We didn't remember the name of the place, but we knew how to get there. At the heart of the neighborhood is a cluster of a gym, restaurant, dry cleaners, and couple of more things. However, don't visualize a typical shopping plaza. This is a country club like area which sheds itself of the elite and posh stigma of Dallas, yet eagerly wears a heart on its sleeve wanting to be called home for many. While Highland Park may be the Marylin Monroe of Dallas, Canyon Creek is our Jackie Onassis.
We didn't even know what cuisine or whether it had vegetarian fare. We tip-toed in for a peek at the menu. At first glance, I didn't see much selection beyond any other Italian restaurant, because I had low expectations initially. We mentioned we were looking for something more vegetarian friendly. We gracefully declined their invitation to be seated at a table and left the restaurant.
Just as we opened the car door, the manager ran after us into the parking lot and said that he would like us to stay and that he would cater to our diet needs. He said "Please don't let that be the reason to not dine here. We can make anything you want. Our chefs can make just about anything you're in the mood for." And it was not a plea in desperation for business. He was inviting us into his home. I had never seen a business in Dallas so eager to please and prove their talent without looking at what kind of handbag I'm carrying. For that reason alone, we didn't think twice - we followed the manager into the restaurant.
We started with a glass of the house red and the fried ravioli. It turned out there were quite a few vegetarian options, so we decided not to "custom order" anything. We each ordered the house salad. While deciding on the entrees, almost every staff member was making sure our needs were met: water, wine, comfort, understanding of the menu selections, etc. This is a restaurant where we were truly waited on. This was what any dining experience should be. When you one goes out to eat, this is the treatment you want.
I chose the Portabello Stack with Grilled Polenta. My husband chose the Spinach Lasagna.
The portabello stack was amazing. Beautifully presented, the dish featured colors of the grilled vegetables, with all of the right textures from the mushroom, the zucchini, the peppers, and the grilled polenta, all gently dressed backstage by a tomato based puree. We planned to have a quick meal that evening, and here we are, ordering wine, appetizer, salad, 2 entrees (when we usually share), and of course, tiramisu for dessert!
I stress the experience and atmosphere more than the food. The food was absolutely fantastic, but beyond that, give Marcus Cafe a chance to revive your memory of what dining used to be. People used to dress up, eat well, plug into engaging conversation, enjoy the evening, and they got what they paid for. And you shouldn't have to go to a 5 star hotel to do it. Leaving the restaurant, my husband said, "if I could have a good evening like that once a month, I wouldn't ask for anything else".