On a late Thursday evening, rain threatened but never delivered and customers poured out onto the Chesterfield's patio, thankful for the respite from the heat. The downtown cocktail lounge had received a lot of attention from the press in months past -- a chef departed, and an owner was removed and then reinstated, all on the heels of a glowing three-star review in The Dallas Morning News -- but things felt settled in the drinking den now.
Two customers, Corine and Tamie, spoke animated French with fluttering hands as they sipped red wine and snacked on a boring plate of hummus and bread out on the patio. They're visiting Dallas to help set up the tents and other logistics for Cirque de Soleil. If you hear accented speech elsewhere you should strike up a conversation. All sorts of interesting characters will dot the town's bar and restaurants for the next month when they're not astounding fans under the big top.
Corine bummed a cigarette from two young blondes as I sat in on a plate of pot stickers that were burnt and dry. The duck inside the desiccated wrappers might have tasted delicious some time ago, but the flavors were long lost, squeezed out by too much time spent in bubbling oil.
My burger was better. A thick patty that was juicy despite being cooked well past my requested medium rare. I still can't understand the jalapeño Conehead garnish, but there it was, jutting from the top of the bun like a shark's fin.
A turkey melt was half good. One side was laced with spicy mayo that brought the thick slices of roast turkey together with melted cheese. The other side had no condiment at at all, and was woefully dry and bland
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While Michael Ehlert's arrival, and subsequent departure, received much attention his replacement remains unsung. Michael Cullison is responsible for the menu that continues its departure from dining destination to occasionally inspiring bar fare. For now the food is shifty, and the Chesterfield remains an excellent destination to go for a drink, but it's a place to eat only if you find yourself drinking there and hungry.