While I loved the whole thing, there are some stand-out lines in Lauren's recent cover story on the state of Dallas dining. Matt McCallister's quotes are priceless, but there's also a bite from Brian Luscher that has stayed with me.
Fifteen years ago -- hell, even five years ago -- sweetbreads, headcheese and pigtails on a menu would have elicited a gag reflex; now diners are interested in unique items on occasion. Are we ready for true nose-to-tail dining? No, although maybe the right chef in a small unique location could be successful.
I actually disagree. I think Dallas is ready for true nose-to-tail. I'm seeing elements of it around town, and it excites me. Lucia and Campo are the biggest spear heads. They're leading the assault on the Dallas palate, and trying to expand our collective dining culture. And now Tim McLaughlin and Jill Bergus are taking a stab at nose-to-tail, hosting a special dinner Friday at Lockhart Smokehouse in Oak Cliff.
When Lockhart first opened they did their best to be purists. They didn't offer forks or barbecue sauce for sake of tradition, and it earned them a scathing review in the Dallas Morning News. They've since acquiesced. Sauce is now offered for those who want to doctor up their meat, and forks are available for those who don't want to get to know their brisket quite that intimately. Now they're cooking pig face. That's way outside the BBQ box.
The dinner features a whole hog, quite literally, though some concessions are being made for the squeamish. The headcheese that starts the meal is composed primarily of meat, with little skin, fat or gristle. Other dishes featuring Canadian bacon and braised shank pander to the timid, not that it makes them any less good.
Chitterlings are more aggressive, though. Hog guts are harder to disguise, but McLaughlin plans to marinate them overnight before battering and deep frying them. I can't wait to hear how they're received.
If the dinner works out, there could be similar events held at Lockhart.
"We'll never be the kind of place that does a wine dinner," McLaughlin says. "But I could see us do this kind of thing once a month." In a city devoid of pop-up and underground dining, these types of events are a welcomed addition.
Hopefully the dinner is a success and the events grow. Perhaps the folks at Lockhart will mimic Jay Jerrier at Cane Rosso and let other chefs get into the fold. That would be a win for everyone.
The dinner costs $70 for seven courses and features beer pairing from Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Reservations can be made at 214-944-5521 for the February 3, 7 p.m. seating.
Go on and git you some chittlins.
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