- When: November 2016
- Male DINK Rating: 13/15
- Female DINK Rating: 13/15
- Total Cost: $336; Food Cost: $190
While most of our dining reviews pertain to well-known establishments that we dine at on our trips, this one is local and perhaps not as well-known outside of Dallas, even though Chef Matt McCallister was a James Beard semifinalist in 2014, among other accolades. Our first dining experience at FT33 was in 2014 to celebrate a special occasion. We have been loyal fans ever since, and this review is for the fifth tasting menu we’ve enjoyed here. Whenever we have something to celebrate, or just want a nice meal and experience, FT33 is immediately where we think of going, which is a testament to its ever-changing menu and consistency. The restaurant is rustic chic and very welcoming. This is not a stuffy place, and the service is friendly and comfortable. The food is consistently good, yet the tasting menu continues to change, as I don’t think we have ever had the same dish twice. Without further ado, let’s jump into the tasting menu…
The tasting menu is offered Tuesday through Thursday and offers an optional wine pairing. For the first time, we were also offered a premium wine pairing (this was $95 instead of the regular $55 pairing).
As this was never offered before, and the wine selection is always interesting, I decided to try it out (Male DINK stuck with his favorite cocktail here – a Booker’s Old Fashioned). This was not a preset wine pairing. I asked if they had a list of the premium wine pairings and was told there wasn’t a list, as the pairings were subject to what the sommelier wanted to pour that night. I was both happy and sad about this. I think it’s neat to try different wines and not necessarily have everything decided in stone; however, I would have liked some sort of record of the wines so I could keep track of the ones I really liked! I tried to remember each wine as it was presented and make a note on my phone, but I wasn’t always successful. I’ll give as much information as I remember for the wine pairings.
The first course was a set of canapés arriving on a slab of wood. The wine pairing for this course was the typical bubbles that accompany canapés.
The wine was Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut champagne (NV). There were four different canapés. First was the local radish and cultured butter. We’ve noticed that radishes and sunchokes seem to make an appearance on every tasting menu. We certainly are not complaining, as they are always very good, and this has even inspired us to grow radishes in our own garden! This particular canapé was chopped radishes next to a large portion of cultured butter. The radishes were delicious, and the butter was light and fluffy; however, I’m not sure the combination of the two necessarily went together. This was probably my least favorite of the canapés, but I still enjoyed those fresh radishes! Second was the sunchoke. This canapé was a sunchoke crisp (almost like a chip) with sunchoke custard on top. Very good. Male DINK thought maybe there was a bit too much sunchoke custard, but I was happy with it as it was. I don’t think I really see sunchoke on other menus, and it’s a shame because I’ve really enjoyed them here. Third was the hot coppa. One slice each of spicy Italian meat! As charcuterie lovers, this was on point for us, and very good. The fourth and last canapé was ‘nduja fritter with nutritional yeast served on a separate slab of wood.
I cannot remember the full description of the fritters that was given to us at the table, but these things were so good! They were extremely light and airy, yet packed in a lot of flavor – a great balance. The best I can describe these are a salty, airy, hush puppy. However, I know that description does not do the flavor justice. Great start with the snacks – let’s see what’s next.
The second course was caramelized cauliflower, buckwheat crepe, and mint. The wine pairing for this course was a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray. I didn’t get the winery, but it went well with the course.
The dish arrived with the caramelized cauliflower and mint sitting atop the crepe with some cauliflower puree on the side. This dish was excellent and almost felt like eating breakfast. The buckwheat crepe was very flavorful and savory. I haven’t had a lot of buckwheat dishes, but this one definitely made me a fan. The cauliflower flavors went well with the buckwheat, and I loved the puree! I could have eaten more and more of this course and was excited to see what else was in store for this menu.
The third course was mussels, clam, sunchoke, dashi, and tarragon. The wine pairing for this course was HDV Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard Carneros, a single vineyard wine from Hyde de Villaine winery. I’m typically not a very big white wine person (I love red wine), but this was a really great wine! It had that creamy, buttery flavor of a Chardonnay but still had a crisp light finish, being a really great balance of the two common styles of Chardonnay. I really loved this wine and felt the premium wine pairing was worth the extra cost just to find out about this wine!
Back to the food, the dish came in a bowl and the dashi sauce was poured in by the waiter. I don’t really like mussels or clams (Male DINK does), but I’ve learned through our dining experiences that everything is worth trying, as you might be surprised to like something you normally don’t. That was the case here: While the mussels and clams were a little chewy (probably not much to be done about that), the flavors were excellent. There were also some potatoes and onions in this dish. Again, all of the flavors went together well and the course almost felt like a warm, cozy soup. Well done.
The fourth course was black sea bass, fall tomato and lemongrass, jefferson red rice, and local potato. The wine pairing for this course was Moutard-Diligent Rose, which is made from pinot noir grapes in the Champagne region. The pairing went well, and I liked that the Rose wasn’t too sweet.
My first impression of this course was wow, there is a lot going on here! I felt like there were Southern, Asian, and Italian influences all fusing together in this course, and it was somehow working! The fish was good, but think it was perhaps a little overshadowed by the complex flavors of everything else in the dish. The Jefferson red rice was a nice touch to add some texture, and I liked the addition of the mustard greens. This was probably the most interesting course of the menu, as it seemed to combine many different ingredients resulting in a flavor explosion!
The fifth course was pork jowl, endive, and muscadine. The wine pairing for this course was a 2014 Copain Trousseau from Sonoma, a light and fruity red wine. I liked this wine – even though it was light, it was very flavorful and went well with the course.
The pork was served with a muscadine-filled endive salad. First things first: The pork was amazing. My best description would be a wagyu beef style pork – fatty, but in a good way. I say this because I’m a person who usually cuts off the fat of my meat because I don’t like eating it, but this was melt in your mouth deliciousness. The pork was definitely the star of the course, but there was more to enjoy. This course reminded me of German food due to the cabbage-like endive, sweetness, and pork. The sweet muscadine filling went well with the endive and pork; however, I feel like there may have been a bit too much of the muscadine that made me lose track of the endive. Either way, the pork was fantastic, and I really enjoyed this dish.
The sixth course was beef short rib, brown butter, turnip, allium, and oyster mushrooms. The wine pairing for this course was Domaine Jean Royer from Chateauneuf de Pape. This was an earthy red wine that paired well with the beef.
The dish arrived with one of the more interesting presentations of the night. The beef short rib was tender and delicious. From the appearance, I wasn’t sure how tender it would be, or maybe that uncertainty stemmed from just coming home from China where the meat was fairly tough, but regardless, it was pleasantly tender. But wait, there was so much more in this dish. The oyster mushrooms were some of the best mushrooms I’ve had. They came in a bunch all attached together that you cut apart. Every bite was delicious. The turnip puree was also excellent. Suffice it to say, everything was very good in this dish and it was one of my favorites.
The seventh course was Quicke’s cheddar, popcorn, apple, and mostarda – a transition dish from the main courses into dessert. The wine pairing for this course was a 2011 Kracher Burgenland from Austria, sweet, but not overpowering.
The dish arrived with apple slices, popcorn sheets, thick slices of cheese, and dollops of mostarda. Perfect pairing of flavors. The mostarda was sweet yet spicy, the popcorn added a nice crunchy texture, and the cheese delicious. I think my favorite part was the mostarda, and Male DINK’s favorite was the popcorn. This was a fun and interesting cheese course that I could definitely eat again.
The eighth course was squash, candycap, citrus, coffee, and milk chocolate. The wine pairing for this course was a 2008 Oremus 3 Puttonyos from Tokaji, Hungary. Again, it was sweet but not too sugary sweet.
This dish arrived with squash slices, squash cake, coffee infused oats, ice cream, mildly tart citrus, milk chocolate, and candy cap mushrooms. This seemed like an odd combination, but it actually worked pretty well. The coffee flavor was a really nice touch to this dish, as well as the cool ice cream. I don’t know that this was my favorite dessert, but it was definitely unique and fun to try.
For the end of the meal, we were served a mini-course of mignardises. Three little morsels arrived on a piece of wood (I see we have come full circle from the canapés also served on wood).
All were good, but the standout for me was the toffee peanut butter chocolate. Male DINK’s favorite was the middle bite which was more jelly-like and seemed to have some alcohol infused into it. Neither of us usually like these jelly desserts, but this one was pretty good!
All in all, another successful tasting menu at FT33. We both feel like the food continues to get more sophisticated over time. Obviously, there is no Michelin guide in Dallas (and I don’t foresee one coming anytime soon), but we feel like the food at this restaurant is definitely worthy of their attention. For anyone who visits Dallas – or if you live here and are looking for a great dinner – you should definitely try FT33. We highly recommend it and have never gone home disappointed!