Monday, May 9, 2011

Restaurant Review: Watel's Bistro

So, this last weekend was the celebration of my final sub-30 year. It was fantastic. Sig-O went above and beyond, arranging 3 fabulous celebrations for me. I’m a lucky girl. But this blog isn’t about my personal life as much as sharing with you the things that will serve you well as you wine, dine, date and save your way through life, particularly in Dallas. Which brings me to my fabulous Saturday night dinner at Watel’s Bistro.

Watel’s occupies the former York Street spot at Live Oak and Skillman, and there must be magic that stayed in that kitchen. The space is small, quaint, but well-appointed, with a chalkboard listing the evening’s specials (but everything on the menu is special too, we were told). It is a welcome change of scenery in a town full of loud restaurants where you have to yell across the table and your older dining companions have to pull out cell phones to read the final bill because it’s so dark. We were able to have lovely conversations between the two of us, as well as periodically chatting with the table next to us who kept looking over to see what we had just ordered. Tables are close together, but not uncomfortably so. They have certainly done a good job of putting in as many tables as possible without making it feel cramped.

The wine list is friendly, approachable and very reasonably priced. It’s quite easy to find a good bottle under $30, and certainly under $40. They do feature a number of the Times Ten Cellar wines, who just happens to be a close neighbor. But we were celebrating my birthday, so what to drink? Bubbly! Of course! We selected a Brut Rose Cava, and our waiter reminded me that it’s a rose. “Yes,” I said. “It’s pink,” he said. “Yes, I know,” I replied. This isn’t some sweet pink sparkling wine that you make fun of people for drinking. It was a flavorful and very fun accompaniment for the entire meal.

Watel’s features American cuisine with a French twist. They also do you a favor by allowing you to order your meal pre fixe. Two courses for $29, Three for $36 and Four for $43. It’s a very reasonable way to have a wonderful evening without blowing through your entire entertainment and food budget for the month. The Sig-O and I elected to both start with salmon. I went with the smoked salmon with caviar (did I mention it was my birthday, of course I picked caviar) and the Sig-O went with the Salmon Roesti. Both were perfectly prepared and presented beautifully. The presentation was consistently beautiful for all three courses. It’s a bit of a lost art form and I wish more places would showcase the beauty of the food rather than go for the presentation shock value. For our main courses, I ordered the scallops, which were perfectly seared. Sig-O went with the beef shoulder medallions, which came out as a textbook medium rare and seemed to melt in your mouth.

Then came the last challenge – choosing dessert. They have quite a number of desserts that were very tempting. (Are we allowed to do three courses of desserts? Probably not.) We asked our charming waiter what his recommendations were and were told that we needed to order the waffle and the chocolate terrine. (Side note: the menu on their website isn’t updated, so I don’t have the official fancy names, but just go with it) We asked what he thought of the warm bread pudding, which he said was quite good. We opted for the waffle and bread pudding, which they brought out, along with French press coffee that complemented dessert well. He then came back with a slice of the chocolate terrine, telling us, “That one is on me. I just thought you needed to try it too.” What a nice surprise. And he was right. The Sig-O and I got to share all three, and the table next to us was eyeing what we had ordered, asking what our recommendations were. The waffle and chocolate terrine. Hands down.

As the Sig-O and I were finishing dessert and the last of our cava, our waiter then brought over two more glasses of champagne, saying, “your glasses were getting dry.” Such wonderful service and attentiveness made it a wonderful birthday celebration.

I’m not one who normally wants to oooh and aaah over every aspect of a restaurant, but I truly had no complaints. The food was fantastic, the service was superb and the experience was a joy. I think I have a new favorite restaurant in town. You can visit their website and make your reservation here:

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