The change has been a long time coming. The Front Room first opened in 2012 in Hotel Lumen, with Scott Townend serving as executive chef. Back then, the restaurant was branded as a Park Cities diner, with a dressed up but casual menu that seemed well suited to the Park Cities.
But the soups, salads, fried chicken sandwiches and other menus didn't seem to capture anyone's attention. After a few first looks and a mediocre review in the Dallas Morning News, not much was said about the restaurant.
Chef Tim Bevins eventually took over after his stint in the kitchen at since-closed Craft in the W Hotel. Bevins created a temporary menu, which included this shrimp roll I still have dreams about, and then rumors began circulating that the restaurant would undergo a makeover of both space and menu.
That was in 2013. Now, a year later, that remodel has finally taken shape, but not before Michael Ehlert (The Chesterfield, Campo, Hibiscus) took charge of the kitchen and the name was tweaked to Front Room Tavern.
When you walk through the front door, you might not think anything has changed. The layout is essentially the same, with booths along one wall, separated from the bar by a row of high-tops. The color palate has changed considerably, though. Gone are the cool blue and whites of the diner for the 1 percent, replaced by wood tones, tans, browns and other warm colors. It's cozy, but I can't say it recalls much in the way of a tavern.
But as the menu shows, this was never supposed to be the sort of place where one could get a tankard of warm beer and a plate of fried fish and potatoes. The dishes are elegant, and each is elevated with a presentation Ehlert hopes will push his customers out of their comfort zone to introduce them to a new one.
Check out the chicken-liver mousse. It's intense -- almost too intense, with a rich, livery flavor. But the texture is as smooth as satin and when you spread a little on one of those wheat crackers with the fig mustarda that shares the plate, it all comes together. There's also a salmon ceviche that's presented in a small coupe glass. Most importantly, that shrimp roll is still on the menu.
If you haven't been to the Front Room in the past few months, you should stop in for a drink and a snack at least. The pair may convince you that it's worth your time to stay.
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