Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Dallas hotel restaurants on the downturn
Dragonfly and Fearing's are among the few survivors.
We were just talking about this with Kyle Crews, Daylon Perraria, Missy Woehr, and the other fine folks at The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, when I had to scoot fast because buyers were coming in to sign a contract.
I hope they liked those stoves at The Ritz. Never know when you have to use them!
We were talking about the imminent closings of Nana, Charlie Palmer at the Joule, and Craft Dallas. Nana, of course, is at the Anatole, and all three eateries will be replaced. Not as if residents at the W will starve. But the W condos were sold based on the promise of being able to order from Craft -- whenever, whatever. In the Dallas Morning News this weekend, restaurant critic Leslie Brenner touched on the very same topic and went even further, asking, are hotel restaurants in crisis mode?
To be sure, this might very well be an emergency situation at the W Condos: Tenants may actually have to turn on and use those stoves — Kupperbusch cooktops and ovens — at least until Cook Hall unpacks the pots and pans.
This reminds me of an article I found in the New Yorker years ago, The Viking Invasion: Annals of Consumption, chronicling the growth in popularity of expensive trophy stoves. Full disclosure: I have one. It’s rather a point of contention in our house because I seldom cook, I don’t like to dirty the griddle except for pancakes, and my husband wants to know why we cannot sell the Wolf range I so seldom use. When I have used the griddle and cooked a big meal, as I scrub the components and take the stove apart to wipe down its nether areas, I think how easy my old Jenn-Aire induction cooktop was. These big stoves are so labor-intensive, which well may be why the condos have to have a fancy 24-hour restaurant on call like Craft. How did we get to be such slaves to our big, fancy stoves?
Wolf, like Viking, got popular because they were heavily marketed to avid cooks, who love them. Greenwood, Mississippi, is headquarters to the Viking Range Corporation. In the 1980s, while we were all cooking spaghetti on electric GE stovetops and Jenn-Aire induction cooktops, Proprietor Fred Carl decided to design a stove powerful and aesthetically pleasing enough to satisfy his serious cook customers — a commercial stove. But he wanted this stallion of a stove to be safe and pretty enough for private homes. In 1986, Patricia King, an avid cook from NYC, bought the first Viking stove for $3,000. In 1989, Carl set up his factory in Greenwood & began building his own stoves. Methinks there was an inheritance in the story somewhere, too. Lo the power of media buzz: Carl began to lend his stoves to chefs, food writers, cooking-school teachers, and TV cooks, and soon the stoves became very popular. This was, mind you, before Facebook. You know what happens when celebrities start using something: Everyone wants one. Soon the Viking stoves were so coveted they were copied, so Carl decided to expand deeper into the kitchen world, making not just other appliances but kitchen and cookware.
By this time, of course, we all had to have a Viking or a Wolf range in our homes and high-end condos, because even though we don’t cook, we might cook at some point. And we just wanted the trophy stove available 24/7, like a decent concierge.
Are there any hotel restaurants hitting it out of the ballpark? Brenner says yes: Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa and Fearing’s, one of the most effervescent dining rooms in town, where guests are also treated to some of Dallas’ best cooking. I also heard, have not confirmed, that Fearing's is listed as one of the top places in the country to have a power lunch.
“In fact,” says Brenner,” sometimes I nearly forget that Fearing’s is the Ritz-Carlton Dallas hotel.”
I don’t because the parking is decent. Coincidentally, both places have condos that are selling better than most downtown Dallas condos, with the possible exception of One Arts, which has a 7-Eleven downstairs.
And, of course, both The Residences at the Ritz and ZaZa have a trophy stove in every unit.
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