Dallas, Texas

Dallas is a cool place for foodies with a cutting edge culinary scene and acclaimed chefs. I should have thought more about their slogan, Think Big, when I first encountered Hilton Anatole Hotel (yes, everything is bigger in Texas). On the way to the 27th floor restaurant , Nana, it seemed more like an art gallery as we passed major and very large Oriental sculptures of gargantuan proportion and very costly(of course) large paintings and porcelain salvers ( massive). But the piece de resistance is the glass covered painting of the semi nude. Nana. It hangs over the very deluxe bar adjacent to the restaurant and although no one talks cost, the ball park figure for this exquisite piece of art was about US$6 million.

The restaurant décor could have been over the top formal but in fact it’s very comfortable with muted velvet covered chairs, pleasant, easy going helpful wait staff, dim lighting and happily lack of loud background music. And the sophisticated menu would please any oil magnate and their scions. Of course, how could I be in Dallas and not have beef, so my entrée after the perfectly presented Ahi Tuna cubes, came a juicy grilled perfectly as ordered, filet mignon.

Nana, Hilton Anatole, 2201 Stemmons Freeway 27th floor

Another evening meal was at Lola. The Restaurant, once a small private home, is now a two room restaurant with perhaps the best food in this culinary haven and a very long waiting list for reservations. Although it’s a Prix Fixe menu, the choice could be two, three or four courses. I opted for the three courses at a reasonable US$37 which was more than ample. If you book a table for 7 o’clock you must be out by 9PM for the next seating. I started with warm roasted broccoli with garlic, anchovy, chile and mint, For entree, a perfectly done slightly pink crispy skinned duck breast in a burnt honey sauce served with sweet potato puree, grapefruit and endives was as good as it looked. The Riz au Lait, aka rice pudding was too thin but saved by the topping of caramel and almond brittle, perfect for my sweet tooth. The chef, David Uygur, too shy to come out of the kitchen, is regarded as one of the tops in this city of gourmets.

Lola, The Restaurant 214 855.0700 2917 Fairmount

A visit to Dallas is not complete without going for brunch at La Duni, a former bakery. Brunch on the weekend is a wild wonderful scene and since there are no reservations, the line often grows and new friends are made. Molletes de Frijol & Queso ($7.95) is a baguette spread with black beans covered with melted Latin cheese and served with salsas and roasted potatoes. The essential Tex Mex dish at Iron Cactus was enough for two. Sample the tamales with cheese, black beans and cilantro rice.

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is a true landmark in this city. Once the private home of a cotton baron, this 16th century Italian Renaissance style building was built in 1925. With the keen eye of Caroline Rose Hunt owner of Rosewood Hotels, purchased the estate in1980 and after a US$20 million renovation, added 143 room hotel next to the original house. The hotel is beyond elegant and worthy of all the prestigious awards presented.

Brunch was on the enclosed glassed-in area overlooking the circular drive. The American style breakfast holds no surprises but the hotel certainly does. The charming building has retained the historic features which include hand carved ceilings and dark wood walls, a huge fireplace and furnishing that goes from traditional to contemporary but in a stylish manner with eclectic often difficult to obtain. And the art shown throughout the public areas is worthy of a catalogue.