At The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich at the Westin Dallas Galleria hotel guests, shoppers and visitors can get a first class meal in comfortable, classy space cosseted away from the hurly burly of Dallas traffic. A recent media event to introduce the new menu showed that executive chef Andrea Maricich’s style for fall has swung to comfort food with a doff of the cap to local ingredients and gourmet touches. An example of the latter: mason jar foie gras mousseline ($17) served with grilled levain (aka sourdough) bread (and large enough for two) is at once both elegant in its velvety smooth duck pâté and cranberry gelée and paysan in its mason jar presentation.
The Deep Ellum blue cheese and spinach dip ($9) made with leek and eaten on sliced flatbread could be a starter for a fine meal or you could pop into the other room of the restaurant where the bar does a brisk cocktail business, offers the largest whiskey collection in North Texas, and the game is on the TV and snack on it there.
Slightly more formal, but just as compellingly comfort food, is the lump crab, celery root, and leek soup ($5/$8) was a viscous, creamy, sweet, oniony blend that was perfectly offset by the crisp and salty chunks of bacon topping. I am filing this as one of the best soups of the year.
I was glad we had the baby kale salad ($9). Maricich includes pears poached in red wine creating a kind of intrinsic dressing that is less acidic than conventional vinaigrettes. That makes it wine-friendly, a good thing in a restaurant where the sommelier, Gina Gottlich, is a certified sommelier and has put together an exceptionally personal collection of over 100 wines. We paired HB, Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc ($11) and the Cambria Chardonnay, Katherine’s Vineyard, Santa Maria, California ($14) to good effect but if in doubt, ask (helpfully, below each dish on the menu, there is a suggested pairing). I would like to see some Texas wines on this list.
Among mains the 44 farms braised beef cheek ($34) comes with sides consisting of a showcase of root vegetables. As well as familiar fingerling potatoes and carrots, there are sunchokes, turnips and rutabaga. You know, it’s great to be treated as a grown-up, and be trusted to eat my vegetables. These choices are stellar and this may be one of the few times the excellent 44 Farms Angus beef met its match on the plate.
Shrimp and grits ($28) is a simple name that refers to soft, earthy grits from Gristmill at Homestead Farms in Waco infused with shrimp, topped with grilled whole gulf shrimp and and sharp cheddar, all in a witbier sauce made with the Community Beer Company witbier that won the 2014 World Beer Championship. It is a melt-in-the-mouth type of dish, ideal for cold winter nights.
Desserts are on a separate menu and Peanut Butter and Banana Bread Pudding ($8) and grasshopper mud pie ($8) both deserve room in your stomach. No information on the provenance of the grasshopper’s though.