Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dallas: Going "Local" in Seven Courses

It seems that the word "local" comes up often in the food world these days - and for good reason. Local food usually tastes better, is better for you, travels less, and provides regional and seasonal framework to cuisine.

Local restaurant in Dallas popped up on my radar this trip through the various forums and reviews on Chow and the local newspapers. Local's "modern American upscale" menu pretty much falls in my sweet spot. As I scan the menu, I detect a focus on clean, classic flavors and innovative uses of high quality ingredients.

After the first look of the menu, and an internal assessment of the staff and restaurant, we determine that the Chef's tasting menu is the way to go to tonight. We further rationalize the high-dollar purchase by noting that my birthday was just "last month" and we were "almost closed" on that real estate deal. Maybe visa will "sort-of" post the whole charge?

For the record, I LOVE tasting menus. A chef is going to crank out 7-13 courses of something really good for me - and pair said courses with wine? Bring. It. On.

Here's how our wonderful dinner broke best as I can remember:

Amuse bouche: Pureed fava bean soup (with some really good oil drizzled on top, mind you)

Soup of summer squash with crispy leaks

Salad of heirloom tomatoes, green beans, blue cheese and pickled fennel

Maine lobster cake, crispy beet and frisee slaw

Foie gras with cherry reduction and "Texas toast"

Intermezzio: Texas peach sorbet

Salmon with fava bean and potato puree

Filet of beef with arugula toss and crispy potatoes

Blueberry cake....adjectives and other descriptives escape me here.

The food was very hand made...well seasoned...and at times, packed with restrained and carefully crafted the perfect balance of spice and smoke on the filet. The source of the smoke notes remain a mystery; as when I inquired with the staff if the smoke came from smoked sea salt, or other means I was told that it was "a trade little secret from the chef." Fine. You don't want to show your hand...I was just geeking out on your delicous food. Who doesn't love a mystery anyway?

Of the wines, the 2006 Vincent Pouilly Fuisse was clearly a favorite - paired wiht the salmon/fava bean puree. The other pairings ranged from the traditional (chardonnay with lobster) to the, well, traditional (a smokey cab with the aforementioned smokey filet). If I were to pick one downer during the meal (like a free Ferrari in a color I don't care for); I would have preffered a Sauterne or Royal Tokaji to go with the lovely rich sweetness of the foie course.

Set in the heart of Deep Ellum, the decor was decidedly hip and delightfully mellow at the same time. Lovers of Bozeman's Plonk would feel right at home in Local.

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