When it comes to dining, we’re the gay Indiana Joneses. We’re always up for adventure and we’re not afraid to use a whip. So when we heard about a new restaurant opening in the Stevens Park area of Oak Cliff, we had no idea what we were in for – and that was half the fun.
Following the turn-by-turn directions on our iPhone, we eventually pulled up to an 11-story building, one we’d seen for years as we traveled along Hampton Road heading to or from other O.C. locales. Up close, the building is cool and modern in a very retro way (after all, it was built in 1963). Originally known as Wedgwood Tower, the building was originally built as a luxury high-rise for the over-50 set. Today, it’s gotten a complete facelift and is now known as The Indigo, still home to senior citizens, but disproportionate to a new influx of younger residents.
After driving around the large lot looking for signs pointing to our destination, Café Bleu, we gave up, parked and snuck in behind a resident carrying in his groceries. The lobby was like a ghost town, not a soul in sight. We wandered around, admiring the lush property with its fountains, pond, swimming pool and Canadian geese. Then we turned a corner and saw a small sign listing daily specials. The sparsely decorated dining room was empty, except for two senior citizens at separate tables sitting in silence.
Had we sashayed into some strange alternate universe? This couldn’t be the restaurant we’d read about. Suddenly, Chef Joe Acuna popped out and welcomed us to the restaurant. He showed us around and gave us the history of the building, all while flashing a million-dollar smile that calmed fears that we were being lured into some retirement home where they make sausages out of the young visitors who stumble inside.
But once we were seated and the food hit the table, we knew we’d found a hidden gem. Sure, sitting in a quiet, near-empty space is creepy, but the food is as good as the We’re Not in Dallas view.
A grilled Cesar Salad featured nicely charred, still-crisp leaves, homemade croutons and a tasty dressing. Known for their burgers, according to Chef Joe, we sampled two towering monsters that could each feed a small family. One topped with bleu cheese, the other with a red-pepper-speckled Asiago, each was mouth-wateringly great. These could appear at the top of any Best Burger list in the coming year.
The real winner, however, was the Ribeye Steak. (Yes, half-pound burgers were merely our third course. We had fruit and cheese before the salad.) At only $11.99, complete with freshly mashed potatoes and a daily vegetable, the chef brought out an entire slab of beef and asked how thick we like it. After a short giggle, we indicated where we’d like him to cut our steaks. About twenty minutes later, they arrived cooked to medium-rare perfection, topped with a wonderful herb butter alongside fluffy mashers.
Needless to say, we left with multiple to-go boxes.
Both Chef Joe and his colleague, Jeff Stevens, are Cordon Bleu-trained and they actually met in cooking school before starting Café Bleu. A majority of the ingredients are local and everything is remarkably fresh, including the made-in-house hamburger buns. A new menu is in the works, but it still has that crazy-cheap Ribeye on it, so that’s all we care about for now.
By the time we left, a few tables of younger residents had begun to trickle in as the Early Bird crowd headed off to an evening of Wheel of Fortune, Matlock reruns and complaining about sciatica.
When you go to Café Bleu, you’re going to love the attentive, friendly service (your server will likely be the patient-as-a-saint Heather) and wonderful food. Just be prepared (at least for now) to feel like you’re dining somewhere deep in the recesses of The Twilight Zone. This is by far the most bizarre dining experience we’ve had in a long time – and one of the most enjoyable, too. Chef Joe and his crew have genuine affection for the older residents and it’s clear they have a passion for what they do, regardless of who’s seated at their tables.
And that’s a mission we can support.
2511 Wedglea Drive, Dallas
Gay Bingo This Weekend
It's Gay Bingo Weekend!
This month's theme is Gaybingo Asylum. Girl, be afraid…Jenna Skyy's going to bring something freaky, we're sure!
Doors open at 5:00 p.m., games start at 6:00 p.m. Pre-sold tickets get first entry when the doors open, so buy your tickets in advance!
Tickets: $26.50 per person
(You must be 21+ to attend to Gaybingo.)
The Rose Room at S4