D Magazine Frontburner (August 17, 2007): A Report From the New Ritz-Carlton Fearing’s


That anxious energy was absent.

By David Hopkins

Wednesday, the Ritz-Carlton opened in Dallas, and with it, Dean Fearing’s new restaurant. The ceremony that morning was a spectacle of all things fancy — a Marine color guard, an employee who doubled as National Anthem opera singer, a letter from the new guy Tom Leppert, a red suited emcee with a proper British accent, and a horse drawn carriage containing Cowboy hall-of-famer Michael Irvin. The ceremony was quite an event.

In contrast, the opening of the restaurant that evening came as such a surprising non-event, just a regular day at an admittedly top notch dining establishment. Maybe that’s how Dean wanted it. Fearing’s will only seat at half capacity for the first few weeks, until everything is running smoothly. And this makes sense. However, as a result, no bustling crowd swarmed the front door for a grand opening. That anxious energy was absent. No one had to fight for a spot at the bar, and the traffic began to thin by nine o’clock.

The restaurant itself is beautiful with a southwest design scheme (minus all the bad mental images that come with a southwest design scheme). Nothing hokey or overdone. The place makes good use of natural lighting, high ceilings, various leathers, natural wood, and decorative amber panels. Fearing’s will be the place to go when you’re looking to entertain friends. It’s deceptively larger with several distinctive dining areas throughout. The largest area is Dean’s Kitchen, easily the most inviting. I’d recommend this section for a first visit.

I spent my evening in the area known as the Rattlesnake Bar, contemplating whether it would appropriate to be Fearing’s first customer to hit on Amber, the incredibly attractive woman taking my wine order. (Call me.) Despite the first night of operation, already the Uptown barflies were present. Giving the impression they had always been there, as much a part of the bar as the faux snake skin — a flirty and fairly hammered CPA, a drunk architect who kept repeating the phrase “It’s not about the money,” an overweight man in a yellow polo shirt offering unsolicited love advice. “All women want is someone to take care of them.” Thanks, barfly. Such an odd reversal from the red suited Brit, the Marine color guard, the opera singer, and the All Star wide receiver of that morning. Even yellow polo shirt guy noticed: “I can’t believe they didn’t do a big party.”

(Originally published in D Magazine’s Frontburner.)