Downtown Dining

Downtown hotel lures lauded chef back to Dallas to man Southern restaurant

Downtown hotel lures lauded chef back to Dallas to man new restaurant

Chef Chad Starling
Chef Chad Starling returns to Dallas for a new restaurant opening downtown. Photo courtesy of Chad Starling

Downtown Dallas is in line to get another new hotel restaurant, this one from a lauded chef.

The restaurant is called Grayson Social, and it will open in the Hilton Garden Inn, at 1600 Pacific Ave. Returning to run the show is chef Chad Starling, who comes back to Dallas after a stint in Colorado. Opening date is penciled in for mid-August.

A hotel staffer confirmed it would be open "in about three weeks."

Starling moved to Colorado in 2015 to work at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, the famed resort in the Rocky Mountains. But family reasons served as good motivation to reconsider Dallas.

"My fiancee didn't like the town," Starling says. "It was super small, and she's a city girl. Too bad, because it was so beautiful there. And working at the Stanley was a really good job. But family comes first, and I left to open this place."

Starling earned praise during his tenure in Dallas as executive chef at Saint Ann's, sous chef at Bolsa, and executive chef at Dallas Chop House. He's also worked at restaurants in other big cities, such as Tru and Le Lan in Chicago. He also has hotel restaurant experience, having worked at Aria at the Fairmount Hotel in Chicago.

His return to Dallas was sweetened by the fact that this is a big project. "I got this great opportunity to open this new restaurant in Dallas, so here I am," he says.

The Hilton is a Garden Inn, which took over the skyscraper most recently known as 1600 Pacific Tower; it opened last year.

As a hotel restaurant, Grayson Social will be open for all three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Starling, who's currently in the process of devising the menu, already has a shorthand for what it will be.

"I'm doing upscale Southern — kind of Sean Brock-style at Husk," he says, referring to the restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, called the "mecca for modern Southern cuisine" and noted for dishes such as ham and biscuits and fried catfish.

He's hiring staff now, and he had a hand in naming the place. "My son's name is Grayson, so the restaurant is named Grayson Social," he says.