You may have eaten his lyrical food at the Landmark Restaurant in the Melrose Hotel, or maybe at Nana and Mi Piaci. You may have heard about Screen Door, the upcoming restaurant to feature his craft in One Arts Plaza. Still, Joel Harloff has been under the radar.
“I haven’t disappeared,” he says. “I’m working on things, and I’m waiting to break it on out.” Harloff is the food brains (mostly) behind Screen Door, the restaurant he and Café Italia owner Scott Jones will open in late fall. What’s the food? Modern Southern.
Wait, hasn’t the Modern or New Southern motif lived briefly in Dallas only to crash like a mayfly on Kentucky bourbon? (Side note: the U.S. Senate just named September National Bourbon Heritage Month, because if Senate resolutions stop, the terrorists have won.) Scrub your memories. There was Rooster. There was Traci’s. To a lesser extent there was Bay Leaf in Deep Ellum, which tried to sass up the South with a little Asian. Harloff insists he’s taking a different approach, creating things like pot pies with Spanish ingredients.
He calls it bringing Southern food back to life with Euro-Southern style (double dog dare: chitlin carpaccio). Think of it as slapping numbers on few Bentleys and getting them sideways on a dirt oval in Georgia.
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“I think that right now everyone is just trying to compete to make the best mac ‘n cheese,” he says. Not Harloff. He’s competing with signature mint juleps. Watermelon for example. So drink up. A steak shortage is hitting New York. Dallas will soon follow. Ethanol is blamed. --Mark Stuertz