By Christine Perez
The expectations were high for Fearing’s, the new restaurant within the Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences in Uptown. But somehow, celebrity chef Dean Fearing has found a way to exceed them.
Besides scrumptious fare, the restaurant offers six or seven different dining settings, from a formal art-gallery-style room to the more boisterous Dean’s Kitchen, where diners can watch the food being prepared, and the Rattlesnake Bar. In Dean’s Kitchen, you’ll also find a reservation-only Chef’s Table, a custom five-to seven-course meal.
My guest and I dined in Sendero, a sunny, glassed-in porch that offered a real sense of escape from the 9-to-5 hustle and bustle. The ambiance was relaxed and easy, but there were many elegant touches, such as a striking chandelier–750 ribbons of Murano glass individually strung from the ceiling – Rosenthal china and fresh orchids on the table.
But enough about the atmosphere; let’s talk about the food. I started with Dean’s tortilla soup ($12), a delicious favorite Fearing brought with him from his 21 years at The Mansion, while my guest opted for a delightfully fresh chilled asparagus with basil egg salad ($12). Appetizer options on the new menu (it changes every few weeks) include a barbecued shrimp taco with mango-pick-led red onion salad ($18) and butternut squash bisque with Main lobster ($16).
Main Fair: New lunch selections include chili-braised short rib with queso fresco whipped potatoes and crispy tobacco onions ($24), grilled pork tenderloin glazed with rosemary mustard and caramelized cauliflower on six-year cheddar macaroni ($25) and palm sugar-mopped tenderloin of beef with jalapeño grits and garlic spinach ($29).
My guest chose mesquite-grilled wild salmon glazed with apricot barbecue sauce, black-eyed peas and watercress salad ($24). She pronounced the flavor of the dish to be spot-on, and the salmon, melt-in-you-mouth tender. I selected the grilled-seared halibut with three-bean salad ($24). It was topped with a peach broth made with the rare Minus 8 wine vinegar, so named because the grapes are harvested and hand-pressed at a single winery in Canada – at 8 degrees Celsius. It was, in a word, fantastic. Alas, it’s no longer on menu. It’s been replaced in October by halibut with potato brandade and cilantro shoots ($22).
Dessert selections include a trio of melon sorbets with Midori mint sauce ($10) and a rich dark chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, Maker’s Mark cherries and toasted marshmallows¬ – not the giant grocery stores, but homemade, hand-cut miniature squares ($10).
With his new restaurant, Fearing says his goal is to offer health food with bold flavors that have no borders. “I didn’t want to be painted into the Southwest cuisine circle,” he says. “I think of it as elevated American cuisine, sophisticated in the sense of ingredients and the technical methods of cooking.” Indeed.