Oak Cliff News

Acclaimed Dallas chef opens promising new Cajun restaurant in Oak Cliff

Acclaimed Dallas chef opens promising Cajun restaurant in Oak Cliff

The Gumbo Diner
There will be gumbo. Galveston CVB

An acclaimed chef and veteran of the Bishop Arts dining scene is opening a new restaurant. Called Restaurant Beatrice, it's from Michelle Carpenter, owner of the award-winning sushi restaurant Zen Sushi in Bishop Arts, and will open at 1111 N. Beckley Rd., IE the former Jonathon's Oak Cliff space.

According to a release, it's projected to open in March.

Carpenter hopes that Restaurant Beatrice will introduce what she calls the new face of contemporary Cajun cuisine to Texas. Born to a Cajun father and a Japanese mother, she's paying homage to her Cajun family traditions, rooted in Louisiana's deep "gumbo" of cultures, cuisines, histories, and peoples.

Pronounced "bee-AT-russ," the restaurant is named after Carpenter's "Mammaw" or grandmother, Beatrice, and features contemporary classics in a setting that embraces Louisiana hospitality and the Oak Cliff spirit of inclusiveness.

"Everyone knows that special feeling we get seeing the big blue highway sign as we cross the Texas border into swamp country — 'Bienvenue en Louisiane,'" Carpenter says in a statement. "That welcoming embrace is unique to where I spent a large part of my childhood, and that's the experience I want my customers to have.  I dedicated three decades of my career to Tokyo-style sushi, and I've seen how sophisticated diners feel intimidated by Japanese cuisine. Refined and delicious foods shouldn't include gatekeeping."

The restaurant's mission is that "Everyone. Is. Welcome." Its leadership includes consulting Executive Chef Terance Jenkins, a New Orleans native who began his career nearly 20 years ago making gumbo at Commander’s Palace, and who worked his way up the ranks to head kitchens at Screen Door, Cedars Social, and Amberjack's in Dallas.

General manager is Tina Bentley, a service industry veteran with extensive seafood knowledge and fine dining management experience.

Carpenter and Jenkins conceptualized a menu that includes:

  • duck and housemade andouille gumbo made with smoked aromatics
  • Mammaw’s fried chicken with pepper jelly
  • a vegan interpretation of the late, great Leah Chase’s Green Gumbo made with an assortment of leafy greens in an earthy base

The menu will also find use for ingredients that restaurant kitchens traditionally undervalue.

There'll also be a full bar and mixology program along with fun seafood boils on the patio, to promote the spirit of communal eating.

Carpenter began her career in Dallas at Mr. Sushi in Addison, then went to Yamaguchi's in the Park Cities, considered the pre-eminent sushi bar in Dallas, where she was eventually promoted to Executive Chef under Master Itamae Yama-San.

She opened Zen Sushi in 2007, joining the Bishop Arts neighborhood well before it became the hipster zone it is today; she was also the first to offer vegan sushi, at least a decade before vegan became the major trend.

Restaurant Beatrice will also honor "Mammaw's" philosophy towards all ingredients with special attention to minimizing food waste. Leadership and staff are collectively working towards implementing measurable operational practices that reflect sustainability concerns.

According to the release, Beatrice Carpenter was also a homesteader, and the restaurant will sell "Aunt Bea's Pantry Staples" including house-made pickles, jams, and rubs, steeped in tradition, hospitality, and the cultural magic of Louisiana.

In alignment with its mission, the BIPOC- and woman-led restaurant is operating as a public benefit corporation. As the service industry is classified as having a large environmental footprint, the restaurant aspires to help pioneer ways to consciously merge business practices with a connection to the community.  Carpenter has partnered with a local farmer for a selection of ingredients, and to experience heirloom-recipes, scratch-made Cajun food in a space where everyone knows they belong.