To fully appreciate Waldron Lodge (408 W. Seventh St.) in the Bishop Arts District, you should pull up the one-minute video on their website titled "The Legend." It's an eerie symphony of thunder, rain, elk "bugling" and then BAM! No more elk noise. Just the untamed crackling of thunder in the dark.
This is the wilderness, people. It's real, it's scary and it's not always pretty.
Beau Johnson, originally from DeSoto, is the new chef at Waldron Lodge. After pre-med classes failed to amuse him, he traded in scrubs for a chef's coat. Johnson attended Le Cordon Bleu Academy in Arizona and worked at The Mission in Scottsdale, an upscale modern Latin cuisine spot, then went on to do some private catering for celebrities in addition to a stint at T. Cooks at Royal Palms.
Now Johnson is cooking up rustic fare at Waldron Lodge, which has a "campy" atmosphere with a game-heavy menu, strong drinks and a relaxed-huntsman vibe. Like most things in the BAD, the menu pushes people outside of their comfort zone, territory most visitors are happy to roam.
"So far everyone is really receptive," says Johnson about the menu. "The bison burger is sort of a safe-item on the menu and is pretty popular, but other dishes like our P.L.T. are doing really well too."
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The P.L.T., which is listed under "Before the Hunt" on the menu, are dainty lettuce cups filled with chunks of fried pork belly, pico de gallo, cotija cheese and a spicy peanut sauce. Other pre-hunt dishes include frog legs (which the chef says are also popular), torreadoes (fried assorted chiles in lime and salt) and fried black-eyed peas.
The mains on the menu, or "Game Trail," includes pulled boar barbecue, roasted quail, duck tacos, elk sausage, pulled boar chilaquiles, rabbit sausage stew and a roasted Cornish hen. There are also three salads and fish dishes.
While the menu is a bit upscale-gamey, the vibe is actually more like a bar's than a restaurant's. There are a few TVs, a nice large patio out front and lots and lots of wood. It's like a big-game hunter's man-cave with a top-notch chef to cook up the loot from the day's hunt. An honest to goodness lodge right in the middle of very un-lodgey Dallas.
Waldron Lodge opens at 4 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. on weekends.