Cast-Iron Stalk

Things haven't gone well for chef Kevin Ascolese (once of Sfuzzi, Mi Piaci, Salve! Ristorante and Ferre) since he vacated Breckenridge, Colorado, where he flipped patties at Empire Burger, for Dallas. Ascolese left the slopes to upgrade the Patrizio's restaurants (Highland Park, Plano, Highland Village near Flower Mound) for owner Ed Bailey, the lushly successful McDonald's franchisee. Why? Ascolese thought he and Bailey meshed. Until the gear teeth broke off. "I kind of got caught up in a whirlwind over there," Ascolese deadpans. "I didn't see that coming at all. Bam. I was the first one. Two weeks later somebody else left. Two weeks after that somebody else got fired, and I'm like, man, they're just cleaning out the house." Three months later, Ascolese is still pounding the pavement looking for a kitchen command in between consulting projects for the likes of Urbano Restaurant and Paninoteca, where he revamped their dinner menu by swapping out sandwiches for a cast-iron skillet sirloin with heirloom tomatoes and onion rings. "I've never been in a situation like this before," he laments. Things have gone better for former Mansion maître d' Enam Chowdhury, who moved over to Robert Colombo's The Club in the Centrum from Patrizio's during the shake-up.

Lotus, it's called. Of course it's luxuriant, with furniture from Indonesia, Bali and Java and a 3-ton limestone fountain on the patio. In time it will serve Asian tapas to mate with martinis, such as Lotus sour pucker and butane. Lotus is a 4,000-square-foot "luxury lounge" launched in the defunct Americas Latin tapas restaurant on McKinney by Chris Faulkner, founder of the Internet hosting firm CI Host, and nightclub sound developer Patrick Tetrick (Sense, Hotel ZaZa). It's described as feng shui meets St. Tropez. Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of harmonious arrangement. St. Tropez was a legendary beheaded martyr whose body was tossed into a boat...Meanwhile former Candle Room manager Aaron Latus will give us Praeda Ultra Lounge in One Arts Plaza this fall. Praeda, which means booty acquired in battle—profound nightclub feng shui, that—boasts a 360-degree projection video screen for voyeurism in-the-round. The projection system even has a scanner, so all 360 degrees of you can be projected into the Praeda round. "I can put you in the middle of the Sahara desert and you act like you're running through the sand or you look like you're falling off a cliff or you're surrounded by water in the ocean," Latus says. There's a 20-foot-long aquarium, 5-foot-tall aquarium too. Packed with sharks.

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz

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