The French Room at the Adolphus Hotel is a long-standing institution in our city. It’s also one that’s seen some frequent change over the last two years. The newest change arrives in the form of chef Anthony Dispensa, who has hired a new back-of-house staff and revamped the menu.
It’s no surprise a new chef would do either of those things. But when you take the restaurant’s established prix fixe menu and offer a la carte options, that’s a new development.
Dispensa has spent some time establishing his role as executive chef of the French Room, and he’s confident the changes will result in progress for the established restaurant.
“I don’t want people to come in and feel overwhelmed,” Dispensa says, noting the grandiose interior design of the dining room. “People shouldn’t be scared to come in. You’re in a room that everyone in Dallas wants to be in.”
The chef has invested his time working on the menu, both on the a la carte side and the tasting.
“It’s not going to go on the menu until I’m 100 percent,” he says.
The current menu will be there through the end of the year, he says, as he considers changing things up in 2019.
The entrees of the a la carte menu include beet risotto ($22) with golden beets, pearl onion petals and horseradish gel; veal sweetbreads ($21) with the thumbelina carrots, pearl onions and salsify; and foie gras torchon ($14) with root vegetables, sauce bearnaise and sherry dressing.
As for the plates in that category, you can find Crystal Valley farm chicken ($27) with parsnip purée and Savoy cabbage; Long Island duck ($36) with butternut squash gel and brussels sprouts leaves; and dry-aged ribeye ($65) with pommel purée, rainbow Swiss chard and sauce bordelaise.
The tasting menu ($110) gives you five courses of salmon, risotto, halibut, wagyu and a soufflé. Add a wine pairing for an additional $60 or a premium wine pairing for an additional $100.
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“If you go into the restaurant, close your eyes, is the food worth it?” Dispensa asks. “You can come in here and say that the food is amazing.”
Hopefully you don’t need to close your eyes. There is something special about the French Room. However, it’s exciting that there’s someone in the kitchen focused on the food and on progress.
Here’s to hoping that progress is in the right direction.
The French Room, 1321 Commerce St., inside the Adolphus (downtown Dallas)