Flora Street Cafe
- When: March 2017
- Male DINK Rating: 10/15
- Female DINK Rating: 11/15
- Total Cost: $600; Food Cost: $250
If you know us – or have read any of our dining reviews – you know that we are suckers for a great tasting menu. Unfortunately for us, living in Dallas, there aren’t many restaurants that offer tasting menus. Our favorite that we frequent for special occasions is the always-wonderful FT33 (our review here). So, let’s see how Stephan Pyles’s newest restaurant, Flora Street Cafe, stacks up.
The dinner menu consists of four quandrants – Raw, First, Main, and Taste. If you’re not opting for the “Taste”-ing menu, you can select from the other three quadrants. I think we had both already decided on the tasting menu before arriving, but if we hadn’t, there were several interesting options on the rest of the menu. At present, the tasting menu is priced at $125/person or $225/person with wine pairing. With FT33 recently increasing their tasting menu to $155/person (from $95/person), Flora Street Cafe seems to be appropriately priced.
Not too long after ordering cocktails (the “Flora” and the “Elotes” – not impressed by either one) and the tasting menu with wine pairing, we were served several amuse bouches at once. These consisted of five small bites: “serrano & pimiento saffron cracker and trout roe,” “chewy strawberry,” “spiced grapefruit sphere,” goat cheese asparagus terrine, and Prince Edward Island oyster with banana. The first three of these actually constituted the first course.
While the small bites were tasty, we feel that too many were served at once – that it might have been better to delay the serving of the last two. As for the bites, the tuna was overpowered by the chip it was served on, the strawberry was good, the goat cheese and asparagus terrine was our favorite, the oyster actually went well with the banana, and the bonbon needed just a touch of sweetness. Overall, a decent start.
The next course was apparently a “chef’s surprise,” even though it wasn’t described as such by the waitress. The dish consisted mainly of slices of octopus, which were very good – not too chewy. The flavors seemed to go well together, and we both enjoyed this dish.
The next course was another “chef’s surprise” – small bite consisting of a small empanada. It was filled with a black bean puree and topped with queso fresco, among other ingredients. The corn flavor of the empanada seemed to overpower the few bites of this dish, but, overall, we thought it was good.
After these additional starters, we were served the second course on the menu – “wood-grilled scallop, kaffir lime espuma, fingerling potatoes, padron peppers.” We both enjoyed this dish, with the highlight being the corn broth. The scallop was well-prepared, and the fingerling potatoes were a nice touch. However, the mussel seemed out of place.
The next course was another “chef’s surprise.” Neither of us remember exactly what it was, but we do remember commenting to ourselves that we thought the dish was a waste of black truffle.
The following course was actually the third course on the menu – “chermoula marinated wild boar tender, creamed kale, sunchokes, rhubarb.” I’ll pause and say that up to this point in the meal, neither of us thought that any of the dishes were special or noteworthy. The wild boar tender and this dish changed our mind – it was excellent. The boar itself was well-prepared (perhaps a little too salty), and the kale and sunchoke added nicely to the dish. The sweetness of the rhubarb was a nice complement, as well. Great dish.
The fourth course on the menu was served next – “poblano infladito, black bean mousse, tennessee wild paddlefish caviar.” The dish’s flavors were good; however, the caviar got lost in the flavors. Also, the large bite was a bit difficult to eat (no silverware provided for this course).
The fifth course on the menu was “colorado lamb loin, mole rojo, white elf mushroom, rocky’s turnips.” The dish was just okay. Male DINK couldn’t get into the flavors, and he thought the sauce might have been better served on the side so as to allow the patron to try the lamb by itself. Perhaps this main was a bit of a letdown due to the high bar set by the wild boar.
The sixth course on the menu was “tres leches lucuma cremeaux, coco nib tuile, jack daniels vanilla bean gelee.” Again, good but not great. We could have done without the pomegranate seeds.
The seventh course on the menu was “yuzu citrus bar, texas strawberries, sweet tea sorbet.” This dish was nice and refreshing. The creamy elements helped cut through the citrus well. Although, due to its citrus and refreshing nature, we’d serve this dessert before the tres leches.
We were then served a few petit fours – three small bites each. Before the check came, a waiter arrived at our table with a box of chocolates to select from. The bites were ok, but the chocolates were very good.
Overall, Flora Street Cafe did not live up to our expectations. We kept waiting for a dish to wow us, but it never came (the wild boar came the closest). Additionally, we felt that the service was a bit rushed, as we felt the constant eyes of the waitstaff seemingly urging us to finish each course quickly. On more than one occurrence, they attempted to retire our plates before we were finished.
We feel that diners who have experienced tasting menus at many other restaurants – especially Michelin-starred restaurants around the world – might be underwhelmed with the food and overall experience. That’s not to say that Flora Street Cafe isn’t worth a trip. If we return, we’ll likely order off the a la carte menu, as it seemed to have some interesting selections.