NOLA: Esquire mag’s John Mariani gives NOSH some love

So it turns out the Tennessee Williams Literary Fest is way more than simply seminars on the famed author and adopted son of New Orleans. I attended a couple of valuable foodie events, including one called Restaurant Scoop from the Virtual Gourmet, said gourmet being Esquire magazine restaurant critic John Mariani. He’s presented this seminar for a few years now at the TW Fest, and I can see why it’s been a popular one (certainly helps that there was a mini-reception featuring wine and savory snacks (above)!

Mariani — who travels the country visiting restos — flips through an at-times humorous slideshow demonstrating trends that the nation’s best restaurants are employing. He also points out fads that are fading … or should. Interestingly, quite a lot of what he mentioned relates to stuff going on in Dallas, and notably, he kicked off the slide show by pointing out one Dallas restaurant that’s doing something right … VERY right.

Mariani noted that NOSH bistro, one of my reliable fave places, makes an ahi tuna tartare that’s do die for. I’ve never tried the tuna, but I’ve never had a dish there that wasn’t outstanding. Mariani said to keep in mind that the restaurants he mentions in his TW Fest seminars tend to end up in his year-end Esquire roundup of best restaurants in the country. Hats off to NOSH, then!!

Among the other trends Mariani touched upon, and their relevance to Dallas:

  • Counter dining: Notably, NOSH has a popular counter that peers over into the open kitchen. But I like the personal experience of eating solo at counters such as those at Union Bear and Oddfellows.
  • EATaly invasion: Brought to you by chef Mario Batali, EATaly is a NYC haven for all things imported from Italy. Mariani reports that the enterprise has been so popular, plans are in the works to open seven in the U.S. — surely Dallas foodies deserve one!!
  • Charcuterie made in-house: I believe one Steve Doyle of CraveDFW recently posted on the topic of making your very own. Mariani noted the surge of great Italian sausages such as mortadella and guanciale, with a relaxation on USDA import rules. Yum for us!
  • Fine dining at local institutions: I, for one, LOVE dining at the Kimbell’s sweet little cafe and perusing the art on a full belly.
  • Upscale steakhouses: This has BEEN a trend in Dallas for ages; maybe the rest of the country is just catching on …?
  • Asian dumplings: They’re inexpensive, everyone loves them and their snacky delightfulness. Mariani predicts we’ll see more of this irresistible snack on menus.

On the outs in the restaurant world, as Mariani sees it …

  • Dressing for dinner: He mentioned the sad phenomenon of rich (usually young) gents who show up to five-star dining in T-shirts then get gripey for being called out. VERY relevant to Dallas — how many times have I gotten dolled up to hit a really nice restaurant, only to see jean shorts and cut-offs walking out the door. Dislike.
  • Modern molecular gastronomy: Mariani predicts less “played with” food — so diners don’t have to work so hard for a nibble. Hear, hear!
  • Gastropubs: Now this I have to disagree with. I mean, a good bar can do good business. A good bar with decent food can do even better — but a good bar with great food? Win-win-win, I say! And when you’re eating at gastropubs as good as Common Table and Nova, for example, what’s not to love?

Overall, Mariani entertained and gave the audience a lot of food for thought …




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