Restaurant Reviews

The Heights Is Downright Neighborly, in a European Kind of Way

Even though it has been serving three meals, fresh coffee and booze since midsummer, people still sometimes call The Heights looking for legal advice. That's not as odd at it sounds, though, considering that the Lakewood restaurant/bar/coffeehouse/lounge replaced Legal Grounds, the beloved coffeehouse that dispensed caffeine and law tips for around two decades.

The law books might be gone, but the cozy neighborhood vibe that made Legal Grounds a favorite remains at The Heights, a community restaurant modeled after a European diner. The Heights' menu is driven by Karin Porter, who worked as an assistant chef at the The Grape for eight years, and it it has an old-school approach, aiming to supply everything a neighborhood needs in a gathering place (with the possible exception of members of the Bar). The idea of opening a place with good coffee and booze with home-cooked meals was something managing partner Ricki Derek thought about after seeing several establishments like this in Amsterdam.

The design looks like a shotgun, wooden bar in Amsterdam or perhaps old New York City, and The Heights is an unpretentious place where young couples, middle-aged friends and families squeeze into a row of tables or spaces at the bar, many of them already regulars who are greeted by name as they walk in the door.

Cary Ray, who is also a managing partner at Daddy Jack’s and Crown & Harp, knows how to create a melting pot. “It seems like the best approach for longevity,” Derek says. The Heights does a good job of making the space unique both as a coffee shop and bar with food. In the morning, it doesn't feel like a bar. But in the evening it seems like a bar as much as a restaurant. The Heights is also geared toward counter service just as much as it is full service.

“Everybody’s used to getting average food and getting the wool pulled over with all the concepts,” Derek says. “I think people have reached a point of exhaustion with all the places there are.” He believes that many people are simply looking for ease and quality. The food is made with care, but it’s not overly complicated.

The coffee is damn good, made with organic local coffee beans. This gives The Heights a pretty big edge over many other places when it comes to breakfast and brunch. They also have several wines on tap, which offer plenty of options for wine by the glass.

To round off the all-in-one-place theme, they also feature occasional performances by jazz or lounge groups. Ray and Derek are also managing partners of Scat Jazz Lounge, the upscale performance space in Fort Worth. The drinks share the same model and they used the same company for the wooden bar, tables and booths.

Breakfast is simple. Salads and sandwiches dominate the lunch and dinner menus, but the steak frites is a popular meal: choice tenderloin with herb butter, green apple slaw and wedge fries. There is nothing on the menu that's particularly spicy or that demands an acquired taste. These are meals that could appeal to anyone on any day.

The breakfast sausage is made in-house, along with the lox. The Heights also makes its own pickles and pickled jalapeños. The chicken comes from a nearby free range farm.

The Heights has been built for longevity, and it has picked the right spot for it. Legal Grounds operated there under different owners for about two decades. With its strong community ties and regulars already filling tables, The Heights looks built for the long haul.

Reach The Heights at 2015 Abrams Road, 214-824-5800.

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Jeremy Hallock