One restaurant that everyone in Dallas has to eat at is Smoke in the Belmont Hotel. It has been the vanguard of the revitalization of Oak Cliff – about to come to fruition with the impending opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (unfortunately I will be out of town for the grand opening festivities). The Bar at the Belmont is one of my favorite places and the restaurant next door is not far behind.

Smoke is an upscale Bar-B-Que sort of place – a very non-traditional Texas Bar-B-Que – no serving line where greasy slabs of meat are slopped onto your foam plate and you choose the green beans on the side (not that there is anything wrong with that). You do get the seductive smell from the smokehouse out back and the piles of wood are carefully displayed to make sure you know where the goodness is coming from.

Smoke works hard to serve selections of local, handmade, and artisanal ingredients. It is a popular and crowded restaurant. Usually I don’t like to wait very long for a table (I don’t do well with the packed, chatty crowd), but they enter your phone into an iPad and you can sneak next door to the Bar Belmont to enjoy the skyline while you wait. They’ll send you a text when your spot is ready.

The brunch menu was up when we ordered. It was all good. I had the eggs florentine – with smoked salmon and collard greens (instead of spinach). I know this sounds odd – but it was the greens that made the dish. The slightly wild and bitter flavor of the collard greens added a bit of texture.

I appreciate the effort and thought that the chefs at Smoke put into their menu and the risk they took a few years ago to move into an area that seemed to be forever moribund. Luckily, it looks like their foresight, courage, and hard work is paying off and will continue into the future.

The view of the Belmont from the porch at Smoke - Dallas skyline in the background.

The porch and entrance at Smoke

Eggs Florentine at Smoke

Dallas Art Deco Architecture

365 Things to do in Dallas – 266. Catch the View and a Drink at Bar Belmont

DAY 5 & 6 of Shepard Fairey (OBEY) in Dallas

Smoke for Brunch 2012

Brunch at Smoke

Smoke: The Best Brunch in Dallas

People’s Choice Breakfast: Smoke

Smoke (Oak Cliff, Dallas, Tx)

Smoke restaurant in Oak Cliff

Smoke: a down to earth kind of place

What I learned this week, October 28, 2011

Five Mistakes You’re Making With Your Scrambled Eggs

1. “Don’t be wimpy with your eggs. Whisk well and be vigorous about it–you want to add air and volume for fluffy eggs. And whisk the eggs right before adding to pan; don’t whisk and let mixture sit (it deflates).” –Kay Chun, Deputy Food Editor

2. “Don’t add milk, cream, or water to the eggs. People think it will keep the eggs creamy while cooking, but in fact, the eggs and added liquid will separate during the cooking process creating wet, overcooked eggs. Stir in some creme fraiche after the eggs are off the heat if you want them creamy.” –Mary-Frances Heck, Associate Food Editor

3. “Don’t use high heat. It’s all about patience to achieve the soft curd. Whether you want small curd (stirring often) or large curd (stirring less), you need to scramble eggs over medium-low heat, pulling the pan off the heat if it gets too hot, until they set to desired doneness.” –Hunter Lewis, Food Editor

4. “Don’t overcook them! Take them off the heat a little while before you think they are done. The carryover heat will keep cooking them for a minute or so. Also: Use a cast-iron or a nonstick skillet. If you don’t, there will be a rotten clean-up job in your future.” –Janet McCracken, Deputy Food Editor

And last but not least, ditch that fork! Scramble your eggs with a heat-proof spatula, a flat-topped wooden spoon, or for the perfect curd, chopsticks.

7 Phrases NEVER to Use at Work (or Anywhere Else)

  1. When
  2. Someday
  3. Willpower
  4. Want/Wish/Hope
  5. Not Good Enough
  6. I Don’t Have The Time
  7. It’s Not The Right Time

6 Steps to Reduce Stress

  1. Exercise
  2. Meditation
  3. Take a Break
  4. Go Outside
  5. Take Deep Breaths
  6. Plan a Vacation

The song isn’t too bad, and the guy has a fantastic voice – but I have never seen dancing more out-of-step-and-time with the song in my life. Ahh, the Scopitone World.

Nobody does it better than Malcolm Gladwell.

I enjoyed this talk and Malcolm Gladwell is so entertaining and informative. Even in a case like this, when his conclusions are completely and absolutely wrong.

For example – the Norden Bombsight. He makes the point that it could not actually drop a bomb into a pickle barrel and that in actual use, it was not very accurate, had a lot of shortcomings, and was negatively affected by weather and wind.

So what.

It did not live up to its hype. Nothing does. It had a lot of unforeseen problems. Everything does.

The important thing is that during World War II the entire free world was in an existential struggle with the forces of fascism and a large contributor to victory was the destruction of German industry wrought by the American bombing forces… using the Norden Bombsight.

The fact is that the Norden bombsite succeeded in its purpose – helping to save the free world. Everything else is just noise – interesting noise… educational noise, even important noise – but noise nonetheless.

Then we come to the drones in Afghanistan. He claims that even with a 95% kill rate the drones make them hate us so much that IED device attacks on US soldiers go up. Exactly where is that connection? Again, we are in an existential struggle against an enemy as evil as we faced in WWII, if not as powerful.

The purpose of the drones is to prevent an organized attack like we saw on 911 – and so far, so good. Everything else is noise. You can criticize the drone attacks as immoral, illegal, or too expensive – but to say they aren’t successful… there’s scant evidence for that. Or at least Gladwell doesn’t present it.

When you listen to (or read) someone as entertaining as Malcolm Gladwell you have to be careful to watch the point of view he is working from. Look for the logical leaps that are glossed over by glibness – like a skilled three-card-monte player, he’ll get you looking one way and slide the card somewhere else.

Sure do like to listen to him, though.

Some guy would like to show you the pictures he took on his last dive trip to the Caymans… but he can’t find his camera.