Restaurant Review: Abacus

Dallas, Texas. The land of enormous steaks and smoky barbeques. Although this is good at the right time, my husband Stan and I love seafood and fine dining. I wanted to take him to dinner for his birthday and was looking for a fine dining place with beautiful food, good service, attention to detail and the right ambience. We certainly found it in Abacus. I searched high and low for the right place. There were only four restaurants on my list. One was closed for renovations, two we had already visited and then there was Abacus. It became the chosen one.

From the moment we arrived, we realized that this was the perfect choice. A valet whisked the car away from us into the parking lot. I was immediately impressed. I dislike roaming around parking lots with a passion. I lifted my hand to open the enormous doors and before I could touch it, it swung open as if by magic. The staff was expecting us. We were met by the manager, the Maitre D and an impeccably dressed young woman who took us to our table.

Danny, our server, came over with our food and drink menus. He immediately recommended the 2016 Bieler Pere & Fils Bandol Rose from France. Danny described the intricate flavors with such fervor that we immediately ordered a bottle.

The food menu is interesting with an extensive Suchi section. We were spoiled for choice and each of us ended up with two choices. Danny quickly asked what our choices were, as he could help us make a decision. Stan was stuck between the duck and the lamb. Both looked exceptional. Danny recommended the duck and described the flavors. Since the menu changes on a regular basis, chances are the duck won’t be on there forever. Decision made.

We received our Amuse Bouche. The purpose of an Amuse is to give the diner insight into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine and literally means “mouth amuser.” Well, our mouths were immediately entranced by the chef’s approach. It was a Spanish Chorizo that came with a little red chili heat, which was cooled and balanced perfectly by the accompanying sweet fig and a dollop of creamy goat’s cheese.

Time for appetizers. Stan ate charred octopus, on a base of grilled leek aioli, Spanish Chorizo, creamer peas, cucumber and heirloom tomato broth. We each had a taste of each other’s appetizers and the base of that octopus was incredible. I could’ve eaten a whole plate only of that. I had flash fried calamari steak with julienne peppers, tomatillo mojo, chili powder dusted yucca fries and scallion. The calamari was tender and the mojo delicious. It was a generous portion, so I chose not to eat the fries in order to have enough space for a main and besides, the bread that arrived when we sat down was baked in house and it took all my willpower not to eat the entire basket, it was so delicious.

Stan’s pan roasted duck arrived with pipian rojo, tostones and a papaya-mango salad. Pipian rojo is a luxuriously creamy sauce from Mexico made with peppers, pumpkin seeds and various spices very reminiscent of Indian cuisine, my favorite. I immediately fell in love with the sauce, but then I had the diver’s scallops with ratatouille tortellini, sweet corn basil broth and squash blossoms. This is my first squash blossom experience and what a taste delight. The plate looked beautiful and every element on that plate was totally delectable.

My stomach groaned. It was time for espresso and dessert and I ordered the Red Velvet Fairytale to share with the birthday boy. Fairytale indeed with red velvet mascarpone mousse, red velvet cake, chocolate mud cookie puree, chocolate green tea crumble, candied lemon strips and cream cheese ice cream, all presented as a fairy tale forest that was almost too pretty to eat.

All too soon the evening came to an end and it was time to go home. The manager checked in to make sure all went according to our expectations and we could safely say these were certainly exceeded. All the staff do an amazing job at this restaurant. We were met with friendly smiles and eye contact. Our every culinary need was met by an outstanding chef. Danny, our server, knew the ever-changing menu back to front, showing passion for the dishes that made us want to eat and he delivered, without fail, exceptional service. The ambience was soft and romantic and we couldn’t have asked for a better birthday venue. The final personal touch was a birthday card.

The restaurant has received numerous awards, including being a James Beard semi-finalist for outstanding service. This is most certainly very well deserved. It was such a pleasure being served with such great passion that comes entirely natural all the way to the busboy. Our empty dishes were whisked away at just the right moment. The water re-filled at just the right moment. The wine was taken away from the table and we never had an empty glass until the moment when the bottle no longer contained any wine.

We cannot wait to come back to this restaurant with our children visiting from Israel. My only regret is that I didn’t have my Canon Rebel T6 with me to do the food justice with beautiful photos, so it was all taken with an iPhone. Not really my favorite way to take photos, but I post them anyway for you to get an idea. To see how the food really looks, follow this link to the Abacus website. The food you see on the Abacus site, is how it is truly presented in the restaurant, so hurry and make your reservation. It is as the website says: “A truly remarkable dining experience.”

Side Note: There has been a little progress with my book. Check it out


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