Have you ever walked into an Anthropologie store and thought, Man, I wish they served food here that would complement the whimsical, boho-chic décor? Me neither, but I like the idea. And although there is no official Freds to Anthropologie's Barney's New York, the newly opened Rise n°2 sure feels like it. At the front of the restaurant, there are even kitchen products for sale that would be very comfortable in an URBN brand store.
But in reality, Rise descends not from a boutique, but from another restaurant, Rise n°1 (naturellement), in Dallas. When people you know are particularly excited for an import from their hometown, it's natural to be suspicious. But my double soufflé meal at Rise proved my Dallas native pals very right.
More often than not, soufflés are either slightly (or not so slightly) soggy or cooked until they become the texture of a sponge before you use it the first time. Both I tried at Rise hit the elusive midway point: moist but sturdy, floppy but far from deflating.
The savory soufflé menu includes French-inflected flavors such as truffled mushroom and escargot, but also nods to the restaurant's Texas home like corn-and-Serrano ham and Southwest chicken. But I chose what seemed like the most traditional: ham and Gruyère. The soufflé rose by half beyond its porcelain ramekin. Stretchy Alpine cheese laced itself throughout the fluffy egg mixture while salty ham was chopped finely enough to remain suspended in the airy puff. Imagine the lightest quiche Lorraine filling you've ever experienced, add some air, and you've got the idea.
Though there was only one savory soufflé special (I'll have to wait for duck à l'orange, oysters Rockefeller and foie gras versions to pop up), there were several sweet ones. But I skipped raspberry and (le sigh) pumpkin in favor of an old standby. I'm not sure if I've ever encountered a more balanced chocolate soufflé. Perfect texture? Check. Not too sweet? Check. Sticky sauce poured in by a server à la table, somehow gloriously coating every spoonful? Double check.
I'm a grown-ass food critic who has learned something about portion control over the years. I like to think I'm well past my Labrador retriever days of slopping up everything put in front of me. But at Rise, I gorged myself to very immoderate, very un-French overfulness. Perhaps French women don't get fat, but although the posted calorie counts at Rise are mercifully low, I would be very happy to stick around the dining room and do just that.