More than a year in the making, Stock & Barrel is one of the most exciting new restaurants to come along this year, with noteworthy credentials, an enviable address in Dallas’ Bishop Arts and most important, creative and satisfying food.
Independent and personal, it’s the fantasy restaurant that people always say they want: an upscale yet approachable neighborhood spot, with everything crafted by hand and executed capably.
Chef-owner Jon Stevens honed his skills cooking in kitchens around Dallas, including Aurora, Neighborhood Services, Mercury Grill, Mignon in Plano, Nosh Euro Bistro and Mesero Miguel.
For this, his first place of his own, he landed a primo location in the former Safety Glass Co. space on Davis Street, a few doors down from Zoli’s NY Pizza Tavern and the newly opened Cretia’s.
The renovation nearly gutted the place, although Stevens and his work crew managed to incorporate some of the wood recycled from the former tenant. The restaurant that emerged feels rustic yet polished, with grays and subtle brown hues, and a splash of red glazed tile in the open kitchen. There is much pleasing juxtaposition of wood, metal and cement. Two massive mirrors, framed in thick brushed metal, give everyone a bird’s-eye view.
The food follows that theme of minimalism and richness. Stevens describes it as an American wood fire grill. He does classics with good ingredients and culinary flair.
The burger ($14) had brisket, and came with cheddar and thick-cut bacon smoked in-house, plus French fries. The burger sat high on a bun from Empire Baking Co.; the “special sauce” combined mayonnaise, sriracha and mustard.
The beef — sirloin ($27) and meatloaf ($19) — were made of Wagyu. The meatloaf was a bountiful portion with two slices, as thick and high as petit filet mignon, their edges charred, and served with chunky roasted potatoes and bacon.
Harissa chicken ($19), similarly grand, served a big half-chicken in a crusty red glaze with a warm salad combining asparagus and quinoa.
Smoke played a major role in the coal-roasted eggplant ($18). Half an eggplant, peeled, was fire-roasted until the texture turned tender yet meaty — exactly what you hope a vegetarian entrée might do. It came with a warm grain salad made of chewy nutty bulgar and grilled vegetables. Eggplant picks up other flavors around it; infusing it with a smoky flavor was brilliant.
Stock & Barrel is committed to vegetables, with one category dedicated entirely to potatoes. Dishes rotate in and out, so we’ll be glad if the chickpea panisse ($6) is out for good. Pureed chickpea was formed into bites and coated with a shaggy batter, like gooey tater tots — not a winning dish.
White cheddar cauliflower ($8) was decadent, with just-tender cauliflower florets combined with “melted” onions and confit garlic. The best veggie was the simplest: foraged mushrooms ($10), with a meaty texture and salty, smoky flavor, just like the roasted eggplant.
Starters were excellent, including crunchy crab fritters ($11), filled with lump crab meat and not much else; and fava bean toasts ($9), with a pale fava-bean puree smeared raggedly on crisp toast slices and sprinkled with shredded ham.
The wine list has an eclectic, boutique-y personality, with nothing over $130. Sparklers included a split of French sparkling rose by Courtage for $12. The restraint of the servers not to compulsively top off the glass was admirable.
Some of these dishes appear on the brunch menu along with great hangover dishes like fried spaghetti and eggs ($13) and smoked salmon fried rice ($12) with mushrooms and a fried egg. Stock & Barrel serves brunch not just on Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday as well, addressing the whims of the locals like a good neighborhood restaurant should.