Lower Greenville’s newest restaurant, Quarter Acre, is the restaurant chef Toby Archibald has always wanted to open. It's nestled between the small shops of the vibrant neighborhood, so you may not notice Quarter Acre upon first passing. But when you step inside, you’ll find a welcoming experience of travel-inspired cuisine, lush cocktails and ocean-centric decor.
Having grown up in New Zealand, Archibald has fond memories of going to the beach, where he and his family would spend the holidays.
“Every year, my parents would pack us all in the cars and we'd go down to the beach over Christmas,” Archibald says. “It's interesting because New Zealand is really small, but it still takes a little while to get anywhere, because of the narrow roads. But we were definitely a beach family.”
It was during his childhood, having traveled with his family and spent time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmothers, that his love of food began.
“I was a fat kid,” he says, chuckling. “I love to eat. And when I was getting toward the end of high school, people would ask 'What do you want to do?’ I briefly went into engineering and then suddenly, math just became boring for me. I always wanted to travel, I loved eating, so I enrolled in culinary school [at Auckland University of Technology] and I just fell in love with it.”
Soon after, Archibald held sous chef roles at various restaurants in New Zealand, London, Toronto and New York City. While living in New York, he took a weekend trip to Chicago, where he met the woman whom he would later marry. The two kept in touch over a long distance before briefly moving to Australia.
Eventually, they decided to move close to his wife’s family — right here in Dallas, where Archibald briefly worked as Bullion’s sous chef.
“If you're in this industry, you know, it's tough on the personal life hours,” Archibald says, “and so we just decided it was better for us to do what we want to do as a team in life.”
Thankfully, with Quarter Acre, Archibald isn’t far away from the kind of food he loves. Inspired by his time in New Zealand, the UK, Australia and elsewhere, Archibald offers a plethora of crafty plates and small bites.
Quarter Acre is best enjoyed with a date or with a group of friends, as some of the highlights come in the form of the small bites, or as they’re called on the menu, “snacks.”
Just as good is the crispy chicken nugg, which is cooked in a “dirty aioli” and comes served atop a rice crisp ($5). You’ll want to try a little of each of the snacks, and on our list to try next time are the other two: fish on chips ($6) with a New Zealand kingfish, caviar and citrus mayo, and the brassica balls ($4) with goat cheese, onion dip and quinoa.
During the snack portion, we sipped on the Cataño Punch, a fruity, refreshing cocktail made with Bacardi Rye, shiraz and quinquina ($16).
Archibald prides himself on the restaurant’s beef tartare, which he says encompasses both his worlds of New Zealand and Texas. Quarter Acre’s smoked beef tartare is served with an olive oil emulsion, black mustard and crispy shallots ($25).
“I love that dish. That was such a fun dish to create,” Archibald says. “Sometimes inspiration doesn't come all the time. Sometimes you’ve just got to keep nudging it and nudging it, and then one day, it just pops into your head. I was thinking to myself, ‘How can I create, you know, sort of Texas-y flavor on a plate with more of my culinary background?’”
Though the beef itself was sourced from Nebraska, the recipe for the tartare was inspired by Archibald’s love of Texas barbecue.
For our main, we tried the hot-smoked Glory Bay salmon, which comes served with fried bread, sea and soil lettuce, turnips and shallot cream ($40).
“It’s very much New Zealand’s way of cooking fish,” says Archibald. “We hot smoke down there, and it's different to the Northern Hemisphere, where a lot of cold smoking is done. It's my favorite way to eat salmon.”
This salmon was particularly satisfying, smoothly cut with each bite full of flavorful juices. It tasted particularly great paired with the Piha Beach Sunset cocktail composed of Patron Reposado, grapefruit and peppercorn ($18). But while many of the plates and cocktails incorporate New Zealand cooking and mixing techniques, Archibald prefers that you don’t refer to Quarter Acre as a “New Zealand restaurant.”
“My sous chef, my pastry chef, and I were spitballing on some things,” Archibald says, “And one of the bartenders came over to me in the middle of service and was like 'Man, I just want to say how awesome it is, we get to do whatever we want.’ And that's kind of what I'm really looking forward to. We're not in a French box, we're not in the Italian box, we're not in a Mediterranean box. We're not even in the New Zealand box.”
Overall, we believe Quarter Acre will thrive. It's a fun, neighborhood spot where you can bring your significant other for a lovely date night, or your friends for a quick getaway. And while the main dishes are delicious in and of themselves, you’ll definitely want to savor the smaller bites and the snacks that come before.
Quarter Acre. 2023 Greenville Ave., No. 110 (Lower Greenville). Tuesday – Thursday, 5–10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5–11 p.m.