We sort of already knew that Ida Claire, Addison’s newest non-chain restaurant, was probably going to be top-notch. The team behind Mexican Sugar, Whiskey Cake and other faves hasn’t exactly produced too many duds, but one had to wonder whether they would dumb-down their food at Ida Claire to fit a clientele that prefers a one-size-fits-all sort of cuisine. Fortunately, that’s not even close to what’s going on at this Southern-inspired charmer.
From the first glance, Ida Claire is full of Southern kitsch. A vintage Airstream trailer, decorated like an upscale redneck’s fantasy, is parked near the front entrance. It serves as a private dining room, but on one visit, the place looked as if a few patio-dwellers had just wandered in to enjoy the respite from the heat while downing their fancy cocktails. When you step into the doors of Ida Claire, the theme is really driven home, from the antique bird cages hanging from the ceiling to a boatload of Deep South memorabilia decorating the walls.
The menus are charming and creative, in both aesthetic and offerings. The short menu is chock-full of Southern staples, including pimento cheese, okra, barbecue and sweet potatoes. The more refined touches, such as duck confit and ras el hanout-spiced trout, really make this spot stand out. Whether you’re looking for something comforting or something a little more upscale, you can enjoy it here, in the most casual of environments.
Ida Claire’s specialty is one that Dallas could use a hell of a lot more of — biscuit sandwiches. You’ll find the usual chicken-on-a-biscuit (yawn), but they have much more compelling offerings, like a biscuit topped with braised beef cheek, kale salad and pan jus. The barbecued shrimp biscuit is served with a crisp, refreshing mirliton slaw, barbecue butter and a zingy mustard remoulade. The pickled okra perched on top is much better than the usual crap pickle served with sandwiches. If you’re worried about whether a biscuit and a couple of shrimp will fill you up, don’t. This biscuit is piled high with five jumbo shrimp. You're gonna need a knife, a fork and definitely a napkin.
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Don’t expect the usual heaviness eating Southern-style can cause. The shrimp biscuit is served with a startlingly good cold okra salad mixed with heirloom cherry tomatoes and crisp sweet peppers. If okra isn’t your thing, you can also choose a warm veggie slaw or Brussels sprouts with blistered potatoes to keep things on the lighter side. If you really want to indulge, though, the pimento mac and cheese is the best iteration of this dish in Dallas. Don’t forget to stir your little ramekin when it gets to the table — sometimes all that gooey cheese settles to the bottom.
Chicken and waffles is also on offer, a staple that can be either really exciting or really boring. At Ida Claire, it falls somewhere in the middle, leaning more toward awesomeness. A quarter-chicken is fried crisp then drenched in hot-sauce infused butter. Three-quarters of a waffle was the side dish, along with a refreshing twist from chile-spiced watermelon. Maple syrup, infused with chicory coffee, rounded out this massive, savory-sweet gut-bomb.
Perhaps most impressive at Ida Claire are the prices. Since it's housed in an old Truluck’s, you might expect that this fancified Southern food comes with a hefty price tag. In fact, portions here are generous, and it’s easy to walk out spending less than $40, even if you order a cocktail. The most expensive item on the menu, a wagyu sirloin steak, clocks in at just $24.
For North Dallas dwellers looking for an interesting, innovative bite, Ida Claire is shaping up to be the perfect destination. If early crowds are any indication — there was a 90-minute wait at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night — locals are already responding.