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Utensils Not Required: Not for the Cockle-Warming Pumpkin-Chorizo Cappuccino at Pyramid

The pumpkin-chorizo cappuccino amuse-bouche at Pyramid is a delight, however, it's one that you'll be lucky to taste.

That's because it's only one of the amuse-bouche Chef Andre Natera is playing with on his new fall/winter menu. "It's on rotation and will be paired with a spoon amuse-bouche," said Natera. It's cockle-warming stuff that begs to be consumed as one would an espresso. Eschew the spoon. Sometimes the flavor of the cubes of chorizo overwhelmed the pumpkin essence. Then, vice-versa. Like the aroma from a cup of coffee, the scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, the hint of cayenne wafting to my nose were sufficient to kick-start my excitement and prepare me for more.

The seasonal menu premiered last week, but last night The Fairmount Dallas and Pyramid invited a small group of food bloggers to sample the menu, an array of dishes as comforting as a warm hearth. All of the courses were as humble and as grounded as Natera's personality. "Fall and winter are times for approachable foods that warm you up and put you at ease," said Natera, explaining his philosophy for the season. He's certainly expressed that in the new menu.

There was the surprisingly light-pressed pork belly that had more than the all-too- common sliver of meat with maple-glazed granny smith apples and an apple-celery root puree, which was followed by the tuna crudo with paper-thin slices of jalapeño. The chock-a-block venison terrine had a barnyard of ingredients wrapped in bacon and accompanied by a small frisee salad, course Dijon mustard, a duo of cornichons and cherry Cumberland sauce. The rest of the dinner party piled adulation upon adulation on the five-spice pan-roasted duck breast glazed with orange and ginger that was paired with soy-glazed shallots atop a yam puree. I found that it faltered. Not only did the caramelized shallots slide and spin under the pressure of knife and fork like a dog on an ice rink, the bird lacked the vim of the preceding dishes. Dessert, an apple tart tatin a la mode for two, brought the meal back on course.

All the dishes were snug-inducing rustic dishes, honest in approach, with nothing exotic to turn off the diner. Yet, it was the tightly focused attention to the compact flavorful presentation that kept my mind going back to the pumpkin-chorizo amuse-bouche. And had me wanting more.

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