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Leslie Brenner Slams Americano; Scott Reitz Celebrates The Weird Before Saying Goodbye

Plus, D Magazine's Nancy Nichols checks out an old favorite.

Americano's got great cocktails, but the menu didn't impress Leslie Brenner
Americano's got great cocktails, but the menu didn't impress Leslie Brenner
Lori Bandi [EDFW]

After (now-former) Dallas Observer critic Scott Reitz gave Americano a tepid review last week, The Dallas Morning News’ Leslie Brenner had a much stronger take. The critic enjoyed Americano's "snazzy cocktails," but took The Joule’s new Italian restaurant to task over some serious execution issues:

There were far too many disasters throughout the menu. Terribly salty and overspiced Italian wedding soup suffered from half-cooked white beans and nearly raw carrots in its mirepoix. Too much salt also spoiled a Calabrian chile sausage pizza. Artichoke risotto was a mush. Osso buco, the classic Milanese dish, wasn't improved by using a beef shank instead of the traditional veal, even it's good beef from 44 Farms; whomping it with a heavy reduction sauce didn't help, and its bed of herb-flecked rice masquerading as risotto added insult to injury.

Ouch. One star.

Meanwhile, Reitz bid his final adieu to the Dallas dining scene by celebrating how Dallas chefs are “embracing the weird.” As evidence of this trend, Reitz points to Small Brewpub’s Misti Norris’ naturally-fermented pickles, Armoury DE’s Hungarian comfort food, and the hot chicken at Brick & Bones. He leaves Dallas with a lot of hope for its dining scene:

Making use of obscure and challenging ingredients, resurrecting techniques that haven’t been popular in kitchens for decades, printing menus that force diners outside of their comfort zones before they order a plate — these are the types of big ideas needed to give Dallas a dining culture that stands firmly with its own identity. Dallas has a long way to go if it wants to gain a reputation as a great culinary destination, but it’s standing on a ton of potential.

Will it happen? There’s too much going on in other American cities for those changes to not affect our dining culture here. The rate at which that change occurs is a function of restaurateurs’ willingness to keep embracing weird ideas paired with chefs’ abilities to thoughtfully execute them. If this momentum continues, though, the coming year could be exciting for local diners as chefs and restaurant owners continue to take more risks. It’s distant, but you can almost hear the music for a new theme breaking out amongst the din of clanking tableware. Creativity: It’s what’s for dinner.

Elsewhere, D Magazine’s Nancy Nichols indulged in nostalgia at Bob’s Steak & Chop House for this week’s restaurant review, praising everything but the salads, which “failed to impress.” "One might wince at the $53 price tag on the 22-ounce, bone-in Kansas City strip," writes Nichols. "But the cost includes a vegetable and a potato." Duly noted.

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