This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Going Up to Mirador.”
On your way to the top, you (and by you I mean I) have lingered on each fashionable floor of Dallas department store Forty Five Ten on Main. You have ogled the designer duds, lusted after the exotic trinkets, and all but emptied the testers of French parfum. You arrive, finally, at the fourth floor and home of Mirador, where you pause to gaze transfixed through wraparound glass into a sea of skyscrapers. Around you are emblems of Dallas old and new: the graceful Pegasus sign above, the problematic bloodshot-eyeball sculpture below. Across Main and seemingly suspended in midair, swimmers frolic in what looks like a turquoise ice cube cantilevered off the Joule hotel. As you stare, a distant memory struggles to gain your attention. The word for observation point in both Spanish and French is . . . yes! Mirador.
Eight months ago, Forty Five Ten opened this 86-seat restaurant, whose primary purpose seemed to be keeping lunchtime shoppers from heading off to the Zodiac Room in nearby Neiman Marcus. Mirador’s proprietors—developer Headington Cos., which also owns the Joule—could have stopped there. Instead they acquired two hotshot chefs and opened the restaurant three evenings a week. In the command position is Brazilian-born Junior Borges, whose bona fides include a ten-year stint in New York (at, among others, Colicchio & Sons), followed by a move to Dallas to Uchi. In charge of day-to-day operations is 28-year-old Josh Sutcliff, a North Carolina boy who started cooking when he was 13, graduated from the Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, and did time at Dallas destination FT33. As a result, Mirador has become not just a pretty place to eat but a key part of the Headington group’s sometimes controversial civic plot to bring downtown Dallas back to life.
Seated at a marble table in the bright white room, I opened a menu to find a nice surprise: at least half the options are less than $20. I was also glad the setting didn’t feel precious or dainty. The well-schooled but chatty servers wear long bistro aprons, and the chairs are upholstered in patchwork (only later did I notice the fabric is velvet). Over the course of two lunchtime visits, I made other key observations, chief among them being that the ricotta toast must be ordered. Soft and white as a snowdrift, the mound of whipped cheese is capped with rosemary-and-thyme-zapped red grapes and Bartlett pears and drizzled with Georgia olive oil. You can spread it on hefty rustic bread or do as I did and shamelessly eat it with a spoon. Nearly as compelling, the silken coconut-milk-and-potato chowder is glorified with a drizzle of kaffir lime oil and a scattering of dried sumac.
For something more substantial at lunch, the logical candidate is the moderately sized burger and fries. The latter are perfection, by the way, lightly crusted on the outside, creamy on the inside. But while I quite liked the medium-rare ground chuck and the crunchy multi-seeded bun, I could barely taste them under the assault of a sharp, grainy melted cheddar and a gribiche sauce bristling with capers and cornichons. A more compelling choice is the lobster roll, tender chunks of seafood cradled in brioche amid a tangle of pea shoots and a nest of caramelized fennel (I could have done with far less). But the best lunchtime offering was the farro bowl, not the usual dread diet choice but a rich medley brightened with dried cherries, marcona almonds, and slivers of radish. An herbaceous green goddess–cauliflower puree brings everything into creamy harmony, and lovely orange wisps of fried sweet potato gild the top.
In the evening, the tablecloths come out, the lights go down, and chef Sutcliff gets serious about protein. The lamb loin tartare was strikingly original, the meat tossed with charred bits of flatbread and an intense, complex tomato reduction. Titillated, we watched as the server delivered a hunk of Scottish salmon, lovely and pink and cooked to a perfect medium. Yet for all the care, it begged for something sassy and fresh, flavors that the side of purple-hull peas just didn’t provide. Better were the thick cuts of New York strip, but even they were short on the robust flavor I expected from a sixty-day-aged wagyu steak; I found myself much more taken with the accompanying hen of the woods mushrooms, swishing the frilly pieces around in the mahogany-hued jus that puddled deliciously on the plate.
But then the lobster arrived and things took a turn for the better. Weighing in at almost two pounds, it was plenty big to share and well worth its $55 price tag. The shell was mounded high with butter-basted tail and claw meat that had been tossed with bread crumbs seasoned with fennel pollen (if there’s a chef more besotted with fennel, I have yet to meet him). But good though the lobster was, it was the hunky Berkshire pork porterhouse that blew us all away. Beautifully brined and pearly pink, it had been tricked out with a seductive tomato–sour cream sauce.
Pastry chef Keith Cedotal’s desserts play it close to the rule book, their flavors balanced and utterly satisfying. The individual apple pie was camera-ready under a warm caramel sauce, though the butter crust proved all but unassailable. Our favorite was the pavlova, a meringue shell that you crack to reveal a treasure trove of lemon curd and sweetened fruit, all sided by an icy berry sorbet.
Sated, we headed down to the entrance, accompanied by a clerk whose job seemed to be keeping errant guests from ending up in ladies’ shoes. As I watched the tiny car on my Uber app, I asked myself: Would I come back? Yes, I would. Not only did I quite like the food, I liked having an alternative to the small plates/strong drinks restaurant model I see everywhere else. That alone would bring me back to downtown Dallas, day or night.
Mirador | 1608 Elm, Dallas (214-945-8200), L: Mon – Sat. D: Thurs-Sat. $$$-$$$$.