News broke last week that RedFork, the flailing gastro pub in Knox Henderson, has closed to undergo renovations. It will apparently re-open sometime early next year with a new menu and a new look -- "a neighborhood bar where you can watch the game and get a plate of food," manager Stephen Goniwiecha told Pegasus, which broke the story.
To which we said: Boring. Watch the game and get a plate of food? That sounds exactly like the old RedFork.
RedFork didn't work because the farm-to-table menu never came together and the concept didn't resonate with the dining space, which felt like a sports bar poorly disguised as something more elevated. But that doesn't mean a more refined dining experience would automatically fail.
For something more polished to work in the space, management would have to pull out all the stops. Everything that can be should be handcrafted. No shortcuts, no out of place menu items and no TVs.
Knox-Henderson already has neighborhood bars where you can watch the game and get a plate of food. So instead, I humbly offer these fantasy concepts for the space - dining options that are currently under-served in Dallas and would work on Henderson, provided the folks at RedFork go in whole hog.
Japanese Izakaya Ditch the pizza oven and install a hibachi. Fire it with high-quality Japanese coal and grill fresh meats and veggies over the flames. Make some condiments and sauces from scratch for the grilled items, and use them sparingly. Offer sushi on par with the stuff you can get at Tei-An -- and then stop. No need for a noisy menu here. Fold in a small but serviceable sake offering and some great Japanese beers like Hitachino and Baird, and watch lunch, dinner and happy-hour crowds roll in. Also: Don't offer a burger. We're burgered out.
Ramen Noodle Shop Your challenge will be finding a good noodle source. When you do, focus on an intensely flavorful broth and killer embellishments. Slow boil an egg at a low temperature for hours so the white barely sets and the yolk becomes thick and viscous. Offer lobster and fun, fresh seafood. Put in a big bar where people can sit side by side and fuel up on delicious soup, lettuce wraps and other small snacks. Oh, and don't do burgers. We'll go to the Porch or the Grape for one of those.
Belgian Mussels Bar RedFork already had great mussels -- why not shift the focus there? Work with whatever source you used and continue to serve large, delicious mussels. Offer a few different flavors but don't go over the top - lemon with thyme, sausage and chili, and curry should be enough. Serve them in authentic Belgian mussels pots and offer hand cut fries, baguettes, and Belgian mayonnaise for dipping. Next assemble the biggest, most bad ass Belgian beer menu Dallas has ever seen. You'll freak people out -- in a good way. Specially if you don't serve a burger.
High-End Indian You'll have to cook the absolute best Indian food Dallas has ever seen for this to work, so hire an Indian master chef to fill the restaurant with the heavy waft of curry. Deck out the walls and tables with colors and images that invoke the great subcontinent. Offer high-end chatt: delicious snacks featuring crunchy fried things, chutneys and crispy spinach leaves. Hire a mixologist that understands balance and instruct him to leverage mint, cilantro and cardamom. And design one namesake dish that gets Dallas talking -- I'm thinking a fiery curry from Goa, but anything that's not a curry burger should do.
Anything But a Burger Joint Seriously, if you turn that space into a burger joint we're never, ever coming, and neither is anyone else.*
*Actually a lot of people will come. For like a week. And then they'll go to one of the 900 other burger places in town.