Joel Harrington Takes the Reigns from John Tesar at Oak and Quill

Update: The Dallas Morning News is reporting that John Tesar has left Apheleia Restaurant Group altogether, which means he's no longer affiliated with projects like the new Royal Magnificent Burgers. ". “After I did Royal, I woke up one morning and said ‘I don’t want to do all of this. I don’t want to work for 100 investors.’ It’s confusing and exhausting,” Tesar tells D Magazine.  

Apheleia Restaurant Group (El Bolero, Oak, Pakpao Thai, Quill) has announced that Oak, the upscale Design District restaurant that has had notoriously high chef turnover over the years, has named an executive chef: Joel Harrington, who became chef de cuisine at Oak in 2015. Before Harrington, chef John Tesar was running the show at Oak — but a press rep for the restaurants downplayed Tesar's role in the kitchen. "John has always been more of a culinary advisor, but his focus is more on other projects," Andrew Kelly says. 

Before moving to Oak last year, Harrington was the executive chef at Bolsa. Before Bolsa, he worked in New York at Red Rooster and STK Meatpacking. Richard Ellman, co-owner of Apheleia Restaurant Group, described Harrington's food as having "contemporary, approachable and refined style" in a press release that also outlined Harrington's plans for the menu:

Chef Harrington plans to create a more dynamic seasonal inspired lunch menu using local ingredients, featuring freshly crafted artisanal juices and a daily taco preparation that are perfect for summer. He is also beefing up the acclaimed steak menu by offering a 24 oz. premium Wagyu cowboy cut alongside a new Flaming Balcones Brimstone Q Sauce, flambéed and served tableside.

The dining room at Oak in the Design District.EXPAND
The dining room at Oak in the Design District.
Kevin Marple/Oak

The promotion means that Harrington, who describes his food as "whimsical, yet approachable," is also the official executive chef at Quill, the new upscale cocktail lounge next door. "For Quill, Tesar and Joel collaborated on the menu, but it’s always been Joel behind the scenes and in the kitchen," Apheleia's press rep says. In another press release sent out the same day, Quill announced Harrington's new sushi, sashimi and sake menu that will run every Thursday night. Quill's bar manager James Slater will also have a menu of "hand-crafted Japanese-inspired cocktails," according to the release.

Harrington originally created Quill's menu with chef John Tesar, but now he's running the show on this corner of Oak Lawn Avenue. He's also got plans to revamp the steak program at Oak, according to the release.

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