Food News

Burning Question: What's changed since you left Dallas?

Yeah, yeah—we heard the rumors. The Burning Question crew played one too many pranks involving Nair on our editor and found ourselves on a one-way flight to Central Europe and involuntary exile.

But while we can neither confirm nor deny our, shall we say occasional, digs at management, stories suggesting we hightailed it out of town to avoid editorial wrath simply aren’t true. First of all, several members of the Burning Question crew remained in the city. Of course, we favor a democratic “every man for himself” ethic over the Marine Corps’ “dive on a grenade” philosophy. Besides, some of our editor’s hair grew back.

In patches, mind you, but its there.

For those unfamiliar with the old Burning Question series, we set out each week to answer a query about food, alcohol, restaurants, nightlife—not just the ephemeral stuff, like “what is Kobe beef?” or “how do restaurants set their prices?” but important issues: “can men drink fruity drinks?” “do pickup lines really work?” and “where are the best places to go if you’re looking to get laid?” Anyway, we’ve returned from Prague and a stint at The Prague Post barely scathed and reunited with surviving crewmembers after almost three years with one question: what’s changed?

“Victory Park has come and gone,” says Christopher Zielke, owner of Bolsa in Oak Cliff, referring to the development around the American Airlines Center we have yet to visit. Indeed, Nove, a highly regarded Italian restaurant located within the development failed to pull enough traffic and shut down, even after several positive reviews. “I don’t know if they picked a bad time or not, but there’s just no reason for locals to go there.” Other bars and restaurants continue to soldier on. But, adds Brooks Anderson, a co-owner of Veritas wine bar, “I don’t know how any of those places are going to survive.”

Such pessimism is new in a city devoted to downtown redevelopment, massive stadium projects and silly signature bridges. We just say give Victory some time to fester…oops, bad choice of words…to find its place. After all, France didn’t surrender in a day.

Took something like three weeks, in fact.

Some people we spoke with pointed to the demise of “hard door” clubs. Yet Suite, under the tutelage of Matthew, poet laureate of Dallas nightlife, was throbbing when we stopped by.

At least it looked that way from the velvet rope strung across the entry.

“There’s always gonna be a place in the market for it,” Zielke says of the private club concept. “But culturally we’re going back to a simpler time, neighborhood places—a little more financially responsible.”

Joel Harloff, chef at Dali in One Arts Plaza, agrees. “A lot of sub-neighborhoods are opening up within neighborhoods,” he points out, “keeping people local.” In other words, there’s The Old Monk-The Porch side of Henderson and the Blue Collar Bar-Soley! side.

“I think that’s kinda cool,” Harloff continues. “I like to go to places where I can hide.”

If we were better journalists, we would have pressed him for the reason. But the mere mention of pubs like The Old Monk caused a sort of stir amongst crewmembers. Places opened and closed, naturally. Chefs and bartenders moved on to new postings. Mr. Dallas went electronic, D Magazine started an online nightlife newsletter and a slew of bloggers arrived on the scene. Let’s leave it at that.

Or, perhaps we should just conclude with the most concrete answer to this week’s question.

“What’s changed? My waistline,” Anderson says.

Indeed. --Dave Faries

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries