Paging Dr. Weil
Days before its November 19 opening in Dallas' Preston Center, True Food Kitchen — the "healthy" concept from Arizona-based Fox Restaurant Concepts — hosted a giant media cattle call to preview its menu of au courant foodie trends.
With a menu devised by author Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen follows the anti-inflammatory diet, dubbed "Hollywood's new favorite eating plan." It asserts that saturated fats and refined sugar make your body release chemicals that cause inflammation, which purportedly leads to illness, including heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
The menu accommodates all your special-interest eating tribes including celiacs, Paleoliths, vegetarians and vegans. It also serves as an amusing one-stop for all of the restaurant world's trendiest ingredients and buzzwords. Culled from the menu and press materials:
grass-fed, sustainably raised, organic, season's best, fresh, natural, nutritionally dense, sea buckthorn, kale, Anasazi beans, quinoa, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, vitamin- and antioxidant-rich, bio-dynamic, umami, juice, smoothie, kale, eco-friendly, compostable take-out packaging, renewable, recycled plastic soda bottles
Fox had previously announced that it would open a True Food Kitchen in Austin — but that was before its arch-rival Seasons 52 settled here first, with two branches, in Plano and at NorthPark Center. This marks the seventh in the chain, following locations in Arizona, California and Colorado.
It's in the old Corner Bakery (which moved a few doors down), and it's a bright, attractive space with an open kitchen, a citrus-y color scheme, decorative produce displays, butcher-block wood and lime-green leather banquettes; the vegan nod extends to the menu, not the furniture. None of the staffers seemed to be over 25 and sported many piercings, including "gaged" ears.
Servers all mechanically hyped the onion-and-fig tart appetizer and the squash pie, which is funny-ironic because most canned pumpkin is actually butternut squash. Big sellers include the bison burger with kale salad and the panang curry, which held a broccoli spear or two and a dulling quantity of tofu.
An unwieldy veggie burger called the "inside out quinoa burger" dispensed with the bun: Two cumin-spiced quinoa patties served as the top and bottom, enclosing a filling of lettuce, tomato, red onion, hummus and feta cheese — an impossibly tall stack requiring fork and knife.
The margarita had ginger and agave, and the beer selection included an organic acai berry wheat ale from Eel River Brewing. The meal was gratis but checks were dropped at the table, likely to make sure the servers got tipped. (Sure hope they weren't holding their breath for the journalism tightwads.)
Two drinks; one "autumnal salad" with squash, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower; two entrees; and one flourless chocolate cake added up to $61, plus tip.
News You Can Eat
Autumn is here. Actually, it feels more like winter is here. The change in season means restaurants have introduced new menus, from chef-driven spots in Oak Cliff to national chains with budget diners in mind.
Driftwood, the chichi seafood spot in Oak Cliff, has a new fall menu featuring smoked ocean trout with green apple gel, spaghetti alla chitarra with pesto and Parmesan. Salads such as romaine with Medjool dates and pine nuts sound sweet. Desserts include lemongrass pot de creme with white chocolate macaron and sweet potato ice cream.
Fogo de Chão has two new seasonal salads to highlight its 30-plus-item salad bar. Orange and kale salad has kale mixed with mild red onion, lightly laced with citrus dressing and topped with orange sections. Roasted beet and butternut squash salad has cubed roasted red beets and butternut squash, feta cheese crumbles and toasted pumpkin seeds tossed in a tangy garlic, lime and rosemary herb salad dressing.
Sundown at Granada has some new items such as a sushi roll, fish tacos and mole chicken tower. Sundown's strict, non-GMO stance has inspired a substitution of its only GMO item: French fries. From now on, the restaurant will offer fried falafel as an alternative to fries.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill has budget diners in mind with its new four-course, Italian trattoria-inspired tasting menu for only $15, served through January 5, 2014. It starts with ravioli and Caesar salad, followed by choice of spaghetti with tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil, or fettuccine Alfredo with creamy Parmesan sauce. The fourth course features any two of Macaroni Grill’s spiedini, grilled skewers of sausage, chicken, steak or shrimp topped with verde sauce. (Steak or shrimp costs a wee bit more.)
Mimi’s Cafe, which has branches in Arlington, Allen and Grapevine, has a new commitment to authentic French classic dishes. That includes croissants baked in-house daily, bouillabaisse, salmon Nicoise, coq au vin, mussels and brioche croque madame. Mimi's Cafe was recently acquired by Le Duff America Inc, a subsidiary of the Rennes, France-based Groupe Le Duff.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf brings back favorite holiday drinks including winter dream tea latte and red velvet hot cocoa. Tea lattes are made in much the same way as an espresso latte, but with rooibus and black tea leaves in place of the espresso.
Crisp Salad Company opens December 4 at 2020 Greenville Ave. At long last, you can build your own salad or go for a Cobb or kale. Crisp also offer soups, artisan bread, gluten-free bread, and mini cupcakes and yogurt parfaits.
The former Private Social space has a new restaurant coming called Barter. Consulting on the menu and restaurant is Fort Worth chef Tim Love. Already gone is the distinctive metal "curtain" that separated the dining room from the bar, to be replaced by a more rustic wooden divider and cork floors throughout. The restaurant is forecast to open around Thanksgiving.
Chef Tim Byres and his Smoke partners Christopher Jeffers and Christopher Zielke took over the Oak Cliff spot that was Outpost American Tavern and before that Campo Bistro. The new concept will debut in a couple of weeks.
Unrefined Bakery will open a third branch on Greenville Avenue, in the space that was previously Society Bakery, which is moving into a bigger space a few doors down. Unrefined has locations in Lakewood and Frisco and is known for gluten-free, soy-free and organic baked treats.
Speaking of Greenville Avenue, Dude, Sweet Chocolate opened a small storefront at 1925 Greenville Ave. It'll be open every day from 11 am to 6 pm, and on weekend nights until 11 pm.
Taking over the defunct Wicked Po' Boys spot in Preston Center is Miss Chi Vietnamese, a new restaurant from Wicked owners Joey and Chi Le, who also own Tanoshii Ramen in Deep Ellum. Wicked was only open a few months before it closed in August. Time waits for no one.
Speaking of new restaurants, these have opened in the past two weeks:
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Weekend Event Planner
As we inch closer to the big holiday of the season, there are plenty of events taking place, but fewer and fewer new ones. This weekend around Dallas will feature a trio of concerts, a national tour of Broadway musical, a holiday festival, versions of both A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, and a visit from a Food Network star.
Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events. Looking for the best Christmas lights in town? That list is here.
Thursday, December 8
Punch Brothers and Béla Fleck: My Bluegrass Heart
Two mainstays in the bluegrass music genre, the Punch Brothers and Béla Fleck, will team up for this special concert. Punch Brothers have been at the top of the bluegrass charts since their debut in 2008, which each of their eight albums or EPs landing at No. 1 or 2. Fleck has boldly gone where no banjo player has gone before, a musical journey that has earned him 15 Grammys in nine different genres. My Bluegrass Heart is his first bluegrass tour in 24 years. They'll play at Majestic Theatre.
Broadway Dallas presents Six
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix 50 years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power. The national tour of the Broadway musical Six runs through December 25 at Winspear Opera House.
Friday, December 9
Old City Park presents 50th Annual Candlelight
Old City Park will present its 50th Candlelight, the longest running holiday event in Texas. There will be over 13 acres of decorated buildings, strolling carolers, craft vendors, food trucks, and crafts for kids on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend kicks off with Cocktails by Candlelight on Friday. At the 21+ event, guests can enjoy drinks at the park while they see a sneak peek of Candlelight. There will be vendors, Victorian Carolers, drinks, snacks, music, and more.
Company of Rowlett Performers presents A Christmas Carol
Company of Rowlett Performers will present their version of A Christmas Carol, which recounts the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The production runs through December 17 at Plaza Theater in Garland.
Avant Chamber Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Avant Chamber Ballet will present its production of Paul Mejia’s The Nutcracker with live orchestra. The production features Tchaikovsky’s timeless score conducted by Brad Cawyer, ACB’s professional dancers, bright young stars chosen from schools across Dallas, unique sets and costumes, and the Arts District decked out with the season’s best. There will be five performances through Sunday at Moody Performance Hall.
Zoé in concert
Mexican rock band Zoé has made waves in both their native country and the United States over the past 20 years. Since 2001, they've released seven albums - most recently 2021's Sonidos de Karmática Resonancia - with three of them being nominated for Best Latin Rock Album at the Grammys, nabbing one award. They'll play at the Music Hall at Fair Park.
Saturday, December 10
Alton Brown Live: Beyond The Eats – The Holiday Variant
Television personality, author, and Food Network and Netflix star Alton Brown comes to Dallas as part of his Alton Brown Live: Beyond The Eats – The Holiday Variant tour. His latest production mixes together science, music, food, and festive fun into two hours of pure entertainment. The event will be at the Music Hall at Fair Park.
Kings Return in concert
Kings Return is a vocal band of brothers made up of Gabe Kunda, Vaughn Faison, J.E. McKissic, and Jamall Williams. At this concert at Lewisville Grand Theater, they'll perform fan favorites, alongside tracks from their Merry Little Christmas EP and their debut album, Rove. They will also be sharing stories behind their favorite Christmas songs.
A small fast-casual Dallas burger chain is about to get a little bigger: Haystack Burgers & Barley is opening a location in Dallas' Preston Forest Shopping Center, at 11700 Preston Rd #732. They're going into what was previously an art gallery, and according to a release will open December 12.
Haystack is from husband-and-wife Kevin and Jenny Galvan, who launched the concept in 2013. Jenny has a sales and marketing background which complements Kevin’s food and beverage expertise. He's the fourth generation in his family to own and operate restaurants, and has worked for Houston’s and Pei Wei.
This marks the fifth Haystack, joining locations in Richardson, Lakewood, Hillcrest Village, and Frisco. Even though they're a chain, Kevin says in a statement that they love being a part of the local community and make each location unique to the neighborhood.
The menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and milkshakes.
Starters include fried pickles, fried mozzarella, chicken stuffed jalapeños, and chips with salsa, queso, and guacamole. The stuffed jalapeños and queso are third-generation recipes from Kevin’s family.
Burgers come topped with ingredients such as bacon, haystack onions, cheddar cheese, barbeque sauce, American cheese, 1000 island dressing, jalapeño escabeche, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and, in the case of the Chicken Fried Burger, jalapeño-bacon cream gravy.
Other sandwiches include a Reuben, grilled cheese, chicken sandwich with Swiss cheese, and a hot dog on a challah bun topped with chili, cheddar, relish, and haystack onions.
On the "barley" side are a dozen beers on tap featuring rotating local DFW beers. Exclusive to the Preston Hollow location will be four wines on tap, 2 reds and 2 whites. Their signature cocktail is a frozen drink with Maker’s Mark, orange juice, lemonade, and tea.
The location has seating for 99 inside plus a 500-square-foot patio with seating for 44.
“Kevin and I do all of the design work ourselves and it is one of our favorite parts of owning Haystack," Jenny says. "We make sure each location has a unique design that fits the personality of the neighborhood.”
A Dallas-Fort Worth musician and club owner has died: Jess Barr, who was a member of seminal alt-country rock band Slobberbone, passed away on the night of December 5; he was 46. Friends of the family said he suffered from a heart condition.
A native of Pensacola who also lived in West Texas and New Jersey, Barr was guitarist for Slobberbone during its heyday, when the quartet put its hometown Denton on the map and created a vibrant local scene at bars like the Barley House. He also played with a Slobberbone offshoot band, The Drams.
Slobberbone helped coalesce the rising alt-country genre of the '90s, touring with acts like Son Volt, Drive By Truckers, and even pop acts like Cheap Trick, performing to rapt audiences both nationally and abroad.
Barr joined Slobberbone following the 1997 release of their second album, Barrel Chested.
“Jess had a full-ride scholarship in Austin, but he quit to join us,” recalled singer Brent Best.
His tagline was "Jessie Barr on the shiny gold guitar" — referring to his signature Les Paul.
In 2014, he left the band with the blessing of Best and band mates Brian Lane and Tony Harper, who lauded him for the contributions he'd made on albums like Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today ("especially the solo he did on 'Josephine'," they said).
When he left, fans fretted that whoever replaced him might not follow his patented stance of pointing his finger in the air. "Will the new guy do that point thing Jess does?" one asked.
In 2013, he opened Twilite Lounge, a bar in Deep Ellum, with partner Danny Balis, then opened a spinoff in Fort Worth in 2017. Both earned best bar awards and provided a platform for local musicians — another of his legacies, says Jimmy Morton, his partner at the Fort Worth location.
"Helping local bands is one thing that Jess, Danny, and I all championed," Morton says.
As a tribute to his passing, Twilight Lounge closed both locations on December 6.
"We closed both Twilite Lounge Dallas and Fort Worth, to honor him and allow his family, and our own, an opportunity to grieve," Morton says. "We turned our lights off and went dark."
Morton, whose friendship with Barr goes back more than 20 years to the Barley House days, says that Barr was celebrated not only as a skilled guitarist and banjo player but also for his personable, down-to-earth disposition.
One friend called him "one of a kind — nicest guy you could meet who would always remember where the conversation left off." Another said, "Jess always had the warmest smile and quickest wit. And he could solo like a badass."
"He was a super low-key guy," Morton says. "We would always joke that when he got on stage, he would turn into 'rock star Jess'," he says.
Barr is survived by his wife Ashley, son Liam, and sister Amy. Services are still to be announced.