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Leslie Brenner Loves Top Knot; 18th & Vine’s Fancy BBQ Is A Win

Plus, D Magazine reviews Mr Max Cafe Nippon in Irving

Top Knot is Dallas' newest four star spot
Top Knot is Dallas' newest four star spot
Kathy Tran [EDFW]
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

It’s (finally) Friday, which means that it’s time to round up the week’s restaurant reviews from Dallas’ favorite food critics. Yesterday, Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner filed a rave review of Top Knot, Uchi’s more casual offspring. Clearly, Brenner was impressed, calling the fare “flawlessly executed.”

First, though, the critic was bewildered by the new concept. “What??? Are you kidding me?,” writes Brenner. “An Asian fusion restaurant in Dallas that doesn't serve crazy rolls?” Indeed, Chef Angela Hernandez’s more restrained treatment of raw fish was clearly a hit:

There are two spectacular crudos, including one starring slices of beautifully sweet raw scallop, each dressed with a sliver of raw jalapeño, cilantro, mint and Thai basil leaves, lime zest, shaved red onion and a tangerine supreme. They're set in a pool of young coconut milk zinged with lemon grass, ginger, jalapeño and more; we used spoons to finish every drop. The gorgeous plate looks and tastes like something you'd find at Uchi.

Four stars, and five question marks.

Elsewhere, D Magazine’s Eve Hill-Agnus headed to Mr Max Cafe Nippon, the recently-revived Japanese spot in Irving. Agnus notes that the restaurant reopened with a “slightly altered menu but the same authenticity,” along with high praise for the izakaya-style menu:

Order sake and take in the options. They’re izakaya-based and good across a broad range. Something cool and fresh—melting miso-braised eggplant or beads of raw octopus riled with wasabi. A platter of crunchy pickles—purple ume (tart, salted plum), yellow turnip, smoky burdock, peppery white daikon. Takoyaki, octopus dumplings, come out piping hot, topped with takoyaki sauce, bonito shavings, and nori. Sauce-drizzled, with molten centers, they’re blistering bites of goodness.

Elsewhere, the Dallas Observer’s Chris Wolfgang weighed in on 18th & Vine, the Kansas City-style BBQ spot on Maple Ave. Most notably, Wolfgang shouts-out the Lester, a hefty grilled cheese sandwich piled high with pitmaster Matt Dallman’s killer brisket. A “solid choice,” he says, for enthusiasts of both sandwiches and smoked meats.