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Andrea L Conley

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Starfish Makes a Splash in Dallas
By Andrea L Conley   
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Last edited: Thursday, December 14, 2006
Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006

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New Seafood Restaurant in Bishop Arts District a Big Hit!

A newly opened restaurant is sure to have Dallas-area seafood lovers beating a path to its North Oak Cliff location – one visit and you will understand why.

Starfish Restaurant boasts an authentic Cajun menu at refreshingly affordable prices. In fact, the most expensive item, crab legs with all the trimmings, rings up at around $12.00 (plus tax).

Nestled in an enclave of eclectic little shops in the booming Bishop Arts district, the diner, housed in an old Dairy Queen building, has a retro 1960s look. Sparkling clean and bursting with color, you’ll find yourself reminiscing (that is, if you’re older than 37 or 38 anyway) about those summer evenings at DQ – you know, back in the day.

But no matter what your age, if you enjoy good, fresh seafood you will love this place. The fried catfish was expertly seasoned, so it didn’t need the customary Louisiana hot sauce (does anyone else refuse to eat catfish without it?), and the plump, crispy, lightly breaded shrimp were so fresh you might picture yourself dining at the beach in some Caribbean locale.

Owner-operators Henry Branstetter and Tom McCoy point out that their “obsession with seafood” landed them in the restaurant business after at least four years of dreaming, planning and strategizing. McCoy says the property’s owner; a friend from their Winnetka Heights neighborhood approached them several months ago for help in finding a tenant for the abandoned Dairy Queen. “We were ready!” McCoy recalls. They completed all the necessary renovations just in time to open on March 1 – during the season of Lent. “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect” he chuckles.

McCoy and Branstetter point out that it’s the details that give their food that little something extra. The deep fried items are cooked in peanut oil – that makes them not only a perfect golden brown, but there’s no excess grease to contend with. The fried pickles get “Lots and lots of dill seasoning” Branstetter reveals. And they add a secret ingredient – buttermilk – to the not-too-spicy hush puppies. Diners were so taken with them they called out for seconds. Among them, Hank Martin of Coppell and his friends George and Leah Beth Barkett of Oklahoma said they come back to Starfish “because it’s good value and quality seafood!” Martin selected the blackened chicken breast, which was served with rice pilaf and stir fried vegetables and served with a homemade orange marmalade sauce. For the health-conscious who shy away from fried foods, it looked and smelled like a delicious alternative.

But if you want to wash down all that great food with a beer, wine or the like, you’ll have to supply that yourself. Starfish is BYOB for the time being.

And if you possibly can, save room for dessert. The desserts are commonly served in old-fashioned parfait glasses as homage to Dairy Queen, and made fresh daily. The various fruit cobblers were all sold out the day of my visit. The key lime pie, McCoy explains, is made with fresh limes from the Delafuente Produce stand directly across the street. Top off your seafood dinner with a slice of that pie, and you will likely leave with a huge smile on your face, and an overwhelming desire for a nap.

Starfish is located at 1417 W. Davis Street in Dallas. You may phone them at 214.942.8100


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