Hope it cuts the mustard
Klyde Warren Park, the 5-acre deck park about to open over Woodall Rogers Freeway in downtown Dallas, has revealed its new restaurant and chef. John Coleman, most recently executive chef and director of food and beverage for the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, will helm the restaurant called Savor and Relish.
Actually, it's a two-pronged concept. Savor will be a gastropub; Relish will be a companion kiosk offering quick food for outdoor snacking. For the park's grand opening, Relish will debut as a food truck until the full restaurant and permanent kiosk open in mid-2013. In fact, the Relish food truck has its own little Facebook page.
Savor's menu will include shared plates such as baked ricotta with flatbread and fried calamari with green curry dipping sauce. The burger program is unusual, to say the least. Concerned about toppings falling out of the bun, Coleman's approach is to mix the toppings — corn chow chow and pepper Jack with tarragon mayo, for example — into the patty before grilling. Another burger has bacon, onions and Swiss cheese with mustard.
The restaurant will have a bar with a wall of beer, wine kegs and custom mixology program.
Savor and Relish will be the main restaurant at the park, but restaurateur Shannon Wynne (Flying Saucer, Meddlesome Moth) has announced that he'll open a restaurant across the street.
Coleman has been at the Ritz in Uptown since 2007, but he's worked for Ritz-Carlton for 23 years and has opened locations for the luxury hotel chain worldwide. Mark Banta, president of Klyde Warren Park, says that Coleman will help bring three key ingredients to the park: a sit-down restaurant; patio and bar; and kiosk with quick, cheap food.
Coleman says that the pub concept is a "great alignment" with the mission of the park.
"When you think about what that park is trying to do — to create a social center for that area — a pub is something that makes sense," he says. "If you think about a pub in Ireland or England, it's a place for the community to gather, where people go out to have a social experience. The 'gastro' is making sure we have chef-driven food that’s exceptional, that we have a wine program that makes sense, a mixology program that's great. And do it in a way that’s affordable to everyone."
So a pub. Fish and chips, right?
"Of course we’re looking at doing a fish and chips, but to talk about one specific dish is difficult," he says. "More important is the authenticity in how you prepare the dishes. A hummus the right way, with the right dried chickpeas. There is technique in everything that you do that makes a simple product go from good to amazing. I like to keep it simple."
Coleman says that leaving Ritz-Carlton was hard but this was a chance of a lifetime.
"This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that can really cement you into a community," he says. "Part of it is about putting down roots. I've got three daughters. It's kind of nice to be able to go to a soccer game. We want to have a place to call home."
Architect Thomas Phifer designed the restaurant pavilion and the performance pavilion. Bill Johnson of the Johnson Studios in Atlanta is designing the restaurant’s interior.
Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation board member John Muse has partnered with Coleman to provide financial backing for the restaurant. Because the park will be privately operated and managed by the foundation, the restaurant relationship is a key element in the plan to fund park programming and operations. As part of the agreement, Coleman will also provide special event catering and concessions for events in the park.