The words Texas and spice invoke plenty of connotations food-wise -- beef, heat, chili and smoke all come to mind. There are lots of ways to dice the terms, but if you say Texas Spice, it's likely to bring to mind big and bold flavors.
Farm-to-table and locavorism, meanwhile, aren't typically movements that come to mind when picturing Texas cooking. Despite respectable efforts at a handful of Dallas restaurants, most places pay lip service to these causes, sourcing one or two ingredients while ignoring the bulk of their menu.
Texas Spice, the signature restaurant of the new Omni Hotel (and the subject of this week's review), claims to sourcing roughly 90 percent of its food from within small radius, and it makes an admirable effort. But gulf-raised red fish and cattle raised in Oklahoma (even if it's finished in-state) push this boundary out significantly.
And then there's the execution.
As much as I want to praise restaurants that embrace sustainable practices, I think it's even more important for places like this to really nail execution. Texas Spice comes up short across the board, with dishes that fail bring enough Texas or enough spice or enough creativity. They don't bring enough anything, really, except calories. Everything's bigger. Ugh.
Maybe they're still getting their footing. As we move into spring and summer, chef Cory Garrison will have a lot more ingredients to play with. Plans to pickle and jar excess produce mean that next winter's menu could be significantly different from this winter's, too.
Time will tell. But for now, even if I'm checking in at the Omni, I'm checking out of its signature restaurant.