Hash Over

The one that got away
A deal that would have duplicated Dallas' acclaimed restaurant Fish across the country went belly-up at the last minute. Fish Executive Chef Chris Svalesen and his partner Steven Upright had been in talks with Starwood Hotels and Restorts, parent of Westin Hotels, to place Fish in their new European-style boutique hotels called "W." The first Fish would have gone into a new 200-room Westin hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon, with others to follow in San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, and New York.

"They pulled the used-car-salesman trick on us," Svalesen says. "They said, 'You need to fly to Portland tomorrow and sign the deal, because someone else is looking at it.'" Svalesen says they weren't even given a chance to look the property over before committing.

A case of crabs
Coconut Grill opened late last month in the former Blue Conch digs on Skillman Avenue after that restaurant was shut down last fall. A partnership between Aw Shucks and Blue Goose founder Bob Peterson, who also owned Blue Conch, and Tom O'Leary, owner of the defunct O'Leary's Bar & Grill, Coconut Grill features stone, snow, and king crabs plus tropical drinks. O'Leary sold his Lower Greenville Avenue bar and grill last September, and the space is now Virago, a dance club. Peterson, a resident of Gainesville, Florida, closed the Blue Conch because of management difficulties. Coconut Grill features all-you-can-eat stone crabs for $16.95 every Monday night.

List watch
Producing some of the most lauded Chardonnays in recent years, Rombauer Vineyards continues to refine this noble white grape in the California style. Rombauer Vineyards 1996 Carneros Chardonnay has the power to stand up to lobster or white meats with moderately rich sauces, while its balance and grace allow it to complement less robust dishes...There was a rumor floating around Dallas that gonzo winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard in California's Santa Cruz mountains was developing a vineyard in Livermore, California, comprising different grape varieties intermingled and planted in the shape of a helix with the likeness of Grahm's face burned in the center for aerial viewing. Not so, says a Bonny Doon spokeswoman, at least not the face part. But Grahm, most famous for his experiments with grapes common in France's Rhone Valley, is going to use his helix vineyard to create a prestige wine dubbed Succotash, a blend made from obscure Mediterranean varieties.

--Mark Stuertz

E-mail Mark Stuertz at markstz@juno.com or call (214) 757-8422.


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