Scott Reitz’s last week at the Dallas Observer is giving the California-bound critic a serious headache. This week, Reitz reviewed Americano, the Joule Hotel’s new Italian restaurant. As his first look at Americano indicated, the restaurant is still incredibly loud.
Even the colors are loud. The dining room is finished in jarring shades of red and green, and while a new installation of sound-absorbing material will be completed soon, plywood walls, plenty of marble and other hard surfaces give sound waves many opportunities to bounce around. A green neon sign screams, "It’s all in your head," but it’s not. This place can give you a headache when it’s busy, and it’s always busy. On Friday nights, the bar is full, with long waits separating diners from their tables. On Mondays, seats are easier to come by, but even when the dining room isn’t spilling over with customers the space is still overwhelmed by noise.
Despite the noise pollution, Reitz was clearly enamored with pretty much everything else about Americano, though he cautions that "eating well here might require some dexterity." If you aren't feeling particularly dexterous, Reitz recommends the butternut squash tortellini with pumpkin seed pesto and fried artichoke hearts dipped in lemon aioli as safe bets.
Leslie Brenner trekked to North Dallas to review old-school seafood spot The Oceanaire, and clearly appreciated the classic approach, especially when it came to the service.
the service, some of the most confidently professional I'd been treated to in a while. There was no "have you dined with us before" nonsense, no pushing us to choose an appetizer before we could take in the menu. Our thoughtful waiter, who told us what just-flown-in seafood was exciting that night -- and better yet, why it was exciting -- was there when we needed him and left us alone when we didn't.
Brenner recommends The Oceanaire as a "fine spot for a business lunch," and raves about a crab Louie dish on the lunch menu. Ultimately, she advises diners to stick to the classics, like scampi-style Nantucket Bay scallops and the "impressive" baked Alaska on the dessert menu. Three stars.
Food editor Nancy Nichols also headed north to check out Addison's La Comida for the December issue of D Magazine. Suffice it to say, the magazine's former food critic was less than impressed. In fact, the "overseasoned plates" here have "ruined the promise of great Tex-Mex."
The arrachera steak—a glorious-sounding flank steak folded over melted cheese, garlic butter, poblano peppers, and mushrooms and spiced with a Mexican chimichurri—was a magnificent-looking mess, but it was so salty that my tongue was burned after two bites. Salt also killed any other possible tastes to come through the gooey melted cheese poured over beef enchiladas.
Nichols also posted a two-part "review" of an unnamed Uptown restaurant this week, sounding off on "servers who interrupt table conversation." The piece generated a minor online backlash (leading one commenter to call Nichols a "waspy pterodactyl") after being linked on The Bitchy Waiter. In response, Nichols published an interview with the popular service industry blog's writer Darren Cardosa in an attempt to let servers tell their side of the story. It is definitely worth a read.