Dallas has plenty of seafood restaurants, but I have a hard time settling in at any of them. They're either too fancy and weird, like the Dallas Fish Market and Oceanaire, or they're too scrappy and dump all of their dishes in a deep frier. What we need is something right in the middle. I'm hoping that's what Marc Cassel offers with the seafood restaurant he's opening in East Dallas in the spot next to Goodfriend. Here's how I'd do it.
Offer oysters like Rex's with a good selection of northern and gulf bivalves. Could you keep the price down, though? I know it's expensive to fly stuff from the coast to the center of the country, but I'm tired of paying $36 a shell when most of the time those experiences stink. Make 'em good, and make 'em cheap and customers might start eating them two dozen at a time. I will.
Get local and round out the raw bar with some Texas shrimp. You can do a fancy cocktail for the people who don't like to get their fingers dirty, but I want mine heaped with spice and served in a basket or dumped right on the table. I'll worry about the mess after I'm eating -- that's what the second lemon wedge is for, anyway.
Some sandwiches would be good, too. Get some nice bread from Empire and fry or boil fresh fish and top it with a nice homemade tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon. The fish sandwich at Rosemont is a great example.
Burgers could be troublesome. One of Dallas' best is served right next door, and I smell a smackdown in the future.
Mostly, though, things need to be comfy. Hopefully the designer will resist the urge to fill the walls with fish nets, boat wheels and buoys and when they open, they'll offer good, cold beer and a nice selection of crisp white wines. If the place comes off like a comfortable bar that people want to visit and hang out in, and they serve really good, simple seafood, customers will keep coming back. If the business at Goodfriend and Good 2 Go Taco are any indicator, the neighborhood is still ravenously hungry.
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