Campo is One of Dallas' Best Restaurants -- For Now

Oak Cliff has one of the city's most daring restaurants. But will the chef stay put?

But for that to happen, Dallas will have to keep showing up, and not just for the short rib and pulled pork, but for the tongues and brains and unidentified innards. And for that to happen, McCallister will have to keep showing up, too, and stay focused on Campo — not just to continue the great cooking his kitchen has turned out, but to refine dishes that need work.

Like that tough, chewy, salted bread — full of beautifully irregular holes but formed by hands still learning their craft. The loaves derive their richness from a bath of rendered duck fat, but what they need is the attention of a master baker. It's close to perfection, but it's not there yet. And turning tough, leftover bread into chips for garnishes, as Campo does for its beef-heart-tartare delivery system, yields an over-toasted crouton with too much crunch.

There's also a stove in the back, fired by Black, that's a little too aggressive. My evidence: a gnocchi with too much color over two visits and that pressed pork dish, whose outer layer was overcooked and dry. These dishes are good, yes, but with some subtle fine-tuning they could border sublime. Pasta was tough and truffles were lifeless — things that shouldn't be in a truly great restaurant.

A sparse decor leaves little to distract from the lamb's-neck gnocci.
Sara Kerens
A sparse decor leaves little to distract from the lamb's-neck gnocci.

Location Info

Map

Campo Modern Bistro

1115 N. Beckley Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Oak Cliff & South Dallas

Details

Campo Modern Country Bistro
Lamb's-tongue salad $12
Lamb's-neck gnocci $13
Beef-heart tartare $11
Campo salad $12
Duck-offal ravioli $14
Pressed pork $20
Creme brulee $7

This is the kind of polish that only comes with a chef who's put in his time, and 30-year-old McCallister is still young. Campo is the first kitchen he's helmed on his own, and his time under Pyles and other great chefs was short.

Which is why McCallister should take his restaurant's name to heart and make camp there for a while. But that's unlikely. The allure of his own restaurant will be too seductive, and Vicéns and Valverde are wrong to think he'll be a useful resource after his departure. They should plan for his goodbye, monitor his transition closely as he passes the baton to whoever remains behind, and prepare for him to take some of his best dishes (and staff) with him.

Campo may be a fine restaurant for years to come, but right now it feels more like a test lab in which McCallister concocts his own future — a murky window into what's coming next from one of Dallas' most promising young chefs, and, perhaps, the city itself.

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3 comments
thedivadines
thedivadines

Ya' got this all over Dallas; it's an epidemic! Bright young chef concocts daring menu for brand new restaurant...uh huh. I think you nailed the outcome, laddie.

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

What's Campo gonna do now that he works in Kansas?

 
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