One of Dallas' top coffee experts is opening a new joint in Oak Cliff that'll come with coffee and a whole lot more. Called La Reunion, it'll be located at 229 N. Bishop Ave. and is set to open within the next few weeks.
La Reunion is from Mike Mettendorf, who owns State Street Coffee in Uptown Dallas. A coffee consultant and competitor in national barista contests, he's played a key role in helping to launch local shops such as Ascension Coffee and Pearl Cup. General Manager and Director of Coffee is Ali Aberrahman, the No. 1 Barista in Texas at the U.S. Barista Champs for 2019.
La Reunion is their next-level concept that combines coffee, food, drink, and neighborhood drop-in.
"We have coffee, but we're not a coffee shop," Mettendorf says. "We have wine, but we're not a wine shop. Cocktails, but we're not a bar. We have a kitchen, but we're not a restaurant."
"We're more like a neighborhood parlor, where you can get coffee and a snack for under $10, or a glass of wine and a plate of shared food for $15," he says. "We want to be that cozy spot that solves a lot of needs for people, whether they're having a meeting or on a date."
He hopes to offer an experience for Bishop Arts visitors, but also serve as a functional day-by-day destination for locals.
"There's so many new residences in that neighborhood, and I feel like those people need a watering hole, a place to hang out," he says. "I designed the space for people to stay: Gratuitous outlets, cozy seating, and wicked fast wi-fi."
He also wanted to take his coffee pedigree and expand it to other realms.
"I believe that a barista is no less a culinary professional than a chef or a bartender," he says. "My baristas and are I passionate food people and we're passionate about spirits and wine. I didn't want this to be a coffee shop with food and booze as an afterthought."
He and chef Matt Smith are still finalizing the menu, but it definitely won't be muffins and bagels.
"We'll have a straightforward, approachable food menu," he says. "Everything is small plates, and most will be under $10."
That includes a few breakfast options and an "over-the-top charcuterie board."
"Part of our deal is that we're going to have some crossover with Tribal Cafe, which is right next door," Mettendorf says. "They're awesome neighbors, and they've cultivated a big following. We'll have an open-door policy where you can bring in something you've ordered there."
They've installed an advanced tap system for beer in which each tap has its own pressure profile and can be poured at the exact pressure the brewer recommends. Beer nerd stuff.
"You see this in growler bars but it's something that will take our beer service to the next level," he says.
They'll have about a dozen wines by the glass and up to 100 bottle offerings, and their cocktails will be classic, not gimmicky, with fresh juices, made from scratch.
All of that said, the coffee program will be "outrageous," he says, with beans roasted inches from where they're brewed, and a cutting-edge espresso machine setup by ModBar — a sister/spinoff to famed La Marzocco, wherein the espresso machine itself is hidden under the counter, so that the only thing you see is the portafilter from which your espresso flows, mounted like a faucet.
La Reunion, which has been in the works for five years, is named for the area's deep, rich history.
"La Reunion were among the first European settlers in what is now Oak Cliff," Mettendorf says. "The primarily French, Swiss, and Belgian transients included many prominent characters in Dallas' history and left a significant cultural impact on modern Dallas. For example, we share the namesake with Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas."
"Like those settlers, we've come to Oak Cliff and Bishop Arts in pursuit of a new and better way of doing things, as well as to leave our cultural and culinary mark," he says.