New Year's is pretty close. Time to take a good, hard look at our insides and decide what needs work, or at least what we think we can manage to work on effectively. I've got a few commitments I've made to myself involving exercise, giving up meat on Mondays and taking better food photos, but I've also come up with some resolutions for the restaurants in Dallas. Here they are.
Embrace seasonality Locavores have had a tough go in Dallas, but seasonality should be a cinch. This resolution is for restaurants with a higher price point. Far be it from me to deny a guy a tomato slice on his sandwich or burger (no matter how cottony), but if you're charging top dollar for your plates, the ingredients you use should be fresh and in season. It doesn't matter if Dallas' palate wants caprese in January. Restaurants should be our guide. Show us how to eat beautifully.
Lose the truffle oil Same thing on price point here. If you're serving cheap pizza and want to destroy your rounds with an inferior ingredient, have at it. But if you're selling expensive steaks, using truffle oil is just crass. Even if you think it tastes good (it doesn't) you shouldn't be using it. It's not truffles, it's poison. You'd never use cheese food instead of real cheese. Pony up and get the real stuff or find something else to cook with. I'm really surprised to see this stuff used at places like the Mansion and Nick and Sam's.
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Invest in your bread When I first came to Dallas I thought the bread sucked. I was wrong. There are some decent bakeries here tuning out great loaves; Empire has a great baguette and Rush in Oak Cliff makes a croissant that makes my eyes water. I'd much rather have a single slice of something with character, structure and flavor than a big basket of Wonder bread. You put so much thought into your dishes and sauces. Give us something awesome to mop them up with.
Ditch the TVs Take a look at your dining room and ask yourself what people should be doing while they dine. Do you want them to eat consciously? Do you want your diners to focus on your food? Then maybe ditch the tube. Sports bars, pubs and other casual places get a pass. (Have you been to the Owners Box in the Omni? The TVs are so big they give me vertigo.) But places that shouldn't use truffle oil probably shouldn't be tiled in televisions either.
Check your playlist More of the restaurants I've been to lately are curating better tunes, but there's more work to do. Figure out the tone you want to create and set up a song list that complements it (why don't more bars play jazz?). It can't take more than a few hours to set up a dinner service worth of music. Take pity on your staff and make it a little longer. They'll have to listen to it over and over and over.
I give myself till January 3 to fail miserably at my own resolutions, so I can't hardly expect local restaurants to heed my wishlist. But maybe a few restaurants were already thinking of taking similar measures on their own. If just a few of them did, Dallas would be an even better place to eat.