Crossroads Diner: Tell Willie Brown to Come Running for Lunch

Crossroads Diner is located just off the corner of Walnut Hill Road and Central Expressway, which, in the world's compendium of crossroads, is a pretty prosaic intersection. People come here to catch the train, not negotiate with Satan.

But the new restaurant's name isn't just a geographic reference: Chef-owner Tom Fleming, whose lengthy resume includes Old Hickory, Pappas Bros. and Central 214, could have gone right on fussing with Kobe steaks and lobsters. He could have bided the years before retirement in glitzy kitchens, garnishing poached peahen eggs with white truffles for exacting guests who didn't dine until the stylish hour of 9 p.m.—long after his children had eaten, done their homework and gone to bed. But the prospect of missing out on parental chores didn't appeal to Fleming, so he veered left, striding down a path paved with smoked turkey frittatas and cinnamon sticky buns.

Crossroads Diner is what happens when a chef grows tired of fancy food and fancy people. Fleming isn't the first kitchen talent bent on reclaiming coffee-shop classics from value-driven chain restaurants: Almost every significant American city has a restaurant run by a white-tablecloth veteran who discovers that the way to challenge his short-order chops, return to his roots, celebrate local products, cook honest food or reconnect with his family involves bacon and eggs. Fortunately, many of these restaurants—Crossroads Diner included—are pretty good.

House-cured fish and meats
are Crossroads' ace in the hole.
Sara Kerens
House-cured fish and meats are Crossroads' ace in the hole.

Location Info

Map

Crossroads Diner

8121 Walnut Hill Lane
Dallas, TX 75231

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Northeast Dallas

Details

Crossroads Diner 8121 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 1100, 214-346-3491, www.crossroads-diner.com, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.,Tuesday-Sunday. $$
Chorizo frittata $8.75 Buttermilk pancakes $5.25 Sticky bun $4.25 Corned beef hash $7.75 Clam chowder $3.25 Egg salad sandwich $5.25 Burger $8.50

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Crossroads Diner is the sort of restaurant most anyone would be glad to have in the neighborhood. It's the ultimate office amenity: HR departments may twaddle on about company gyms and parking passes, but what workers really want is a nearby eatery where they can get a decent tuna fish sandwich at a reasonable price. And if the restaurant's so spacious that a crew of nine colleagues can show up unannounced and score a table without trouble—as is the case at the mostly décor-less, but pleasantly naturally lighted Crossroads Diner—that's even better. I'm too skeezed out by hospitals to check, but I'm guessing the break rooms in the medical buildings that surround Crossroads Diner aren't as lively as they were back before Fleming's $6.25 BLT was a practical alternative to packing a lunch.

Folks who live or work near Crossroads Diner have been flocking to the restaurant, and nothing I say could or should stop them. If Crossroads Diner were on my block, I wouldn't have just microwaved macaroni and cheese for lunch. But for those who can't give the daytime spot any points for convenience, a few food and service issues grate.

There are two soups on Crossroad Diner's lunch menu of salads, sandwiches and hot entrées. The one that never changes is a New England clam chowder, surprisingly spry for a cream-based soup. Perhaps one stroke of the pepper grinder away from being perfectly seasoned, the tangy soup's a bright, maritime charmer, seeded with patches of smoky bacon and diced celery. The potatoes are tender, and the clams are appropriately salty and meaty, sporting just a touch of reassuring grit. It's a terrific soup.

Crossroads Diner excels at dishes like the clam chowder, which can be made ahead of time or invested with the forethought that's a hallmark of serious dining. But Crossroads disappoints on the fly; the kitchen too often seems to balk when called upon to flex its grill skills. The cooks here may have flipped tens of thousands of eggs, but the cooks at Waffle House have flipped hundreds of thousands. And the difference shows. I didn't once have an egg dish at Crossroads Diner that a self-respecting grill guy at a greasy spoon would have served.

Eggs aren't easy. A bit of culinary folklore holds the folds in a chef's toque denote how many ways he knows how to prepare an egg; it's a safe bet there's nothing piddly about any achievement that's worth enshrining in a hat. In his classic New Yorker piece about Las Vegas' egg cooks, Burkhard Bilger spoke to a Flamingo Hotel employee who confided: "Egg cooks are worth their weight in gold in this town." A neuroscientist told him the best egg cooks' brains had sprouted dedicated circuits that told them exactly when to flip and plate.

So maybe it's unfair to expect Crossroads Diner to churn out eggs with the confidence of cooks who cater to 3,000 gamblers every morning, or the panache of Waffle House cooks who've mastered their art under the scrutiny of rowdy drunks and cursing truckers. But when eggs figure into so many breakfast dishes that the menu's short cereal section is found under the heading "Other Than Eggs," it's a letdown when the eggs are so consistently wayward.

An over-easy egg was rubbery, its white and yolk indistinct on the tongue. A gloopy frittata, featuring roasted red peppers and nubbins of sassy chorizo, was overwhelmed by pools of goat cheese and undercooked egg.

And eggs weren't the only diner standard that seemed to stymie the cooks at Crossroads: Hash browns were overdone, pressed into a tidy, crisp latke. Pancakes were flat and slightly tough, as though they were short on baking powder and long on mixing.

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4 comments
Guest
Guest

Had the corned beef hash and over easy eggs this weekend and it was delicious. The plate seemed rather large for the two items like something was missing...toast perhaps? The side of buttermilk pancakes it came with were incredible. Loved the atmosphere and had great service.

twinwillow
twinwillow

I've been twice for breakfast. I'm addicted to their made on site corned beef hash with (perfectly) poached eggs.Their multi seeded wheat toast is killer.

CapGuy
CapGuy

Too bad you aren't familiar with the way the pepper,cheese and sausage egg dish was supposed to be prepared. According to J Child and J Pepin, eggs should be creamy and taste like eggs. I had that dish on Sunday and it was the best I ever had. Creamy and the egg flavor held even with the other ingredients.

Hanna Raskin
Hanna Raskin

CapGuy, I'm glad to hear you had such an enjoyable meal. Frittatas are typically cooked firm, although -- as you say -- the French prefer them a little runny on top. But I'd wager eaters of all nationalities would agree deep puddles of raw egg are undesirable, and the dish should taste like eggs.

 
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