For 40 years, Dallas residents knew where they could go for a basket of warm rolls and a plate of chicken-fried steak and gravy. For those in Oak Lawn, driving past the shuttered flagship Black-eyed Pea caused a twinge of pain. With Phil Cobb, Gene Street (Good Eats Cafe, Lucky’s) opened that first Black-eyed Pea in 1975, and his family doesn’t intend for the legacy to stop now.
In that 1933 building on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Reagan Street now sits Street’s Fine Chicken, a new joint specializing in French fried chicken. Gene Jr., Marco, Mariel, Dace and Tony Street have opened this restaurant serving up Southern food “with French flair.”
You can park in the same spot you did when you were going in for some corn bread, but when you step inside, this isn’t the same place. Where that Black-eyed Pea could, in some ways, be a place to go when you didn’t necessarily want to be seen, it’s now light and bright with a modern feel that's still comfortable. The tin ceiling is still there, with now a bright white fitting the mood of the rest of the dining room and bar.
You’ll hear Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones as you look over the cocktail menu, which plays with names like Dolly’s Pardon, a sweet cocktail with vodka, Champagne and a blackberry liqueur.
The food menu embraces the South, with appetizer like pimento cheese fritters and Sriracha-spiked deviled eggs. The “staples” section has salads and sandwiches, and all of the “forage” (sides) options are surely worth a try, from black eyed peas (they had to) to garlic and ginger sugar snap peas. The maple-roasted Brussels sprouts sounded divine, but they came out a bit overdone; probably better to go with the creamy brie macaroni and cheese.
Street’s serves a roasted half-chicken with tender meat and a crispy skin, as well as grilled chicken and a chicken-fried steak that's griddled instead of fried. Our waitress, who said she'd worked at the former Black Eyed Pea for eight years, directed us to the fried chicken. Locally sourced, brined and fried, there’s a chance this might become a new favorite for fried-chicken lovers. Fried chicken comes in two, three, eight or 12 pieces, served with whipped potatoes and gravy or coleslaw and simple honey-glazed biscuits. Thanks to that brine of lemon, sea salt and French provincial herbs, this meat is the juicy chicken you always want fried chicken to be, and the peppery breading is the perfect crispy complement.
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Wrap up this meal with the bread pudding, filled with white chocolate and macadamia nuts and floating in a Texas whiskey anglais. Don’t let the fact that it looks like it’s swimming in icing scare you; it’s a well-balanced plate of sugar.
Busy on its first Friday evening of service, word has already gotten out that a menu is worth exploring. It may not be Black Eyed Pea, but this is comfort food worth exploring.
Street’s Fine Chicken, 3857 Cedar Springs Road