In Trinity Groves, LUCK Needs More Skill to Survive

A few glimmers shine through lackluster execution.

Those who have spent the last decade or so calling Margaret Hunt Hill's namesake a bridge to nowhere are running out of nothingness to shake their fingers at in contempt. Restaurants are sprouting out of a once-barren patch of ground in West Dallas, one after the other, each marked by neon so bright they can be spotted from the other side of the Trinity River.

The restaurants have cropped up so quickly because of the investment of Phil Romano, of Romano's Macaroni Grill, and his partners, who conceived Trinity Groves hoping to turn that nothingness at the terminus of the glowing white steel span into a vibrant dining neighborhood. To grease the skids, Romano and a team of investors financed restaurant ideas they thought had a good shot at success and that were also scalable. They even offered free rent to budding restaurateurs willing to give up a percentage of their sales, all in the hope that some of the restaurants would blossom, turn to seed and sprout more profitable locations around Dallas and beyond. The hope was that the next ubiquitous franchise might be born from what Romano calls his restaurant incubator.

The low barrier of entry makes Trinity Groves seem like the perfect spot for first-time restaurateurs such as Jeff Dietzman, Ned Steel and Daniel Pittman. They opened LUCK in October, promising updated comfort food built with local ingredients and 40 taps worth of local beer. Local Urban Craft Kitchen hopes to be a casual pub with elevated dining and a neighborhood feel, according to its creators, ignoring the fact that there's no neighborhood to speak of.

Apple fritter and beer, you're in the clear.
Catherine Downes
Apple fritter and beer, you're in the clear.

Location Info

Map

LUCK Dallas

3011 Gulden Ln, 112
Dallas, TX 75212

Category: Restaurant >

Region: West Dallas

Details

LUCK

3011 Gulden Lane, Suite 112, 469-250-0679, luckdallas.com. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. $$$

Torta de lengua $12

Wings $9

Funnel cake $5

Ice cream $5

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Trinity Groves may lack the apartment buildings, retail stores and people that give any neighborhood its pulse, but at least the beer is flowing. Four Corners Brewery opened just down the street last year, and its beers occupy a number of the taps at LUCK. Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Community Brewing, Lakewood and Peticolas occupy the other taps sourced from inside the loop, and Revolver, Armadillo, Rahr, Martin House, Firewheel and others round out a list of beers sourced entirely from within a 75-mile radius. It's a decent beer list that makes LUCK worth a visit on its own, so it's a shame eating well here can be as difficult as finding your way back across the river when you're done.

"This is the best bar food in Dallas," the bartender told me on one visit, as he slid a plate containing three beirocks, German pastries filled with meat, across the bar top. My dining companion asked who had dubbed it so, and he told us confidently that the Dallas Observer had anointed the snacks. We hadn't — not yet, anyway — but I dug in hoping his fib, or his flub, would eventually prove accurate. The snack employs slightly sweet bread about the size of golf balls filled with finely ground beef and cheese. Beer cheese and an au jus sit in little stainless steel cups, ready for dipping, hoping to aid what can be a dry, almost chalky bite. They aren't the best of anything.

Neither are the rest of the starters. Shrimp encased in ground-up and batter-bound tortilla chips have a respectable crunch, but it's lost on shellfish that stink of ammonia. Pretzels arrive blond and bready, lacking the chewy texture and chocolate brown exterior that make a pretzel a pretzel. And smoked chicken wings served whole are occasionally dry, and tainted by an acrid bitterness — a byproduct of combustion that expert smokers know how to minimize.

The food coming out of LUCK's kitchen might taste a little better if more of the ingredients were sourced with the sincerity the owners have reserved for the beer. Some bread from local bakeries makes its way into sandwiches, and the smoked chicken served as an entrée is sourced from nearby Vital Farms, but the menu's claim that ingredients are sourced locally is hedged by a murky "whenever feasible." Those wings, much of the beef and other ingredients come from Ben E. Keith, a large distributor with a presence in 11 states surrounding Texas, and large restaurant suppliers aren't typically celebrated as cornucopias of locally sourced food.

Local or not, brisket treated like this will never taste as delicious as it could. The kitchen smokes the corned beef so long it ends up in stringy chunks, with the same eau du ashtray that haunts the chicken wings. And yet it's hard to deny the appeal of a large heap of meat inundated with melted cheese, topped with caramelized onions and slathered with grainy mustard.

Fish and chips sport a cornmeal coating that hides redfish with the same off-putting smell as the shrimp. A pot roast is fork-tender but completely devoid of salt. And even after a lengthy discussion with a server about the razor-thin line between the thresholds of burger doneness (medium rare please), a burger arrived still and lifeless, cooked as dry as the bun it sits on.

There are glimmers of hope. Take a look at the torta de lengua, a sandwich whose bread is a little too soft but is otherwise outstanding. Heaped with tender, beer-braised meat, the sandwich boasts both caramelized onions for sweetness and pickled onions for a balancing tang.

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13 comments
jetyson71
jetyson71

LUCK has quickly become one of my go to spots for a couple pints and a good meal.   The pastrami sandwich is fantastic, and the pot roast has been a delicious hearty meal on recent cold nights. Dip those beirocks and you'll be a happy camper.  Let's celebrate and enjoy a great local spot with good food and friendly service.  Looking forward to patio season!

Pecos45
Pecos45

I mean ITS designer.


(Yes, call it the Calatrava Bridge dammit!!!)

Pecos45
Pecos45

Call it the Calatrava Bridge, after it's designer!!!

tblease89
tblease89

I had the same experience. The beer selection is great, the desserts were pretty good but myself and three fellow diners were all severely underwhelmed. Especially after having our expectations set by the unbelievably exceptional Kitchen LTO

GraceP1
GraceP1

I have been twice.  I loved the shrimp and grits and the pot roast.  I was not impressed with the hostess situation but the servers were honest, helpful, and attentive.  When the pork rib plate was not to our satisfaction, we were given the opportunity to return it for something else.  They have been busy every night that I have been by and they, like any new restaurant, are working out the quirks.  

gildardo
gildardo

Good grief, did Phil Romano sleep with this guy's wife or something?  Sounds like someone has an ax to grind.  Regardless of all of that, I've only had the best of luck at LUCK.  The food is great and the beer is phenomenal.  The wait is usually longer than I'd like, but it's only because it's so busy, and I can only imagine it's so busy because everyone else seems to love the place too.

rwhog
rwhog

Had the shrimp and grits the first time there...very nice!  However, I've had both the fish and chips and pot roast and drew the same conclusion as the author of this report.  I would add the "coleslaw," if you could call it that, lacked any sort of dressing.  It was simply finely chopped cabbage!  And the chips are just that, potato chips.

morganleeharrison
morganleeharrison

You people are crazy! I've had nothing but good food and experiences at LUCK.

Also, the author of this article should really do some fact checking before publishing.

mark289138
mark289138

Went out of our way to get here on a Sunday in December around 4:30pm - walked in and told us they were closed - even through Yelp said they were opened - the area needs time to develop and I don't know if they have TIME----

ctowna
ctowna

I want to "LOVE" Luck, but it's just not there.  Their servers think very highly of their menu. Of which they've probably sampled after a few delicious local pints.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

The first Overused Food Word of 2014 Which Needs to be Done Away With:  "sourced".

smelser
smelser

@Pecos45 Do you not realize that Calatrava has designed dozens of bridges and not 1 of them is named after him.  Why should this one be any different?  And wouldn't it be silly to name dozens of bridges the same name?  Also, since when did it become normal to name bridges after their designers?  He got paid handsomely for this project.  Why does he need a bridge named after him as well?  If he truly wanted his name on the bridge, isn't that something he would have negotiated when they made the contract?

 
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