Riding the Handlebars

Shakeup in FT33 kitchen leads this edition of Dallas restaurant news

Shakeup in FT33 kitchen and other juicy restaurant news

Sliced brisket at FM Smoke House in Irving
Photo courtesy of FM Smoke House
The Greek restaurant at One Arts Plaza in Dallas
Photo courtesy of The Greek
Josh Valentine and Matt McCallister at FT33
Photo by Kevin Marple
Sliced brisket at FM Smoke House in Irving
The Greek restaurant at One Arts Plaza in Dallas
Josh Valentine and Matt McCallister at FT33

No question, the biggest dining news of March was the announcement of those monstrosities at the Ballpark in Arlington. Everything pales by comparison. But maybe you'll find some edible morsels in our roundup below.

Chef carousel
The second-biggest news has to be the chef comings-and-goings at FT33. Top Chef contestant and so-called pastry chef Josh Valentine has left to return to his home state, Oklahoma. Nancy points out that she never saw him actually doing pastry. Remember, he was identified on Top Chef as being from Oklahoma; it's enough to make you wonder if this was the design all along.

We'll miss the suspense of wondering what foreign objects might be dripping from his handlebar mustache into our molecularized meal at FT33, but all good things must come to an end. Meanwhile, FT33 has a new chef de cuisine: Bradford Hodgkins, who worked with McCallister at Stephan Pyles. Hodgkins replaces Brady Williams, who ignored our emails asking why why why.

New deals
The owners of Bowl & Barrel, Sunset Lounge and The Rustic will open a burger stand in Uptown called Mutts. In addition to burgers, expect hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, beer and wine, coffee, breakfast tacos, bagels, and pastries. It's located on the prized property that was the old Hank Haney practice golf range, and it sits next to a private dog park "where monthly memberships or one-time day passes will be available for purchase."

Wow. A dog park that charges? If you don't have a dog, you don't have to pay cover to eat at Mutts. Such a deal.

Chiladas, a fast-casual Tex-Mex chain-in-the-making, will open a branch this spring in the old Mango Thai space on Lovers Lane in the Park Cities. The menu includes enchiladas, green chile rice with "hand-sliced roasted poblano peppers," and onions pickled in house. Hand-slicing your peppers — is that something to be excited about? Chiladas is owned by Williamson Family Investments, which also operates regional chain TaMolly’s and intends to open five more Chiladas around Dallas by 2014.

Estilo Gaúcho is a Brazilian steakhouse that just opened at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco. The release says that it's the only local Brazilian steakhouse owned and operated by Brazilians, namely brothers-in-law David Jeiel and Alex Nunes, who previously ran several other Brazilian steakhouses. They serve 15 meats, 40 sides and vegetables on the salad bar, and more than 1,300 wines.

A branch of Kona Grill will open at the West Seventh development in Fort Worth later this year. Kona Grill is a corporate restaurant chain based in Scottsdale, Arizona, with about two dozen branches across the U.S. It is described as a "professional, profitable, guest-oriented business," which sounds delicious. There are five branches in Texas; the only one in Dallas is at NorthPark. A branch in Sugarland was shut down in 2011 for "underperforming."

Victoria's Mexican Grill is a new Tex-Mex joint that opened in March in a two-story house at 607 N. Willomet Ave. in Oak Cliff.

Opening April 8 in West Plano is Newk's Eatery, a chain concept from the founders of McAlister's Deli, featuring sandwiches, salads, and pizza with Cali-style toppings such as BBQ chicken and spicy shrimp. It's opening near Parker Road and the Dallas North Tollway.

Menu mania
Seasons 52 launched its spring menu with lots of strawberries, peas and asparagus, available through mid-June. Highlights include spring peas with shiitakes; asparagus with tomato and caper salsa; and Arctic char togarashi over sushi-rice cakes with miso sauce, toasted sesame seeds and spring snow peas. There is tuna tartare; a new chicken flatbread; and a salad with tomato, avocado and arugula.

La Madeleine has a new spring menu in operation until June 4. It includes mini croques; a fresh field green salade (French for salad) with cranberries, pecans and chicken; and a citrus cake. Mini croque trio comes with three "French-inspired" mini croques: chicken pesto; turkey, bacon and tomato pesto; and a traditional croque monsieur with ham and Swiss cheese. Orange dream cake is a vanilla cream cake filled with orange cream, topped with vanilla icing and toasted almonds.

The Greek at One Arts Plaza unveiled eight new cocktails created by mixologist and Greek-American Jason Kosmas. The eight cocktails have clever names such as The Onassis, Olympic Cup and Greek Goddess. The Greek is also launching a happy hour Tuesday-Friday, 4 to 6 pm (hmm, kind of early), with wine by the glass for $5 and free flatbread.

Whataburger has a new Monterey Melt burger, available for a limited time, with two beef patties, Monterey Jack and American cheeses, grilled onions and peppers, and a new jalapeño ranch sauce. It can be ordered in a junior version on a smaller bun.