A Full Scouting Report on DFW Restaurant Week
DFW Restaurant Week has officially started, and even though its gamer tag includes “Week,” it actually lasts a month, through Sept. 5 this year. Hop on their website, find a restaurant that looks interesting, then make a reservation through Open Table. We’ve been pretty excited about this event because, well, we missed dining out a lot the past year and a half.
Also, one of the perks of DFW Restaurant Week is that fine dining is a bit more budget-friendly. Does that mean we have to iron our going-to-town pants? No, no need to drop starch into your Amazon cart; it’s not that fancy, as you’ll see in our play-by-play breakdown below.
Perhaps most important, DFW Restaurant Week is a huge annual fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope, a Tarrant County organization that focuses on the emotional, behavioral and intellectual well-being of children and teens. So, let’s eat!
A few of us visited several spots across town last week: Fachini, Billy Can Can, St. Martin’s Wine Bistro and Hawthorn. Photos and quick summaries follow. Kristina Rowe starts off at Fachini where she snagged a Monday night reservation pretty easily.
If you want to get into an in-demand restaurant for DFW Restaurant Week, try making a reservation for a Monday night. I’ve been wanting to try the 100-layer lasagna at Fachini, 33a Highland Park Village, since they opened, so I dined there on Monday evening and I was in for some pleasant surprises.
I arrived at 7 p.m. for my reservation for one and was seated promptly by the friendly and welcoming host staff. I was a little worried that I was underdressed, but many diners were dressed casually. Not flip-flops and shorts casual, but comfortable and stylish casual, which matches the vibe in the dining room. It’s all about comfort at Fachini, and the designer touches shout out to Rat Pack days without an ounce of kitsch. The soundtrack (and photos in the dining room) are oldies with the expected and familiar sprinkling of Frank Sinatra.
For DFW Restaurant Week, Fachini is serving a limited menu for $49 with six first-course options and eight main-course options. There’s an expansive wine list, two suggested wine flights to accompany the meals (at two different price points) and a very tempting summer cocktail menu, like the Mindy ($18) that has vodka, blackberry, pineapple, lemon and Champagne.
Before the meal begins, you’ll be served antipasti with bread, ricotta cheese, giardiniera and salumi, and your waiter will explain the best way to construct a mini muffaletta.
For the first course, a caesar salad was beautifully dressed and topped with fresh grated black pepper on request. It was no coincidence that “Dream Lover” was playing when my 50-layer lasagna arrived. This is a half portion of the 100-layer lasagna, and even at half-size, it’s a generous amount of feather-light layers of cheese, meat and ever-so-delicate pasta. Other mains include veal Parmesan, flounder piccata, shrimp fra diavolo, a vegetarian mushroom ragù and three other options.
Dessert was the hardest choice to make: carrot cake or tiramisu. I went with the tiramisu, and it was a sweet ending to an indulgent meal. I didn’t take home any dessert, but my lasagna and salad made a lovely lunch the next day.
In previous years, people have largely bemoaned that reservations are gone quickly during DFW Restaurant Week, but we didn’t have any problem snagging these. Actually, when making reservations through Open Table, there’s no difference between a DFW Restaurant Week reservation and any other type of reservation.
Billy Can Can in Victory Park, 2386 Victory Park Lane, was busy but not packed on Monday night. A birthday party at the bar kept things lively. For starters you’ll choose between deviled eggs, heirloom tomato salad, sausages (in photo) or a ceviche. We went with the sausages, which were surprisingly bright and flavorful; a healthy serving of pickled vegetables alongside the meat was a good balance.
For the second course, we went with Butcher’s Cut Steak Frites with a side of potatoes. Other options included salmon, a bone-in pork chop or street corn ravioli with blistered shishitos.
Get your house in order before you try the pureed Yukon gold potatoes with butter. They may kill you, but you’ll die happy. Our medium-rare 8-ounce steak was a little tough in spots but flavorful.
The hardest choice of the summer might have been choosing a dessert. There’s a banana pudding made with a Marker’s Mark caramel or a summertime cobbler with “sugar biscuits” and Texas peaches. We got the frozen chocolate PB&G (grapes, not jelly). Let that guy linger on your plate for a minute before diving in. It’s better just a wee bit soft.
Dallas’ dining scene isn’t immune to trend-chasing, but there are still stalwarts who refuse to change their stripes to fit what may be popular at the moment. St. Martin’s Wine Bistro, 3020 Greenville Ave., is one of those spots, and if the dimly lit dining room, ornate bar and live piano music don’t scream “romantic dinner,” then you might need your ears checked.
DFW Restaurant Week brings out the favorites at this 40-year-old Greenville Avenue standard. For starters, we had St. Martin’s legendary brie soup and a tasteful mixed green salad with a refreshing raspberry vinaigrette.
The salmon fillet topped with a Champagne dijonnaise sauce was well executed and the beef tenderloin tips in a Burgundy wine reduction on a bed of elegantly piped whipped potatoes are a classic choice. Traditional crème brûlée with a hint of citrus and a light but flavorful chocolate mousse wrapped our meal.
The three-course meal at St. Martin’s is $49 for DFW Restaurant Week, and diners have the option of adding wine pairings to each course for a reasonable $30 more.
We wanted to get a taste of a DFW Restaurant Week’s lunch offerings, and since $20 is about standard for lunch these days, a fine-dining meal was a bonus.
The Hawthorn opened at 208 Akard St. near the AT&T Discovery District earlier this year and has seemingly been hidden by the ginormous jazz hands of the adjacent entertainment district. That’s a shame.
The menu at Hawthorn starts with a soup and salad combination, or wagyu beef Southwest egg rolls. The second course is either a pasta dish — bucatini with blistered tomatoes that are bursting with so much sunshine goodness I found myself digging through the pasta for more of these gems. My lunch date got the shrimp and lobster roll that came with a heap of perfectly crisp French fries (pro tip: ask, aggressively if need be, for the jalapeño Ranch to go with those fries).
The Hawthorn is a beautiful space. A large bar greets diners and much of the front of the restaurant is encased with floor-to-ceiling glass. The back is a little dimmer, with couch-like booths leading to a wide-open kitchen that is a bit like watching a cooking show. We pondered why we were the only ones dining that day.
In terms of value, a from-scratch lobster bisque, salad and meaty shrimp and lobster roll for $20? Can’t beat that.