The Brown Butter Old Fashioned At Lucia is Worth Finding Parking in the Bishop Arts District

Brown Butter Old Fashioned at Lucia with some olives.
Brown Butter Old Fashioned at Lucia with some olives. Lauren Drewes Daniels
There's still reason to brave the seven levels of parking hell in the Bishop Arts District, and it has to do with fat-washed bourbon. Yes, fat-washed, and yes hell.

True story: I was part of a four-car quagmire in a parking lot where I  almost got hit, lost a spot in an undesired standoff while unintentionally blocking two other cars, and watched another person just quit driving all in a matter of about seven minutes on a recent Thursday evening in the Bishop Arts.

Regardless, you should hop on Lucia's website, which is one of our favorite restaurants in the city, and commit to a reservation. Through Resy you can set an alert for any last-minute cancellations and you might be surprised how often those pop open.

Try to get a seat at the bar, either close the hostess stand where you can watch plates pass out of the kitchen or go for the far side of the bar where you can watch the whole dining room and check out the record collection. Another perk of sitting at the bar is chatting with the bartenders about what the hell kind of dark magic they applied to your old fashion. And you’ll for certain want to do that.

Lucia in itself is something everyone should experience. You’ll sit there and think, “If I opened a restaurant, this is how I would do it.” It’s quaint, homier than expected for a Dallas hot spot, particularly in the new Bishop Arts. It’s a thoughtful meal in a space with hearth appeal. Co-owner Jennifer Ugyur and your servers might literally make you feel more at home here than you do at your actual home.

After you arrive, but before you start studying the menu, order their Brown Butter Old Fashioned to shake off any of the bad feelings acquired trying to find a parking spot. (To avoid all that ridiculousness, take the DART streetcar.) The first sip of this drink might not blow you out of your seat, it’s a subtle intro.

The bartender was kind enough to explain the brown butter portion of this drink in detail, which is called fat-washing. She starts by browning a stick of unsalted butter in a pan until it’s golden brown and has a nutty aroma. She then allows the butter to completely cool, lest it explode, before pouring it into a container with a bottle of Maker’s Mark.

The butter and bourbon are lightly stirred and then set in the freezer to rest overnight. During that time the butter rises to the top of the container. After the solid has completely separated, the butter is skimmed off the top, then the bourbon is strained through a cheesecloth to remove all the smaller bits of solids.

What's left is bourbon with nutty smooth brown butter flavor and it’s absolutely decadent. "Fat washing" feels like too harsh of a term; "kissed" might be more appropriate. Smooth as silk, nary a bit of fat or cream left behind. Our own Susie Oszustowicz wrote about this technique a few years ago and how liquor can be washed with any number of fats, like brisket or bacon.

Oszustowicz explained it's a “process that infuses the rich flavor of one item into another, and leaves the flavor behind but not the fat, nor the oleaginous mouthfeel that often accompanies a fatty treat.” Exactly. And, when asked about the process recently, Oszustowicz said that despite how wonderful fat-washing is, it still hasn’t been adopted widely.

Brave the parking, walk, bike, catch the streetcar, hop, whatever. Get to Lucia. This is worth the trip.

Lucia, 287 N. Bishop Ave. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday. Closed Monday.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.