Monday, August 6, 2012

Restaurant review: The Second Floor Bistro & Bar in Dallas - Pegasus News

After 26 years in the business, executive chef Joel Harloff is definitely the real deal.

Crab cake and cucumber salad from The Second Floor Bistro & Bar in Dallas

Photo by Ashli Michelle

Crab cake and cucumber salad from The Second Floor Bistro & Bar in Dallas

Being the luckiest girl in the world, minus having a fiancé on crutches with an Achilles tendon tear, I recently stopped by for a fabulous lunch with John DeMers of Delicious Mischief. The day began with a plan to interview executive chef Joel Harloff, as well as his bartender extraordinaire. The Second Floor Bistro & Bar is located in the Westin Galleria on none other than â€" the second floor.

Scott and Gina Gottlich own the Second Floor Bistro & Bar, as well as Bijoux in Highland Park. Most of the time owner bios can be such a snoozer, but not this one. He’s a chef who fell in love with a sommelier. Yes, that’s a nifty intro.

Prepare for all toes to tingle upon hearing: Scott worked with chef Eric Ripert at the three-Michelin starred Le Bernadin in New York City. Pause. Even more non-boring, Bon Appétit named Bijoux one of the “Top 10 Hottest New Restaurants in America.” Alrighty then.

Tim Murphy is … the bartender. Before taking a nap, listen carefully to this drink slinger’s importance. During this tasting slash interview, Murphy was in charge of pairing sassy drinks with each dish discussed. Murphy maintains this establishment possesses every single scotch available in Texas today, with bourbon being their next feat to complete. This bartender describes their concept as a bit more straight forward than that of a mixologist.

P.S.: Having just purchased a snazzy new video camera, as well as a mini or maxi tripod, it’s on like Donkey Kong, people. Bartender Murphy agreed to participate in our first potential award-winning-bartender-drink-making-video.

Executive chef Joel Harloff is running the show at the Second Floor, describing his vision as European contemporary. Harloff doesn’t have to fluff anyone’s stuff, for he has worked many years to establish himself as a massive earner of accolades.

Let’s begin by saying he cooked at the James Beard House. If that’s not enough, proof of occasional appreciation has also been shown over the years by D Magazine, Dallas Observer, Texas Monthly magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. At some point in his cheffing existence, these people were digging his gig.

Tarragon-mint potato gnocchi at The Second Floor Bistro & Bar in Dallas

Photo by Ashli Michelle

Tarragon-mint potato gnocchi at The Second Floor Bistro & Bar in Dallas

Luckily, this chef brought an artisan cheese course as an appetizer â€" not a dessert. Applause. Chef Harloff feels the environment helps seal the deal on selling cheese plates. I suppose sitting in a wine bar might be the environment that could break a no cheese plate rule.

Cheese for dessert is a disgrace to all mankind. Catastrophic. Lethal. Depressing. A barbaric act against pastry chefs everywhere. A socialite is probably responsible for bringing cheese plates into the dessert section of almost every menu. This is inside the realm of possibility â€" not outside.

Crab cakes are usually bread filled circles of pain. Chef Harloff’s take on the crab cake is a refreshing godsend. Served cold, this crab cake and cucumber salad sits beneath clementines with avocado purée and lime sorbet to the side.

A person has the right to eat foie gras and quail eggs until their neck, I mean belly, swells. It’s a choice. This particular foie gras is pan seared. Wait! Chaud-froid is the next word the chef used. Before anyone thinks this chaud-froid part of the foie gras dish description is going to confuse this food writer, think again.

After a full blown investigation, we are definitely dealing with something cold. There is no way anything about this particular chaud-froid is hot. An attempt to confirm this research with René Redzepi was interrupted, as he is apparently busy foraging in Denmark this afternoon.

This! At times, gnocchi has the power to produce a parade. Chef Harloff’s house-made tarragon-mint potato gnocchi is up there. This chef is especially excited about using super fresh English peas, along with Maine lobster, crab meat, and red cerignola olives in butter sauce.

Yes, there is a cheese course listed in the dessert section. Surprisingly, reading this caused minimal feelings of being violated. Second Floor quickly recovered from this menu mishap by offering peach apple cobbler with pecan granola streusel, lemon marigold cake with citrus praline ice cream, as well as vanilla sea salt panna cotta.

After 26 years in the business, this guy is definitely the real deal.

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