TASTING NOTES: Central 214 gets a makeover

GrahamDodds_100There’s more than coffee brewing over at Central 214, the schmancy restaurant inside Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar and a frequent hang for the gay crowd.

Last fall, longtime exec chef Blythe Beck left unexpected. She was replaced last month with Graham Dodds, pictured, formerly of Oak Cliff’s popular Bolsa. Word came this week both of Dodds’ new menu and that the restaurant will undergo some other major changes this spring — though we don’t know what those are, other than Dodds calling them a “face-lift … that will marry the food and dining atmosphere.”

We do know that Dodds will be incorporating some of his Bolsa ideas into the new concept: Local farm suppliers, seasonal updates and drawing his inspiration from the availability of fresh ingredients. And it also looks to be a total makeover: Starters, entrees, desserts … even the bar menu. Among the additions: “Popcorn” sweetbreads (as an app!), blue cheese terrine and pear with honeycomb, crisp (!) gnocchi with the oxtail ragout, paprika-honey glazed lamb breast (interesting) with cannellini beans and a chocolate-cranberry pavlova.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pyramid goes iron (chef) … sort of

The Fairmont Hotel’s Pyramid restaurant — which I reviewed recently — is doing some great work, but there’s apparently some friendly rivalry in the kitchen over there. Executive chef Andre Natera and exec sous chef Paul Peddle want to show who’s tops right now, so they are demonstrating their talents in an Iron Chef-like face-off tonight in the legendary Venetian Room of the hotel. The four-course dinner with wine pairing from sommelier Hunter Hammett (one of the most astute wine guys in Dallas right now, if you ask me) costs a pretty reasonable $100, especially considering you have two chefs cookin’ for ya.

There are some tickets still available, which you can get by going here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes

Pyramid scores chef trifecta; foodie app GrubHub debuts

IMG_1029edFor more than a decade, the Rising Star Chef competition of the Dallas Wine & Food Festival has singled out local culinary masters expert at pairing food and wine. For the first time ever, three past winners share the same kitchen: The Pyramid’s exec chef Andre Natera (2003 white wine winner) is ably assisted by exec sous chef Paul Peddle and sous chef Andrew McDonald (2011 white and red wine winners, respectively). Their winning dishes have changed a bit, but the quality of them is excellent, with Peddle’s pan-seared cod with caper sauce, pictured, unforgetably terrific.

There’s a new web site (and smartphone app) to help the savvy foodie find his way about the Dallas culinary scene. On Wednesday, GrubHub.com launched its Dallas version. The app (similar to UrbanSpoon.com) takes your address and your preferred style of cuisine and matches you up with something to your liking nearby. What sets it apart, though, is that you can also order for delivery or pickup. To induce first-timers, the site is offering a $10 off coupon at GrubHub.com/DallasSneakPeek until Sept. 11. Dallas is the 14th city covered by the app.

It takes balls to make cake for five years… or does it take five years to make cake balls? Whichever. Point is, the Cake Ball Company celebrates its nickel anniversary Friday with $1 balls — can’t beat that at a stripper bar. You can also get a quarter-off coupon from their website.

From Aug. 22 to 27, Sprinkles Cupcakes will donate 100 percent of its sales of the vanilla milk choc cake (adorned with a gold star) to Vogel Alcove, a charity helping homeless children.

Grant Morgan has been named executive chef at the Park Lane location of Bailey’s Prime Plus, following local stints at Luqa and Dragonfly. At the Landmark Restaurant at the Melrose, Mike Pacheco has been named exec chef.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas