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Wynne to add Mudhen to restaurant flock (update)

Posted 5:37pm on Monday, May. 05, 2014

Shannon Wynne -- the man behind restaurants with flight-themed names, such as Fort Worth’s Bird Cafe, Dallas’ Meddlesome Moth and LARK on the Park, as well as the Flying Saucer Draught Emporiums and Flying Fish seafood joints -- is about to take wing again with Mudhen, a new restaurant to open in 2015 in the revamped Dallas Farmers Market.

“We don’t take a long time to settle on a name,” Wynne said in a press release. “It’ll be earthy and farmy, and that’s about as much thought as we gave the name.” The release stresses that the restaurant will simply be called Mudhen -- not “Mudhen Cafe” or “The Mudhen.”

According to the release, “Mudhen is the slang name for the American Coot, a migratory waterfowl that eats vegetation and vertebrates when available.”

That “earthy, farmy” feel in the 5,500-square-foot restaurant comes from “a healthful, chef-driven menu that highlights the freshest ingredients available in the city, mostly because we will have daily access to many local, and some imported, growers just 200 feet away from our kitchen,” Wynne says in the release.

UPDATE: After we initially posted, Wynne called in with a few other details. “We’re going to try to use as many vendors from the new Farmers Market, which has started construction, as we can,” he says. “In the past, the produce at the Farmers Market was not necessarily picked by the people that are selling it, but they’re making great efforts to get good growers that are growing harder-to-find items, better items, organic items.”

Wynne says the revamped Farmers Market should be a great destination for chefs from all over North Texas to come and shop. But he adds that Mudhen will not limit its offerings to locally sourced foods. Although no chef has been hired yet, Wynne says he does have a vision for the restaurant’s menu.

“What I have in my mind’s eye is your being able to select [from] let’s say, theoretically, 20 different vegetables, what vegetables you’re going to have with your meal,” Wynne says. “They’ll be prepared for you with a meat protein, or you can go total vegetarian if you want to.”

Wynne says he didn’t want to go as far as calling the restaurant part of the “paleo” movement, but he does says it will focus on lower-carb dishes, trying to stay away from anything with white flour or white starch. By its very nature, it will have a menu that changes seasonally.

“There’ll be a large variety of vegetables and meats,” Wynne says. “I’m trying to stay in the $9 to $14 range.”

This being a Wynne restaurant (developed along with partners Keith Schlabs and Larry Richardson, who along with Wynne are also behind the non-flight-themed Rodeo Goat), there will be plenty of beer as well. “There will be a large outdoor patio/beer garden area,” he says. “We’re not going to have a multitap liked the Saucer, but we’ll have a great selection of beers and we’ll have mixed drinks as well.” But he adds that it’s more about food with drinks than drinks with food.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall with a spring 2015 target opening (with the caveat that most restaurants don’t hit their target dates -- Bird, Rodeo Goat and the revamped Flying Saucer in Sundance Square all launched later than scheduled). Wynne, who designs all his restaurants, says he doesn’t plan anything as elegant as Bird or LARK on the Park.

“I doubt there’ll be much decor at all,” Wynne says. “I don’t see this having a stylized interior in any way, shape or form. It’ll be pretty simple, down and dirty -- more like the Goat, but not quite as simple.”

The Mudhen news comes not long after DFW.com reported that Keith Grober, the chef who helped put Rodeo Goat on the map, is leaving to open his own restaurant (details of which weren’t available yet). The News’ Sarah Blaskovich reported a couple of days later that current kitchen manager Jaymes Murphy will take over Grober’s duties. Blaskovich notes that Murphy designed a burger called the Hawaiian Punch -- the ingredients include mango-sweet onion relish, crispy speck ham and habanero orange aioli -- so it looks like he will maintain the Goat’s adventurous spirit.

Rodeo Goat is about to open a second location on Market Center Boulevard in Dallas, not too far away from Meddlesome Moth. Shannon Wynne’s son, Sam, who was a partner in the original Rodeo Goat, is now concentrating on Braindead Brewing, a brewpub scheduled to open this summer in Dallas’ Deep Ellum District.

DFW.com profiled Shannon and Sam Wynne in January. You can check that out here.

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