As a vicarious Porsche aficionado who's driven one only once (a 1973 urine-hued Targa with a cantankerous second gear), I've always appreciated the tight link between fine German gearing and refined gluttony. First there's Voltaire moneybag Scott Ginsburg, who opened what is allegedly the nation's largest Porsche dealership after crafting his high-roller restaurant. Now Khanh Dao, onetime Porsche saleswoman and former Voltaire managing partner, is honing her own restaurant, albeit one with a less flamboyant posture than the multimillion-dollar monument she helped sprout up north. She calls it Steel Restaurant & Lounge, a Japanese-inspired respite with imposing steel doors, a sushi bar, and Thai and Malaysian menu touches. Dao, who fled Vietnam with her family as a child just as Saigon was collapsing, will also incorporate classic Vietnamese fondue dishes. Crafting the menu is chef Tam Huynh, who put in time at Royal Tokyo and Hana. The stylized "chic and zen" Steel will open in the Centrum building near Les Saisons sometime in late September.
If there's one thing Texas wine geeks love more than ritually stroking their hard-won cult Cabs and pocketbook-shredding Bordeaux, it's spitting fermented vitriol on Texas alcoholic beverage laws that all but criminalize attempts to satisfy their oenophile fantasies through direct shipments. Texas laws forbid consumers and shippers from channeling fine wine--say from a Web site or an 800 number--to their front stoop without first passing their booty through a Texas wholesaler and retailer (a tough prospect if neither link in the chain carries the drink). But Patrick Davis, a founder of Deep Ellum Café and currently a waiter at III Forks steakhouse, has found a clever way to exploit these legal exasperations. He calls it the Dallas Wine Exchange, a Deep Ellum wine-search service through which Davis scours Texas wholesalers for just about any bottling your pursed lips can sip. "I'm just like an Internet provider, except I'm legal," boasts Davis. "I have virtually the entire wine inventory available in Dallas." Davis takes orders via phone or fax, or through his upcoming Web site at prices that he claims are well below retail. Plus, he says he will regularly post distributor closeouts and other specials. Once the wine is secured, Davis delivers it (where legal) or makes it available for pick-up at his ramshackle Deep Ellum storefront (where he hopes to host classes and tastings). No frills, deep thrills.
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