After his Act One halcyon days at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, gentlemanly chef Dean Fearing is recasting his stellar reputation – as one of the top sculptors of Southwestern cuisine – for Act Two. His new namesake restaurant – Fearing’s, at The Ritz-Carlton – offers big flavor (but in a more clean-lined way), big statements in the interior design (ditto), and big prices to complete the pretty picture (which most don’t blink an eyelash at, given the posh setting).
The food is superior – this much we could have guessed. The surprise element is the restaurant’s layered and innovative design, making us want to return often to experience its many components. A variety of dining areas sport different personalities. There’s the opulent, art-filled Gallery; the glassed-in, octagonal Sendero; the alfresco garden Ocaso; the Wine Cellar for an intimate party of 16; the tony Rattlesnake Bar just off the lobby; and the more casual Live Oak Bar outside. Foodies will no doubt take to Dean’s Kitchen, with its L-shaped chef’s counter anchoring a softly lit, svelte space beneath rawhide chandeliers. That’s where Chef Fearing can most often be seen courting patrons and quietly overseeing his staff.
On a recent evening, the courting came easy with Scharffenberger sparkling wine and Domaine Laroche Chablis, two soft starters. And soon after that, an amuse bouche sipper of BLT – a refreshing tomato broth with little bits of bacon and julienned lettuce – which proved a true delight.
Conversely, Fearing’s much-ballyhooed BBQ shrimp taco, with mango and pickled red onion salad and a smoky citrus vinaigrette, was good, but frankly, for one taco, it wasn’t $20 good, which disappointed. Lifting spirits again, though, was Fearing’s iconic tortilla soup, just as swoon-worthy as ever. Delicately crafted with rich roasted tomatoes, it was served from a small pitcher in a bowl outfitted with tiny pieces of chicken, avocado, and whisper-thin tortilla strips.
Sure to be one of Fearing’s most-ordered entrées is his fun take on surf and turf: a pan roasted spiced filet with chicken-friend Maine lobster. At $50, it was an investment in adventure, but our bets were on the lobster being as touch to swallow as the price. We were wrong. It was one of the most tender lobster tails we’ve ever enjoyed, despite its being fried in a light, crispy batter. Equally enjoyable were the griddled day boat scallops, beautifully seared and sumptuously fresh, with wilted Brussels sprout leaves, tender-crisp vegetables, smoked Kentucky ham, and a dreamy tangerine essence. Truly, Fearing’s is Dallas at its best.