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Scott -- DFW

Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana

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It's been so long since I've lived in Fort Worth that I forgot what a mad-house Joe T. Garcia's is on a Saturday night. The line snaked from well outside the building through to the inner patio, into a raucous sea of customers. A word to the hostess that we were there for Lanny's, and we were led past the noise, mob, and Tex-Mex, ending up in a cozy room near the back of the patio where chef Lanny Lancarte II does his work. There we met fellow e-Gulleteers who had also converged in Cowtown with high hopes for the seven-course Nouvelle Mexican degustation menu Lanny had planned for us. On to the food...

First Course:


The evening's opener was an elegantly presented lobster and crab "napoleon." The bottom layer consisted of lobster ceviche with lime, mint, and coconut milk. Above it lay a thin layer of guacamole. The top layer was a tangle of peeky-toe crab, dressed with caviar. All of this rested on thinly sliced rings of cucumber, garnished with a zucchini blossom. Some of these crustacean layer cakes were triangular (as above), while others were pear shaped:


Regardless of shape, this was a delicious course. The dominant sweetness of the meats (and coconut milk) was accented nicely by the acid lime and refreshing mint.

Second Course:


Next up was a huitlacoche crepe plated with a smooth tomatillo sauce and roasted corn. The crepe, tied shut with a scallion, was stuffed with huitlacoche, along with a touch of epazote and some meltable cheese (Oaxaca maybe?). The tomatillo's tanginess was softened by a touch of cream, making for a mellower contrast to the crepe's earthiness. A solid preparation of a Mexican fine dining classic.

Third Course:


The third course--probably my favorite of the night--consisted of skate wing sauteed in a chipotle beurre noisette, topped with fried capers, served over a cassoulet of cannellini beans. Lanny knocked this one out of the park, maintaining a perfect balance between the flavor elements in the dish.

Fourth Course:


This was a shiitake and nopalito risotto, served with roasted duck breast, garnished with a parmesan tuile. Though it was probably the least Mexican-influenced course of the evening, the sweet duck morsels and able risotto made this very popular at the table.

Fifth Course:


The concluding entree was prime beef tenderloin carne asada with a mild guajillo demi and chanterelles, served with a banana-leaf-wrapped tamal, and baby haricot vert. The beef was very good, but I loved the tamal (filled with queso fresco and roasted poblano rajas) both alone and with the sauce. Another winner.

Sixth Course:


Dessert was a warm chocolate cake, garnished with a pineapple gooseberry, whipped cream, and a tuile, plated with a thin Kahlua anglaise and raspberry sauce. A simple- sounding course, but it was so well executed that even the lone chocophobe at the table (who will remain nameless) fell for it.

Seventh Course/Mignardises:


Earlier in the evening, some of us had been reminiscing about El Moro, Mexico City's legendary churreria. This course couldn't have come at a better time. The churritos, warm, fluffy, and lightly cinnamon-sugared, were as perfect an example of that dessert as I've ever seen. The thin, but delicious, goat's milk cajeta had an unexpected dimension that we puzzled over for several minutes before Lanny came to the table to help us out. (It was brandy.) The cajeta was so enjoyable that, when some still remained after dipping the churros, I had to throw back the leftovers as a shot. Good stuff.

Service was polite and attentive throughout the evening. There were no unreasonable delays as we moved through the menu. And Lanny emerged from the kitchen shortly after the arrival of each course to explain and field questions.

Lanny Lancarte is the real deal. And, if this meal is indicative of what he's doing every night, Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana should be regarded as a destination restaurant. I will go back for more.


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THAT was an excellent value.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Thanks Scott. Looks and sounds great. Guess I should have jumped on those $130 tickets. Next time. :sad:

Looks like the presentations could be improved a bit to catch up with a lot of the Dallas **** restaurants, but it sounds like the flavors performed well.

It seems that the food is more Mexican accented new American rather than traditional Mexican with additional refinement and high quality ingredients. I'm sure Sharon could speak to that better if she's active on eGullet these days.

Some obvious questions, though the above, if true, maybe make the comparisons difficult: 1) How does it compare to the other high end Mexican in DFW? 2) How does it compare to other high end Mexican outside of DFW? How does it compare to other high end restaurants in DFW, not limiting the comparisons to Mexican?

I can see one obvious advantage. Whereas many other high end Mexican restaurants are doing fairly traditional stuff and so are truly competing with taquerias, pozolerias, etc, Lanny's is competing more directly with places like Lola's Tasting Room making the marginal returns not such an issue. (eg, a pozole at Frontera Grill may be great, but is it worth spending triple the amount you'd pay at a low end place down the street.)

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1) How does it compare to the other high end Mexican in DFW?

If this meal is representative of what Lanny does every night, there is no comparison. It blows the curve.

2) How does it compare to other high end Mexican outside of DFW?

I haven't had a better meal at any Mexican restaurant in the US.

How does it compare to other high end restaurants in DFW, not limiting the comparisons to Mexican?

Top shelf. In the same category as the usual suspects (e.g., Mansion, Tasting Room, Abacus, Aurora, Nana). Mobil 4-star territory.


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What a great use for nopalitos! Yeah, the presentation needs a bit of work, but wow, the flavors must have been phenomenal!

Thanks for the excellent report and gorgeous photos.

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After eating there on Saturday, and then going back to "normal" food... I'm in a bad state of food limbo right now :(

The entire meal was amazing, I'd go back again and again and again...

Ron Lipsky

Aspiring Chef

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Scott, anytime you pick the restaurant, I will do my best to be there, the dinner was one of the best I have had in a long time. (The last was the Beard house dinner at KC's in Cleveland Mississippi) I appologize for taking so long to post, we have been a bit busy with photographers, writers and landscape architects shooting for "Southern Accnets" here at the house.

ON to the dinner

first course - The napolean was a nice blend of mellow flavors. The lobster ceviche was perfect with that light sweetness of the coconut milk balance. The guacamole and crab salad were so good, i borrowed the idea for a passed appetizer before dinner last night.

The crepe with huitlacoche and sweet corn was revealing. It had an earthiness with crunch of just cooked corn kernals finished with a creamy tomatillos sauce that brought all the flavors together.

The skate, I agree with Scott, was the best dish of the night. None of the flavors overpowered everything else. The skate was perfectly cooked, sweet, moist, tender, the cassoulet added to and the chipolte buerre blanc and the fried capers gave it that punch to make it outstanding

My second favorite plate was the duck. THe rissoto was nicely creamy with enough tang to stand on its own. THE duck was perfectly cooked for me. And the two together brought out Lanny's mediterranian leanings.

The filet was nice, the tamal was very interesting. Another idea to steal. I wish I had a regular source for those haricot vert, just something else I will have to have shipped in.

THe chocolate cake tasted of hazelnuts, maybe it was just me. It was not such an intense chocolate that everything else was lost to that flavor. And how I love gooseberrys. Another thing I have to drive down to CM to find.

The finale was sooooo good. The Mexican wedding cookies were just nuggets, but they would melt in your mouth. And the churros, my last churro was at San Augustin in San Miguel de Allende last winter, were warm, crispy, lightly chewy, and then there was the cajeta, creamy, bright, a bit of a punch with the brandy finish it had. A marvelous ending to a great meal.

Chef Lanny is going to be a chef to keep track of. He was very attentive and gracious to answer questions after the dinner was over. I recommend you make your reservations now. AS for being at Joe T's, as soon as you entered the room, the rest of the megaplex dissappeared. The service was accurate, timely and I never felt someone was hovering at any time. During the dinner, I did ask for a glass of red wine when the beef entree came, they poured a Los Vascos cabernet reserve. It complimented the beef so well being full, fruity and not too much tannins.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I'm digging back up this thread to report on my long-overdue excursion to Lanny's, now in their new location on 7th Street a couple blocks west of University. No pics, though.

It's set in a house and has an open, high-ceilinged room partitioned off into nooks and crannies. Lots of candles and soft, glowing, welcoming lights, perfect for the dismal day outside. Also, nice floral arrangments which my wife and mom went on and on about (otherise, I wouldn't have noticed).

We opted to order from the menu, though I do want to do a Chef's Tasting there next time.

Meal started with an amuse bouche that was a miniature tamale with creme frache. Washed it down with the house cocktail, a tart, refreshing pomegranate margarita.

Every appetizer, salad, and soup sounded intriguing. I finally settled on the salad with duck prosciutto, persimmons, and romaine, dressed with a vanilla vinaigrette. My wife got a seared scallop salad; my parents ordered the butternut squash soup with smoked ham hocks.

I'd had duck prosciutto before but this one was pretty strong, maybe even a little less cured than it should have been; it had a slightly "raw" taste and texture to it. I'm inexperienced with persimmons but found them distractingly tart. The few bites I had of my wife's scallop salad were good. My parents enjoyed their soup but pointed out that the "ham hock" was just a spoonfull of shredded meat at the bottom of the bowl that really didn't contribute much to the overall flavor of the meal.

We were feeling adventurous and ordered a Mexican Zinfandel with the meal. It was very astringent and puckery tasting and not very pleasant.

For the main, I ordered the braised pork belly with chipotle apple sauce and those German dumpling/pasta thingies whose name I'm drawing a blank on. The guy who brought it out said that it was his favorite dish on the menu: "it's almost like duck!". And indeed, there was almost a confit-like quality to it: big, deep flavors, cut by the tart/sweet/hot applesauce. Fantastic. Everyone else enjoyed theirs' but I'm struggling to recall what they ordered.

Desserts were creme brulee and some sort of chocolate/fudge pie that was very thick and couldn't even be cut with a spoon. To close the meal, however, you do get a little cup of hot chocolate scented with lavendar.

An enjoyable evening. I'm glad to have a real "destination" restaurant in Ft. Worth when we do outings there now and will definitely hit the Chef's Tasting next time.

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So, even though I bumped the thread, it looks like I'll be the one to bump back first.

Here's an excerpt from my blogpost. You can find the entire article and photos at the ulterior epicure.

“Go,” they urged. Everyone I talked to about my trip to Dallas told me to go to Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexciana. It would be worth the detour to Fort Worth.

A slight detour from outdated directions from a major online orienteering guide aside (they need to do a better job of updating road construction, which, in this case, luckily ended just shy of Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana’s valet stand), my friend and I found our way to this unassuming tile-roofed and stuccoed casa in sleepy Fort Worth, Texas.

The Quail Tamales ($10) alone were worth the trek. I’ll take a longish car ride through the desolate wasteland between Dallas and Fort Worth – interrupted only slightly by the glimpse of the twisted rails of Six Flags – any night of the week for these moist masa cakes filled with moist quail meat. Actually, I’d walk to Ft. Worth from Dallas just for that carpet of mole sauce that pooled out beneath the neatly tied bundles ....

When Chef Lanny Lancarte, II’s food is on point, it’s quite extraordinary. Those quail tamales, which come two to an order, were an excellent way to start a meal. Well, for my friend anyway. I had a less exciting and excitable plate of Hamachi Crudo ($9).

Why I ordered a Japanese-named fish with an Italian treatment in a high-end Mexican restaurant I have no clue. I guess I was hoping that Lancarte could make it, well, alta cucina Mexicana. Dotting the plate with an avocado-green apple puree and tangle of balsamic-pickled onions wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The three slices of fish were very good – nice texture, excellent cut, and some appreciable aging - but overall, the flavors and textures didn’t work.

That strange interlude aside, almost everything my friend and I had was great. Of course, everything else we had was, colorably, Mexican and closer to the Lancarte’s native interests and instincts. You can read all about him here.

But getting back to that point about Lancarte being on the ball and producing extraordinary food, I’m going to skip ahead to my main course, the house specialty, the “Prime Carne Asada.” I think it should be renamed the “Primal Carne Asada.” This was prime beef at its prime. I’m not exactly sure of the measurements of this legendary round of beef, but collectively, every ounce of the perfectly-grilled, juicy, and flavorful tenderloin was worth the $40 price tag. It was attended to by large roasted shallots melting within their papery skins and a papa relleno, a captivatingly crispy-shelled torpedo of mashed potatoes stuffed with blue cheese. As with the mole for the tamales, the Dijon demi-glace, which was part tangy, part spicy, and rich all over was nuanced, complex, and well-crafted. Laced throughout each bite, the sauce tied everything together wonderfully.

Lancarte’s plating style has a simple beauty. His presentations aren’t the razor-sharp, overworked architectural structures invading haute fusion restaurants. He adheres to a more organic geometry, relying on nature’s contours and colors. There are no dashes, underlines, commas, or any other extraneous punctuation on Lancarte’s plates. Never venturing beyond three or four colors per dish, Lancarte’s food comes in monochromatic patches: an oval of peridot nopal risotto was topped with a copper rhomboid of duck breast; triangles of pink alabaster hamachi etched with vermillion were sided by avocado circles and a mound of balsamic-stained onions; and an emerald blossom of Bibb lettuce book-ended by two half circles of ivory-colored blue cheese and walnut flan was sided by group of knobby of oak-tinted walnuts.

My friend nearly melted into her dish of peridot and copper. She, being a risotto fanatic, was extremely pleased with the mattress of stirred rice – more soft than stiff, more structured than soupy - studded with bits of softened but sturdy nopales (my favorite part of the risotto). The duck, we both agreed, was fabulous: a thin layer of crispy skin clinging to a modest rind of fat paved across pink, moist duck meat ($28).

Both of our salads were simple, yet flavorful....

If the salads were healthful, the chile relleno, which I ordered on a whim, was damning. This was no ordinary stuffed pepper. This was a Hudson Valley Foie Gras Chile Relleno ($16).

I was imagining an Anaheim pepper stuffed with cured foie gras, battered and deep-fried. In reality, it was much more of a deconstructed chile relleno the likes of which no other chile relleno could ever hope to outdo: a dark auburn ancho chile sandwiched a lobe of seared foie gras sitting on a bed of smooth appaloosa bean puree. Smoky, sweet, meaty, and velvety, the composition had just enough texture to prevent it from being a complete melt down and mush job (thought it still tended to be a little too greasy for me - which, is why I generally shy away from seared foie gras). Despite the fact that the foie gras was perfectly-seared, the smoked pepper and the appaloosa beans – both pureed and whole - were much more exciting (maybe because they soaked up all of that foie gras grease?).

We chose a table in a cozy corner of a curtained off alcove and often felt forgotten, which was fine while we were eating, but was rather annoying when something was needed ... But when we were serviced – once by Lancarte himself, who presented the amuse bouche (a square of pan-fried halibut on a bed of bean puree) – the interaction was friendly.

Tanked, we could hardly manage desserts, so instead of walking away without trying something sweet, we compromised and ordered “Churros with Cajeta,” which seemed like the lightest option on the menu.

While we both loved the cajeta (he should bottle and sell this stuff) - tweaked with lime juice - the churros were a conundrum. They were crispy on the outside, but the interiors were a lot more wet and dense than I had expected or ever experienced before - my friend and I both thought it tasted undercooked. We asked the server about this and she acknowledged that Lanny’s churros are rather wet and doughy on the inside but did not know whether this was traditional to Mexican churros or Lanny’s personal take (or a repeated mistake?). Someone out there with a lot more knowledge of Mexican churros, please do email me and let me know. I’ve had soft churros, puffy churros, crunchy churros, hollow churros, and even flaky churrros, but I’ve never had wet, mushy churros.

Is Lanny’s cooking "alta cocina?" Certainly. Is it "alta cocina Mexicana?" I’m not sure. I can’t claim enough expertise in Mexican cuisine to say for certain. Other than a few menu items, like the tamales and churros, most of the food seemed to be contemporary American or classic French cooking embellished and accented with Latino ingredients and flavors.

This was not fusion for fusion’s sake. The melding was subtle. Lime, heat, and smoke were seamlessly and convincingly threaded throughout out meal. Coconut made a brilliant appearance in a tropical, quenching Mojito. And bread comes not with butter but a tangy and grassy chimichurri dipping oil.

What I am certain of is that Lancarte focuses foremost on perfect execution. With the exception of the churros, whose wet and mushy disposition remains a mystery, our meal was flawless. Everything was thoughtfully composed; flavors were clean, saucing was restrained, and temperatures measured. Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana was surefooted, steady and solid.  As long as Lanny Lancarte II is cooking at Lanny’s, I’ll have a reason to return to Fort Worth.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)


My flickr account


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