So, as a visiting hound from Los Angeles and travelling alone, I posted a question re:Sushi earlier, and found out that OH MY GOD... Il Mulino had opened up in Dallas. I have been to the Il Mulino in NYC several times (on one trip, 3 times in one week!) and am very familiar with the food there, and it is one of my favorite restaurants in the country, so I was excited about this development to say the least... and hopeful that it would live up to the NYC HQ.
Well, I have to say it was pretty true to the NYC location. Wonderful food, top notch service and (unlike NYC), a nice spacious room. I ate there Thursday night, and called about 30 minutes prior to arriving and they were able to accomodate me as a single without a problem. Upon arrival, the same signature appetizers were presented, along with the various specials, identical to the NY approach.
In addition to the salami, cheese, eggplant, bruschetta and mussels that are the standard "included" appetizers, I had the risotto with langoustines (appetizer portion), porcini ravioli w/black truffle cream sauce, and their pounded thin, bone in veal parmigiana (unlike anyplace else!)... all dishes I've had at the NYC location... and the compared VERY favorably... to my delight. For dessert I had a sorbet as an intermezzo (peach... served in a frozen peach), and their signature candied pears with marscapone, cream and berries... a dessert which is really big enough for 2-3 people. All the food was excellent.
The biggest difference between the Dallas IM and NY is the fact that there is room in the Dallas location. The NYC Il Mulino is probably the most overcrowded restaurant that I've ever been to, and arguably one of the hardest reservations to get in NYC... harder than Babbo or Le Bernadin. In fact in NYC it is common for people to wait over an hour for a table when they already have a reservation... I know, I know, I'm not saying that is OK... just a comment about how busy/popular the place is. But it is truly a magnificent dining establishment.
The fact that the Dallas location is quiet and the tables spread out a bit makes it a tremendous improvement. The Dallas location is also at least triple or quadruple the size of the NYC location. In fact, you could probably fit the entire dining room, coat room, bar, foyer and vestibule inside less space than the single large, main dining room of the Dallas location. I'm not kidding.
My service experience at Il Mulino Dallas was also flawless. Perfectly timed and executed, and just the right amount of attention and conversation for one dining alone. Very similar to the highly attentive and detailed service experience at the NY location. I was also to chat with and share a glass of wine with the GM of the Dallas location... a very nice guy that used to work in the NY location... in fact, most if not all of the staff in Dallas, trained in NY prior to starting here.
My understanding is that a table/reservation is very difficult most nights, especially weekends, as expected of a top notch place. Also, I will tell you that Il Mulino is NOT CHEAP... in fact it is very expensive, even by NYC standards. In fact the only more expensive restaurant that I've eaten at is Ginza Sushiko in LA (before Masa-san moved to NYC to open Masa) which is around $350-$400 per person. It is not uncommon for specials at Il Mulino to be in the $55 range... I know, I know, but it really is worth it. For example, in NYC, the rack of lamb special is $55, but you get the entire rack (all 8 chops) with roasted potatos and veg... so it is easily enough for 2 people, and maybe 3... as is the case with most of their larger entrees. My veal was easily enough for 2, possibly 3 people for example.
Anyway, sorry that I went so long, but had to tell you all that Il Mulino is the REAL DEAL, and you should check it out! Again, I'm so glad that I posted on CH and CH came through for me with the news that Il Mulino had opened in Dallas... I'll be back!