The Number of the Bistro

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Posted August 9, 2006 by last in Clubs

Dallas has a city magazine, and it’s called, well, D Magazine. I’ve never studied it, but I’ve looked it over while waiting in line at Tom Thumb and, boy, what great society photos! The space between the covers occasionally, begrudgingly lets a news feature slip in, but just about every page is devoted to stories and pics (lots and lots of pics) of socialites who, even though most of them have more money than God and even though they pray on bended knee nightly to the contrary, are simply not that hot. Finely coiffed and attired, yes. Filthy rich, yes. Young, sometimes. Hot, rarely.

D, though infused with witty prose, is more about the impoverished Hollywoodian concept of being seen rather than being enlightened, which is why the rag’s the perfect vehicle for a media networking party, specifically a Dallas media networking party.

Every other month or so, the New York City-based web site MediaBistro sponsors a soirée for North Texas journalist types at some Dallas bar, and it’s usually hosted by D managing editor Jennifer Chininis. That any writer/reporter/blogger from Fort Worth or Denton even knows of these shindigs is by pure luck – D does next to nothing to tell us about them. Most of the attendees are either Dallasites or employees of D. The most recent get-together late last month was no different.

Always on the hunt for freelance writing work, I went to the party, pressed a little flesh, and drank a bit (OK, a lot), though I firmly believe that had I poured a $70 bottle of bourbon over my body and lit a match, no one there would have noticed – or cared. Apparently to the finely coiffed and attired associates of D, not being a part of their in-crowd is a sign of poor stock.

As for Chininis, she couldn’t be bothered. Granted, when I introduced myself to her she was in mid-conversation with someone else. Still, she didn’t have to complain to her friend – the moment I turned around! – that no one ever crashes her MediaBistro parties. Well, excuse the hell outta me, Ms. Anna Freakin’ Wintour Jr. I may not be as fashion-faddish as all y’all or as knowledgeable of Dallas “celebrity” mating habits, but I still ain’t chopped liver! Excuse me: chopped foie gras!

I don’t know what I expected when I went, but I guess the few roadies I had on the way had dulled my journalistic sixth sense. Upturned noses, insipid fraternizing, $10 martinis, people whose physical appearance in no way lives up to their fancy clothes? I should have been prepared for just another night out in Big Deal. Um, I mean, Big D.

Good Advice

Until a few months ago, every wine store in Fort Worth – all three of ‘em – just a little too closely resembled the clubhouse gift shop from Caddyshack. Chininis (see: above) would say our lack of financial fiber and inability to tell brand-name merchandise from rip-offs are probably to blame. A more likely culprit, however, is the bevy of wine-lover hang-outs here, including PappaRotti’s, Grape Escape, Fizzi, Sapristi!, and the two or three others. Drunk talk is always better with friends, right? As opposed to the stupid, inadequate, hayseed reflection in the mirror.

But, alas, the wine phenomenon in Fort Worth is moot. Earlier this year in the blink-and-you’ve-missed-it Park Hill shopping center near TCU, Chris Keel opened Put A Cork In It, a clean, well-lighted place to buy wine and receive expert recommendations from long-time oenophile Keel.

The Wichita Fallsian developed a love for and vast knowledge of vino while working for years in the North Texas restaurant biz. Put A Cork In It marks his inaugural foray into entrepreneurship. “I just wanted to be my own boss,” he said. “I like wine, so I thought, ‘Fort Worth needs something like this.’ “

He felt comfortable putting his Cork in Park Hill – friends and family also occupy space there.

The best part about Keel’s store is that it’s utterly bereft of pretense. About 80 percent of his vast inventory, he said, is $25 per bottle or less, and you don’t have to know how to read Proust in the original French to be able to approach the owner.

“There’re no wine snobs in here,” Keel said. “Ask questions about any bottle, and I can put it in normal terms. Tell me what you like to drink, and we go from there.”

Put A Cork In It
2972 Park Hill Dr, FW.
817-924-2675.

Contact Last Call at lastcall@fwweekly.com.


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