In-the-know Dallasites with a penchant for fried chicken and juleps have yet another eatery in Dallas; this time, it's downtown and has a mysterious element of exclusivity. Grayson Social, Dallas' newest restaurant, opened in the LTV Towers earlier this week. The menu promises Southern food with "innovative twists," tall drinks – whatever that means – and a members-only area.
The space itself, part of the Hilton Garden Inn beside Thanksgiving Square, was once meant to be the home of Lisa Garza-Selcer's newest concept, but there was drama between HRI Properties and Garza-Selcer and the deal fell through. Grayson Social swept in and took advantage of the sprawling space.
The opening begs the question: Does Dallas really need yet another Southern food restaurant? We've seen a glut of them open in recent years, cooking up fried chicken, creamed corn and bread pudding to beat the band. But at Grayson Social, culinary team Darlene Marcello (VP of food & beverage and procurement) and chef Daniel Tarasevich reinvented the traditional fried chicken go-to by using a tempura batter, making the dish lighter than expected.
The biscuits are another level. They say it themselves, Grayson Social is "seriously serious about [their] biscuits." These appropriately named Killer Biscuits are crumbly, moist and buttery and are made in-house, served with a trio of toppings ranging from a raspberry ancho chile or blueberry ginger to strawberry lime jams. Other standouts on the menu are the duck wings, pulled chicken poutine with pimento cheese and the classic shrimp and grits. Just don't go looking for deviled eggs.
Their cocktail program has a decidedly Southern influence with the use of floral elements ranging from actual flower petals to rose water to essential oils. The tinctures, shrubs and syrups are all made in-house, so expect a bar top crowded with dropper bottles and mysterious spray bottles. Go for the obvious Lemon Rosetini with essential rose oil or the smoked Bloody Mary served in a Chinese takeout container, or get a little wild and try one of their cocktails made with less expected elements. A rose sangria has Aperol-infused gummy bears, the Dark Chocolate Citrus Protein has actual protein powder in it and some of the fall features, like the Death Before Dinner, contain charcoal.
The hostess stand is flanked by staircases leading to a members-only area on the second floor where members can enjoy a more intimate experience and the feeling that you're just a little cooler than some of the people downstairs. While the path to membership is a bit sketchy right now (we'd suggest inquiring on their social channels for the time being), we've been told that membership is going to be invite-only and provides opportunities for private events, 15 percent off food, free Wi-Fi, free cake and champagne on your birthday, and "much more." Whether this facet will prove useful or pretentious is yet to be seen.
Currently, Grayson Social is serving breakfast, dinner and late-night cocktails on weekends. The late night cocktails are important, as we can see ourselves lounging above the bar in the cozy chairs perched on top of the landing overlooking the front door and bar area after a satisfying dinner. Add a whiskey cocktail and people-watching and you have a perfect night downtown. Look for lunch starting Monday and brunch starting Nov. 12.
Grayson Social, 1555 Elm St.
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