Sifting through the flashy, noisy contrails of Ghostbar, N9NE Steakhouse and Nove Italiano, nightclub entrepreneur Jesse Herman determined the key to Victory lies in dressing down. Call it dingy chic. Herman, who made his name propelling New York's celebrity cauldron Pangaea, has linked with hospitality facilitator Donald Chick (Mansion, M Crowd, Salve Ristorante) to plant a pair of casual Victory Park noshers: La Condesa and Pacific & Central. "We saw a void at Victory Park," Herman says. "It lacked something that was really fun and casual." Located next to Kenichi, Pacific & Central is billed as a speakeasy cum vintage American bistro decked in salvaged furniture. Come January, you can eat P&C sandwiches, fresh shellfish and meatloaf while you're dressed in shorts and flip-flops. Chic flip-flops. Le Condesa in Victory Plaza requires slightly dressier flip-flops and a belt for the shorts. Come February, it will proffer authentic Sonoran cuisine (street fare tacos, wheat flour tortillas, enchiladas and tortas) coupled with a selection of 50 premium tequilas. Both kitchens will be commanded by chef Michael Stephens, a one-time line cook at San Francisco's Jardinière.
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James Rowland originally wanted a French restaurant, but "I kept scaring people," he says. So he's toned down the Gallic accent. Sure, he has classics such as coq au vin. But to this he adds odd American improvisations such as lobster bastard: a whole lobster omelet with American caviar. "I had it in the beginning," he says when he opened James Rowland's Bistro Nous last month at Frankford and the Tollway in what was once an extension of Avner Samuel's Urban Bistro on Inwood. "I was selling it for 60 bucks as a joke. I sold four the first night." Rowland, who was a chef at the defunct Beau Nash in the Crescent, the defunct Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill and at the Dallas National Golf Club, joined Samuel's former partners Mark Lindberg, Bruce Smith and Josh Lankford after they and the Aurora chef had a parting of the ways. Rowland was originally going to put his stamp on both North Dallas and Inwood locations. He balked. "I thought it was best to take one place and put our heart and soul into it," he says. Tristan Simon picked up the slack, putting a Fireside Pies in the Inwood location.