"Do you want to go to this restaurant opening?" I asked my boyfriend as we were heating up leftovers. Checking the temperature of his canned soup, he replied, "Can't. I'm broke." To which I informed him, "It's free, and it's sponsored by champagne and vodka."
Apparently, I didn't even have to mention which brands of said alcohol are sponsoring the fete for him to do a 180 and climb on board.
The spotlighted restaurant in question is Dish, the newest concept from the team who brought to Dallas uptown's Lift and downtown's Fuse. Having driven by this new restaurant (which actually opened about three weeks ago) several times while running errands around my neighborhood, from the outside it looks like any other uptown mid to high end new American restaurant. The only difference would be its location.
Dish sits on the LGBT-dominated area of Cedar Springs--the "Gayborhood"--an area which has, quite frankly, been craving an upscale hotspot like this. Cravings, however, sometimes can end up with quite messy and regretful consequences.
Just like the building in which it resides, the new Ilume apartment complex, Dish is kind of an anomaly that makes sense. If the Ilume looks like a piece of South Beach transplanted onto "out" Dallas, then Dish has found its perfect home.
Again, at first glance, Dish looks as if it belongs on a McKinney or a Knox-Henderson. Once you step inside, it's a whole different story. Missing are the conservatively glossy designs you would find in the rest of Dallas. Stepping into Dish is like stepping into a big party, which is confusing because you can't decide if it's a lounge, a club, or a restaurant. However, maybe that was the idea to begin with, a huge party space that includes everything.
An incredibly grand and beautiful white bar is the star standout, while huge banquette style booths add to the opulent hedonism. The open kitchen is a great touch and provides even more of a welcoming vibe. On top of that, I predict that the patio at Dish is going to be seeing a lot of action, during summertime or wintertime, due to an incredible heating system that kept all of its patrons nice and toasty.
The problem issues with this restaurant all tie back to an identity crisis. We'll get to the food later, but one can spot this right away by just looking at the design. Imagine dark hard wood floors, orange and purple lit plastic-like chandeliers, and brick walls that are actually made of light colored wood. Does any of that seem like it would clash to you? As for the food, a very helpful server named Fransisco, as well as, maybe, some capitalizing on my part of the whole "Observer" title thing-y (it was, in part, a media event), secured us a mini sample plate of some of the items Dish has to offer.
While Fransisco sweetly and patiently described everything I was eating as "upscale modern comfort food," I had to agree that the plate in front of us definitely was pretty. Again, the whole "upscale comfort" concept is an oxymoron in itself. As I started to randomly go at the food in front of us, ravenous party goers enviously wondered how I got so lucky.
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To be fair, everything I sampled was bite size, and may not be a clear indication of how larger portions fare. Flatbreads fell, well, flat. Sorry, that was terrible, but true. Pulled Chicken Tacos were surprisingly dry for meat that included both white and dark. The small sandwiches--yes, they use the forbidden "s" word, as if they wish to promote intestinal distress--were smaller than normal.
Finally, a first glance of Dish would be remiss without a mention of the incredible staff. This is possibly the biggest asset Dish has to offer. Between the hiring and the training, Dish management has done a fantastic job in finding friendly staff and incredibly skilled bartenders.
Dish may have some identity issues to deal with, but its location, its exuberant atmosphere, and its eager clientele will keep this restaurant packed and hopping...for the moment, at least.
Exec. Chef: Brian Summers
Concept Chef/Part Owner: Doug Brown
4123 Cedar Springs Rd.
Specialty Cocktails: Yes
Crowd: LBGT, their hot female friends, metro straight guys
Hours: 4 pm-2am