Dallas Fish Market
A couple of years back, Aa Dallas chef pointed out to me that the advent of inexpensive air shipping means that it takes as long to ship a Maine lobster to a restaurant in Boston as to one in Dallas. Just as with Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, the implications of this development are huge. Among them, Dallas must take its seafood restaurants as seriously as cities that take their seafood restaurants seriously.
Enter Downtown’s Dallas Fish Market, a seafood restaurant that aims to play with the big boys — in any city. I attended a recent media dinner and was struck by the ambience of the place the moment I entered. A serene, dimly lit interior and roomy armchair seats speak of upscale, timeless comfort. Politely proportioned space between tables respects the diner’s business and personal conversations.
The menu offers a selection of caviars by the ounce from Alaskan salmon ($31) up to royal Siberian ossetra ($195). There is also a raw bar with ceviche ($20), lobster cocktail ($18), and oysters (market price). Similar items to this category appear on the bar menu where you can choose sushi, sashimi, or crudo.
Speaking of crudo, we started with a hamachi crudo ($18) that ornately weaved blood orange sorbet, raw red candy striped raw beets, serrano peppers, chive oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Cioppino, the classic Italian soup, was the dish of the night. Delicately cooked clams and a slice of toasted baguette nestles in a rust-red broth that was as complex as a well-made red wine. It was made with clam and mussel stock, white fish, lobster, celery, carrots, onions, fennel, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, tarragon and tomato. This has assumed a place on my dishes of the year for 2015. It enters the menu in December and the price is TBD.
Another impressive course was edamame-wrapped flash seared salmon (crisp on the outside but al dente rare in the center) seasoned with nori ground into a powder, and then wrapped in edamame paper. It was sliced into bite-sized disks that were all seated on a bed of caramelized cabbage and then garnished with coils of cucumber prepared through a slice along the long axis of the vegetable and briefly pickled. Nasturtium leaves added sub-chili tang and ponzu sauce an Asian gustatory marker. I would go lighter on the ponzu to make this dish perfect.
Dallas Seafood Market
Desserts are drawn from a brief but well-prepared list. Molten chocolate soufflé ($9) was loaded up with crème Anglaise for an indulgent finish. You could follow this with a selection from the a respectable after dinner drinks list if you wished. Several ports, Pedro Xeménez (the glorious, but underrated, Spanish sweet wine) and sweet wines or some cognacs are offered. In an unusual touch, for this town, there are also no fewer than eight teas.
The wine list is superior, with almost 300 selections drawn from a global footprint. Four good Texas wines feature prominently. There are over 15 wines by the glass, a dozen sakes and several half bottles.
The chef behind Dallas Fish Market is Richard Triptow. His thoughtful, deliberative, and low-key demeanor may explain why he has not become better known. His work certainly deserves attention. He is (in common with six-Michelin starred Heston Blumenthal) self-taught. He worked for nine years at The Mansion Restaurant in Dallas and may be the only member of the kitchen who worked under all of Dean Fearing, John Tesar, and Bruno Davaillon. Definitely someone to whom to administer the truth serum. He joined Dallas Fish Market in late 2014 and he proves he can stand on his own. He has made his stamp on the menu, including original dish development like the cioppino and flash-seared salmon. He has moved Dallas Fish Market into the top tier of Dallas seafood restaurants. You may not have heard of him, but you will. Likewise, if you love seafood, Dallas Fish Market is a must-go destination.