Spring in Dallas means two things:
1. The weather makes you long to be outside
2. On Friday afternoons, every patio from Oak Cliff to Denton is packed with people soaking up Vitamin D and various forms of booze.
Yesterday was one of those excellent Dallas days where you’d be mad not to seek out the nearest patio, claim your seat and not move the rest of the evening. So, when my pal Leanne had to postpone our dance date (sad face) and my other pal Drrrty T called to propose happy hour, it was sort of a no-brainer.
After discussing the merits of various local watering holes with patios – Sangria, The Porch, etc. – we landed on a place a bit farther south – St. Ann Restaurant. If you haven’t yet meandered that direction – and, if you’re of the Uptown or Park Cities set, this does not likely describe you – it’s worth a look.
The restaurant is next to St. Ann Court – the latest development from Harwood. The restaurant is located in the historic St. Ann’s School, which was built in 1927 as Dallas’ first school for Hispanic kids. The designers of the resto and bar integrated a school theme that is really only apparent on the website and the menu. But, maybe I was just too focused on nabbing a seat and a beverage.
If you want a patio table for happy hour, arrive early. Like, fake-a-stomach-cramp-and-tell-your-boss-you-need-to-leave-at-3:30 early. Drrrty T and I arrived around 6pm (the curse of working in the ‘burbs) and were 16th on the list for a patio table. On a perfect Friday night with warm breezes and clear skies, this mostly equates to “you will not get a table at all.” I mean, who would be in a hurry to leave?
With a sigh – and the realization that we’ve already valeted both of our cars – we accept an inside table. In the back. In the corner. With not enough room for drinks and food. Hostess fail. After trying to convince the hostess we were way too important and fashionable to suffer at that table – to no avail, might I add – we sucked it up and ordered drinks. A VT for DT and a white sangria for me. The sangria was nice, though I generally appreciate my sangrias a bit more on the tart side. The wine used for this particular one was a tad sweet for my liking. However, the large pieces of orange, lime and lemon helped balance the flavor nicely and after two or three, well…who is analyzing things at that point?
We ordered apps too. The Atlantic smoked salmon for me – paired with crumbled hard-boiled egg, shallots and a lemon caper creme fraiche – and the hummus and grilled sizzlers for Drrrty T (who was willing to share).
The smoked salmon was nicely prepared and I liked the way the egg was incorporated into the dish. But, the reason I ordered it in the first place was my high expectations for the lemon caper creme fraiche. To be fair, I love capers. Love. So, I was hoping for some really bold flavor – both salty and tart – in this condiment. Alas, I tasted mostly creme fraiche, which is nice and all, but wasn’t what I’d expected.
Grilled sizzlers. These should have been mind-blowing because, in concept, they totally rock. Garlic chicken, jalapeno and onion wrapped in BACON and served with a side of ranch dressing. Diets be damned, it sounds like perfection, right? Well – this one was also a bit of a letdown. All of the pieces I tried were mostly on the dry side and the jalapenos had been totally de-veined, so there wasn’t much punch to the dish. Hell, I’m even going to criticize the bacon. It should have been crisper on the outside instead of so chewy. I’m actually thinking I might try to make this at home and see if I can improve upon it because I’m still sold on the idea.
The star for me was actually the hummus. It was nice and garlicky, had great consistency, and the oil they used with it had a lovely aroma and flavor. Plus – the puffy pita slices with which it was served were crispy and delicious. I’d dip them in pretty much anything and be pleased. As evidenced by the photo, I couldn’t wait to dive into the dish. Though, I assure you, the blurry quality is due to my sub-par camera phone as opposed to any level of happy hour inebriation.
So – would I go back to St. Ann? Well..maybe. The atmosphere was nice, though decidedly not school-like, as the website would have you believe. And, while the rest of the menu didn’t have any terribly unique dishes listed, I’m always up for a good burger on a beautiful patio…assuming I can get a table. Buen provecho!