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First Bites: Sundown at Granada

Posted 1:16pm on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012

Prior to last Saturday's all-local blow-out at the Granada Theater, my wife and I ducked into Sundown at Granada for a quick spin through the restaurant's menu before showtime. (I had visited the space previously, but its kitchen wasn't up and running until Jan. 13.) Food service currently runs from 4-10 p.m. daily (with a late-night menu for Fridays and Saturdays that starts up at 10 p.m.), while bar service runs from 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily.

Under the guidance of chef Patrick Stark (who oversees the grub at the Granada), Sundown at Granada packs a lot of options onto its (relatively) compact menu, which is supplemented with an extensive selection of more than 60 beers and a handful of specially created cocktails. We started off with two of the $10 specialty cocktails -- the Jefferson Airplane (a citrus-y gin concoction, laced with lavender) and the Pink Lady (a vivid drink with pisco, lemon, maple syrup and champagne, among other ingredients) -- as we perused the rest of the menu. Broken up into shared plates ("opening acts"), burgers and sandwiches ("between bread"), salads ("the garden") and full-on entrees ("headliners), the menu also offers a hefty array of vegan and vegetarian options, instantly setting it apart from the vast majority of Dallas eateries.

To start, we sampled the Raving Rosemary Glazed meatballs ($10), made of soft, hearty Kobe beef, and topped with bleu cheese crumbles, slivers of fig and a cranberry and red wine au jus. Artfully arranged on the slender plate, it was a terrific start to our meal; the meatballs fairly melted in the mouth. The flat-breads section of the menu yielded the "Mi Amigo" ($12), topped with Kobe beef, black beans, queso fresco and jalapeno slices. Packing quite the kick, somewhat cooled by the black beans and queso fresco, this delicious flat-bread functioned as a hip riff on pizza (a gluten-free version of the flat-bread dough is available for a small surcharge).

My wife and I split the restaurant's namesake burger, the "Sundown" ($13), a six-ounce patty of grass-fed beef from the Chisholm Trail. Cooked to medium perfection and topped with creamy goat cheese and root beer-soaked onions, it was a collision of unlikely flavors that blended to fantastic effect. The sweet potato fries, served on the side with all burgers, had a little spice to them, playing nicely against the expected sweetness. To finish off our meal, we tried the root beer float ($5), topped with rich vanilla ice cream and spiked with agave nectar, and the ill-advised s'mores dessert shot ($6), which consists of slugging a shot of graham cracker-crumb-rimmed chocolate liqueur and devouring a marshmallow toasted table-side by your server. The amount of liquid in the shot is out of proportion to the size of the marshmallow, making the whole thing unbalanced. Perhaps that treat needs to be revisited.

On a night that saw the room fairly packed, our service was quite attentive and speedy (we were racing against the clock to finish eating and make it next door for the show). Reservations are suggested, especially on nights when the Granada has a show scheduled, if only to avoid potentially facing a wait for an open table. If you can't make it before the curtain goes up, there's also a "late night" menu, which reduces the menu to fries, flat-breads, the shared plates (or "bites"), burgers and tacos. That menu is only served Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 10 p.m.

While there's no dearth of culinary options immediately surrounding the Granada, many are either too upscale or too complicated to simply duck in, grab a bite and leave. Sundown at Granada finds that balance between a slightly more refined dining experience, without forsaking the flexibility to eat a little, drink some and be on your way. That it's next door to where you're likely going anyway is icing on the cake.

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