Something unusual has happened in Dallas.
Alberto Lombardi has opened a new restaurant, and so far it's not mobbed.
Word just hasn't spread about Cafe des Artistes, the new piano bar and brasserie on Routh Street by the arts district and new downtown park.
If you're familiar with the busy brunch at Taverna by Lombardi, the Italian restaurant and risotteria with locations in Fort Worth and Dallas, you'll find similar standards at Cafe des Artistes, billed as a "French-California" restaurant in the former One Arts Plaza home of Screen Door.
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You'll also find the same reasonable prices. Brunch entrees cost $11 to $17, including breakfast dishes, a frittata, quiche, short-rib hash, salads and grilled seafood. Recent specials have included $1 mimosas and $2 bloody marys.
Dallas has several good brunch burgers -- Village Marquee's comes to mind -- but Cafe des Artistes' has the added touch of thin serrano ham on top instead of bacon. With Gruyere and Dijon, it's an easy lunch before a museum visit or arts performance.
Desserts include pear strudel, or chocolate, Grand Marnier or cappuccino souffles.
Much of the early coverage has talked about Cafe des Artistes' velvet booths, singing bartender and California chef ( David Garwacki from Miro in Santa Barbara, after Dallas stints long ago at the Westin Park Central hotel and at the Meyerson Symphony Center restaurant).
Cafe des Artistes is open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Fridays, dinner Saturdays, and brunch and dinner Sundays at 1722 Routh St., 214-217-6888; website coming soon at lombardifamilyconcepts.com.
But for Tarrant County friends, the most anticipated new opening might be an Arlington family's Babb Bros BBQ & Blues, new at the west end of the arching Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
Babb Bros, owned by Arlington basketball coach Mike "The Rib Man" Babb, is off to a fast start serving hickory-smoked ribs, thin-sliced Kansas City-style beef with thick sauce and a distinctive spicy cheese sausage, plus side dishes such as creamed corn and collard greens.
It's already worth a stop on the way into or out of Dallas, for a sandwich and maybe banana pudding.
It's open for lunch and dinner daily at 330 Bedford Ave., 214-745-2224, babbbrothers.com.
Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com Weekend. 817-390-7538
Facebook: Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat