Two weeks ago, I wrote about two different grilled cheese restaurants that will open soon in Dallas. The first is a small operation in Oak Cliff that promises to elevate a childhood favorite; the second is a chain that promises to stuff those childhood memories with some melted cheese into a doughnut. Their approaches are slightly different, but the two bear something in common beyond mountains of Kraft singles: They're both singularly focused restaurants.
With the right chef at the helm, restaurants that offer variations on a single theme can produce some exceptional cooking. They can also be disasters. Which will these no-doubt forthcoming five restaurants be? Only time will tell!
Always Ambrosia Ambrosia is out of control. What started as a simple, layered fruit salad has become a bowl of freshly tossed insanity. Grapefruit, banana, pineapple, cherries, raisins, nuts, sugar, whipped cream, sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise and sour cream have been featured in this dish, and that's just the start.
It's this endless variation that prompted investors to back the restaurant they say will give diners the ultimate choose your own adventure meal. Leftovers will be sent home in containers shaped like a bundt pan.
Grül In uncertain economic times, restaurants that offer affordable meals can do well, especially if they help convince a diner that they're getting a deal. Yet to this day, nobody has tried to make porridge sexy. Grül will offer every grain that's ever been ground and turned into sludge, along with toppings that will allow customers to tailor every bowl. Oatmeal topped with butter-roasted nuts will join grits topped with shrimp or cubes of foie gras in the easiest meal in the history of ever to send home in a to-go cup.
The Beanery (alternate name: Fibr) Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The motto writes itself! The Beanery will have a menu heavily focused on soups and stews. Franks and beans will be a big seller and feature locally made hot dogs. As part of the business strategy, The Beanery will open locations next to existing juice bars, in the hopes of capitalizing on customers' dire need for fiber.
Tin Fish Grab a seat, peruse the menu, pick a can: This is how your meal starts at Tin Fish, where every meal you order is plucked from a metal coffin and plopped on crackers or bread. To keep thing interesting sides like boiled, chopped egg, pickled onions, capers and plenty of condiments will help you doctor each bite to your liking. Checks are delivered with monster breath mints. Look for Tin Fish to open right next to Small Brewpub for the ultimate hipster dining destination.
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Potato Flats What if a restaurant devoted all of its attention to the humble baked potato? There could be pillow Idaho potatoes and filling sweet potatoes, and the could be topped in quirky, different ways. Forget a squirt of liquid cheddar, bacon bits and a dollop of sour cream. How about toppings to mimic a beef fajita or turkey ala king? Creamed beef would work nicely, with fresh green peas, or a chicken-fried steak, like a blanket to keep your potato warm with a blanket of pepper gravy, bacon and cheese.
Sounds crazy and totally weird and completely hopeless but it could happen!