Although it seems like new restaurants open almost daily in Deep Ellum, it's safe to say that few pack the punch of On The Lamb, opening this spring in a brick storefront at 2614 Elm St.
On the Lamb is a neighborhood brasserie, but what makes it dazzle is the team behind it: restaurateur Anton Uys and chef Ross Demers, a fine-dining veteran most recently at Oak Dallas.
Uys has owned bars in Atlanta and Dallas, which is how he and Demers met.
"He used to own a wine bar on the corner of Monticello and McKinney Avenue that I frequented," says Demers. "We began talking as soon as I left Oak. We were just having drinks; I didn't even mention that I'd left Oak. I wasn't trying to jump into anything."
Uys' original idea was a charcuterie bar. "Anton has a butchery background, he's really into that, and he's purchased some amazing equipment," Demers says. "To do it properly, you have to have a charcuterie closet."
Uys is a native of South Africa, so they'll be doing the charcuterie with a South African twang, Demers says.
"We're doing an item called biltong, which is like an air-dried beef," he says. "We're going to be big on jerky, with different kinds set out on the bar in big candy jars."
Demers, whose resume includes The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Mi Piaci, The Commissary, and Ocho Kitchen + Cocktails, has grand capabilities. That said, they're going to try and keep it small.
"We're talking like a nine-item menu and we'll just cook what's right, what we feel like cooking," Demers says.
He describes the place as a "cool little 40-seat spot" with an open kitchen, a massive black walnut bar, a 1920s ceiling, and rustic cement flooring.
"We'll have butcher block tables, it's important that it's not pretentious," he says. "It's almost more of a bar with elevated food."
The menu will be ever-revolving, but Demers says he can see a dish such as house-made pappardelle with lamb neck. "My brain is loaded with ideas," he says. "I'm sure we'll have an opening menu but it will change."
The combination of small but personal, with chef-driven food, in a cool old building is exactly what Demers needs right now, and he says he hasn't been this excited about a project in a while. "I want to bring it back to real food that means something to you," he says.