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WATEL’S BISTRO REVIEW BY JIM WHITE April 6, 2011

Posted by jwdineline in Home.
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Whiling Away the Minutes at Watel’s Bistro

Oh, how I love good timing. You’re always at risk when you decide to “pop in” for dinner without a reservation on Friday night.  I told you last week about our happenstance discovery that René Peeters had quietly opened his new Watel’s Bistro in East Dallas (in the former York Street space) with nary a word to the media.  It was late on a Saturday when we tip-toed over the threshold to high-five the hard working restaurateur.  The lateness of the hour dictated a postponement on dining at the new place, however.  So, I was hopeful that our impromptu visit this time would allow us to sample his varied menu.  Curbside parking right outside the front door of the restaurant was a good sign.  Maitre d’ Peeters greeting us at the front door was another positive development.  I was almost embarrassed to ask about a table for two at 6:45–especially when the place seats only around 30.  Our helpful host suggested he could accommodate us, provided we could vacate the table by 8 o’clock.  It seems our post on his opening–picked up by Pegasus News and the Dallas Morning News–had generated quite a bit of interest in the new establishment and he was “slammed” for the evening (a word we love to hear restaurant owners use after the economy they have endured).  In order to comply with René’s request, we quickly focused on the menu–with its two courses for $29; three courses for $35; and four courses for $39 options–and perused the nightly chalk board specials, so that we could place our order with alacrity and make way for the evening’s guests who had been sensible enough to reserve a table.  Instead of being hurried, though, we were offered a nice glass of complimentary bubbly to enjoy (as were all our fellow diners), while we settled into the soft lighting, warm artwork, cozy table environment of the revamped establishment.  Read on to see how our meal progressed.

We made our choices quickly from the tasty main courses so our order could be dispensed to the kitchen in a timely fashion:  Cuban style pork in onion and orange plantains, with black beans and rice, and Tagine with duck breast, lemon, dried fruit and mild spices.  But, instead of rushing us, René took the time to explain some of the finer points of his special fare for the evening.  Particularly interesting was the Raclette on new potatoes.  A hearty dish from Switzerland named for the cheese used in it, which traditionally, is heated and scraped onto diners’ plates table side and accompanied by new potatoes, gherkins, and some nice charcuterie.  Or, scraped onto warm bread, perhaps by a nice campfire in the mountains.  He had explained to a nearby table that the cheese had been purchased when the weather was much cooler and needed to be used even though the day’s high was considerably warmer than the Alps.  I hope the nights have been cool when you visit Watel’s Bistro.  This is a tasty dish I would love to try again.  Another mouthwatering special starter was the Brie in puff pastry with sherry cream and grapes.   Caesar Fingers PPP (Parmesan, prosciutto and pine nuts) is a delightful variation on a tried and true theme.  We found the perfect accompaniment for our varied flavor profiles in Watel’s eclectic, and inexpensive wine list (featuring a number of selections from Lakewood favorite Times Ten Cellars).  Instead of “homegrown”, though, we decided to “ski down the mountainside”, so to speak, and pair a nice selection from Côtes du Rhone with the evening’s meal, the 2008 Crozes Hermitage from Papillon.  Even with the pending rush, Rene took the time to reflect on the wine list and some of the styles that might work best with his European, Mediterranean, Northern African, Latin American, and North Texas menu (this gives NATO an entirely new meaning).  Well over our calorie allotment for the evening, we choose our three courses from the savory side only and decided to return at a later time (with reservation) and sample the dessert items like the Belgian Truffle Tart, Spiced Poached Pear, Chocolate Bread Pudding or Burnt Thai Tea Custard.  8:05, and two people arrive looking for their table.  Time to bid our neighbor, merci beaucoup and a bientot.  We are satisfied and have kept our bargain with the owner.  Call 214-720-0323 for reservations.  6047 Lewis Street.  Dallas 75214.

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