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Fearing’s at the Ritz Looks To Be a Swell Place for Hookers

ericfearing.jpgLast night, Eric and I met some colleagues at Fearing’s Ritz-based Rattlesnake bar for drinks. Nancy will tackle the joint properly in our December issue, but let me horse-collar the thing here with a few words and photos. You don’t mind.

First, the valet area is poorly run and off-putting. I arrived at 9:45, and the place was overwhelmed by seven people leaving and four cars arriving, hoping to get parked. I stepped out of my running car and walked up to the front doors, where I stood for several moments before I could track down someone to take my car. I left shortly after midnight, at which time there appeared to be one valet guy on duty. As I handed my ticket to him, two cars — a Maserati and a convertible Bentley — pulled up. Their drivers got their valet tickets and entered the hotel, leaving their cars with their engines running. Which left me standing alone at the valet lobby, with about $500,000 worth of cars waiting for the taking. I fought the urge and waited for my Audi.

To find out what happened last night inside the joint, you need to jump, pardner.

I’ve got two words for you: call girl. Or maybe that’s really one word: escort. Remember Beaux Nash? Yeah, they’ve migrated to Fearing’s — and God bless them. Watching old guys get their groove on with younger ladies at the Rattlesnake Bar was worth the price of the drinks (but not the $20 order of crab cakes, which came five to an order, each one hardly a mouthful, and tasted like something you might get at Red Lobster, according to Eric, pictured above). Okay, really. We watched two separate parties at the bar — older guy, younger buxom girl — aggressively tongue-kiss each other. Then they wobbled off together. In one case, the guy returned solo. So there’s that.

hagarjpg.jpgThen there was Sammy Hagar. He was in town playing the Lakewood Theater. But he was staying at the Ritz. He walked by our table twice, and each time, one of us would say, after a brief pause, “Holy smokes. There goes Sammy Hager again.” At which point, both times, Eric swiveled his head like a linebacker at the line of scrimmage and said, “Where? Where’s Sammy? You know 5180 is my favorite Van Halen record.”

Anyway, as I say, Nancy will have the final word in the magazine. I didn’t eat dinner. Just came for drinks. But so far, I’m impressed in a very unimpressive way.

Comments are on.

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  • Tim

    One more thing: until the bar at the Ritz stays open later than 11:30 on a Wednesday night, I don’t want to hear any more talk about Dallas being an international city. I think we can all agree on that.

  • ROJ

    Saw Sammy at Nick and Sam’s having dinner Sunday night. No one went by his table or really even looked at him longer then to say to themselves, yep, that’s Sammy Hagar. You think David Lee Roth would be so unmolested? I think not.

    Also, I’ve heard nothing good about the Ritz from people on the ground, just Esquire. So, can’t wait to read Nancy’s take.

    11:30, what is this, Austin?

  • MNS

    We ate there 5 times (our initiative and also with friends who wanted to go) and were totally unimpressed. The valet is in fact atrocious…hard to understand in a hotel. The rooms are really handsome but the service is disorganized at best. The food is mediocre…nothing imaginative or even worth what are astronomical prices…higher than anyone in town except perhaps Pappas’ or Aurora. Never any specials, just the same tired entrees. It is a shame really as Dean is a genuinely good guy and a great host. I cannot see any chance of this surviving long term without major improvements. Too many really good new restaurants are going to be opening over the next few months for this to be viable.

  • Tim W.

    High class hookers – that puts us on par with Las Vegas as an international city, right?

    At least they’ve gotten all of their construction equipment and parked cars out of the right lane on Olive St. Because that was sophisticated. So, my commute has gotten that much better each morning. Puttin’ on the Ritz!

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    II wrote La Nancy when I went there shortly after it opened, and was not really impressed either, actually……. I did have drinks, then dinner.

    My cocktail was the now obligatory $9 but my $58 rib eye…a Fearing legacy…was medium well not rare…unthinkable mistake for a meat paradise guru’s new digs. The tuna ceviche was watery and predictably ginger/soy flavorful. One taste and even in a coma, coming off major surgery, I knew exactly how that sauce was prepped.

    The intimate dining room we ate in made me feel like it was Tony Soprano’s daughter’s rehearsal dinner decor. Dean made the rounds and was hyper charming, but the bottom line is that this is a Los Angeles wannabe see-and-be-seen operation instead of a confident Dallas destination. There is nothing really ‘wrong’ with anything (yes, I know, I should have sent my steak back but I am not a show-boater foodie and I was someone else’s guest) but I found the experience oddly enough to be…. kinda garish. Sorry.

  • Jeff Duffey

    Went to the Ritz for an event for 500 people. Not uncommon for the Ritz, right? So people waited 2 hours to get their cars at the valet. Seriously. Two hours! I was at the bar watching hookers.

  • Scott

    Tim, if you have been to London before, which I believe is an international city, most bars close at 10 or 11 on a Friday night. So no, I do not agree.

  • Jamieson

    Here’s the problem with D magazine staffer’s:

    They are always looking to pick apart something and they are nearly impossible to please.

    I am not here to defend the Ritz, but I am getting a bit tired of all their negativity towards new things in Dallas. I mean, who do they think they are? I’ll tell you who they are. They are journalist majors (with a sense of entitlement)who think they are trend setters and believe they are the “voice” of Dallas. For all the writers who are calling places “too L.A.” or “NY wannabe’s”. You know what? Dallas needs that kind of stuff. I am tired of watching TV and every commercial about Texas shows some retard wearing cowboy boats singing “My Tractor’s Sexy”. This city needs sophistication — this city needs to shed its cowboy image. Because of the media portrayal of Dallas, people outside of Texas think I ride a horse to work.

    You know, it is easy to hate change and hate new things. But you know what — the Ritz is one of the most prestigious and elegant hospitality brands in the world. I am pretty sure they did their due diligence and know what is or isn’t going to work in Dallas. I am pretty sure they are a lot smarter than the 40-something year old “national” magazine editors who like to criticize anything unique about Dallas.

    Cowboy Up, Tim Rogers (and staff).

  • robb

    Yeah Tim, you should like everything new.

    Besides, things like the Ritz will prove to the world that cowboys and oil don’t come from Texas.

  • Rachel

    Welcome to Texas, if you don’t like it, then leave. People from Texas don’t ask New York to change so we would appreciate the same courtesy. Also, critics are called critics for a reason: they are critical. I have seen plenty of positive reviews on Frontburner..maybe you are the negative one, only remembering those which are excessively critical. Unfortunately, the Ritz is not unique, which it should be. This is a town with plenty of high class hotels and restaurants and it did not stand out among the rest like it should have. So its not that Frontburner is criticizing unique, but the lack thereof.

  • Tim

    Jamieson, I’d like to know what you mean by “all our negativity toward new things in Dallas.” Remember Il Mulino? We loved it. Craft? Love it. I could go on. I didn’t knock the Ritz for being new; I knocked it for having an awful valet and for charging $22 for five mediocre, quarter-sized crab cakes. However, the demimonde situation, I hope you understand, I really enjoyed.

    Now then. Point of fact: we’ve got 15 people who post on this blog. By my count, we’ve got three journalism majors. (I was American Studies. Nancy, our dining critic, was political science, if memory serves.)

  • Neal K

    Scott (9:44 am), it’s only the pubs in London that close early, not the nightclubs (which are filled with gross people anyway). In any case, London is unique in that way and shouldn’t be a yardstick for Dallas. Pretty much every other city we think of as “international” (New York, Chicago, LA, Miami, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, for example) do in fact have non-fast food restaurants and bars that stay open past midnight on weeknights.

  • Marty Cortland

    I’ve had drinks on a number of occasions at the Rattlesnake Bar. Service has consistently been inattentive. Seems to me that at $10 a drink, and as fast as I drink them, they should assign a waiter to stand by my side, ready to refill my glass the moment I set it down. I have never failed to leave the bar with an extra hundred bucks or more that, at a better-run place, would have been theirs.

    As noted, the valet situation is inexcusable. I don’t know how the architect and developers could have screwed things up so royally for such a high-dollar, high-profile property. Total FUBAR — and not fixable without a radical redesign of the entryway.

  • KL

    Trying to get out of valet parking at The Ritz is like leaving a Ranger game when there’s an accident on I-30. Impossible. And about getting to watch hookers for two hours while waiting for your car? We’re not an international city until there are also MALE hookers…quid pro quo!

  • Stephanie

    Sarah and I were just there for an event – The Chiapas Dinner – and after hearing a lot about the dreaded wait for valet, I was surprised that we only had to wait about 10 minutes to get our car. They must have had extra staff that night or something.

  • Bill Kennedy

    One thing you need to know about the valet thing there. Leave via the door right by the restaurant host desk, not the front doors of the hotel. We were there last Sat night, at the height of some religious convention, and had our car “walkie talkied” back in about 5 minutes. In fact, the restaurant told us to use that door, too.

    That being said, it’s a mess for hotel guests, etc. And there’s no way to fix it unless they rip and replace.

  • Marty Cortland

    Hmph. I think “rip and replace” beats “radical redesign” on the accuracy/pungency of description scale. Tip ‘o the hat to Mr. Kennedy.

  • Scott

    Kevin Costner (11:25 am),
    In the great dictionary that defines an “international” city, I assume that number one on the list is: 24-hour bar service (PS, I was unaware that the Rattlesnake Bar was trying to be a nightclub). If a hotel bar is truly where you get your kicks, cool, take a vacation.

    If Dallas had any sort of a downtown economic center (which it is trying to establish through its recent real estate developments, including The Ritz), it would then make sense for local restaurants, etc to remain open throughout the night. Unfortunately, local business owners can’t afford to rely on the Field of Dreams ideology of “If you build it, they will come.”

    PS- I believe just about every bar on McKinney Ave. is open until 2am on most weeknights.

    PPS- whispering “Go the distance.”

  • http://yahoo bob shepard

    Lets face it Dallas, over rated, over priced, blah food, noisey room, drunk sommelier if you can find him.
    Some of the worst service I have ever seen or experienced in my entire life, muddled flavors to many ingredients on a plate. All the charm in the world is not worth the price of admission.
    If I wanted to experience Dean Fearing’s charm do i have to sit through one of his middle of the road meals in a noisy restaurant with posers all around me.
    can we have some honesty about this place …it belong in a hotel casino with a captive one time dinning clientel.

    Please do not let this be the bench mark for Dallas dining….Nancy,Mr Bill Addison Please tell the truth about Dean’s !

    There will be other really great restaurants in Dallas to be proud of…. this one is a train wreck.
    If food critics need to be liars what good are they if we have only nice things to say then every restaurant would be 5 stars….you knocked Chris Ward, you kicked Auroa, you loved Tre{and we know why Mr A}.

    So please tell the truth about Fearings.

    Don”t sell out to this new presure to be extra nice just because it’s Dean or Dallas is angry that you have come from SF and want to tell the truth, however not to hurt but just to make it all better …..!

  • Jolie

    I saw two fifty-something hookers with mullets, front center, at the bar, sipping beers. I like people watching and everything but ugh. Okay, about the food. It’s devine! Everyone is just pissed because its so expensive. I thought the food quality, experience at the chef’s table, Dean’s cheerful hospitality and the pretty good service…was all worth the cost. And it seems the valet problem is getting better, my 3rd time there we only waited a few minutes…they are on top of it! Give them a chance, they are still new. And if you want perfection, go to The Mercury!

  • http://yahoo bob shepard

    Oh and by the way new 7 million dollar restaurants need to be ready when they open! This is big business not practice. If you are a restaurant and you are charging people money to dine then you must be ready to be judged on that food and service.

    So if you had a team of experts, you planned and build this beautiful hotel and you are the Ritz organization and a famous chef maybe you should have not given all your parking to the condo owners that don’t even live there yet…..? Or is that why the hotel exsists in the first place ?

    Is it a hotel or a sales office for overpriced condos ?

  • Donny B

    I was just browsing and found these comments and have to agree they should have waited to open the place. I came one night in December 2007 and it was pathetic. There was no organization and it looked like the valets were running around with no direction. The food in the restaurant was good and the drinks were certainly strong, however dealing with the valet I swore I would never go back. I decided to give it another shot and returned at the end of June for Dinner and cocktails. I was dreading this visit but my date really wanted to go there so I warned her and agreed. The moment we pulled up I can tell they fixed their problems. The food was of course exquisite and I only waited five minutes for my car at the end of the night. I must admit I was impressed. I will go back for sure and it is nice to see the Ritz living up to the expectations I had