The Old Warsaw is the black sheep of Dallas fine dining. It advertises with highway billboards of beautiful, pouting Slavic women. Its menu is a 1950s time warp of lobster thermidor, caviar service, beef stroganoff and cherries jubilee. Its food menu also features such heart-warming typos as “Duck Brest,” “Brussles Sprouts,” “Angel Hair Posta,” and “Bananas Fosters,” although maybe that’s a banana served in a can of cheap Australian beer. Delicious!
And there’s another way The Old Warsaw breaks taboos: Its shamelessly exploitative, awful wine list. Oh, lord, the wine list. They seem to deliberately prey on people who don’t know much about wine, on the principle that a fool and his money ought to be parted.
Luckily, we at the Observer believe that a fool and his money should stay together long enough to run for president, so we're here to help you navigate the worst wine list in Dallas. What’s wrong with The Old Warsaw wine list? Where do we start?
1. Cheap, rot-gut crap at high prices. You remember Andre from college parties, right? What if we told you there’s a place where you can pay $28 for it? The Old Warsaw sells Wycliff Brut, a Gallo Family sparkling wine and Andre competitor available at Spec’s for $3.99. Except at The Old Warsaw it’s not $3.99, it’s $28, an amazing 700 percent markup. Lamarca Prosecco, at $49, is a mere 408 percent more expensive than its $12 retail price.
2. Straight-up mystery wines. At The Old Warsaw, you can get a magnum of “Gato Moscato” for $34. First of all, a magnum for $34 is a major warning sign. Second, what the hell is Gato Moscato? Google identifies two candidates: Gato Negro Moscato, a $5 Chilean wine, and El Gato Moscato, from a winery in Kansas. There are wineries in Kansas?
There’s also a “red Burgundy” called “JP Chenet.” According to their website, JP Chenet makes over a dozen different wines. None of them is a red Burgundy. Which wine does The Old Warsaw serve? We may never know.
3. Spelling errors, labeling errors and general confusion. Numerous wineries are spelled wrong. Some winery names are missing from the descriptions. Some of the wines have mysterious, unexplained stars next to them. Other wines are filed in the wrong category.
There’s a section for red wines from Burgundy. Of the five listed wines, only one is from Burgundy. One is the unknown “JP Chenet,” and three are from the Rhone valley. One of those three, “Guugal,” is misspelled. Guigal is also the only bottle on the six-page menu to not cost an even dollar amount. It is, oddly, $44.44. Spec’s price: $13.99.
4. Confusing or dodgy vintages. Mystery wines like “JP Chenet” have no vintages, of course. But what’s up with calling a wine something like “Chateau Montrose 86 89”? Is it the ‘86 vintage, ‘89 vintage, both, or either? Also, we have to tell you that some of the older wines are well past their primes. They’ve just been collecting dust at The Old Warsaw, waiting for a customer, for years. Check the reviews on an app like CellarTracker and Delectable before ordering.
5. Deals too good to be true. The Old Warsaw sells $4 bubbly for $28, so when you see Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay for $32, and no vintage listed, you'd be smart to assume it's a bottle of battery acid mixed with a stick of butter. Except that it's actually one of the most prestigious white wines in North America, and a bottle ordered directly from the winery costs $60. Yes, the wine retails for double what it costs at The Old Warsaw. There's something fishy going on here.
6. Pretentious catnip for rich people. If you want to impress your date with a paycheck-busting bottle, The Old Warsaw has you covered. There are over 50 bottles of wine costing more than $195. Choose from Cristal, Dom Perignon, Opus One, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Lafite Rothschild (a.k.a. Rich People Bingo). To be honest, we wouldn’t mind trying most of these, just like we wouldn’t mind winning the Powerball.
The Old Warsaw: the only restaurant in Dallas where you can get a fancy Bordeaux from 1966, worth thousands of dollars, and chase it with bubbly swill that retails for $3.99, all while eating “Angel Hair Posta”. Truth be told, there are a few really intriguing values on this menu. But if you don’t know where to look, this weirdest of Dallas restaurants will try its best to keep you away from them with its wall of obfuscation, confusion, shady "bargains," cheap crap and typos.
Three Actually Good Bottles of Wine Under $100 to Get if Someone Takes You to The Old Warsaw
Château Sociando Mallet ‘97 ($45)
Château de Saint-Cosme St. Joseph ($69, mislabeled a Burgundy and listed as “Saint Cosme Saint Joseph” with no vintage)
Château Lafon-Rochet ‘99 ($78)