Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Cards: American Express, Diners Card, Master Charge, Visa. Prices: Most items at dinner $4 to $7.
You're shopping or waiting to see a movie at the White Flint mall and it's time to eat. You're in the mood for something a little more tranquil and civilized than the cafeteria-style offerings of the Eatery, but you don't necessarily want the full meal, the prices or formality of a big-dinner restuarant.
In such a case, Tanglewood's isn't a bad choice. The setting is lovely, the prices are moderate, and if the food isn't terrific, most of it is pleasant enough. The menu is typical light-chic: salads, a souffle, a pasta, mesquite-grilled burgers, stir-fried vegetables.
Tanglewood's biggest asset is its looks. It's an uncommonly pretty place, cheery and yet softly lit, with widely spaced tables and lots of light, natural wood.
Add comfortable chairs, a pretty bar, attractive prints on the walls, green plants and excellent acoustics (you can converse quietly even when it's crowded), and you have a delightful environment for eating and relaxing. This is a big restaurant, yet it's made to appear intimate with the use of room dividers and split-level floor design. (For a little extra intimacy, ask for the small area way in the back.)
It's important at most restaurants to know what to order. At Tanglewood's it's crucial, because there is a remarkable variation in quality among the dishes.
Take the soups. The creamed vegatable soups seem to be top-notch -- we had a wonderful cream of spinach, flavorful and without added thickeners. But the seafood bisque was thickened overmuch.
Among the appetizers, quesadillas are excellent, with wheat-flour tortillas despite their thinness and a cheese filling sparked with a generous sprinkle of crumbled bacon. Eaten with sour cream and chunks of tomato on top, this is a winner of a dish. "Chinatown chicken" is impressive, too, the breast meat unusually moist, the frying light, the pineapple-mustard sauce tasty. Downhill, though, with the limp fried zucchini.
The stir-fried vegetables, also available with chicken or shrimp, are excellent, the vegetables fresh and still crisp, the ginger and teriyaki sauce lightly applied. The accompanying rice is good, too, with a pleasant meaty flavor and firm, separate grains. Not so the croissants, oily heavyweights that came to the table still refrigerator-cold inside.
Hamburgers are excellent -- big, juicy, flavorful, without excessive fat, well grilled, and yet without the over-charred suface that can overpower the taste of the meat. The nicely succulent grilled "Pecos chicken" is a good choice, too. But we found the omelettes heavy, dry and overdone.
At lunch there are also reasonably light pastries filled with meats, called "savories." The one with beef, mushrooms and provolone is particularly appealing, a cross between a steak sub and beef Wellington.
For dessert, the chocolate mousse is completely forgettable, as is the heavy, oily apple tart. Aim instead for the formidable mocha supreme -- a good, chewy brownie, a big slab of coffee ice cream and a deep-flavored mocha sauce. But whatever you do, have them hold what they bill as whipped cream, the most unpleasant wax ever to coat the roof of a reviewer's mouth.