting Dallas for space to house a new concept: Mignon. Billed as a 1960s French steakhouse that brings jazz and blues back to dining, Mignon will feature steak, whole trout, fondue, iced shellfish, and tableside Caesar salad. Michael Cox of Carlson's Star Concepts adds that Plano may be the first Texas home for Taqueria Canonita, his and Stephan Pyles' upscale taqueria that so far thrives only in Las Vegas in the new Venetian Hotel.
In a release touting its "millennium edition," Zagat boasts that more than 1,000 local diners reviewed, rated, and ranked some 800 restaurants for its Dallas-Fort Worth 2000 Restaurant Survey. Highlights include Abacus, Il Sole, and Le Paris Bistrot (Dallas' top five: the Mansion on Turtle Creek, Café Pacific, Riviera, Star Canyon, and the French Room). But the release inexplicably singles out Mazza, Avner Samuel's Middle Eastern foray on McKinney Avenue that came complete with belly dancers and flavored water pipes, as a place where Dallas diners "can tease their taste buds with an array of Levantine cuisine." Replacing the failed Bibendum, Mazza was barely open two weeks before it tanked. So it's hard to imagine more than one of those 1,000 reviewers ever made it in to ogle jiggling bellies...A vicious rumor has been circulating (with the help of some well-known chefs) that my review of Voltaire (January 6) was the result of a bribe. How else to explain a scribe so uniformly snide suddenly coughing up a review that glows with the radiance of a Chernobyl resident -- except that the food was truly good? Yet while I might consider payoffs (keep the bills small, the sums large, and no two-for-one salad vouchers or gimme caps), I actually scribbled the Voltaire review (ouch) for free. Now it would be crass of me to suggest this, but if Voltaire owner Scott Ginsburg, who just last week opened a little trinket shop in Plano called The Porsche Store, were to park a complimentary red 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet in my Dallas Observer parking spot, he might bolster the self esteem of those poor chefs by validating their suspicions. And though I would never point this out to Ginsburg, Voltaire wasn't even open for lunch when I reviewed the place, so technically it's due for another Observer visit in six months -- coincidently the delivery window for a new Porsche. Hell, for a toll tag and a dozen golf visors plastered with pithy Voltaire quotes, a less ethical person than myself might even write a separate piece lauding the table linens.