Yesterday, we asked Janice Provost, chef/owner of Parigi Restaurant, to tell us about herself, her restaurant and her thoughts on the national dining scene. Today, she shares her views on dining in Dallas.
What are the five Dallas restaurants you go to most often? I don't get to eat out much. But still it's hard to limit it to only five. 1. I live in Oak Cliff, so I go to Bolsa with my husband a couple of times a month. 2. I have been to Lucia in Oak Cliff, a couple of times, and have loved it! 3. I love the burger at Maple and Motor, not to mention Jack Perkins...he is a legend. 4. Restaurant Ava in Rockwall. Randall and Nathan live it, love it, and make it happen! 5. The Grape gets it. Brian Luscher is such a cool chef, and his wife, Courtney, make the dining room feel so welcoming. They are doing a wonderful job of continuing the tradition of The Grape.
What are five things the Dallas restaurant scene needs more of? 1. National recognition...there are a lot of amazing places in Dallas, but we don't necessarily get the notice that we should. It is getting better, though. 2. Patios. Dog-friendly patios. 3. Open kitchens. 4. Tasting menus. 5. Chefs who grow their own herbs and produce or who source from local farms.
What are five things the Dallas restaurant scene needs less of? 1. People who don't give a restaurant a second chance. Everyone can make a mistake. But no one sets out to give a guest a bad experience. I always tell people to try a place a second time if they are not happy the first time. 2. Star ratings that are not based on an equal playing field. I mean, in some markets, the stars are based on type of dining: fine, casual, family, fast, etc. I wish we had a way to see rankings of stars based on the type of dining establishment, not everyone lumped together. 3. Restaurants not buying sustainable foods. I want to know that the fish I'm eating was not fed funky stuff in an overcrowded environment and that the beef I'm eating was not fed hormones or treated poorly. 4. Bad lighting. Know when to turn the lighting down. 5. Unfriendly waitstaff. You should always be made to feel special, whether it is your first time to the place or your 10th time.
What is the best of Dallas when it comes to restaurants? As a chef, I love the camaraderie that is developing. I love my chef friends and being able to work with them on community projects. We all work hard, and we are willing to help each other get better and to succeed, not just individually, but as a community.
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I think there are so many great chefs in Dallas who give back so often. Recently, I called about 10 of my chef friends for Life is Sweet, a charity event for Best Buddies. All of them showed up and had a great time. Our latest endeavor, Café Momentum, is made up of tons of chefs from great restaurants giving of their time to help create a learning environment for disadvantaged kids to get into the culinary profession. It's not just about the chefs. It's about what they can do for others. Dallas chefs really do care.
What is the worst of Dallas when it comes to restaurants? My momma told me, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. 'Nuff said.
If you could steal one dish off another Dallas chef's menu, what would it be? That ding-dang no-knead bread at Lucia. I wish we had the time and space to make it at Parigi. But, alas, we don't.