Ever since Misti Norris left her post at Small Brewpub, the Dallas food scene has been anxiously awaiting the forward-thinking chef's return. Known for creative dishes often using fermentation, foraged ingredients and meat she cures herself, Norris has been participating in pop-up dinners and events since leaving Small. But now, she has a new restaurant that's soft-opening this weekend.
Petra & the Beast in East Dallas plans to "bring unique, pleasant, and hearty reflections from farm, forage, fermentation and fire to table," according to the restaurant's website. Norris brought in Joshua Harmon, who recently resigned from his restaurant, Junction Craft Kitchen, after new owners changed the direction and ethos of the Deep Ellum eatery.
Right now, Petra & the Beast is open Saturdays and Sundays, but the format is unique. Saturday night, diners must have reservations to take advantage of a $100 tasting menu with beer parings by Barrett Tillman — AKA BlackMan Brewing — the master of funk who's managing Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s sour and barrel-aged program. The menu for Saturday night (dinner starts at 7 p.m.) is adventurous in a way that is oh-so Norris: smoked pork rillette, koji-cured pork loin, pickled snail toast, aged prosciutto and ravioli made with fresh cheese, tongue and cheek.
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On Sundays, the restaurant switches to a counter service format that's smaller, more casual and less expensive. Last week's menu featured Texas turnip cake ($8), a $15 charcuterie boat, escargot and Thai chicken curry ($10) and whole hog ragout ($9). Sunday is BYOB and runs from 6-11 p.m.
Judging by Norris' previous work — and the funk-loving dream team she's built with Harmon and Tillman — this low-key, in-the-know dining spot is poised to put out some incredible food.
"It feels amazing to be back in my own kitchen — this time no partners or investors, so it's definitely been a learning experience from the beginning," Norris says. "It was amazing to have the opportunity to travel and expand my knowledge of the business as well as foraging and studying the culture of other places in the US. So excited to serve the Dallas community again. I have plans for some other chefs in town to use the space to express their creativity in a neutral environment."
Petra & the Beast, 601 N. Haskell St. Make reservations online or by calling 318-935-0906.