Fresh moonfish in Highland Park? White fungus in the Design District? Where you’re booking your next tables
by RICHARD BUFERD | photographs by MEI-CHUN JAU
Jon Alexis has long championed the fresh catches at his family’s North Dallas neighborhood fish shop, founded in 1989. Now, the 30-something has opened a second outpost — this one complete with a full kitchen, a five-seat bar and 12 sit-down tables — to create TJ’S SEAFOOD MARKET & GRILL, next door to chef Julian Barsotti’s Carbone’s at the Shops of Highland Park. Choose any fish from the case and have it prepared one of six ways, or go for the Connecticut-style lobster roll, Maryland jumbo lump crabcakes or a steaming bowl of gumbo. (About that lobster roll: TJ’s prepares it with luxurious minimalism, tossing the never-frozen succulent meat with warm lemon-thyme butter.) Perfectly matched wine pairings are the finishing touch.
If you’re picking up, everything required to season, sauce and compliment your sea bounty is available on the spot, along with expert advice, of course, and recipes from the staff.
In the bustling Design District, chef Matt McCallister is proving once again that he’s a creative force to be reckoned with. His first solo venture, FT33, is now open at Decorative Center Dallas, between Fendi Casa and Dahlgren Duck. The restaurant’s name comes from chefspeak for “fire table” — to ready the next course — and 33, the number of his chef’s table. McCallister cut his teeth working with Dallas icon Stephan Pyles and in some of the best kitchens around the country.
With a new cutting-edge playground — and no one to tell him no — you should expect the unusual and the seasonal. His complex dishes include intriguing ingredients. One example: white fungus, lamb brodo, pear, Indian cilantro, serrano pepper, licorice. Textural play and umami flavors also create a lasting impression in dishes such as the light and savory uni-and-chive pancakes. McCallister has plenty of talent on hand to help execute his vision: FT33’s GM and sommelier is Ryan Tedder, who was named the state’s best sommelier at this year’s 8th Annual TexSom conference; pastry chef Joshua Valentine appears this month on Bravo’s Top Chef: Seattle.
Know this: Get your reservation in early, especially if you want that coveted table 33. TJ’s Seafood Market & Grill, 4212 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas, 214-219-3474. FT33, 1617 Hi Line Drive, Dallas, 214-741-2629, ft33dallas.com