Gas Monkey chef marches on Fort Worth with comfort food and patio pleasures
A new restaurant called Common Ground brings a nifty option to the TCU area of Fort Worth, with two solid-gold assets: a patio with a fireplace and an upscale American menu by savvy chef David Hollister. The restaurant opens on the ground floor of the new University House residential building on November 12.
Hollister is a Fort Worth native and former sous chef for Grady Spears with plenty of irons in the fire. In September, he opened Dagwood's Grinders & Growlers, a sandwich and growler shop near Ridgmar Mall. Along with "monster" sandwiches such as beef belly, balsamic-onion jam, and Gouda cheese on marbled rye, it has 24 beers on tap and offers a valuable depot for people to fill their growlers with beer to go.
November 10 was the soft opening for Dagwoods Fire Grill Tap, in the former Bottlecap Alley space in Fort Worth's West Seventh District. At this Dagwoods, there is a broader menu along with specialty cocktails and Texas craft beer. The menu includes barbecue, steak, and seafood, with inventive dishes such as quail legs with waffles and Dr Pepper syrup.
And when he's not busy with all of that, he works at Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill in Dallas. "I've been doing that for the last couple of years," he says. "They've been very good about letting me do my own thing."
Hollister and partner Chris Hutchinson came out of the bar scene, having co-owned a couple of bars in Fort Worth, including the Stone Canyon (where Filthy McNasty's is now). But Hollister spotted early on that the bar and restaurant world was beginning to blend and got his credentials at Le Cordon Bleu.
"It's gotten that you can't open a bar without food," he says.
Common Ground is a next step from Dagwood's. "Dagwood's was conceived as a 'backyard and comfort food' place," Hollister says. "At Common Ground, we're doing American fare with a modern twist."
There is roast beef, shrimp and grits, and pork chops. There is whiskey cake with cognac cream sauce. But no matter what he's doing, his goal is to offer high-end food at affordable prices. At Dagwood's Grinder, a turkey sandwich comes on sourdough bread with arugula and Nueskes bacon.
"I do not like iceberg lettuce at all," he says. "I go with romaine, and even on my BLTs, I use arugula instead of iceberg. I gravitate toward high-end ingredients, where people can try it without thinking it's fine dining or gourmet. It's just about good food and maybe getting people to try something new."