Green Room manager Taylor Allday's been a regular fixture at the Black Swan Saloon on Elm Street for the past few months while readying the storied Deep Ellum restaurant for reopening this week. It was nice, taking the Swan's signature Jameson and pickle shots with Allday and a loose cohort of regulars who call the Swan home. But I reckon he'll be a bit busy these days getting the restaurant off the ground, though if last night's meal is any indication, the new incarnation of the Green Room will have no problem getting and keeping customers.
I walked over to meet the Man O' The Hour at the newly renovated, rock-themed eatery last night around seven, and there was just one other couple dining in the restaurant while we sat and had a glass of Writer's Block red and chatted up the bartender. Bottles of wine line the back of the big, wooden bar at the entrance, and booze is free while the Green Room waits on a permit from the TABC. They are not stingy with the stuff. Refills were offered before our glasses were even emptied. I don't know if that is fancy dining etiquette, because I don't do a lot of fancy dining. If it is, you rich folk have been keeping a pretty great secret from the rest of us, and you're jerks for it.
We started with the grilled Texas quail, perfectly halved to share, and that tiny bird gave us its all. Tender and smoky, its little legs straddled a potato gratin on a bed of purple-hull peas. By the end of the bird, I abandoned propriety and opted to use my hands to get every last piece of meat. Dainty has no place when faced with delicious.
And then, the salads -- Man O' The Hour's grilled iceberg lettuce and avocado was topped with a cilantro vinaigrette, while my baby frisee and spinach salad featured a warm, smoked bacon vinaigrette. But the chilled roasted tomatoes were worth writing home about. Roasted and then refrigerated, there was no salad-wilting heat on my plate. Brilliant.
Entrees: Man O' The Hour's hickory-grilled pork tenderloin was moist and medium, but I didn't get any of his Swiss chard or cheddar potatoes, as they disappeared rather quickly. (And thoughtlessly. Hmph.) I ordered the skate wing -- it's like a sting ray -- and halibut cheeks in a Chardonnay brown butter sauce served over rich, garlicky couscous. The fish was firm without being tough, requiring an actual knife and somehow both light and filling. But oh my, the slow-roasted beefsteak tomato (tomatoes are my favorite thing) was heaven. It was thick and meaty, and seasoned to complement, rather than overpower, the richness of the vegetable. (Yes, it's legally a vegetable.)
But hold on to your drawers, y'all -- it's time to talk about dessert. For Man O' The Hour, a sweet, roasted peach with dulce de leche ice cream. For me, a root beer creme brulee, garnished with blackberries and a gummy root beer bottle. The brulee top was grainy, breaking easily with my spoon and giving bites of the fluffy creme a carbonated texture. An upscale soda fountain in dessert form.
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The dining room is small, for now, as Allday hasn't opened up the second half of the restaurant that shares a wall with Trees. By the time we left, as the sun was going down, the dining room was probably three-quarters full. Our server was attentive and knowledgeable, disappearing into the kitchen to get answers he didn't have off-hand, such as, what was on that delicious roasted beefsteak 'mater? Thyme and dill, turns out.
Before we were seated, we talked briefly with Allday about the decor -- I'd never been to the original Green Room, despite also living in Deep Ellum when it was still open. Allday says he's kept most of it the same, though it's less "cluttered" now. Arty, wooden guitars decorate the walls, and chandeliers are made from drum cymbals. The stairs to the rooftop patio -- opening later in the year once it cools off -- are painted with cherubs. A stairway to heaven. "Like at the Hard Rock!" exclaimed the Man O' The Hour, who is a hilarious joker.
The Green Room's now taking reservations only, so e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if our top-notch meal at this Deep Ellum classic has given you a case of the green-eyed monster.
The Green Room
2715 Elm St.