Best in DFW: New Restaurants of 2012
It’s been a crazy, tumultuous year in Dallas dining. Wonderful restaurants closed: Nana, Craft Dallas and Screen Door. Talented chefs and restaurateurs unexpectedly abandoned their posts: André Natera (the Pyramid Restaurant), Jeffery Hobbs (Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and Cocktails), Monica Greene (Monica’s Nueva Cocina), Colleen O’Hare and Jeana Johnson (Acme F&B).
And a slew of terrific restaurants opened.
In fact, it started to look like choosing a Restaurant of the Year for 2012 would be a daunting task. On the one hand, we had Oak — the beautiful Design District establishment from Tommy DeAlano and Richard and Tiffanee Ellman that opened last year, too late to be considered for The Best in DFW: New Restaurants of 2011. And then we had Driftwood, the wonderful seafood spot Jonn Baudoin opened in Oak Cliff in the spring. In October, Matt McCallister introduced FT33, just around the corner from Oak, completely shaking things up. November brought Stephan Pyles’ new Stampede 66 and John Tesar’s Spoon, neither of which could be counted out.
All in all, it has been an exceptional year — what a group of outstanding debuts!
But in the end, the choice for Restaurant of the Year was clear: FT33 is the most impressive debut not just of this year, but of the last two years. Read on to find out what makes it so exciting. The other top newcomers are listed in alphabetical order.
We’re guessing you have your own favorite restaurants that opened in 2012, and we’d certainly love to hear about them. Please turn to Page 25 to learn how to share your choices.
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Ambitious and dynamic, sophisticated and modern, FT33 puts Matt McCallister, a former top toque at Stephan Pyles, squarely in a league with some of the country’s most interesting and talented chefs.
The menu changes frequently according to the ingredients enthralling McCallister at the moment. With duck breast left over from a wine dinner recently, he made duck ham — which became the centerpiece of a sexy salad with Belgian endives, local new potatoes and a duck egg. Earthy sunchokes might meet up with Brussels sprouts petals, a gentle chile sauce and lightly candied pecans.
The marriages are surprising and fresh, yet absolutely harmonic; modernist flourishes keep things lively yet never trump deliciousness. And the plates just happen to be gorgeous. It’s a place to visit frequently, to see what kind of culinary magic McCallister is perpetrating at the moment, whether gorgeously pink pork loin served with butternut squash purée and kale, a chicken ballotine with giant leaves of crunchy savoy cabbage, or luscious uni-chive pancakes.
The feeling of the rustic, industrial-chic dining room is in perfect keeping with the cooking. It’s relaxed yet energized, formal yet friendly, a place you want to hang out. General manager Ryan Tedder’s wine list offers a world of pleasurable adventure. The cocktails are exquisitely balanced. The service is spot-on.
By no means is the place perfect — the desserts need work, and things fall apart a bit if McCallister’s not in the house, which doesn’t seem sustainable. Be that as it may, FT33 is an ambitious undertaking, only 2½ months out of the gate, and it has already led Dallas dining in an exciting new direction.
1617 Hi Line Drive, Dallas. 214-741-2629. ft33dallas.com