The temperance movement reappears in odd ways sometimes. Just ask Barry Adler and his business partner, Phillipe Naovri. In December, the pair opened Buddha Bar in the space near Lovers Lane and Inwood Road that once housed Marrakesh, Dallas' only Moroccan grub-shoveler. But a couple of weeks ago, Adler and Naovri felt compelled to change the name of their "temple-esque" restaurant/lounge, as a few members of Dallas' Buddhist community took offense at the prospect of a watering hole named after the enlightened one. It seems tippling is an activity most Buddhists refrain from, a thing Adler found surprising (me, too, since the Buddhists I know seem bent on discovering the sound of one glass toasting). "There's Buddha bars all over the place," he says, "you know what I mean?" Still, Adler isn't that much bothered by the change. Most of the renamed Bali Bar's ambiance is derived from elements imported directly from the Indonesian island. "It's a beautiful place," he boasts. "There's a lot of water inside, waterfalls, red velvet, gold walls, Buddhas." Which sounds more like the Las Vegas school of design than the Balinese Temple school. These decorative elements link with a menu showcasing Mediterranean, French, Asian and Balinese influences. For dessert, Bali Bar sheds its dinner jacket and becomes a hip lounge for late-hours pondering. Adler says they import DJs directly from Paris to spin discs at Bali Bar for a month at a time, shacking them up in a special Bali Bar apartment. None of this nightclub hipness is new to Adler and Naovri. They once operated the hipper-than-thou-but-now-defunct Kangaroo Club just down the street on Lovers Lane before they sold it, a transaction for which Adler says he was never paid. Karma can be a bitch.
Former Fish chef Chris Svalesen is still trying to corner a few affluent investors to underwrite the finishing touches on his fledgling seafood restaurant 36 Degrees, but that hasn't stopped him from using the dining room, essentially the gutted remains of Venus Supper Club. For the holiday parties he catered, Svalesen patched the walls and ceiling in a feeble attempt to transform the bare hole into a tasteful canteen. Now he's using these seat-of-the-pants culinary acrobatics to catch the reservation spillage at his restaurant on weekends. "We were turning away so many people that we had to do something," he insists. "So we finished the room out ourselves the best we could...It's really kind of cosmic-looking...like Cirque du Soleil gone wrong."
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