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Return Of A Classic

After twelve years, the original Green Room restaurant closed to a saddened group of foodie fans back in 2006. Four years later, the Deep Ellum staple is back and ready for a comeback.

Like the first incarnation, this new version aims to offer fine dining in a comfortable, unpretentious setting. The rock-and-roll vibe is present, but not overwhelming. Guitars hang on the walls, but they’re “artsy” guitars. This ain’t the Hard Rock.

Chef Joel Harloff has made a name for himself in a variety of top Dallas restaurants and now he’s poised to do great things with Green Room. The menu is innovative, but approachable. No crazy foams or odd presentation gimmicks, just good, well executed dishes utilizing the freshest ingredients available.

For those who’ve asked (and everyone does), the Green Room’s famous mussels are back on the menu, albeit with a new recipe, so that could be reason enough to get the old-timers back in the space or could alienate those who remember the original mussels with such passionate fondness.

For newbies who either don’t remember the original Green Room or just never went, we highly recommend the “Feed Me” option. For $47 ($68 with wine pairings), the chef will create a four-course menu for each person at your table. It’s a fantastic way to sample a variety of offerings for a very reasonable price, especially considering that an average entrée alone is about $24. You can alert the Chef of any food allergies, as well as request that he include a specific item as part of the tasting, but for the most part, it’s best to just let him work his magic and send out what he thinks is best that evening.

For our tasting, we started with the pan-seared Georges Bank scallops, served with pickled radish and sweet red onion, two-potato galette, and a Bing Cherry beurre blanc. The scallops had a wonderful sear on them and stood up to the rich sauces and mildly pungent radish and onion. We also had the grilled Texas quail, which was accompanied by a fresh herb-potato gratin, purple hull peas and wild Oregon mushrooms with a fresh thyme quail demi glace. For quail, this portion was nice and meaty and fell right off the bone. The flavors were excellent.

The salad course, surprisingly, turned out to be our favorite. How can a salad be so special you ask? Just try one at Green Room and tell us we’re wrong. The grilled iceberg lettuce & avocado salad with fire-roasted poblano peppers, caramelized red onion, pear tomatoes and creamy cilantro vinaigrette was sublime. The entire head of lettuce is grilled then refrigerated prior to cutting and serving, so there’s a nice smoky flavor, but the signature crunch and chill that Iceberg should always have is still present. The avocado is lightly grilled, too, making the texture even softer and creamier than nature intended. We loathe cilantro and still enjoyed this salad tremendously.

A second salad of baby frisée and spinach was tossed with fresh English peas, julienne pears, roasted cherry tomato and an applewood-smoked bacon vinaigrette. Again, the ingredients each sing their own signature tunes, but when combined form a wonderful harmony of flavors that is near perfection. Again, the smoky notes from bacon brought a new depth to the greens. We could’ve ended at this course and been very happy, but we were troupers and kept up the fight.

Of our two main courses, one was spot-on, the other could have been. The hickory-grilled pork tenderloin was moist and amazingly flavorful thanks to roasted plums and a natural pork reduction. It was served on aged white cheddar potatoes and accompanied by Bright Lights Swiss chard and caramelized shallots. We typically don’t order pork tenderloin in a restaurant, even though we love it at home, but this is a version that was elevated to grand status under Chef Harloff’s hand and something we would definitely try a second time.

The braised lamb shank was huge and richly sauced with a red wine lamb reduction. It was well prepared and plentifully portioned, but the parsnip-potato purée on which it sat was room temperature, almost chilled in the center. That wasn’t enough to make it a complete miss, but cold potatoes aren’t the most appetizing unless it’s in a Vichyssoise or that magic McDonald’s French Fry you find under the seat while washing your car (you know you’ve tried it). We’re confident that this was just a timing issue in the kitchen and the potatoes hit the plate a little too early.

By the time dessert rolled around, we were completely stuffed, but once again, we powered through. A chocolate-mint brownie was utterly forgettable, but the root beer crème brûlée was brilliantly imaginative and sure to be one of their signature sweets. It’s delicious and there’s something about it that just has a nice, laid-back sense of humor. Yet after three previous courses, we probably would’ve been better suited getting dessert to go. We’ll remember that next time. Because there will definitely be a next time.

Green Room
2715 Elm Street, Dallas
(214) 744-7666 or reservations@greenroomdallas.com
www.greenroomdallas.com
Note: As of last night, the web site was not functioning, but should be back up soon.

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