Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fearing's: A Delightful Evening at the Ritz

After our not so delightful anniversary dinner at The Place at Perry's, Bunker and I decided to have a re-do Anniversary dinner at Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton. From the setting, to our waiter, to the food, and most importantly, our own moods, our re-do anniversary dinner was perfect from start to finish. For those of you not from Dallas, Dean Fearing is an icon in the Dallas food world, making a name for himself and elegant Texas cuisine during his more than twenty years at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, the epitome of classic Texas luxury and refinement in hotel and restaurant form. I have met him twice, and upon both occasions you can see that his own warm and welcoming personality is reflected in every dish and aspect of his namesake restaurant.

We went to Fearing's on Memorial Day evening (Monday), so it was not very crowded, but the main dinning area was relatively crowded. I made a reservation two days in advance, and they asked if we were celebrating anything special, so of course I let them know about our anniversary! We began with a cocktail in the Rattlesnake bar and had a delightful bar tender who was friendly and made Bunker's Manhattan perfectly and for me, she recommended the perfect glass of bubbly. The Rattlesnake bar is a treat, elegantly masculine with dark leather and warm lighting, and yet at the same time fresh and light with soaring ceilings and the amber glow of back lit Onyx which frames the vast display of unique bottles and elegant glasses behind the bar. All of this sumptuous elegance could be found in Manhattan or Chicago, but you are quickly reminded that you are indeed in Texas when your eyes fall upon the rattlesnake sculptures!

Going here on a slow weeknight was such an different experience than a weekend night. We were really able to enjoy a quiet conversation and absorb the soft and warm surroundings. A weekend night is fun for a completely different reason: people watching! I think it is always fascinating to go to the same place at different times to see the dichotomy, how different the same place can feel based upon the time of day or season of your visit.

After a nice conversation in the bar, we were seated in the main dining area called "Dean's Kitchen," aptly named as you are almost part of the kitchen. There is hardly a divider between those dining and those cooking, much like in a home where the sights, aromas and sounds of the kitchen are welcomed into the rest of the house. The atmosphere is one of subdued soft colors, vast ceilings, intimate seating, with a playful music selection loud enough to enjoy but soft enough to not intrude upon our conversation.

Sadly, Dean Fearing was not there, it was Memorial Day and I am sure he was off making something delicious for his family. We were seated in a wonderfully comfortable booth (my favorite type of seating) and were immediately served delicious bread (one of the best spicy corn muffins I have ever tasted...okay...I had quite a few more than one!) by our casually formal waiter. I cannot come up with the correct word for the character of our waiter, like a good friend that is a little loose and lots of fun but at this moment is on "grandmother behavior," and therefore obeying all of the rules but lightening up at just the right moments. Perhaps "refreshing" is the word to describe him.

Our food was phenomenal. I am allergic to bell peppers, and therefore, the kitchen whipped up an amuse-bouche (basically translates to "to amuse the appetite") that did not include bell peppers, as the one they were serving that evening was a shot of bell pepper soup. I was served a lettuce wrap spring roll with the freshest flavors and just the perfect amount of spice. It was a bite that did indeed amuse my appetite!

I then enjoyed Dean's Tortilla Soup, one of his signature dishes that he perfected at the Mansion. It was indeed perfect with the velvety texture and slight heat to the soup clearly balanced to create delicious spoonfuls. Bunker ordered the Lobster Coconut Bisque and cleaned the bowl. I had a small taste, I didn't care for this at all, but I really do not like coconut, so do not order this if you do not like coconut as the flavor was too overwhelming for someone that does not love that flavor. However, the coconut milk did work perfectly for the aim of creating a lustrous, flavorful and smooth bisque, a fun change from sometimes dull soups that utilize heavy cream.
For our second course Bunker had the Crispy Barbecued Bluepoint Oysters, and again, he cleaned his beautifully arranged plate. I had more corn muffins.

For our third course I ordered the Roasted Van Vooren Ranch Pheasant served over Gun Barrel City Greens and a Sweet Corn Dressing. I loved that the greens were from Gun Barrel City! Yes, this is an actual city in Texas, and it is actually the city in which our family lake house is located on Cedar Creek Lake. Each bite was delicious; juicy pheasant with a crisp skin, sweet and crisp corn balanced by the slightly bitter and wilted greens. Bunker branched out and ordered the Broken Arrow Ranch NilGai Antelope Glazed with D-1 Sauce. This dish pulled much inspiration from the South with fried green tomatoes, barbecued field peas and elk sausage. I was a bit timid when it came to trying the Antelope, but I am so glad that Bunker saved one bite for me to try. It was much like a mix between buffalo and duck (minus the skin and fat) in texture and appearance, and not at all gamey in flavor. Both were winning dishes!

I would order the same dishes upon our next visit, except that there are so many other dishes on the menu which I would like to taste, I will have to try something new each time. We were both rather full at the end of the meal and were thinking about skipping dessert, but then our waiter brought a sweet surprise! A tiny wedding cake! It was adorable, like the tip-top-tier of a fancy wedding cake. A perfect way to end our anniversary dinner, serving each other a bite of wedding cake! And, it was actually quite tasty. The icing had an almost cheese-cake taste and texture, and the cake itself was light and airy. Really and truly a perfect evening. Thank you to Fearing's for a wonderful re-do anniversary dinner.

Here are the cakes from our wedding day! The traditional white cake is mine, the chocolate cake was actually for my dad, and Bunker's cake is the rice-krispie sky-line of Dallas! The cakes were from Panini Bakery in Dallas, and they were just what I wanted and incredibly delicious!

To give you a perspective of how huge the rice-krispie sky-line was!

Cutting the cake :)

The puppies sleeping through the tornadoes last week. We were in the closet under the stairs. They are so sweet to each other.

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