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Brenner Takes on Fine Dining at Fort Worth's Le Cep

Plus, Reitz on Smoke Plano and Gubbins on Vivo 53.

Inside Le Cep.
Inside Le Cep.
Malcolm Mayhew/EDFW

Leslie Brenner reviewed Le Cep: Is fine dining making a comeback? It certainly feels that way at this "elegant, 15-table contemporary French restaurant in the Cultural District" that serves "formal eight-course or four-course tasting menus" (there's even a Champagne cart). For the most part, the dishes are "well-turned-out, the cooking precise and the flavors harmonious," though the critic wishes "that the chef either took more risks or showed a little more soul." The best dishes she tasted include a unique venison consommé and a bright runner bean salad, which were interspersed with somewhat more predictable plates like filet with Cabernet-peppercorn sauce, sockeye salmon over Brussels sprouts, and duck breast with mushroom risotto. Three stars. [Dallas Morning News]

Scott Reitz went to Smoke Plano: The suburban outpost of Tim Byres' Texan sensation is different enough from the original to "make the new outpost worth its own visit." Besides a more spacious dining room and patio, there is that much-talked-about custom hearth in the kitchen that churns out beautifully cooked proteins, such as "a well-marbled rib eye" that's "served with an absurd amount of butter." Don't sleep on the Key lime meringue pie, either. Overall, "Smoke has pulled off a mature, well-thought-out sequel without looking like a sell out." [Dallas Observer]

Teresa Gubbins checked out Vivo 53: After a string of failed restaurant tenants, Fort Worth's The Tower building "has a restaurant it can be proud of in Vivo 53." The thin-crust pies offer "a puffy, crisp, billowy rim" reminiscent of Fireside Pies, and showcase unusual ingredients like Taleggio cheese, fried squash blossoms, Kobe meatballs, clams, and fried kale. Vegetable dishes are standouts, including fried Brussels sprouts, cauliflower with garlic yogurt, and a cold green been salad with hazelnuts. Pastas are also worthwhile, particularly garganelli with chicken meatballs. []

ELSEWHERE: sampled the new Rangers concessions and ate vegetarian-friendly bar food; SideDish tasted local IPAs and drank at Fat Rabbit;