Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I hope this is not what people really think of us.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that the New York Times published a Travel Review on my beloved city of Dallas.

Unfortunately, I have a bone to pick with the journalist who wrote it.

While Ms. Torregrosa does shine a positive light on the new Arts District that is rising out of the ground as we speak, she makes her first fatal error in the statement that, "But when it comes to entertainment, its No. 1 attraction is still the Cowboys, especially when the new, $1.2 billion football stadium opens this year..."

Seriously? Is the sum worth of our city still considered to be The Dallas Cowboys? The stadium isn't even in the city. It hasn't been since the Cowboys left the Cotton Bowl Stadium in 1971. A person can still make the conjecture that the Cowboys are the largest entertainment attraction for the Dallas (or more correctly DFW) area, but it is sloppy journalism to not include in the piece that a tourist will have to drive to a neighboring town to actually see the Cowboys.

The review just goes down hill from there for me.

Point #2, Cheerleading Cocktails, is just flat out insulting. "Size up the city’s trend setters and assorted poseurs in their alligator boots and butter-soft tailored jackets at the Rattlesnake Bar..." Granted, I have never been to the Rattlesnake bar as I am a regular person and not one who is apt to be seen at one of these places where bar tabs of $100 + is de rigeur, but as a person who lives in Dallas and often shops and sees movies at the "rich" mall, I'm going to call BS on her description of the people that frequent that bar because I've never seen them. Not in the "beautiful people" papers or out and about. Honestly, I don't think she's ever been there either.

Point #3, Southwest Supreme, is where this reviewer really raised an eyebrow. She calls Dallas, "a culinary wasteland, save for its famous barbecue." Saved only by the fact that Nobu came in and Dean Fearing put a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, which by the way she's mentioned twice already and it's only point 3. I wonder if this review might simply be an advertisement for the Ritz. Granted, Ms. Torregrosa did say that Dallas Used to be a "culinary wasteland" as opposed to insinuating that it still is today, but even making that statement in the past tense makes me wonder if she knows anything about dining in Dallas at all! Although Dean Fearing is no longer manning the kitchen at The Mansion at Turtle Creek, The Mansion is Still considered one of the pillars of fine dining in Dallas. And she completely failed to mention Nana located at the Wyndham Anatole. Oh, and how about The French Room at the Hotel Adolphus? All three of those dining establishments have been mentioned in both Food & Wine and The Wine Spectator. And I dare say that by leaving any of those restaurants off of a travel review is similar to leaving Commander's Palace off of a review of New Orleans! There are many other restaurants as well which have been around for a long time and deserve much more than being relegated to yet another feed hole in "a culinary wasteland." In addition, it is unfair to the average reader to only speak of places where a family will have to mortgage their homes to afford to eat. Good food does NOT have to be expensive! And while oil money and riches is how the nation tends to stereotype the city of Dallas, it is Not the norm and thus it is Not the culinary identity of the city. The City Cafe is not cheap dining, but it is in that middle ground where normal people can go out and have a fine meal and not feel guilty. It is attainable for a vacation or birthday or anniversary, even with a bottle of wine. And the City Cafe has Long been recieving high accolades by foodie and wine lover magazines alike.

Point #4 is a lessor offender, but I do have to point out that honky tonks are a dying breed around here. Fort Worth still has the famous Billy Bob's, but Dallas just hasn't kept that many around. And while I definately agree that any visitor to Dallas should try to eat or at least have drinks in the top of Reunion Tower at least Once, I am left wondering why Ghostbar wasn't mentioned at all in this Party High section. The truth is that you can go Anywhere in Dallas and party like a rockstar. Each little pocket of the city and even the suburbs have their own niche of "it" places to go out. If you are a "see and be seen" type, then Ghostbar and Joule and Hotel ZaZa and any number of the "Beautiful People" establishments will be great for you. But if you are a normal person just wanting to go out and have a drink, well then the city has everything from fantastic pubs with live music to biker bars, also sometimes with live music, to jazz and piano bars. Narrowing down the type of bar that is supposed to define Dallas to the type of place where only about 3% of the population would feel comfortable going isn't a correct ascertation of how the city parties.

I'll now be skipping down to point 8, Retail Overload. While Ms. Torregrosa makes a great point that the Inwood Village is an interesting and dynamic shopping center, why didn't she at least mention North Park Center? Not only was North Park Center one of the first of its kind in retail establishments, but the North Park experience isn't just about shopping. The Dallas visitor can see sculpture on loan from the Nasher Sculpture Collection in the halls of the facility as well as there is often music being played by live musicians. Once I was walking along and was treated to the Beautiful sounds of a harp being played live. Another time it was a classical guitar. Each time was a chance to just stop from the hurry hurry of the day's errands and enjoy the music. There's also, of course, some Fine shopping to be had at North Park!

Now, in this whole review, there's plenty mention of places to eat and stay and spend money, but what about the biggest draw to Dallas ever? What about the Dealey Plaza and 6th Floor Museum? How are those attractions not mentioned?

And as I wrap up my critique of this ill written Travel review, I just want to end in the same manner that it ends, with hotels. I see again that the Ritz-Carlton gets top billing, then the Joule, then the Belmont. The Ritz-Carlton is new and I'm sure lives up to the standards of its name. The Belmont, well, it sounds like a Treat of a hotel, however, you'd better bring your street sense with you when you stay there because the neighborhood isn't that great. Looking for the first time at information on the Joule, it looks pretty awesome and I'm thinking that I know a few people who should throw a Steampunk party there! But again, I am disappointed in the lack of mention of hotels in the city who have long been known as ambassadors of the city. There is no mention at all of The Adolphus, The Magnolia, or the Fairmont. I think, though that I can forgive the absence of those simply for the fact that I know know about the Joule. So there is ONE bright spot about the whole review.


Melanie said...

Sounds like a Yankee snob to me! Too bad she didn't venture very far through the city. You're so right about the food too. There's some great food to be had here, and it's not all incredibly expensive. A former co-worker told me that the best burger in DFW is in Oak Cliff, and I sincerely doubt this journalist ventured that far south of the city.