First Look

First Look: A Giant Ball of Ice and Flames at Harper's in Deep Ellum

Korean-braised beef rib
Korean-braised beef rib Taylor Adams
Walking into Harper’s, you can tell it’s been about six weeks since it opened: It still smells like some fresh construction, it’s not packed on a weekday evening, but everyone there seems to want to be seen there.

While it may be new, the folks behind it aren’t new to Deep Ellum: Milkshake Concepts also has Vidorra, Stirr, Serious Pizza, Sky Rocket Burger and Citizen.

As a server will tell you about this new spot in The Epic, Harper’s menu is “globally inspired while focusing on local ingredients.” What that results in is a menu with foie gras potstickers ($19), Mexican street corn pizza ($17), a wagyu burger ($24) and a long list of steaks and chops with proud prices.

Land at a two-top, and you’ll be amid the low lighting from a battery-powered lamp on a super-wide table. Perfectly loud and beautiful wallpaper wraps around booths set for parties of six. In the distance, you get a sight of an oversized torch firing on a dish, making you wonder about the dessert list.
click to enlarge The Italian Job - TAYLOR ADAMS
The Italian Job
Taylor Adams
But first, the cocktails. The Italian Job combines Bulleit rye, Cynar apéritif, Carpana Antica and some Luxardo cherries ($19). It’s a nice enough cocktail to start the evening, except for the large ice globe they set in the shallow cocktail glass. It screamed trouble when it arrived, then about halfway through, the ice prevents you from drinking the rest — unless you like the feeling of an ice cube against your nose, but it’s safe to say that’s not a cute look.
click to enlarge Peruvian anticucho skewers - TAYLOR ADAMS
Peruvian anticucho skewers
Taylor Adams
Plates of crispy deviled eggs passed by: the whipped pimento cheese with golden Osetra caviar covered in panko looked like something worth ordering in the future ($21). The Peruvian anticucho skewers were our selection for this visit though ($17). Beef tenderloin is chargrilled with plenty of cumin and coriander — it’s a gentle bite to start the meal, with tender meat that’s not overly seasoned. Plus, it’s easy to share.
click to enlarge Bombay chicken tikka pizza - TAYLOR ADAMS
Bombay chicken tikka pizza
Taylor Adams
The star of the night was the pizza: A thick, bouncy, flavorful crust lays the foundation for success with any choice you go with. But the Bombay chicken tikka is one you should try ($22). A gently spicy tikka buttermilk dressing is topped with chicken, grape tomatoes, red onion and jalapeño. There’s a slight sweetness balanced by a little bite from the seedless slices of jalapeño. The combination will make you change your plan of having one slice to snagging another.

On the entree side, there’s Chilean farm-raised sea bass with spicy tomato and braised green lentils we’re already craving for next time ($38). It also surely would’ve been better than the selection of the Korean-braised beef rib ($56). Now beef rib can be a fantastic cut of meat — it’s tender, fatty, flavorful on its own and usually good for a few meals. What it doesn’t really need is getting soaked in a sticky sauce with plenty of sesame. The flavor clashes with the natural flavors of the meat for a meal we’re in no way craving again.

The rest of the meats listed seem to rest more on natural flavors or have worthy complements, such as the rib-eye with chimichurri ($85) or the double-cut pork chop with green mole-infused pork jus ($42). If those just sound too basic for you, you can splurge on the sharable Texas wagyu tomahawk with miso compound butter for $195.

The five-cheese mac with gemelli pasta and toasted panko is just fine, with a lackluster flavor and slightly grainy texture in the sauce ($13). A better choice is the crispy Brussels sprouts ($13). They’re mostly crispy with pickled Fresno peppers and a Chinese black vinegar aioli — for the sake of texture there could be less of that creaminess, but the flavor is welcome.
click to enlarge Get your cameras ready for the creme brûlée show. - TAYLOR ADAMS
Get your cameras ready for the creme brûlée show.
Taylor Adams
That flame over the passion fruit creme brûlée we saw earlier comes as large serving intended for two to four people, and could surely serve six in reality ($35). There’s also a beautiful looking chocolate cherry, with chocolate ganache, tart cherry compote and cherry blossom creme fraiche ($14).
click to enlarge The perfect dessert: an espresso martini - TAYLOR ADAMS
The perfect dessert: an espresso martini
Taylor Adams
But you really can’t go wrong with the espresso martini here ($19). That’s a drink that’s wildly inconsistent across bars, and it’s a fine finish to a meal at Harper’s with Patron Reposado, Licor 43, Kahlua, creme de cacao, house-made espresso tincture, espresso foam and ground espresso. Yes, a lot going on, but it works — plus, they don’t put a large ice cube in the martini glass.

Harper’s has at least nailed the environment, with proper music levels, flattering lighting and beautiful aesthetics. It’s a place to land if you’re looking to celebrate a little something. On our way out, we stepped into the private dining room, which has almost a Palm Springs vibe we could get into with the right party.

Harper’s, 2525 Elm St., Suite 150 (Deep Ellum). Open 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday and 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.