First Look

First Look: Chef Junior Borges New Brazilian Spot Meridian in The Village

The swank interior of Meridian at The Village, which quite the opposite of the 2004 movie of the same name by M. Night Shyamalan.
The swank interior of Meridian at The Village, which quite the opposite of the 2004 movie of the same name by M. Night Shyamalan. EMayne
Dallas is known for its iconic skyscrapers, formidable yet lackluster sports franchises and a forever-changing culinary landscape. Yet change, undoubtedly, is not always a bad thing. It sometimes means progress is being made. In 2021 alone, the stampede of new restaurants have unleashed menus for food adventurers. I believe we should conspire to officially call this time “Hot Fat Boy Summer.”

One of the many restaurants opening their doors this summer is Meridian, championed by superstar executive chef Junior Borges. Meridian is being renowned as a modern take on Brazilian cuisine. So, for all the carnivorous meat molesting rodizio junkies who like to eat their weight in roasted meats, this is different. Chef Borges brings a sophisticated variation of Brazilian cuisine that has been cultivated from the vast tapestry of his own South American roots. Brazil, like the U.S., has a rich and extensive multicultural backdrop. Almost half of the population of Brazil stems from African heritage. That’s along with the indigenous, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, French, Lebanese and other influences that contribute to Borges culinary concept.

click to enlarge When in Meridian, drink caipirinha. - EMAYNE
When in Meridian, drink caipirinha.
The Meridian is located in a popular stretch of Dallas real estate known as The Village. It is yet another advent of style and elegance adjoined to a historical and aging part of the city. If you Google “famous landmarks zoomed out,” you will see images of breathtaking monuments around the world and also the less attractive gritty surroundings. The new restaurant with the country club, swimming pool and other modern upgrades is like a glistening oasis shrouded by a village of aging edifices.

I sincerely tried my hardest not to hyper-sexualize this place because of the insensitive stereotypes portrayed in everything we know about Brazil. But walking into the restaurant for the first time is just that: sexy. The restaurant has a chic ultra-modern layout with sprigs of plant life decorating the walls from top to bottom and brown canvas bohemian lamps. This could easily be a highly sought-after Sunday Funday destination for the Brunch Bunch. I vehemently recommend Brazil’s national drink, caipirinha, made with cachaca, sugar and lime. Here’s a secret between me and you, ask them to add passion fruit juice. I generally don’t drink anything with more than one ingredient, but this was hands down the best caipirinha I have ever laid lips on.

click to enlarge The beachgoer cheese is served on a grill over a bed of herbs. - EMAYNE
The beachgoer cheese is served on a grill over a bed of herbs.
Unfortunately, I have never been to Brazil, but I wanted to try something distinctive and rare. The staff was well-versed on the food and personal history of chef Borges and they persuaded me to try a few items that would have me singing high praise; the grilled Beach Cheese ($6), cured fluke tartare ($18), charred maitake mushrooms ($16) and blue prawn moqueca ($36).

The fried cheese is a throwback to Borges’ youth, growing up near the beaches of Rio. Vendors would haul around fried cheese on a stick to eager beachgoers. But Borges clearly knows how to levitate this simple and savory treat. It comes toasted and slathered with a sweet honey glaze all on a table-top smoker that burns a special blend of herbs that penetrates the cheese.

Next was the fluke tartare. The fish was perfect in a pool of finger lime vinaigrette and pickled myoga. The bonito cream was the perfect addition to this dish and brought all the happy ingredients together for a samba symphony for my mouth.

click to enlarge The fluke tartare with finger lime vinaigrette and pickled myoga. - EMAYNE
The fluke tartare with finger lime vinaigrette and pickled myoga.
The maitake mushrooms (jumping mushrooms in Japanese) were also a pleasant surprise. Almost in the shape of brazil’s famous Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), the mushrooms come slightly charred with a thin veil of animal fat that gives it an extra layer of irresistible flavors.

And for the grandiose finale, I had the popular Blue Prawn Moqueca (fish stew) with charred plantain and coconut broth, dende oil, and steamed rice. This dish was inspired by chef Borges’ Bahía-born grandmother. He wanted to share a piece of his story through the traditional Bahía seafood stew and it definitely can be felt. Prawns were cooked flawlessly and the mildly sweet creamy broth gave a feeling of comfort and warmth like only an avó (grandmother) can.

Most of the ingredients are farmed and locally sourced, which makes what Borges does to this amazing menu even more incredible. I sincerely cannot wait to get back and try the Snake River wagyu and the grilled octopus. With all the pandemonium and uncertainty in the world of travel, it’s hard to tell when we will be able to travel to Brazil and consume all of its priceless treasures. But if you are looking to try a slice of elevated Brazilian cuisine, I am absolutely certain you will have a memorable experience in Dallas’ new Brazilian destination.

Meridian, 5650 Village Glen Drive. 4:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday. Closed Monday.
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E.Mayne is an epicurious foodster who loves to eat things he can’t pronounce. He runs a food group called D.F. Grub he hopes to turn into a nonprofit to feed disadvantaged children. He is an avid traveler and plans to visit all seven continents and start a travel club called “Lucky Number 7.”
Contact: E.Mayne