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Rare Scionby Mark Stuertz | Photography by Jill Broussard | Modern Luxury Dallas magazine | September 26, 2013
By seeking singularity in a common culinary category, steak and seafood—in this case sushi—Rare is, appropriately, a rarity for the classification, with dark woods and full-bodied cabernet sauvignon (think Jordan, Cakebread, Silver Oak), but also ’60s nostalgia by way of a Bond martini, overstuffed sofas and a surplus of swank. The ethos is clear: drink well, eat well and vibe well, then lounge it all off.
Uniquely, Rare’s modern steakhouse motif was created in a subtly distinctive way. Emerging from an engineered collage of concrete, rebar and ramps, the venue is a product of unorthodox breeding. “This whole thing was a parking garage,” General Manager Shane Callicoat explains. “We excavated it out and built out the rest. It was a big venture.”
In the front are now banks of windows spilling sunlight over a contemporary assembly of materials mimicking what could easily pass for a Mad Men-inspired bank-lobby-meets-chic-supper-club modernized with technology. The whole place dances to a digital undercurrent that magically gets louder as that sun fades and the windows sparkle with light.
An expanse of dining space and a cushy lounge, Rare devours two levels in the Shops at Park Lane. A slate wall, sheets of dark laminate flaunting faux-lumber grain, and metallic trim accent a glimmering granite bar and countertops. Voluptuous, curved banquettes, meanwhile, face the bar to focus diners on mixology antics, while a second-level lounge placarded with flat-screen TVs and speakers pump techno jazz.
The unexpected mix extends to the food scene. First, the beef isn’t prolific. Sure, you’ll find a rib-eye (even vegan restaurants toy with bone-in tofu, don’t they?) and a silky rich 8-ounce filet mignon dressed simply with salt, pepper and butter before it is sealed in plastic and tossed into a sous-vide bath. And, OK, there’s Wagyu here, a trio of bruise-hued purple ovals over a shimmering hot rock embedded in a bowl of sea salt, while, hissing and wheezing, dollops of butter melt and cauterize the remnants into silken flesh. Slices of milky sea scallop and walu (Hawaiian butterfish) are also on offer to sear—15 seconds per side before being laced with sizzled shimeji mushroom and frisee.
And because the restaurant also loves its sushi and various derivations, why call it Rare, and not Raw? Well, aside from the typical nigiri sushi and sashimi, Rare features an assortment of signature rolls. Among them is the Spice Spice Baby, with sassed up blue crab, jalapenos, shrimp tempura and habanero lemon sauce; and the Berry Eel, with avocado, hamachi and a shaving of palate-teasing strawberry.
Added to these a rich squid salad woven with threads of dark seaweed and topped with lemon slices; and a drop-dead tasty red, green and golden heirloom tomato salad with bacon and a topping of corn vinaigrette.
Then there’s the frisee foie gras salad, notable for its lobe of foie gras nested in a roost of feta cheese crumbles atop a wiry bed of frisee, and stained with meticulously-hewn cubes of picked beet. Yes, there are decadent drizzles of bacon vinaigrette, but the foie gras seems almost beside the point.
The aim, explains Executive Chef Andy Tran (Sushi Axiom), is to create atypical framings of dishes while maintaining the integrity of the fish flavors. And for the most part, he succeeds. Tran’s ceviche is a smooth interplay of fish, fruit and Asian sensations with a Tex-Mex wink. Wonton chips rise from the depths, partially wrapping from the edges of a martini glass. A tumbling of mango, orange and heirloom cherry tomato mingle with salmon, tuna, yellowtail and Japanese black snapper. It’s “cooked” in an understated broth of yuzu, mirin and sea salt.
The wine is a tantalizing prospect—order a vintage in the dining room and watch the bartender scale the tiled bar like a fleet-footed rock climber to snatch a bottle from its amber-lit perch. Mostly non-vintage specific and California-centric, the list is poised to take a decidedly more global stance with New and Old World examples, plus picks from the Republic of Texas. And, in keeping with Rare’s hybrid theme, look for hot and cold sakes, too.
The sweet finish comes courtesy of a rich, gooey chocolate cheesecake that slacks down the throat in a slow flow of molten satin, with mint leaves fanning off the top like a moth’s wings.
It’s just another reminder of why everyone is all aflutter over this searing-hot restaurant and lifestyle lounge.
Rare: Eat, Lounge, Live
8052 Park Lane, Shops at Park Lane
Eat, Lounge, Drip-Dry
Rare plans to open a rooftop lounge and pool soon. Watch for a line of designer Rare swimmies to keep the liability sharks at bay.
The open dining room and bar employs an invisible force field sound system: volume pumps at the bar, but decibels diminish in the dining room.
The Esco Foie—Escolar sashimi with a lobe of seared foie gras topped with onion strings, scallions and crispy bones