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foodfun

[DFW] The Mansion on Turtle Creek

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Too bad. Tesar is a corporate chef offering corporate food. The Mansion has made a statement with this hire, they don't need nor want 5 stars from the kitchen.

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I had lunch there about a month ago. I thought that it was one of the more *pleasant* lunches I've ever had in my life. The service was flawless: friendly without being fawning, attentive but not intrusive. They asked for my last name and I was addressed by name for the entire meal. Excellent touch.

As far as the food is concerned I never had the chance to eat there when Dean Fearing was the chef, so I have no benchmark to measure the current chef by. But I did order the tortilla soup (a holdover from the Fearing era), and it was excellent: spicy and crunchy, not watery (as I've had elsewhere). :raz:

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Too bad. Tesar is a corporate chef offering corporate food. The Mansion has made a statement with this hire, they don't need nor want 5 stars from the kitchen.

In case anyone missed it, the DMN did their review of the "new" restaurant. It retains it's 5 stars. It only missed out a half star for atmosphere.

http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?_page...AL&item_id=2542


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Too bad. Tesar is a corporate chef offering corporate food. The Mansion has made a statement with this hire, they don't need nor want 5 stars from the kitchen.

In case anyone missed it, the DMN did their review of the "new" restaurant. It retains it's 5 stars. It only missed out a half star for atmosphere.

http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?_page...AL&item_id=2542

Not that I have eaten there, but one has to wonder if the Mansion's longstanding reputation affects the review. Maybe the DMN doesn't want it's biggest name to lose face?

Again, just a musing.

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Too bad. Tesar is a corporate chef offering corporate food. The Mansion has made a statement with this hire, they don't need nor want 5 stars from the kitchen.

In case anyone missed it, the DMN did their review of the "new" restaurant. It retains it's 5 stars. It only missed out a half star for atmosphere.

http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?_page...AL&item_id=2542

Not that I have eaten there, but one has to wonder if the Mansion's longstanding reputation affects the review. Maybe the DMN doesn't want it's biggest name to lose face?

Again, just a musing.

Very possible, for sure. Another "twist" is that the former food writer/critic is no longer with the paper.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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The following is an excerpt from my (long-overdue) blog post about my lunch at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. You can read the entire post and see the photos on the ulterior epicure.

...Everything at the Mansion on Turtle Creek is expensive. How expensive? My lunch main course consisting of four Lobster Ravioli with uni butter cost $35. I don’t think it would have struck me as being any less expensive had there been seven ravioli, as our server quoted (and four was all I really needed).

That being said, the ravioli, which were actually mezzalunas, were pretty good. The pasta crescents were thin and elastic and each contained a nugget of succulent, sweet lobster. The creamy uni butter sauce, which was heavily layered and concentrated with shellfish umami, had an appreciable amount of uni flavor. But as good as the sauce was – or, perhaps because it was so rich and flavorful - I only needed about half the serving; there was simply too much.

And the sauce had skinned over – one of my biggest pet peeves. It was clear, not only from the skinned sauce, but from the dried sliver of lobster atop the four ravioli with a meager dollop of sturgeon caviar, that the dish had been left sitting out.

It being the apex of summer, my friend and I gravitated toward the seasonal items on the menu, which comprised the majority of our selections. Tissue-thin shavings of fennel and neon-yellow celery hearts, strewn in a feathery line across an elongated plate, were book-ended by cubes of Paula Lambert cheese ($14). This gorgeous salad was undressed except for a few fronds of fresh dill and relied solely on the buttery, slightly salty cubes of cheese for contrast.  While my friend thought the salad was bland (and she’s not a big fan of fennel either), I appreciated the light treatment which showcased the natural, grassy sweetness of the stalks.

Fat slices of ripe heirloom tomatoes blanketed with feta cheese and fresh herbs (tarragon standing out) were accompanied by batons of crisp, sweet watermelon. Dressed lightly with vinaigrette, this salad was simple, straightforward, and fresh.

But I’m not sure it was worth $18.

I’m not sure that my friend’s main course, which featured three fried squash blossoms stuffed with herbed goat cheese atop a bed of “rustic tomato sauce” (more like a chunky sun-dried tomato stew) was worth $18 either. But the buds were crunchy on the outside, hot and creamy on the inside and paired nicely with the thick, tangy-savory tomatoes.

The food is expensive, and it’s good. But it’s not extraordinary – certainly not enough to justify the price. I don’t know what the food was like when Dean Fearing was cooking at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. I imagine that it was very similar to what he’s serving at his new restaurant, Fearing’s at the Ritz Carlton, where I had lunch the two days before.

(Now I understand why Fearing’s is so expensive. The Tortilla Soup at both The Mansion (where’s it’s called “The Mansion Tortilla Soup”) and at Fearing’s (where it’s called “Dean’s Tortilla Soup”) is $15. It’s wonderful soup – probably the best thing I had at Fearing’s. But I didn’t feel the need to repeat the experience at The Mansion on Turtle Creek for that price.)

Having eaten at Fearing’s, I’d say that Fearing’s food is bolder and more vivid than Tesar’s at The Mansion.  Fearing’s food has a character and a specific perspective that Tesar’s seems to lack.

You can imagine my delight when I learned that the Mansion Ice Cream Tasting ($13) included all nine of the flavors listed on the menu.

Although the huge glass plate gridded with nine dimples, each nestling a scoop of ice cream, looked exciting, there could have been a more interesting variety of flavors. For instance, there were three “chocolate” ice creams (white, milk, and dark). Notwithstanding the lack of variety (something I had already been aware of from the printed flavors), most of the ice creams were not particularly good. The coconut ice cream was my favorite. You can read about the rest of the flavors here. The tasting came with a giant cookie the shape of Texas.

It wasn’t hard to choose “Peach” as the other dessert ($13). The halved Texas peach was roasted and stuffed with honey mousse and served with a quenelle of peach ice cream. The plate was garnished with buttery crumbs of Breton sablé and a swatch of what I would describe as peach smoothie – a frothy, pastel-pink sauce that tasted gently of peaches and tea. This was a wonderful dessert to end a summer lunch.

Service was good, but nothing particularly noteworthy. Likewise, the bread was good, but nothing particularly noteworthy.

I’m not convinced that I’ve experienced a good representation of Chef Tesar’s repertoire and potential (or maybe I’m hoping that I haven’t). The dinner menu, not surprisingly, seems more interesting than the lunch menu. There a number of tasting menus that seem like more comprehensive and focused presentations of Tesar’s cuisine.

But even if the food didn’t live up to the restaurant’s legend and legacy, the setting was charming enough to entice me to return to The Mansion for another visit.  I’d not only like a second crack at Tesar’s menu, but a chance to sit under the stars on that tree-lined and lantern-strung patio.

As an aside, Chef Graham Elliot Bowles of graham elliot restaurant (Chicago) cooked at The Mansion on Turtle Creek under Dean Fearing.


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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Another outstanding review, UE. I went here for my birthday dinner in early June. We decided against the stratospheric Chef's Tasting and Chef's Table options (there's four dinner options: bar, dining room, Chef's Tasting, and Chef's Table) and went for just the dining room experience. Even though it was only mid June the temps had already been in the upper 90s for the past couple months and I felt that the menu hadn't adjusted to the season yet: lots of braises and rich menu items. Good to see they shifted focus later in the season though.

I was a little frustrated that it seemed like the true focus of chef was more on the Tasting and Table options and that it almost seemed like the regular menu items were less tended to. Despite the seasonal differences, I still couldn't help but order the duck confit ravioli and a foie gras starter. The foie was excellent; the duck dish was fine but not terribly noteworthy. I left feeling a little let down that we didn't try the chef's tasting, but also a little frustrated that apparently you have to really plunk down to get that sort of great dining experience.

But the service we had that night was exemplary, maybe the best I've ever had. They had a birthday card personalized to me waiting at the table and our waiter at one point whisked our enjoyable wine away to steam off the label and give it to us to remember.

I admire what Tesar's doing and his efforts to revitalize the operation, and with service that good I'd like another try at it too.

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I left feeling a little let down that we didn't try the chef's tasting, but also a little frustrated that apparently you have to really plunk down to get that sort of great dining experience.

Voila et voici. You just summed up my take-away from The Mansion under Tesar.


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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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John Tesar, exec chef at Rosewood Mansion, has left the company.

The Mansion had been showing some financial difficulties; last summer there were staff layoffs, so I had been worried. Then there was a rumor about this on one of the news blogs last week and the Mansion moved quickly to quash it, but then made the announcement Friday. Tesar is expected to make his own announcement tomorrow (Tuesday).

Unfortunate. Tesar made a commendable turnaround on the Mansion's brand these last few years and really seemed to put it back on the map in the local food scene. Rumor seems to have it at this point that he will stay in the area for his next venture.

Eatsblog, Sidedish, and Pegasus News all have more with ongoing updates. Pretty huge news for the local dining scene.

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The Mansion closes the Chef's Tasting Room

Nichols makes the valid point though that without a recognizable head chef at the moment, and given the current economic climate, it made sense. Hopefully it's only temporary (gives me something to shoot for! :raz: )

ETA: Two more tidbits, from Eats Blog:

More on the Tasting Room:: Chef's tastings still exist, and diners can eat in the Chef's Room, but the concept itself is on hold or is not part of their regular operations.

Also, an update on former Exec Chef John Tesar: He's heading to NYC to work with David Burke and Fishtail. Too bad for the local scene. I really would have liked to see where Tesar took things next if he stayed here.


Edited by Kevin72 (log)

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