Short Orders: Maguire's

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17552 Dallas Parkway

When a restaurateur decides to back a second (or third) venture, does the original suffer? Yeah, sometimes.

But Mark Maguire is an old hand at openings, what with the former M Grill and current Rise No. 1 and Maximo to his credit. Still, the North Dallas location--Maguire's--continues to plug along, unfazed by whatever developments distract its ownership.

You have to give Maguire a nod on this. Too many restaurateurs forsake the old for the lure of new and promising operations, but his kitchen along the tollway remains consistent. Of course, that doesn't imply perfection.

One of the things you notice, right off, is plebeian treatment of decent ingredients. At their worst they over-do things, like a simple place trying to appear sophisticated. So a few of their menu items come across as good, but...For instance, they slather melt-in-your-mouth salmon with a heavy-handed maple glaze and set the whole on Asian-themed rice that revives memories of La Choy (in flavor profile, not quality). Escargot wallows in melted butter so dense with garlic and herbs a grassy and noticeably bitter character puts the dish out of whack.

But the snails themselves are plump and meaty. If treated with more reserve, some of their flavor might show through. When the kitchen tones things down a notch, it presents some thoroughly enjoyable plates. Their house-named salad--arranged with apples, nuts and blue cheese--is, according to stalwart fans, the city's best pile of greens...and it is pretty good. Billed as "famous," Maguire's meatloaf features a gentle mound of veal and pork, yielding an extraordinarily moist texture and almost serene flavor. Only the outer char strikes bold, acrid notes, picked up by the somewhat over-salted mushroom sauce.

Such has always been this restaurant's mantra: approachable, above average cooking in a near-elegant dining room. One can dress up and order escargot or drop in after a trip to Target for something more homestyle--doesn't matter.

Their goal isn't refined dining, but pleasant, reliable dining--something they continue to manage quite well.

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