Dalton's Corner, with its new brick exterior, slick cement floor and knotty alder wood interior, is steeped in a 2012 look, but it's actually a blast from Burleson's past. More than 30 years ago, Dalton's Corner was one of the area's hopping teen club-dance halls, serving up live music and near-beer to as many as 2,000 customers, often from all parts of Texas.
After a long hiatus, Dalton's Corner resurfaced in mid-August as a full-blown, 200-seat, light-bathed eatery, only a block from its original space -- currently occupied by that home-style chicken dinner juggernaut, Babe's.
Locating so close to the poultry powerhouse might seem an intimidating prospect, but Dalton's Corner is delivering its own brand of well-executed Texas comfort-food staples (from cheesy fries and tangy Buffalo wings, to salads, steaks, chicken and pasta) in a sprawling space that includes a game area with two Brunswick pool tables, plus a breezy patio.
Indeed, the new Dalton's Corner is looking to attract almost every possible customer demographic. Sports fanatics will congregate at the 30-foot-long leather and granite bar, cheering the Cowboys or Rangers on one of 10 flat-screen televisions. And since Dalton's Corner doesn't duplicate the teeth-rattling rowdiness of most sports bars, plenty of families are bound to nestle into the leather banquettes, take in the vintage black-and-white pictures of historic Burleson, and enjoy the cozily familiar menu offerings.
The most complete tour of Dalton's Corner's starters is contained in its sampler ($12.95), where standouts include perfectly fried mozzarella batons packing that pleasing contrast of crunchy exterior and gooey cheese interior. Little baked mushroom caps are habit-forming, as are the red-hot chicken peppers, combining two of my favorite food groups: bacon and heat-seeking jalapeños.
One might not expect a place like Dalton's Corner to put much energy into that "ladies who lunch" standard, the side spinach salad ($4.25). But its version offers a refreshing spin with tart honey-balsamic dressing nicely coating a surprising variety of ingredients, including feta cheese and the always welcome sugar-dusted pecans.
Dalton's kitchen tackles everything from rib-eyes and beef tenderloins to chicken, salmon and pasta. Its Barnett Shale pasta ($11.95) is a rustic tangle of al dente penne, braided with strips of smoked bacon and long tassels of roasted garlic, all bound in a Romano and Asiago cheese sauce that never risks gloppiness.
The beer-braised chicken ($14.99) had similar comfort food appeal -- plus fall-from-the-bone tenderness -- but its Rahr braising was barely discernible, and it did suffer from timid seasoning.
Skip the fowl for the meal's standout, a superb Texas rib-eye ($18.99). Cloaked in a dry rub of garlic, pepper and various spices including smoked paprika, the 12-ounce steak was grilled to a perfect medium-rare, its red middle peeking out from a gorgeously charred exterior. That crunchy outside wore a beret of honey-sage-garlic butter. But it was the steak's exceptional juiciness that all but bathed the palate in beefy pleasure.
Dalton's portions aren't overwhelming, so thankfully there was still room for dessert. The s'mores bites ($5.95) were fun, yet flawed: They all but begged for a sauce. The rum bread pudding ($7.95) needed no tweaking at all. Its rough-cut bread chunks were toasted before being dunked in a French toast batter spiked with cinnamon and nutmeg. It ended up swimming in a deliciously unctuous rum-marshmallow cream.
Dalton's Corner is a historic name in North Texas hospitality and entertainment that is staging a comeback. And like many once-great athletes, Dalton's is showing that it still has plenty of game.