Short Orders: Palomino

500 Crescent Ct. (Atrium)

Age can fray a restaurant. Leather wears, fittings crack and the room begins to lose its allure.

Not so in the case of Palomino. The dining space at this veteran Crescent Court locale speaks of timeless dinner club finery, with an inviting bar and patio that's just plain old cool. Even graying wait staff show some personality.

Despite the restaurant's longevity, therefore, you could imagine this a Dallas hot spot--a meeting up place populated by cougars, $30,000 millionaires and the other semi-fictional characters of local dining lore. Order a few appetizers and you wonder why these folks ever abandoned the place.

Their Tuscan white bean hummus is, after all, an interesting if non-traditional creation. Instead of featuring the mellow flavor of chickpeas, this version tenders something earthier, almost hollow, and cleverly dressed with chopped olives and an herbaceous olive oil. Thin slices of lemon draped over the top substitute for tahini.

Ah, but then you come to one of their recommended entrees.

Scallops dusted in an almond coating bound by Asiago is worthy of, say, Red Lobster. It's a flavorless assembly barely capable of justifying a $12 price tag, much less the $26 Palomino charges. Yeah, this is part of a national operation. Chain or not, upscale kitchens don't--or shouldn't--serve bleached, overcooked shellfish that fade into a blase crust. And Champagne beurre blanc ought to...

Hell, never mind. I'll say this: the location and bar area make it a perfect gathering spot before AAC events--they even run specials for Mavs fans. And Wednesdays they slash wine (by the bottle) prices in half.

Not a bad deal. Order a few starters and maybe one of their flatbreads to go along.

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