Lanny's Alta Cocina
Posted 20 July 2005 - 08:35 AM
Lanny's Alta Cocina prepares
move to Seventh Street digs
" For years, fans of Mexican food have flocked to Joe T. Garcia's for its signature staples of rice, beans, enchiladas etc. Recently, they have been flocking to one of the intimate rooms adjacent to the patio to experience the ambrosial high Southwestern cuisine concocted by Lanny Lancarte Jr., the scion of JTG's owners. Offerings have included lobster and goat cheese crepes, foie gras hamburguesita with piloncillo-caramelized onions and pear compote, and seared pork loins accented with an apple mole sauce.
Hopes are high that by the end of this month, Junior will be fully moved into his own space on Seventh Street, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Museum District. Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana will occupy the house formerly inhabited by Green Lantern.
The good news is you won't have to jostle through the throngs of tourists to sample Lancarte's inventive cuisine. The bad news is, reservations will probably be as hard to come by in the almost-as-petite quarters. Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana is currently at 2201 N. Commerce, 817.429.5166; moving to 3405 W. Seventh Street, 817.850.9996."
If they are open, I am ready to dine.
Posted 31 July 2005 - 09:14 PM
Lanny's new location is at 3405 W. 7th Street (817-850-9996), just east of Michael's. The decor is more typical of modern fine dining places (instead of the rustic look of his room back at Joe T's, which I actually really liked). The place was packed and noisy. Much more of a "see and be seen" crowd. Just over 60 seats in the place (including some on a patio).
Menu is ala carte, with a 5-course tasting menu also available. (Apparently a lot of people were requesting non-allergy substitutions on the tasting menu, which the kitchen graciously tried to accomodate. If that keeps up, FW can say goodbye to its best tasting menu option.)
Amuse bouche of foie gras mousse with tomato relish on a pepita cracker. Great textures and flavors. Very snackable.
Hamachi ceviche with two mojos and micro-cilantro. The fish was on the soft side, but the flavors were very enjoyable.
Seared foie gras with Appaloosa bean salad. Beans were tasty, but almost overwhelmed the foie. Good, though.
Corn and squash blossom soup. A swirl of pureed huitlacoche was in the middle of the excellent tasting soup. A drizzle of truffle oil (which verged on gilding the lily).
Seared scallops over braised oxtail and cannellini bean puree, flecked with bits of spearmint. Inspired.
Tamales de cazuela. Some chicken, rajas, and a guajillo salsa dressed masa with the texture of firm polenta. Wasn't bad, but this one didn't grab me.
Hoja santa-wrapped halibut with "frijoles charros." Another of Lanny's pairings of fish with his version of charro beans. Another success.
Chocolate prailine terrine. Layers of thin, crispy prailine and smooth chocolate ice cream, topped with a sprinkle of chile powder. Simple concept, but delicious. Hard to eat, since the prailine was too thick in places.
There were some service hiccups, as expected. Service pieces didn't always arrive on time. Inadequate descriptions of dishes. Some lengthy delays between courses. And there was a significant glitch on the check (which I let slide, since the meal was good and they were obviously scrambling in the front of the house, with this being their first night at full throttle). I expect these kinks to be worked out in time.
The key thing is that the kitchen was putting out good work, despite the heavy traffic and a very ambitious menu. Lanny's is still the best restaurant in Fort Worth and one of the best in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Best wishes to him and his team.
The place is open for dinner on Sunday nights (!), but closed Mondays and Tuesdays. If all goes according to plan, the waitress tells me they expect to offer lunch hours beginning in October.
Posted 10 January 2008 - 07:38 AM
THen the reviewer trys to figure out how to lure Lanny's into Dallas. The fact that it is in Ft Worth is one reason I like Ft Worth better.
Posted 01 September 2008 - 05:19 PM
Here's an excerpt from my blogpost. You can find the entire article and photos at the ulterior epicure.
“Go,” they [many on this forum] urged. Everyone I talked to about my trip to Dallas told me to go to Lanny’s Alta Cucina Mexciana. It would be worth the detour to Fort Worth.
A slight detour from outdated directions from a major online orienteering guide aside (they need to do a better job of updating road construction, which, in this case, luckily ended just shy of Lanny’s Alta Cucina Mexicana’s valet stand), my friend and I found our way to this unassuming tile-roofed and stuccoed casa in sleepy Fort Worth, Texas.
The Quail Tamales ($10) alone were worth the trek. I’ll take a longish car ride through the desolate wasteland between Dallas and Fort Worth – interrupted only slightly by the glimpse of the twisted rails of Six Flags – any night of the week for these moist masa cakes filled with moist quail meat. Actually, I’d walk to Ft. Worth from Dallas just for that carpet of mole sauce that pooled out beneath the neatly tied bundles ....
When Chef Lanny Lancarte, II’s food is on point, it’s quite extraordinary. Those quail tamales, which come two to an order, were an excellent way to start a meal. Well, for my friend anyway. I had a less exciting and excitable plate of Hamachi Crudo ($9).
Why I ordered a Japanese-named fish with an Italian treatment in a high-end Mexican restaurant I have no clue. I guess I was hoping that Lancarte could make it, well, alta cucina Mexicana. Dotting the plate with an avocado-green apple puree and tangle of balsamic-pickled onions wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The three slices of fish were very good – nice texture, excellent cut, and some appreciable aging - but overall, the flavors and textures didn’t work.
That strange interlude aside, almost everything my friend and I had was great. Of course, everything else we had was, colorably, Mexican and closer to the Lancarte’s native interests and instincts. You can read all about him here.
But getting back to that point about Lancarte being on the ball and producing extraordinary food, I’m going to skip ahead to my main course, the house specialty, the “Prime Carne Asada.” I think it should be renamed the “Primal Carne Asada.” This was prime beef at its prime. I’m not exactly sure of the measurements of this legendary round of beef, but collectively, every ounce of the perfectly-grilled, juicy, and flavorful tenderloin was worth the $40 price tag. It was attended to by large roasted shallots melting within their papery skins and a papa relleno, a captivatingly crispy-shelled torpedo of mashed potatoes stuffed with blue cheese. As with the mole for the tamales, the Dijon demi-glace, which was part tangy, part spicy, and rich all over was nuanced, complex, and well-crafted. Laced throughout each bite, the sauce tied everything together wonderfully.
Lancarte’s plating style has a simple beauty. His presentations aren’t the razor-sharp, overworked architectural structures invading haute fusion restaurants. He adheres to a more organic geometry, relying on nature’s contours and colors. There are no dashes, underlines, commas, or any other extraneous punctuation on Lancarte’s plates. Never venturing beyond three or four colors per dish, Lancarte’s food comes in monochromatic patches: an oval of peridot nopal risotto was topped with a copper rhomboid of duck breast; triangles of pink alabaster hamachi etched with vermillion were sided by avocado circles and a mound of balsamic-stained onions; and an emerald blossom of Bibb lettuce book-ended by two half circles of ivory-colored blue cheese and walnut flan was sided by group of knobby of oak-tinted walnuts.
My friend nearly melted into her dish of peridot and copper. She, being a risotto fanatic, was extremely pleased with the mattress of stirred rice – more soft than stiff, more structured than soupy - studded with bits of softened but sturdy nopales (my favorite part of the risotto). The duck, we both agreed, was fabulous: a thin layer of crispy skin clinging to a modest rind of fat paved across pink, moist duck meat ($28).
Both of our salads were simple, yet flavorful....
If the salads were healthful, the chile relleno, which I ordered on a whim, was damning. This was no ordinary stuffed pepper. This was a Hudson Valley Foie Gras Chile Relleno ($16).
I was imagining an Anaheim pepper stuffed with cured foie gras, battered and deep-fried. In reality, it was much more of a deconstructed chile relleno the likes of which no other chile relleno could ever hope to outdo: a dark auburn ancho chile sandwiched a lobe of seared foie gras sitting on a bed of smooth appaloosa bean puree. Smoky, sweet, meaty, and velvety, the composition had just enough texture to prevent it from being a complete melt down and mush job (thought it still tended to be a little too greasy for me - which, is why I generally shy away from seared foie gras). Despite the fact that the foie gras was perfectly-seared, the smoked pepper and the appaloosa beans – both pureed and whole - were much more exciting (maybe because they soaked up all of that foie gras grease?).
We chose a table in a cozy corner of a curtained off alcove and often felt forgotten, which was fine while we were eating, but was rather annoying when something was needed ... But when we were serviced – once by Lancarte himself, who presented the amuse bouche (a square of pan-fried halibut on a bed of bean puree) – the interaction was friendly.
Tanked, we could hardly manage desserts, so instead of walking away without trying something sweet, we compromised and ordered “Churros with Cajeta,” which seemed like the lightest option on the menu.
While we both loved the cajeta (he should bottle and sell this stuff) - tweaked with lime juice - the churros were a conundrum. They were crispy on the outside, but the interiors were a lot more wet and dense than I had expected or ever experienced before - my friend and I both thought it tasted undercooked. We asked the server about this and she acknowledged that Lanny’s churros are rather wet and doughy on the inside but did not know whether this was traditional to Mexican churros or Lanny’s personal take (or a repeated mistake?). Someone out there with a lot more knowledge of Mexican churros, please do email me and let me know. I’ve had soft churros, puffy churros, crunchy churros, hollow churros, and even flaky churrros, but I’ve never had wet, mushy churros.
Is Lanny’s cooking alta cucina? Certainly. Is it alta cucina Mexicana? I’m not sure. I can’t claim enough expertise in Mexican cuisine to say for certain. Other than a few menu items, like the tamales and churros, most of the food seemed to be contemporary American or classic French cooking embellished and accented with Latino ingredients and flavors.
This was not fusion for fusion’s sake. The melding was subtle. Lime, heat, and smoke were seamlessly and convincingly threaded throughout out meal. Coconut made a brilliant appearance in a tropical, quenching Mojito. And bread comes not with butter but a tangy and grassy chimichurri dipping oil.
What I am certain of is that Lancarte focuses foremost on perfect execution. With the exception of the churros, whose wet and mushy disposition remains a mystery, our meal was flawless. Everything was thoughtfully composed; flavors were clean, saucing was restrained, and temperatures measured. Lanny’s Alta Cucina Mexicana was surefooted, steady and solid. As long as Lanny Lancarte II is cooking at Lanny’s, I’ll have a reason to return to Fort Worth.
Posted 16 January 2009 - 02:12 PM
"Blasphemy! Have you been there? What did you have? What did your friends have?"
"No. I haven't been, I don't need to. "
"We're going in two days. See you Thursday night in Cowtown."
We started off with the chorizo wrapped sea scallops, vanilla oil, parsnip puree and the goat cheese, butternut squash tamales. Both appetizers were executed well. The crispiness of the chorizo, the plumpness of the scallop, and the comfort of the root puree led to a dish that exceeded my expectations. Though the chorizo flavor wasn't heavily pronounced, it added enough contrast of flavors and texture to keep this dish from becoming tiresome. The tamale didn't win over my friend, who took just one bite, but I found the combination of butternut squash, goat cheese, masa, and mole to be very comforting.
Having heard recent praises on this blog by a couple of individuals, it was a no-brainer that my friend would have the prime carne asada for dinner that night. A carnivore with no guilt, she prefers her steaks black and blue. The dish last night was paired with a macaroni gratin, the balsamic glazed shallots, and a guajillo cashew butter sauce. The steak was ordered med. rare. The steak came out a bit past med. well. Far enough from being med. rare I suggested she send it back. She glanced around the room, which was completely empty save for another table of four, and decided she didn't want them to have to waste and remake such a pricey cut. (cough). The macaroni gratin was also another letdown. Why it was called a gratin in the first place perplexes me. There was no béchamel. No macaroni pasta. There were layers of lasagna pasta and Parmesan cheese. What would you call that? There had to be more ingredients to the dish, I just couldn't taste them. Other than that, the gratin was bland and dry. The guajillo cashew butter was an interesting choice to go with the carne asada. At first bite, the beef and sauce excited my palate with such an interesting taste. But, the aftertaste lingered too long, which robbed all the glory from the prime beef. Cashews and red meat...it's a ballsy pairing in my opinion.
My sea bass with angel hair and mojo de ajo was a classic example of two things that aren't good enough to stand on their own, but together make beautiful harmony. The sea bass on its own would be under seasoned. The mojo de ajo angel hair pasta would grow tiresome after two bites. Together, it just makes sense. The dish did become a little greasy as I worked my way towards the bottom.
With no room for dessert, we left a little disappointed that the star dish was having an off night.
Posted 16 January 2009 - 02:45 PM
Not good, Lanny. Not good.
I'm always so dejected after reading such disappointing reviews. There's no excuse for an over-cooked steak - especially at those prices. And, though it would seem cruel to send back such a thing in our trying times, that might just be what needs to happen more often. The most valuable lessons are the hardest to learn, and in this industry that responsibility should not be on the paying customer's shoulders, or from their pockets.
I agree with you, the concept of cashew butter with red meat seems strange. Is that a common Mexican meat condiment?
My presentation of the Carne Asada was quite straightforward. But that piece of meat was so fine that it really didn't need much more.
Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:02 AM
It's always been my understanding that a gratin (Francais) has a bechamel or mornay sauce atop. A cream sauce is part and parcel of the dish, too. Since Lanny's in not Francais, the non-French tradition of a gratin being composed with a cream sauce and nothing else would seem to be correct.
As to the macaroni, in Philly and Pittsburgh every noodle is called "macaroni." Can't help there.