Every once in a while, if you are very lucky indeed and a lover of French food, you will run into (or seek out!) a chef as gifted as Jean-Marie Cadot, the charming and very talented patron of the eponymous Cadot Restaurant at 18111 Preston Road in North Dallas, nestled in a lovely space at the northwest corner of Preston and Frankford.
Cadot, in my opinion, is without question now one of the half-dozen best French restaurants in North Texas, a place of consistent excellence run by a man who has spent three decades perfecting his art. black truffle pate It is also a place of no pretensions and silliness. You will find snow-white linens on your table, flowers, a spotless setting decorated in way that transports you to the Champs Elysee in the springtime, but no fussiness or posturing or affectation. And the prices are remarkably low, I suppose in part because the overhead is not as great as it would be in downtown Dallas.
Jean-Marie Cadot is the real thing, a Paris native who is the progeny of a family in the hospitality business since the 1700s. Jean-Marie began his training as a baker at the age of eight in his Dad’s boulangerie. He later apprenticed at the famous Lasserre in Paris (three stars in the Guide Michelin). He trained also at Ferrandi and the Grands Moulins de Paris, the famous pastry and baking school, before coming to Dallas in 1982.
Dallas diners who know their way around will recall that he was the executive chef at Lavendou, the well-established French restaurant operated by Pascal Cayet about a mile north of Cadot, also on Preston Road. With thirty years of experience under his belt, Jean-Marie opened his namesake venture four or five years ago. Friends in Los Angeles recommended that I visit Cadot more than once on my next trip to Dallas, and I took them up on that advice, dining there three times on a recent stay in Texas that kept me there several weeks.
I went for lunch with a friend in midweek, arriving about noon. About half the tables in the front dining room were already occupied (Jean-Marie has artfully broken up the enormous space in his restaurant into three or four rooms, each of which conveys a sense of intimacy and casual French elegance. I find that overlarge dining rooms spoil my meal, there is just too much noise and too much movement around me. Cadot is just the right size.).
For starters I ordered a duck terrine with pistachios and truffles, a sort of pate de campagne that is lighter than the traditional goose liver pate so popular in France. Jean-Marie makes it himself in his 1,500-square-foot kitchen. It was delicate and delicious, served with mustard and cornichons, those tiny French pickles that no country pate should be served without.
A friend in Highland Park had suggested to me that I have one of Jean-Marie’s own special salads as a main course, three large shrimp served with mesclun mix, green beans, tiny potatoes, and morsels of citrus in a vinaigrette, but I was tempted by a desire that day for something that Cadot is justifiably famous for — chicken crepes serve with mushroom velouté and garden vegetables. These look simple and refreshing, but it is easy to overcook them and it takes a deft, light hand to produce them perfectly. They came to my table piping hot with a light sauce, lovely morsels of chicken breast wrapped snugly in crepes, I have not found them done better anywhere.
My partner that day, a true francophile who fawns over Cadot and goes there once a week, ordered a Pacific snapper a la nicoise, which came with fresh tomato, a white wine sauce with basil and olives, and a portion of mashed potatoes on the side. He pronounced it excellent.
This is the sort of beautifully executed, simple French food that too many chefs in America, even if they have trained in France, shun in favor of extravagant, exotic dishes that you would rarely find in Paris. The food and the charming ambience lent themselves to wonderful conversation and we also had a lively talk with Jean-Marie himself who often visits with his guests to make sure they are happy. This is a man who takes his work seriously. And now, after all, it is his own name on the door!
For dessert we both chose the home-made crème brûlée with a few raspberries on top, a wonderfully rich vanilla custard enclosed in an armor of caramelized sugar. I finished my meal with an excellent espresso, which I asked to be served with a couple of slices of lemon peel. Perfectly done. My lunch partner had a cappucino.
This is a restaurant that is a treasure for those who live in the northern part of Dallas. For those who live downtown, you will find that the drive is worth it, and to your delight you will also find ample parking right in front of the restaurant, a perk that will more than make up for the cost of the petrol you use to get there from the center of town. No valet fees at Cadot! It is just like visiting a very elegant North Dallas residence, inside and out. I urge you to go there soon