Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Restaurant review: From view to menu, SER Steak & Spirits is no average steakhouse
Located 27 stories high in the Hilton Anatole, a the view of Dallas alone is worth a visit.
DALLAS As the cold air rushes past, Anthony Van Camp points into the walk-in refrigerator near the front of the kitchen.
“This is where we’ll keep the stuff we need on hand. The other freezer is on the other end, so if you’re on the line and you need something from there, you’ve got to go all the way across and come back. It really is too big.”
It’s not the average chef that would bemoan having a kitchen too spacious, but the one at the top of the Hilton Anatole Hotel is indeed worthy of its own map. Van Camp is the chef here, and through a series of twists and turns to get outside the kitchen are the broad, floor-to-ceiling windows that provide one of Dallas’ best dining views at SER Steak & Spirits, where the carnivorous cravings of steak lovers can be satiated with prime steaks, a bit of creative application, and 27 stories’ worth of view across the Dallas skyline.
“We’re classified as a steak house – and we have a lot of steaks on the menu – but we’re a very far cry from what a steakhouse typically is. We do have dark wood and all the things that kind of go with it, but we’re also not like a dark, dank aircraft carrier that has no windows. We’re a place surrounded by windows we have an awesome view during the day and an awesome view at night,” Van Camp says. “But more than that, our steaks are a little bit more than - and I’ve gotten in trouble for saying this – what you might expect to get.”
Van Camp doesn’t mean that the steaks are significantly larger or different in production than other prime steaks; rather, his focus on what to accompany the steaks with is particularly focused. In the space formerly occupied by Nana – where Van Camp was sous under Anthony Bombaci – creativity comes naturally, even in what one might expect would be a standard steakhouse. Even the New York Strip – a steakhouse staple – might give the average diner a bit of a surprise. Paired with a sauce of balsamic, brown sugar and roasted shallots, it’s Van Camp’s current pride from the kitchen.
“Right now the strip is my favorite steak on the menu. And we have some really good steaks on the menu. Steaks that I would say that I like a whole lot more in general, but our New York Strip is so good. It goes in the broiler first and it really gets that kind of crusty, charred almost burnt point. I mean it is burnt, but that’s kind of what we’re looking for. And so that kind of has a bitter aspect – so you’ve kind of got the three things, now. You’ve got the bitter from the char and the outside of the steak, you’ve got the sweetness and sourness from the balsamic and brown sugar and then the shallots are also part of the sweetness and they kind of tie everything together. Honestly, all together it’s off the chain, but that’s the number one thing that people ask for sauce on the side.”
Van Camp has been Chef at SER since its opening in late 2012, and took charge as it was making its change from Nana. Rather than make it a steakhouse in the stereotypical style, Van Camp made it a point at the beginning to be exceptionally particular about everything on the menu, regardless if it came from a cow. Charcuterie options include Iberico ham, foie gras torchon and duck rillettes while smaller plates include Texas Quail and salads with locally sourced greens.
But it is the seafood that Van Camp studies; mindful of timing and sourcing, the pride he takes in their 45-day aged prime ribeye or the Wagyu spinalis is equalled by the pride he takes in dishes such as the Hamachi Crudo, Day Boat Scallops (served with spinach, celery root puree and truffle vinaigrette) and Atlantic Salmon (roasted onions, broccolini, soy glaze).
“Everyone has been to a restaurant where the waiter walks by another table, he’s got a tray full of stuff and it reeks of seafood. That’s bad seafood,” he says. “And that is one of my professional pet peeves. So we use two really awesome fish companies, one out of Brooklyn, and one out of Honolulu. We get all of our fish overnighted in, which costs more, but there’s just no compromise.”
At the top of the Anatole, Van Camp has been tasked with providing a restaurant that keeps its former occupant’s customers happy while also appealing to hotel guests who stay in Dallas and hope to dine at a steakhouse as a way to somehow make their stay legitimate. Through a mix of the creative and the familiar, at SER, he is making an impression one steak (and sauce, or maybe salmon) at a time.
Pegasus News Content partner - Entree Dallas
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