A cool new restaurant that has piqued the interest of its East Dallas neighborhood is ready to throw open the doors. Called Local Traveler, it's an upscale-casual restaurant serving dinner seven nights a week, that'll be both bicycle-friendly and chef-driven.
The restaurant is located at 7522 E. Grand Ave., at the high-profile intersection of Gaston and Grand, next door to The Lot — with whom it shares ownership.
It'll open quietly on June 7, with a reservations-only policy which they'll eliminate, once they've survived the opening hump. In mid-June, they'll add weekend brunch on Saturday-Sunday, and also be open for lunch on Fridays.
The team includes name-brand chef Ross Demers, who last wowed as the chef at On the Lamb, a restaurant in Deep Ellum that closed in December. He's joined by managers Joseph Waite and Tracey Toler, and bar manager Carrie Darnell.
At Local Traveler, Demers will do the local, creative cuisine for which he is known, but on a larger scale, in an environment that's upbeat and fun.
"It'll be Ross Demers food, with awesome cocktails and a great wine list that has lots of Spanish wines," Ross Demers says. "It's going to be a mellow spot, really fun."
He says it'll be "a little less serious" than things he's done in the past, but with the composed dishes for which he is known.
"It'll be seasonal cooking," he says. "I'm using a smoker — I'm doing some smoked pig cakes, like crab cakes, but using pickled pigs feet. We're also going to make cool pizza, with a thin and crispy crust."
One of the dishes he's doing for summer are grilled Santa Barbara prawns with aguachile.
"It's almost a salsa verde," he says. "It has mint, cucumber, and jalapeno blended into this green puree over avocados, radishes, and cucumber. And I like this other dish, trout and toast, where it's cured smoked trout, whipped with creme fraiche and herbs and served with buttered Texas toast."
The restaurant's logo includes a bicycle front and center. One of the owners is an avid bicyclist, Demers says.
"We back right up to the Santa Fe Trail and we're going to have huge patio in the back," he says.
But unlike The Lot, which is very kid-friendly with a sandpit on-site, Local Traveler will be more focused on an adult crowd.
"This won't be the same as The Lot in terms of audience," Demers says. "This will not be a sandbox restaurant."
Demers has a fine-dining background that includes Oak Dallas and Mi Piaci, the Italian restaurant in Addison, now-closed. On the Lamb was going to be his tour de force, but it closed after less than a year.
"That was my baby, getting through that was like hours of counseling," Demers says. "But this is a much bigger restaurant. I have a great group of guys with me in the kitchen. We're going to take the training wheels off and just do bad-ass cooking."