When news broke of chef Graham Dodds' departure from Henderson Avenue favorite Hibiscus, the local restaurant gossip grapevine went wild — partly because it was a surprise but mostly because Hibiscus' creative menu had won rave reviews. Days later, and more news: For the first time in Dodds' career, he would not only be chef but part-owner of a new concept brought to us by Brandon Hays and Phil Schanbaum, who have had success with Standard Pour, So & So's, and more recently, High Fives. The new restaurant, called Wayward Sons, recently opened on Greenville Avenue.
Henderson Avenue's busy strip gets a lot of love and attention these days, but Wayward Sons and the arrival of a heavy-hitter like Dodds shows that Greenville is still a dining destination.
The old Kirby's spot on Greenville got a sleek makeover. The interior mimics Grandma's kitchen, with white, open cupboards, though these hold liquor bottles, unlike Granny's. (She hid her hooch under the sink.) Stunning woodwork throughout looks as though it was reclaimed from a barn. Lush vegetation is found throughout the restaurant and on a patio where a fire pit is the centerpiece.
Dodds' cooking relies heavily on local and fresh ingredients, and here he has pieced together a pleasing menu that reflects regional Texas and Southern cuisine. Most dishes are big enough to be shared by two.
The three bread choices kick off the Southern/Texas theme: jalapeño cornbread, bundt batter bread or buttermilk biscuits partnered with his own mother's recipe for preserves. The buttermilk is made in-house.
The starters list picks it up and allows Dodds to demonstrate his genius with veggies. The purple potato tostones come flattened and fried with slices of cabrito between each spud. Both lie on top of a mix of crème fraîche and mariquitas salsa. Other options are a squash bisque, crispy baby back ribs and a garden "charcuterie." The salads range from mixed baby lettuce to celery root Waldorf, with the standout being the hazelnut-crusted goat cheese decorated with candied kumquats and beef bacon.
The regional flavors hit a high note with the entrées. Wild mushroom tamales amaze with a mole negro, avocado and radish combination that ties the dish together. Smoked lamb brisket is a kick in the pants to any beef barbecue-loving Texan. The lamb is braised for five hours and smoked for five more, producing a nearly perfect crust. In the range wars between beef and sheep herders, call this one a win for the woolly folk. The parsnip slaw and sweet onion purée added extra oomph, although the meat is confidently tasteful on its own.
The menu, of course, carries the names of some of the local farms and ranches where the food comes from, plus a disclaimer: "Consuming locally sourced produce and proteins may increase your risk of living a longer, healthier life in a more joyful, sustainable environment."
Wayward Sons offers a full bar menu complete with craft cocktails, including the namesake locally brewed beer. The restaurant is open daily for dinner only. Expect it to offer brunch next spring.
Wayward Sons is at 3525 Greenville Ave., 214-780-0373.