The culinary landscape of Texas is as rich and varied as the history of the Lone Star State itself. From hearty trail lunches to succulent barbecue and piquant Tex Mex, Texas has already contributed much to the national dining scene and continues to inspire culinary artists. Beneath the Dallas skyline made famous by the eponymous television drama, behind the neon façade of the Omni Dallas tucked into a corner of the blond stone and dark wood lobby, lies Texas Spice, a suitably urban answer to the farm-to-market set that is found across this agricultural powerhouse of a republic.
Both whimsical and comfortable in the straightforward style of the frontier, Texas Spice’s design is definitely, well, Dallas – an excellent space for a hearty pre-convention breakfast, a Big D power lunch, or an intimate dinner. We spoke with executive chef Jason Weaver and chef de cuisine Cory Garrison to learn more about the distinct cooking that is the outlet’s specialty.
We learned that, with the exception of seafood, meat, poultry and produce is acquired from within 200 miles of Texas Spice. Carbon footprint is in mind, and in conversation with Chef Garrison, it is apparent there is great pride in driving business to local farmers and ranchers for the freshest local ingredients that are hormone and steroid free. Beef (including whole Wagyu cows on occasion) is procured from Local Yocal in McKinney, Texas. Shares are also owned in several local farms to provide a steady stream of fresh produce which varies based on weekly harvests, but ranges from parsnip to peas; from beets to bok choi. Whole black hogs are acquired from Texas Daily Harvest and smoked in house to produce hams and juicy pork chops with superior flavor. Seafood is from the Gulf of Mexico when possible, and makes use of bycatch (less-desired yet still good seafood which is typically thrown overboard) in many menu items for sustainable sourcing.
Texas Spice, the chefs explained, seeks to recreate the fresh, hearty fare of a farmhouse kitchen accented with incredible spices and expert preparation and cooking. While the soul of a family meal meets the expertise of a professionally trained culinary team, the honest, no-frills sensibility of country cooking is the overseeing mindset. The quality ingredients are left to stand on their own merits, rather than being hid in terrines or casseroles or over dressed and over sauced. A hot grill or a well-wooded smoker are all that might be required on the farm, and the team at Texas Spice adds but a few urban touches to suit the upscale hotel clientele’s palates, striking a harmonious balance between the sparkle of Dallas and the conscience of Texas.
The menu is an adventure unto itself, and speaks volumes of the quality food that surrounds the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. House made summer sausage with local goat cheese, arugula, and pickled local beets is a particular triumph only to be topped by smoked pork chops, ham, natural rib eye with local sweet potato with cinnamon butter and mini-marshmallows (a particularly “homestyle” preparation) and simply succulent Gulf snapper with sweet, piquant jalapeno cornbread salad and poblano bacon glaze. Tangy local bleu cheese is a particular standout, along with a stunning take on lettuce wraps where barbecue steak takes the leading role, supported by goat cheese, caramelized onions and cabbage slaw.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the evening, however, most embodying the quest to merge the schools of rural and urban culinary technique is the trio of deviled eggs. Long the humble church picnic standby (popular in Texas, but by no means native) deviled eggs are elegantly reimagined at Texas Spice with accessories such as smoked salmon with salmon roe and capers or pickled neon pink with pork belly; even a plain traditional deviled egg that stands proud by itself, perhaps staking a claim once and for all that this homespun treat has become “legit” cuisine.
The Takeaway: The same care and dedication shown by the farmhouse cook is readily apparent in the kitchens here; the ingredients local, fresh, and expertly sourced, and the atmosphere chic, yet steeped in Lone Star friendliness. Texas Spice imparts flavors at once precious and accessible; exotic and familiar; rustic and refined. Open seven days. Breakfast 6 – 10:30. Lunch 11:30 – 2. Dinner 5 – 10. Valet and validated self-parking available. Full bar. Pizzas and small plates available. Mains $19 – $33. Reservations suggested. 214-652-4810
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