By many accounts, Dallas' dining scene is improving. Restaurants have gotten more James Beard Awards and increased national attention as innovative and passionate cooking slowly edges closer to mainstream. Both Nancy Nichols at D and Leslie Brenner at the DMN have noted progress within the last year, and I'm seeing it too. It's an exciting time to be a food lover in Dallas.
See also: - This Week's Review: A Greek, Maybe, But Not The Greek
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One Arts, on the other hand, is slowly moving backward. Last summer The Commissary, Screen Door and Tei-An anchored the plaza with genuinely interesting cooking. Just a year later, Teiichi Sakurai's spin on modern Japanese cuisine is the only restaurant worth the valet parking on its own.
The Greek, which replaced The Commissary last fall, has been a major disappointment. Not a single dish grabbed me as particularly noteworthy or evocative, and much of the menu is so boring it rivals melatonin. I was excited to see gyros fashioned from thinly shaved pork, but then the bread they were served on was terrible. Shipped from Canada, the loaves undoubtedly pass scores of better examples of bread baking -- some as close as Dallas' own suburbs.
On the other side of the plaza Café des Artistes brings us yet another Lombardi Restaurant concept. As far as corporate restaurants go, the Lombardi's produce some of the safest restaurants you can dine in. It's rare that you'll have a terribly disappointing meal in any of their establishments, but you'll never leave inspired either. All this in a world class arts district.
Just down the street, some of the most creative people in Dallas are bringing amazing art music and culture to downtown Dallas. With the exception of Tei-An, it's a shame the restaurants aren't keeping up.