In part one of this week's Three Course Meal, we gave you a look at Patton Robertson, executive chef at Five-Sixty and his thoughts on the national food scene. In today's second installment, the chef shares his views on what the Dallas dining scene looks like from 560 feet in the air.
What are the five Dallas restaurants you go to most often? If I am not working, then the last place I want to be is in a restaurant; however, for my fiancée's sake, I agreed to what we call "Monday Night Madness." We select a different restaurant every week and dine there for our date night. I am pretty sure we could carry on this tradition without repeating the same restaurant for many years to come. Our most recent five were: Buca di Beppo, Uncle Julio's, 3-6-9 Chinese BBQ, Iron Cactus and Wyland's Ocean Blue. We try to mix it up. So, at the moment, we're trying all kinds of restaurants, not limiting ourselves to high-end fine dining. (That tends to get a little expensive!) We love to find, and are always looking for, the perfect hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
What are some things the Dallas restaurant scene needs more of? 1. More focus on the food and less on atmosphere. Not every restaurant needs to be a Rainforest Café. I want to remember the presentation on my plate and not the paintings on the wall.
2. Knowledgeable waitstaff. The staff really needs to try everything on the menu so they can speak about it based on their experience and tastes.
3. Fun and interesting drinks tailored to the customer's tastes, like a watermelon mojito, a pina colada martini, an espresso martini.
4. Kid-friendly, fine-dining restaurants. This is challenging but can be done just by adding a few more things on the menu and providing an activity that engages all ages. I would love to take my children to a nice eatery on Mother's Day, Easter and Christmas, as well as on special events and after church. We always end up at Five-Sixty.
I want to remember the flavors, the server's name, the bartender's name, etc. That means more to me than the atmosphere. Also, if you're with good company, then it doesn't really matter what the atmosphere is like.
What are five things the Dallas restaurant scene needs less of? Copycats who attempt to make the same foods as fine-dining establishments, but with low quality ingredients. Yuck. Lame BBQ joints, average Mexican food places, restaurants that are trying to be something more than what they are.
What is the best of Dallas when it comes to restaurants? Stephen Pyles for Southwestern cuisine; Charlie Palmer at the Joule; Nobu for Japanese and Asian; and, of course Five-Sixty.
What is the worst of Dallas when it comes to restaurants? I can't go there for fear of the hate mail and malicious posts I will get all over my Facebook page.
If you could steal one dish off another Dallas chef's menu, what would it be? One of the perks of my job is that I am able to work at a lot of special events and charity functions, which are usually riddled with tasting booths from all the other fine dining restaurants in Dallas. We [the chefs] have a great rapport and respect for one another. We all trade our dishes and share recipes. It's not about stealing somebody's dish. It's all about taking their dish, tweaking it and making it your own.