Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Friday, February 08, 2008

CP Dallas

My group of foodies and I have renewed our commitment to jointly explore one new restaurant a month. This time we are limiting the count to 10. We found in years past that trying to get a group of more than 10 people into a restaurant for anything other than a special event is an exercise in frustration. Not to mention you only get to talk to the 4 people seated closest to you. And then there is always that one person that wants a separate check.

January we tried Charlie Palmer, which opened up downtown (conveniently across the street from me) inside of the yet-to-open Hotel Joule.

If the name Charlie Palmer sounds familiar it might be because you have been to Aureole in NYC or maybe his restaurant inside Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay. Or maybe you just know good chefs.

CP Dallas is swanky but not intimidating and very cozy. The crowd seems to be a mixed bag and pleasantly devoid of the see and be seens. The decor has a theme - wind. I found out that the reason is because CP Dallas was funded by Hunnington Oil, which now advocates wind energy and Texas is one of the larger producers of wind energy. I liked the big metal turbine recessed into the ceiling and spinning at a slow pace. I also like the paintings of the cast from Wizard of Oz standing in a breezy open field.

Service here is fantastic. Hostess watched our table all night from afar, coming over at lulls in conversation to ask how we liked everything and to bring us free stuff. Wine Guy brought over their funky laptop based wine list. When we all got bored using the wine computer he brought us the paper menu. When we were overwhelmed by the hundreds of choices he made recommendations - they were spot on.

The food is legendary. The complimentary Lobster Corndog made me laugh. A corndog of any flavor just wasn't what I expected in a 5-star. But I stopped laughing when I tried it, it was incredible - big chunks of butter poached lobster all wrapped up in a greaseless corn-batter sweater, resting nicely on a muted mustard sauce. A meal in itself!

The beet and goat cheese salad looked like an ice cream sandwich. 1/4" discs of ruby beets forming strict boundaries to the soft, pungent goat cheese between. Its seemed almost a shame to eat the beet-cheese tower since it was so beautifully presented with a circle chopped beets and roasted hazelnuts, but I did and it was exceptional.

If diver scallops are on the menu, I will try them. They were, I did. Bigger-than-your-face scallops, pan fried to a buttery crunch accompanied by an odd but delicious combination of lemon confit, artichoke pesto and roasted cauliflower. A surprisingly good balance of sweet from the scallop, savory from the pesto and sour-sweet from the lemon confit.

Desserts were all successful although for myself, not being a fan of sweets, the uber-strong key lime pie was the winner. Good thing Hostess noticed we didn't have one initially and rushed one out.

At the end Chef came out and invited us to the kitchen. Wow, it was so clean and organized that I almost felt guilty about my own. I've heard and seen horror stories about the levels of grotesqueness in restaurant kitchens but this was not the case at CP.

I'm hoping Dallas will embrace CP Dallas and it will make through the obligatory one year test. It's fantastic and for me, very conveniently located.

(Alas I forgot my camera so no pics this time!)

Charlie Palmer at The Joule
1530 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201


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Anonymous Jason said...

Nice. I've never been invited back to the kitchen before. You must run with a good circle ;)

5:27 PM

Blogger Jim said...

One of my friends runs a company that provides meals for international flights, he may be the reason.

7:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Review Jim, I just finished Brunch but I am hungry again.
I love the idea of the beet salad. YUM.

Have Fun,
CA (or DC) Mom

2:32 PM

Blogger Jim said...

CA/DC Mom, thanks!

The beet salad is pretty darn tasty and I am not a big fan of the beet!

8:17 PM

Anonymous rachel said...

ok, lemme ask you about the seperate check thing. ive always been irked about bill sharing although always done it. if my share is 10 dollars and everyone else shared appetizers and wine, i should pay for it, why?

just curious. i can understand a large group it would be difficult, yet not rocket science to split the bill....but with a group of 3, why is it rude if i dont want to pay for more than i consume?


7:03 AM

Blogger Jim said...


I can understand splitting when its a manageable group or if its a group that doesn't go out often together; makes total sense to me.

In our situation it tends to be the same 10-20 people and we go out regularly. Splitting everything (if the restaurant is even willing) is nightmarish, particularly when these two people had this bottle of wine and those 4 people had that appetizer and these 3 people had that dessert.

We feel it all averages out and noone is explicitly trying to take advantage of anyone.

9:24 AM


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