Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When Love comes to town

A block away from my apartment, Texan chef Tim Love is opening an outpost of his Fort Worth restaurant Lonsemone Dove Western Bistro. He's the kind of guy who prefers a cowboy hat to a toque and has done trail rides from Fort Worth to both coasts, cooking with ingredients from local markets along the way. Colorful guy. And by looking at the menu, it appears to be one of those high-concept cowboy places, the type where they combine fois gras with chiles and serve a kangaroo carpaccio. I'm curious. And this week, New York Magazine has provided a guide to his menu, asking Tim to define some of his more exotic culinary terms, such as "prairie butter," "fois gras shooter" and the ever-perplexing, "state fair sauce." Who knew...state fair sauce is exotic! He's also featured in Food & Wine this month if you want to check out some of his recipes. (He clearly has a well-oiled PR machine).

In any case, the restaurant is a typical New York space, long and skinny, dominated by a big oak bar that Tim built himself. It has exposed brick walls adorned with graphic oil paintings of Texan icons, such as boots and cactus. But my favorite piece of decoration is the huge longhorn trophy hung over the entrance to the bathrooms (I don't know if it was an intentional visual pun, but I like it). Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the pre-opening party. I was hoping to eat lots of food, but when you cram hundreds of people into a space that was meant for half that number, minus solid ventilation, well, you just don't have an ideal environment for eating cowboy haute cuisine.

After struggling past all the people packed at the bar, where they had huge plates stacked with watermelon slices next to split bones filled with marrow (a combination that seemed odd) we made our way to the kitchen entrance, always the best place to park at a party if you want to eat. And eat we did, at least a few bite-sized nibbles. I had the fois gras shooter with a fois gras tuile on top that was crunchy and almost bacony--a bowl of those would be the perfect snack food. I had the lobster cakes with black bean salsa. I had some sticky meatballs that tasted like they were coated in a chipotle honey sauce. I had the kangaroo carpaccio, topped with a dollop of goat cheese and I think I like kangaroo--hard to describe except it's fatty and rich and married with the pungent cheese it was very satisfying. And I had the perfectly caramelized "prairie butter" (buffalo bone marrow) on thick bread, very tasty. But it being a packed party and the trays pounced on by eager eaters as soon as they left the kitchen, there just wasn't enough food to satisfy--it was all a tease.

So, alas, not much to report on the food front, not that I would judge a restaurant by its party food anyway. And despite the appropriate soundtrack (two guys with guitars singing a bunch of original honky-tonk songs) and my endless amusement that no one I spoke with was actually from Texas (despite the abundance of cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats), after two guys from Michigan decided to instruct me on the proper way to form a "Hook-em Horns" with my fingers, and another guy from Nova Scotia told me the bull was a middlehorn, not a longhorn (um, yeah, maybe in Canada), I knew it was time to leave. I will return, however, and hopefully under more civilized circumstances will have a proper Tim Love meal.

Has anyone ever eaten at the Lonesome Dove here or in Fort Worth? What did you think?

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melissa mcgee said...

ooooh! lonesome dove! i have had the good fortune to play a very swanky gig at lonesome dove in ft worth - it is, to say the very least, impressive as a dining establishment. as "hired help" for the evening, we were treated better than a wedding party would have been by the staff and mr. love himself. i didn't get a chance to sit down for a proper dinner at lonesome dove, but the noshies that were availed to us were INCREDIBLE. my favorite had something to do with aged black angus & bleu cheese... i can't really remember the details as it was nearly a year ago, but i do remember that it was just fabulous. not typically texan, to be certain. but DELICIOUS for sure. who needs typical when it's that good, right? i hope you get a chance to have all of those questions answered with delicious results!

Homesick Texan said...

Melissa, I'm not surprised you were treated so well. I made sort of a wiseass comment about his PR machine, but to be fair, Tim Love is accessible, genuine, warm, friendly and just overall awesome and it's no wonder people like to write about him. When I called to make a reservation a couple of weeks ago, Tim himself answered the phone and told me to swing by the place and check it out as they were putting it together. So I did, and even though he was clearly tired that night, he and I talked about Texas and then he invited me to the party. I can't wait to return when it's less crowded (I'm not big on crowds) and eat his delicious food. He and Lonesome Dove are a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The County Clerk said...

Sounds good. I'm hungry. And cold. i could use some beef.

Yvo said...

Wow, he sounds like an excellent guy!
New to your site, but eager to read over and see what places you've found that are great for brisket and the like. I love BBQ food. I can't say I've been to TX since becoming a foodie/junkie ;) but ... mmm, they must be doing something right down there. :)

vlb5757 said...

Howdy fellow misplaced Texan. I am a native who lives in VA. I miss home and all that good rib sticking Texan cookin'. I found your site via Accidental Scientist. Michelle and I are friends and we have been talking about her grandmother's recipe for fried okra for months. I have been growing it in my back yard and have it all stored away for this winter. Good to know there are other Texans who long for home and all that goes with it.

bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

I got to love this picture!

Homesick Texan said...

County Clerk--I'm sorry you're cold. Eating beef always warms me up.

Yvo--The best brisket I've found in this town is RUB's burnt ends.

Vib5757--Let me know how your fried okra-a-thon turns out.


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