A few weeks ago, I received a press release and an invitation to attend Dallas’ first ever Dishcrawl. Not knowing what the heck a Dishcrawl was, I did a little research. Dishcrawl is a company with “crawls” in fifty cities, and the basic premise is that in each city there’s an ambassador who coordinates tours and leads fun-loving eaters on an evening jaunt to four courses at four mystery restaurants (mysteraunts?) for an alcohol-exclusive cost of $45 per person. Sounds like fun, right? Well, luckily for you guys, I went and tested it out for you. Here’s my report:

What: Dishcrawl DFW inaugural crawl

When: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where: Downtown Dallas

Cost: $45

Stop 1: Fuse Japan

Formerly just Fuse, then closed, Fuse Japan is back and owned by an adorable old Japanese man. I wanted to take him home with me to be my private sushi chef. What a life we’d have together. Anyway, we sat (a bit awkwardly) at one long table upstairs trying to figure out if drinks were included or if not, if there were any specials. Since I was starving I decided to wait until I had a little something in my stomach before getting my buzz on, lest I buzz too much and fall over. It had been a long day. The food at Fuse Japan was pretty good: a fried chicken finger, coconut crusted prawn and two very spicy ahi tuna nachos. We found ourselves begging for water but otherwise quite happy. It was time to keep moving.

Stop 2: The Chesterfield

Having only ventured out to The Chesterfield once prior to this, I was excited to once again catch a glimpse of the slightly controversial bar once it was revealed that it was where we were headed next. It’s a handsome, small place, perfect for classic cocktails like a French 75, for example. We were encouraged to order up a French 75, or anything, really. But when we asked the bartender to surprise us, a French 75 is what we got. A bit bored, if not tipsy as hell, we tried to enjoy the more-than-slightly-disappointing food there. Odd and flavorless short of a TON of black pepper, seared tuna was topped with tasty citrus fruits. Pizza that ate like it came from the freezer section and a sadly overcooked slider rounded out the plate. All told, I was surprised to find it The Chesterfield to be least impressive stop on the crawl.

Stop 3: The Palm

An old Dallas staple in fine dining, The Palm steakhouse is somewhere I’d never been, even though I’m certainly from around these parts. Happily, we trotted inside to find a dining room decorated with painted caricatures of local and national famous faces. Kitch aside, we were seated and offered membership in The Palm’s loyalty club, a chance to win a gift card, and a drink menu. Already tipsy enough for a Tuesday, I refrained, but many of the crawlers delighted in the beer, cocktail or wines offered. It was our entree that most impressed us all, however. A trio of classic steakhouse fare, we scored a small but beautiful lobster tail,  chicken parmesan and a lamb lollipop. This was the wow moment of the night, and this plate alone would be worth the $45 price of admission.

But there was more.

Stop 4: Porta Di Roma

Dessert was served Italian-style at this downtown Dallas red sauce restaurant. Spumoni, cannoli and tirimisu, to be specific. The presentation could have been better, but overall it was a sweet ending to a pretty fun night.

My only complaints? 1) That The Chesterfield chose not to use the crawl to its advantage. They should have served up food that would make us want to return, but they wasted that opportunity. And 2) The crawl itself had a few communication issues, but most of those were probably just first crawl jitters.

Overall, I’d say that the Dishcrawl DFW is worth the money and perfect for a night out with friends, date night, or even as a first date activity. On a beautiful night like last Tuesday, it was a lovely change of pace and a chance to meet a few new friends while exploring the city or going back to somewhere you haven’t been in a while. And since each crawl is different, you never quite know what you’re in for, and that’s really the fun of it.

The next crawl is going to be in the Arts District on February 12, which could be a great way to surprise your valentine. I can only assume the crawls are going to get bigger and better each time, as the bugs are worked out. Tickets can be bought here.

NOTE: My Dishcrawl DFW tickets were comped. That didn’t change my opinion of the tour, however. Good and bad, it’s all there.

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