The patio was furnished, the crew on its toes. Inside, couples and foursomes sat at marble-topped tables, the first on the block to try something new. A large, festive party sipped champagne and feasted: charcuterie plate, bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and burrata, veal sweetbreads, and roast chicken with French fries.
We had Texas wine by the glass — Fume Blanc by Becker Vineyards, a mixed red by Pedernales — and snacked on house-made pain d'epi, or wheat-stalk bread, served with a basil-flavored butter.
We tried two salads: one was kale and farro (an ancient grain), with mint, cucumber and diced tomatoes; the other was cold lentils and shallots in vinaigrette. We dug into a bowl of mushroom ragu, with roasted mushrooms and breadcrumbs topped with a sunny-side fried egg. We split French fries, brown and crisp, served with sweet, mildly spicy ketchup that they make in-house.
We felt grateful that chef Jared Robinette had spent time at SPQR in San Francisco before biding his time at Saint Ann and that Harwood International owner Gabriel Barbier-Mueller crossed paths with restaurateur and Mercat general manager Stephan Courseau.
We appreciated the water — without ice or straws — with a bottle placed at the table so we could pour our own into French-made Duralex glasses. We took note of the shabby chic mix-and-match combination of plateware. We loved the atmospheric house music — sometimes with female vocals, sometimes not.
It felt like we were somewhere other than Dallas, and that's always a good thing.