Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who's that knockin' at the Screen Door?

Mico and David are in the house and need to add a wing for their partners.

I stopped by Screen Door in One Arts Plaza on Friday to see if I could catch up with David McMillan and Mico Rodriguez. In case you hadn't heard, there's been a big change at the restaurant (you ain't seen nothin' yet!). In one swell foop, Chef Fitzgerald Dodd is out (and the Southern menu he served is soon to follow), and celebrity chef David McMillan (Nana, 62 Main, Consilient Restaurants) is in with plans to revamp the menu within a couple of weeks. He and Mico have formed a partnership called MCM Restaurants with restaurant mogul Robert Colombo (Trece, Villa O, et al) and Teiichi Sakurai from Tei-An "with a goal of developing creative restaurants that are conceived and run the best way possible". Screen Door is MCM Restaurant's first project. Mico is back in fine form after a 10 month hiatus from the restaurant biz. It was a rough ride. A divorce from his wife, Carolina Galvan-Rodriguez, a "divorce" from his partners at M Crowd (Mi Cocina), and what appears to be a divorce from the personal demons that caused his tragic descent after his meteoric rise with M Crowd, have produced a man on a mission. As Mico puts it, "Lucy (Billingsley) has asked us to come in and observe and make recommendations to get this place turned around. We've just started. We have a lot of work to do. Robert is a fantastic partner. David is a gifted chef. We plan to open restaurants, and I want to do a Mexican Food restaurant as soon as the non-compete clause is up in 19 months (from his break with M Crowd), but right now we are engaged to make this restaurant live up to its potential." As we speak, the swirl of activity around him increases. It is less than an hour until opening time. He is meeting with sales reps, planning upcoming events, and barking orders to employees to remove facades in the restaurant entrance and change seating arrangements. He is organizing a new wine list, and taking a call from Robert Colombo. He asks someone to get David for me and the dervish continues.

Chef McMillan earned his stripes as Hollywood caterer to the stars (among them Barbara Streisand) before accepting Paul Pinnell's offer to take the kitchen helm at Nana in the Hilton Anatole. The restaurant rose to 5 star prominence before David left to open his widely acclaimed 62 Main restaurant in Colleyville. Bedroom communities are notoriously rough places to run upscale restaurants. David closed his dream place and started overseeing concepts with Tristan Simon's Consilient Restaurants (including Hibiscus, Victor Tango's and Fireside Pies). He is steady, mellow, and one of the most supremely talented chefs I have ever known. He is glad to be back in action again and is looking forward to putting his imprimatur on the Screen Door menu. Check them out as you venture downtown to see the new AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Tre rocks the house and Plano

One of the best chefs on the planet, Tre Wilcox, is in full swing with Loft 610. (He'll be joining us for the Savor Dallas International Grand Tasting on Saturday March 6, at the beautifully renovated Sheraton Dallas Hotel in Downtown Dallas.) He has created a new menu for Loft 610. As long as he sent it to me, I thought I would share it with you:

Crispy Duck Spring Rolls, with Red Chili- Pomegranate Dipping Sauce Jalapeno Marinated Jumbo Shrimp, with Jack Cheese Grits and Tequila Lime Sauce
Cucumber Yellowtail Roll, with Citrus Sweet Soy, Wasabi Sauce and Scallions
Mesquite Grilled Baby Lamb Chops, with Balsamic Honey Glaze
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, with Champagne Sauce and Chive Olive Oil
Braised Pork Belly, with Pickled Cucumbers, Fennel and House BBQ
Seared Rare Hawaiian Tuna, with Spicy "Thai Style" Mushroom Sauce

Soup and Salads

Soup of the Day Mixed Baby Field Greens, with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Caesar Salad, with truffle cheese
Red and Yellow Tomato Salad, with Marinated Mozzarella, Pesto and Balsamic
Asian "Field Green" Salad, with Sweet Chili Lime Dressing and Crispy Wontons
Baby Spinach Salad, Fried Oysters, Blue Cheese, Bosc Pear, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Hawaiian Escolar, on Stir Fried Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms and Yellow Curry Sauce
Poached Maine Lobster and Seared Sea Scallops, on Angel Hair, Tomatoes, Capers, Basil
Wood Grilled Salmon, with Bacon Whipped Potatoes, Asparagus and Chardonnay Sauce
Pan Seared Nova Scotia Halibut, with Baby Brocolini and Spicy Ginger - Lemongrass Broth
Herb Roasted Chicken Pasta, with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Parmesan Cream Sauce
Blue Cheese Crusted Prime Ribeye with Mixed Fingerling Potatoes and Marsala Glaze
Smoked Bone-In Pork Chop, with Mushroom-Scallion Risotto and Balsamic-Port Reduction
Braised Beef Short Ribs, with smoked cheddar-jalapeno bread pudding and grilled jicima slaw
Grilled Buffalo Tenderloin, on Sweet Potato Puree, Wilted Spinach and Ancho-Shiner Sauce

Grilled Asparagus, Steamed Vegetables, Bacon Whipped Potatoes or Truffle Risotto

Lemon Tarragon Italian Custard, with Strawberry Champagne Sauce and Fresh Blueberries
The "Top Chef" Failed Banana Bread Pudding, with Toffee Sauce
Golden Cake, with Blueberry Honey Syrup and Rum Whipped Cream

They have also expanded the wine list. LOFT 610 Urban Restaurant & Lounge, 5760 State Highway, Suite 175, Plano TX 75024, 972-377-2500.

Mama Mia, that's a tasty pizza pie!

We had some kind of fun the other night getting to know Jay Jerrier who owns Cane Rosso, the company that makes delicious mobile wood-fired pizza. He and his team are making pizzas every Wednesday night at Lakewood favorite Times Ten Cellars. Stop by beginning at 6 p.m. for a delicious Neapolitan pizza and a tasty glass of wine with Times Ten (they have just opened a new location in Fort Worth, too--near University Drive and 7th Street in the Cultural District-- 1100 Foch St, Fort Worth, TX 76107, (817) 336-9463. Cane Rosso has imported an authentic Italian wood-burning oven and housed it on a custom trailer that can be transported directly to events. We are planning on having them with us at Savor Dallas during the Arts District Wine Stroll on Friday March 5th, and during our "Sunday FunDay" benefit for the North Texas Food Bank on Sunday March 7th, at Dallas Farmers Market. You can contact them to do some incredible pizzas for a party or school function you have coming up. 214-577-6747, Get more details at their website, They adhere to the strict standards of the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. They use only imported "00" flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and house-made Flor di Latte to create an extremely fresh and light pizza. See you at Times Ten Cellars!

And now the whole sordid story can be told. Drum roll please!

Besides being one of the country's best (and wackiest) winemakers, Randall Grahm, the original "Rhone Ranger", owner of Bonny Doon Vineyards is a helluva writer. His new book just landed on my doorstep last week (thanks to University of California Press!). "Been Doon so Long--a Randall Grahm Vinthology" is a collection of some of the wild and wonderful works that readers of Randall's newsletters and other missives have been howling over for years. From the Hugh Johnson forward:

"This eclectic collection at last brings to a wide audience the irreverent, zany voice of Randall Grahm, visionary California winemaker and founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard. An iconoclastic send-up of the wine industry and a celebration of unsung grape varieties, the book features, among other things, Grahm's hilarious literary parodies - Joyce, Kafka, Pynchon, Salinger, and others - together with song lyrics, snarky satires, poems, lectures, and more. Subtle undertones of gravitas with faint suggestions of earnestness lie beneath the humor, however, as Grahm passionately addresses the state of wine today: Where in wine does "greatness" truly repose? How might true originality in New World wines be found? Do New World winemakers have the integrity and courage to unreservedly embrace terroir? This trove includes a very personal take on Dante's Inferno (Grahm's own vision of Wine Hell) and a collection of tunes from the rock opera "Born to Rhône." Other pieces offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Rhône Ranger wine movement and of Bonny Doon itself, told through the story of its adventurous wine labels. Been Doon So Long is a highly entertaining journey to find the "truth of all things that may be found in the unlikely medium of a wineglass." (I really wanted to find a way to say "Quoth the Raven, 'never more'.")

If you love wine and revile those whom take it too seriously (see what I mean), by all means buy this book as quickly as you can. Quoth the website ever more: "For more information and to follow the book tour, visit: Order online or by phone 888.819.6789 and we will happily send an inscribed book to any number of your dearest friends. For shipments to far flung Old and New World destinations, please contact the Mothership directly at or 1.831.425.6705." See what I mean? Even the commercials are fun with Randall.

Just had lunch with Adam Richardson who is winemaker for Cupcake Vineyards (and Concannon Vineyard), and International wine director for Underdog Wine Merchants based in Soledad, California. Adam is a native Australian, and former aviator with the Royal Australian Navy. He has been a serious winemaker for more than a dozen years. The delicious Cupcake Wines mostly from the Central Coast of California include Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand), Riesling (Yakima Valley, Washington), Petite Sirah, and Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina). Suggested retail on the wines is $13.99. They are infinitely inviting, and comforting as, well, a cupcake. Underdog is making some great wines from around the world under the aegis of The Wine Group, and more are on the way. Look for them at a friendly retail outlet near you.

G'day, Mate! Drink responsibly.

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