A First Look at On Premise, the New Bar-Restaurant in Deep Ellum

On-Premise opened recently in Deep Ellum. Of all of the remodels I've witnessed since I started covering the Dallas dining scene, this is by far the most transformative. Remember Lemongrass, the Vietnamese restaurant that served up an excellent bowl of pho in Deep Ellum? There isn't a trace of that old space left in this swank new restaurant-bar.

The bar and dining room have been decorated in the most ornate fashion. Picture teal-colored, faux-reptile skin on the heavy iron barstools and high-back tufted chairs from the Victorian era. It's like Brahm Stoker's meets hipster cocktail haunt with a whole lot of flair.

What's more interesting than the decor, though, is the food. Chef Ann Marie Romero takes charge of a lofty menu with flavors from all over the globe, and she doesn't rely on bar food clichés.

OK, there are chicken wings on the menu, but they're tender and flavorful, and then seared until they're blistered and blackened in spots. Char is actually a cooking theme for Romero. She puts so much of it on an okra dish the pods left my fingertips black after dipping a few into a lightly flavored raita as thick as chip dip. It's aggressive and brash and way more interesting than your typical bar menu.

The dining room is big with plenty of open space, and out back a sizable patio adds more seating and standing room. The menu is lofty, but the space retains a look and feel that emulates a bar more than a restaurant. DJs play sets through the week, and I can see this place filling up with four-inch heels and loudly patterned button-downs, all of it illuminated by the cool blue haze of iPhone 6 screens.

Seriously, it's pretty dim in there. I took a picture of those chicken wings, because they were delicious, but I don't have the heart to subject you to it here. Picture golden brown wings charred jet black in spots and flecked with a savory dry seasoning. They were fall-apart tender but the skin was crisped up a bit, and they came with a slightly sweet cabbage salad. Can you picture them? No? Well you'll just have to go and see an order for yourself. Pair them with a cold beer and you're set.

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