Dallas isn't exactly a mecca of French food, but there are a few spots to get your fix of beef bourguignon or a legit soupe a l'oignon. What have noticed, though, is that there is one major dish that is missing from some of the city's best Frenchie-food menus: escargots.
Escargots have been served for thousands of years by a variety of cultures. The Romans considered the tiny snails a delicacy, and they became a large part of the French food scene in the late 1800s. Alexandre Dumas, of The Three Musketeers fame, penned some of the first recipes for escargot in his Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, published in 1873.
Since then, the escargot has become one of France's most famous and recognizable dishes. Alas, when I looked at the menus for The French Room, arguably the best French restaurant in Dallas, there were no escargots on offer. Same goes for Bijoux, another of the top-rated restaurants.
There are, though, several great places in town to find a great plate of the buttery little bugs. Personally, I order a plate of escargots when I'm in need of feeling real damn fancy. If you're in the mood for a #TreatYoSelf kind of day, head out to one of these swanky spots.
1. Toulouse (above) Technically, Toulouse offers a "rich and classic" French-inspired Belgian cuisine. Their escargot, however, are totalement Francais. The white wine and butter sauce Toulouse prepares the escargot in is classic French style, and is a great companion with the hunks of crusty bread that are served alongside. Pair it with a glass of buttery Chardonnay, like the Sonoma-Cutrer, for a truly indulgent experience.
2. Cadot This was one portion that I didn't want to split with my friends, even if there were plenty of plump snails to share. Chef Jean-Marie Cadot puts a spin on the traditional garlic butter sauce for escargot by adding cream, which makes a rich dish even richer. Pernod adds a touch of anise flavor, which cuts right through all that butter and cream and enhances the natural earthiness of the escargot.
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3. St. Martin's I wandered into St. Martin's one afternoon for Happy Hour and instantly became skeptical of a French bistro that didn't have St. Germain behind the bar. Three types of Grey Goose, but zero elderflower liqueur for my split of Moet & Chandon. When the escargots came out, though, my mind changed immediately. The escargot plate was small, but there were two chubby little snails wedged into each cup, and sauced with a classic shallot-infused garlic butter. Fontina cheese went on top, and the whole thing was broiled to perfection. Best of all, the portion was on happy hour special, making it the most inexpensive option on this list.
4. Lavendou At Lavendou, escargots are prepared much in the same way any of the other restaurants on this list, with one major exception. Sure, the recipe still features plenty of garlic and butter and herbes fines, but the chef replaces white wine with red for a classic bourguignonne sauce. If you're into traditional escargot, you should give bourguignonne-style a try. It's different, but you're probably gonna love it.
5. Bistro 31 Alberto Lombardi's Bistro 31 in Highland Park Village is typically a little too swanky for my blood. Every time I go, I think they're going to tow away my car because it's too junky to be parked next to all those Bentleys and Rolls Royces. The escargots, though, are totally worth the risk. Executive Chef Eric Brandt shakes things up big-time by serving Burgundy snails in a cheesy garlic fondue with artichokes, mushrooms, and plenty of cream to help it all come together into a beautiful gratin. The escargots also aren't served in a traditional escargot plate, which makes it much easier to grab up all that delicious sauce with the crispy & soft toast points that accompany the appetizer.
Escargots aren't everyone's thing, but if you're into them, you know you want to go try each of these iterations. If only to make sure that I know what the hell I'm talking about.