Tasting notes: Macho Nacho in lockout, Cane Rosso goes celebrichef on Mondays

J. Jerrier, whose Deep Ellum pizzeria Cane Rosso is usually closed on Mondays, will be open at the start of the week for the foreseeable future. Jerrier decided to invite local chefs to design their own pizza toppings to go with his Neapolitan-style crust, and the reaction has been so enthusiastic, he’s booked until February with guest chefs.

First up last night was The Grape’s Brian Luscher, whose meat-loving concoction (called “nice to meat you,” pictured right) is loaded with ham, sausage and other house-made meats packed with spice. That flavor is accented even further with the giardiniera, veggies pickled into hot messes. On a cold autumn night, one slice was enough to keep you warm (though the beer specials didn’t hurt, either). Luscher’s pie will be hard to beat for sheer ballsiness, but when it comes to pizza, the more the better….

Up in Plano, just in time for hunting season, Mignon is getting a little wild with its menu. And they mean wild game. In a world where quail is a novelty and lamb is outright edgy, consider what it means to eat venison, boar, elk and rabbit on a menu.

Mignon has always been one of the more creative steakhouses in town — one that doesn’t really seem like a steakhouse, even though it does red meat like a caveman. “Mignon” just means “dainty” in French, and that’s more the ethic here than in most Texas meat markets: Elegant cuisine. Going wild, then, means both gamey flavors and a sophisticated touch.

That was certainly true of the elk tenderloin, probably my favorite of the dishes added to the menu, starting last night and continuing through Nov. 13 (though possibly longer). Perched atop a bed of pommes Anna with candied pecans, it was subtly cooked and fork-tender. For an even more unusual meat, the braised rabbit packed a savory bomb with a delightful flourish of deconstructed Brussels sprouts, pictured left.

I also enjoyed the gnocchi appetizer, with a splatter of wild boar ragout and spicy salsa blending with the creamy neutrality of the gnocchi. Mignon’s desserts stand out as well, from the seasonally appropriate pumpkin creme brulee to the moist apple cake with salty caramel. …

It’s been two years since he opened Samar, and now Stephan Pyles has another restaurant in the works. Set to anchor the Gables 17 building in Uptown, the as-yet-unnamed eatery will feature, of course, a Texas theme. …

Macho Nacho‘s tortillas are in a holding pattern. The landlord of recently-opened Cedar Springs Tex-Mex resto has reportedly locked out the owner, Scott Jones. No word on when the dispute will be settled. …

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Good eatin’: Sunday’s Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake

Part of me wonders why anyone who lives in Texas ever plans to do anything outdoors between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But then you have a nice event like Sunday’s Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, and you know.

The food-a-thon started Saturday with a series of events — brunch to late-dinner — and concluded Sunday with a well-attended but still fairly intimate barbecue, all hosted by top local chefs. Sunday’s picnic, commemorating the centennial of White Rock Lake, featured fresh Texas peaches, watermelon salad, orzo, baked beans, grilled chicken, beef brisket and delicious housemade salad from host-chef Brian C. Luscher of The Grape (pictured with Parigi’s Janice Provost). There were also banana puddings, cupcakes and best of all: Iced tea vodka from Deep Eddy. And I managed to stay in the shade most of the time with a breeze off the water.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones