At Uptown's New Bowen House, an Old Home, New Drinks, and No Menu Needed
Situated behind S&D Oyster Company in Uptown is the recently opened Bowen House. The structure was built in 1874 and named after its original owner, Ahab Bowen, and its story is appropriately commemorated on a historical marker located on the front patio. Within its 140-year-old walls now sits a room-length bar with small booths and tables placed on your left and right as you step inside.
"Our goal was to be different. Like the Kennedy Room, [owner] Pasha Heidari wanted to have a place that attracts a neighborhood crowd," General Manager Trent Nabors says. "We didn't want to seem too stuffy but at the same time, provide a quality not found in Uptown."
While staying true to the house's Victorian era, the design's mix of nostalgia and modern opulence seems to work. Along the walls are framed pictures of the original Bowen family and Dallas of old, with book-lined shelves above. The granite tables and white chairs -- made of upscale cushioned upholstery -- are what you would expect to find in a posh lounge. The chandelier, unique on its own accord, was custom made for the bar and deliberately placed to be visible from the street.
There's no cocktail menu.
"We don't have a list because we don't want to limit ourselves to what we can make," Nabors says. "We change our specialty cocktails weekly. For example, we still serve a drink from week two of opening based on word of mouth alone."
These revolving specialty cocktails are found on a chalkboard menu to the right of the bar, with one for the week I was there being The Root of All Evil. A devilish drink made of cynar (Italian bitter), root liquor and rye, this cocktail is worth remembering for a future visit, assuming you don't drink so many you can't.
Bartender Erikah Lushja says Nabors is always on the hunt for new and unique drink recipes and is open to anyone else's interpretation. He even challenges his bar staff to seek out and create new recipes in their spare time.
Chef Don Adams-Golay created a simple menu to soak up the sauce. The menu offers a variety of plates from smoked bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits, and fried brie, to smoked boar meatloaf and a rib-eye, all reasonably priced.
Mainly, though, it's about the cocktails.
"If we always have new cocktails," Nabors says, "our hopes are that people will be curious enough to keep coming in."
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.