To dine at Rise, the tony Dallas-based restaurant known for its savory and sweet souffles, is to embrace one’s decadent side.
Where else can you have a two-souffle lunch?
And now you don’t have to drive to Dallas to have it. A Fort Worth location, the first stand-alone restaurant to open at The Shops at Clearfork, officially Rise n°3, opened Monday.
The new outpost officially seems a fitting, excuse moi, rich environment in which to enjoy the French specialty.
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I joked with my lunch companions that the lovely dining room, so carefully appointed with hand-painted ceramic plates, checkerboard rattan chairs and other bistro touches, was beyond tony — it was Antoine.
It’s easy to see, then, why the restaurant, launched in 2008, has become so beloved in Dallas, with high-profile patrons — former President George W. and wife Laura are fans — and mere commoners alike devoted to the lush crabmeat souffles and seductively addictive marshmallow soup.
The vibe: At a soft-opening lunch last week, we were led to table on the cusp of the open-air kitchen, where the staff was immersed in the business of souffle-making. A colorful wall of merchandise — gleaned from owner Hedda Dowd’s French-import business, Antique Harvest — is backlit prominently. You can buy anything you see here, from the torchons (napkins, $21–$27), colorful with their Provencal touches, to the bread guillotine ($150), a ridiculously large, levered serrated knife, which ostensibly seems like a litigious nightmare, but seamlessly does the heavy lifting of cutting each table’s baguette.
The food: With 16 souffles (10 savory and six sweet), the menu skews toward egg-y masterpieces. For the egg-averse, there are other excellent options, like the French onion soup ($8), the Parisian jambon sandwich ($17), and a gateau de chocolat ($10) that will blow your socks off. The crusty baguette, supplied by Addison’s La Spiga Bakery, plated on that crazy contraption and used in the ham sandwich, serves its purpose — crunchy and crumby outside, with a pillowy dough. Add a schmear of the whipped-in-house butter, and the bread is rendered otherworldly. Cornichons in the sandwich add a clever textural touch, and the simple salad, dressed with julienned apple, was a deft complement to the salty potato chips, and let’s face it, multiple bites of others’ souffles.
At $25, the crabmeat souffle could have had the bankruptcy court judges circling, but an incredibly generous amount of crab negated any possible issues, financial or otherwise. The heady seafood paired with the light-as-air eggs were a good match, but the southwest chicken souffle ($19) had it nearly upstaged. Even airier, and aided with a green-chile like sauce that pushed the dairy into uncharted taste territory, it strikes ideal for those looking for more familiar taste-profiles.
Other items similarly pleased, including the restaurant’s famed marshmallow soup ($10), a tureen of carrot- and tomato-based soup that features three puffy squares of marshmallow — sans sugar — floating on top. Complex and rich, it is an unexpected treat — especially when drizzled with herb-infused oil and dipped by a puff pastry straw.
The flourless chocolate gateau, accompanied by vanilla ice cream, was outstanding, but I loved the Grand Marnier souffle ($12) even more. Garnished by a stream of creme Anglaise thanks to our dutiful server, it required quick thinking to grab my spoon before any sogginess could transpire, followed by very quick eating.
The service: Refined yet comfortable, professional but with panache, service on the whole was effortless and graceful — matching well with the food.
The calorie count: Not pretty. I also joked there was a scale placed outside the front door. If you don’t gain any weight during a meal here, I would like your metabolism immediately. Si vous plait.
Anna Caplan is a Fort Worth-based free-lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @annadfwfood
5135 Monahans Ave. (The Shops at Clearfork)
Hours (may differ during opening week): 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday