When we were invited to enjoy dinner and live entertainment at Fearing’s, celebrity chef Dean Fearing’s eponymous restaurant in Dallas’ Ritz Carlton, I began thinking of reasons to celebrate. And who could blame me? Known as one of the culinary rebels in the notorious Gang of Five, Chef Fearing was part of a posse of young chefs who revolutionized Southwestern dining in the 1980’s. And Fearing’s time as Executive Chef at The Mansion often made his name synonymous with celebration.
However, I was wrong. While Fearing’s is an ideal place for a celebration (in fact, a table near us was celebrating with a micro-wedding the night we dined), the menu and service are comfortable enough to make it approachable more often than just special events.
As we entered the beautiful dining room, I had a moment of hesitation. Our hostess seated us at a remote table adjoining the kitchen. At first, I was afraid we were being abandoned in Siberia. However, this also proved to be wrong. It placed us in the middle of the action and near enough the amazing culinary staff to learn from this amiable group of professionals.
We started our evening with a beautiful pair of cocktails. I began with the Flower Child, a cocktail that had subtle and gentle tastes of summer and was served in an antique coupe with a floating marigold. My companion enjoyed The ‘Old’ Miscreant, a complex and satisfying dram that I will crave anytime cool evenings beckon. I still want the recipe for this delicate gingerbread scented sip.
Along with our cocktails, we tried two of the beautiful appetizers. One, the brand-new Lone Star Mosaic, is an artistically inspired carpaccio collection featuring perfectly cut tuna, Waygu beef, salmon & barbequed eel delicately dressed with roasted onion aioli, mandarin oranges and cilantro oil. The night we dined, they were out of the salmon, but substituted it with a lovely and delicate halibut. Each bite was perfection. In my mind, it was the best thing we had in our entire evening, and that’s certainly saying something. Our second appetizer choice was a throw-back classic Fearing’s appetizer. The Oysters Rockafearing are unctuous and decadent, perfectly barbecued atop a core of lump crab, bacon and creamed spinach. Each bite was a bit of perfection!
With dinner, or server guided us to perfect wines to pair with our entrees. I chose to go old school, with an entrée that’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened. Fearing’s cheeky surf and turf offering features a 6 oz. prime beef filet and chicken-fried Maine lobster. The beautiful steak was prepared to a perfect rare, as requested. The lobster was a sizeable ½ tail delicately fried to a perfect done. Normally, dishes like this tend to be overcooked and chewy, making them more kitsch than cookery. This one, however, highlighted the technique and restraint of the culinary team. The pair were served atop loaded whipped potatoes and alongside a soft spinach taco and smoked tomato gravy. Warning: this is a serious entrée! I could barely finish, but my dining companion made sure that nothing went to waste. Or waist. Whatever, it was well worth the indulgence.
Our other entrée may have been the biggest surprise for me. Normally, I avoid most game meats because I find them too, well, gamey. However, the maple/black peppercorn-soaked buffalo tenderloin was a revelatory delight. It was rich, earthy and perfectly tender, and has made a changed diner of me. The skillfully prepared filet was served atop Brazos Valley jalapeño grits, a tangle of wilted greens & a beautiful butternut squash taquito.
We finished our meal with the dessert recommended by our server – and he was absolutely right. Calling our dessert pecan pie ala mode is entirely underselling it. This deconstructed interpretation bears no resemblance to the Karo syrup sugary pie my grandmother made for holidays. This contemporary presentation celebrates the best flavors of each part of a pecan pie in perfect, petite tastes. We had ours with a sip of a fabulous Austin Hope Cabernet that perfectly suited the sweet treat.
At this point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the casual yet thorough service that followed each step of our meal. Our server was attentive and casual without being over-present. The restaurant manager visited each table with sincerity. In fact, we took to discussing barbecue techniques, and General Manager Ki An shared brisket ideas with my husband that have changed the way we smoke beef at our house!
We finished our delightful evening with a perfectly chilled Prosecco outdoors on the patio Fearing’s patio. A three piece combo played contemporary acoustic tunes on the romantically lit terrace. It was the perfect ending of a delicious evening.
Fearing’s Patio is hosting Live Music Fridays, every Friday from 7-9:30pm? If you want to enjoy absolute elegance in a fabulous location, make your reservation at Fearing’s via Open Table or phone, (214) 922-4848.