In one of those maddening slideshow click fests, Conde Nast Traveler has announced its list of the 70 best new restaurants in the world, with one important entry: Spoon Bar & Kitchen, the Preston Center seafood restaurant from chef John Tesar. It puts Dallas on the map next to restaurants from San Francisco, New York, Paris and Tokyo.
The list is considerably larger than the 2012 rendition, which had only 25 entries and was culled by chefs. This year's list called on a larger panel of "global food experts" that included journalists such as John Kessler, restaurant critic for the Atlanta Journal Constitution; Kessler is the one who chose Spoon for the top restaurants in the American South.
Kessler admires the "glittery Dallas ladies" who frequent this 58-seater to slurp oysters and sip champagne. He says it's "quite astounding" to find hamachi and char in our landlocked city and describes the smoked-eel headcheese with caviar as "bravura." His advised "dish to get" is the grilled octopus with crispy pork belly, black garlic, piquillo peppers and avocado. "The flavors are layered with rare precision," he says.
Other Texas restaurants on the list include two from Houston: Oxheart, which gets props for its ability to "flip okra haters," and ambitious hot spot Underbelly, which Kessler dubs "as busy and brassy as Houston itself."