Lake Ray Hubbard is a popular destination for DFW fishing enthusiasts, yet most Dallasites rarely find themselves very far east of it. If you’ve ever made a destination trip to Rockwall, chances are it wasn’t for food, but 8020 Hospitality — the group behind HG Sply Co. and Remedy (RIP) — plans to change that with the addition of their newest concept, Standard Service.
“The last two years we have seen the explosion of Dallas-based restaurant groups expanding into North Dallas,” says 8020 Culinary Director Danyele McPherson, who has now opened three restaurants for the group. “It has now become normal for a Dallas restaurant’s second location or new concept to open in Frisco, Plano, Addison, etc. Rockwall has not seen the same expansion as other Dallas suburbs, despite being a bustling community filled with all walks of life, from families to young professionals.”
Standard Service won’t be the end of the group’s involvement in the area, either. “In the next two years, we have at least two more concepts planned for development in the Rockwall area,” McPherson says.
Set cozily adjacent to a CrossFit behind a Sonic, in an extension of a Lowe’s parking-lot, the setting is archetypically suburban. Inside, the design is minimal and industrial chic with a refined, artistic quality. There’s a lot of wood, a lot of right angles. Dark colors are prominent but juxtaposed by whites and deep blue. The space is trendy and definitely wouldn’t look out of place on Lower Greenville, but a dining room filled with kids and young families makes it clear that is not where we are.
Treating yourself to a nice cocktail as an aperitif is always the right thing to do, and you’ll feel especially good about doing so here after reading the cocktail menu, which features a program called “The Usual.” Essentially, regulars can tag the restaurant on Instagram with their favorite cocktail and each month, five of these drinks are chosen and added to the menu under their name. The three most popular after a month stay on the menu and for each one purchased, $1 is donated to the charity of that regular’s choice.
The food menu will feel familiar to fans of HG and Remedy but covers a lot of new ground as well. It is at once accessible and within the context of what you might expect of a neighborhood Rockwall restaurant, but also contains plenty of unique flair and creativity.
Fans of sister restaurant, HG Sply Co., may wonder about the dietary philosophies of this new spot.
“At HG Sply Co. our ingredient base dictates the direction we take on our menu,” McPherson says. “At Standard Service, we decided that the only philosophy we wanted to prescribe to was that of creating delicious food created with high quality ingredients. We have tried to create a menu that offers something for diverse tastes.”
The appetizer section is full of classics, each with their own twist; from the Parmesan kale dip ($9) to the PEI mussels cooked in Miller High Life ($13).
The bison chili was fairly straight-forward with a bit lighter meat flavor from the bison and — fair warning — there are beans in this chili. Three types, in fact: kidney, pinto and black. For $4, you can grab a bowl of the chili, or you can have it over Frito chips with lime crema and guacamole as the bison chili Frito pie.
The sandwich section of the menu here contains a special surprise, one that on its own would warrant the jaunt down Interstate 30: the Remedy Burger. To be sure, there is no shortage of reasons for lamenting the Remedy’s shuttering — the excellent cocktails, the fried bologna sandwich — but damn, that burger was a gem. And it’s back. For $11, you get perfectly seasoned beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, and that’s all you need.
There are a variety of bowls on the menu, a la HG Sply Co. The Farmhouse was a winner with roasted potatoes, baby carrots, Texas goat cheese and English peas, all with an orange-chili glaze that was sweet, spicy and tart all at once. On any of the bowls, you can pick you protein, however, the vegetables are the real stars of the show. All the produce served at Standard Service tastes crazy fresh and is allowed to shine without being overthought or over-seasoned.
The entree menu features more dinner menu staples, most notably some truly great chicken-fried chicken ($16). Served with creamy mashed potatoes packed with chive flavor, crisp green beans and thick, savory chicken gravy, it is a baffling mystery how juicy this chicken is while maintaining a mildly seasoned and perfectly crisp, battered façade.
The food at Standard Service is executed well and could hold its own in any of the various foodie neighborhoods in Dallas, and there may be no better fare to be found in Rockwall. One huge takeaway is just how fresh everything was. The food was simple and satisfying and the vegetables feel fresh and nourishing — enough to reduce the guilt of the fried chicken.
Moving a more sophisticated restaurant into a suburban setting can be a daunting task for any group, especially with a new concept yet to prove itself, however, Standard Service has accomplished this goal with style by embracing its neighborhood and adapting to the suburban environment without dumbing it down. Whether you live in the Rockwall area and are looking for a trendy, family-friendly spot to frequent or have some time and gas to kill and would rather spend 20 extra minutes driving to brunch rather than waiting in line, Standard Service is worth checking out.
Standard Service, 760 W Ralph Hall Parkway, Rockwall