BIG EASY DOWNTOWN
NEW ORLEANS FLAVOR COMES TO DALLAS AT JEROBOAM.
Byline: Holly Haber
Investing Dallas with some of the bon vivant ambience of New Orleans is one of the objectives of Jeroboam, a new restaurant situated in the midst of downtown’s renaissance. With high ceilings, stalwart columns and marble floors, Jeroboam exudes the feeling of a French brasserie, and it sports a menu to match.
“The theme is to import some of New Orleans’s vitality and sense of culture based around music and food and neighbors to the character of Dallas,” explained Brandt Wood, president of the Entertainment Collaborative, which owns the restaurant.
Wood and his brother, Brady, grew up in New Orleans. They are partners in EC, along with Erick Schlather and Whitney Meyers.
The group has established itself in the past seven years as a key player in the development of the hip Deep Ellum neighborhood just east of downtown. EC also owns and operates The Green Room, a popular and chic restaurant, as well as the clubs Trees, Gypsy Tea Room and Vortex Mex.
The four 30-something partners are now turning their attention to the revival of downtown, by adding a fine restaurant to the residential lofts, hotels and bars that have sprouted there in the past few years.
“We wanted to be at the forefront of the downtown comeback,” Wood affirmed. “We believe in it and know it’s going to happen. We wanted to do our part and hopefully raise the confidence of other operators to come down and make a scene of it.”
Located in the 1913 Kirby building that once housed the Sanger Harris department store, Jeroboam is an elegant space decorated with a reverence for things past.
EC mined the former Dallas Power and Light Co., one of its properties in Deep Ellum that has been converted to lofts, for glass partitions to place between banquettes. Marble slabs from the nearby Wilson building and chandeliers from El Centro add to the historic ambience.
The setting is a fitting showcase for the skills of chef Garreth Dickey, who brings some of the culinary spirit of his former haunt, The Green Room, to Jeroboam with a new accent on seafood.
Whole lobster ($16.50), beluga caviar ($91) and crab claws ($1.25 each) are some of the options on the Fruits de Mer section of the menu. Steamed mussels ($7.75) in a rich broth strewn with roasted garlic were memorable, an even better version of the same well-considered dish at The Green Room.
Meat eaters may be sated with the juicy beef tenderloin ($22), served with a sweet puree of butternut squash and potato seasoned with cinnamon and green peppercorn demi.
Jeroboam serves several classic brasserie items, such as two pates with cornichons, olives, mustard and port jelly ($6.50) and a charcuterie plate of Texas sausages, veal shank and duck confit ($18).
“Being from New Orleans, we grew up with French and Creole food. And then, traveling to New York and Europe, we developed a real appreciation for it,” Wood noted. “We didn’t think it was being done in Dallas in a brasserie fashion — an open communal restaurant that feels like a neighborhood place, where you’re not buried in a booth somewhere. This is a festive style of dining.”
Indeed, Jeroboam offers a communal table where strangers may mingle over dinner — a common arrangement in Europe that’s more rare in the States.
“We have a big photo of Yves Klein diving off of a building,” Wood said. “I put that over the communal table to give people the idea to leap into downtown, leap into life and go for it.”
Jeroboam was a Hebrew king in the Old Testament and is also the word for a three-liter bottle of wine. It’s a fitting name for a restaurant offering a book of selections of French wines.
Jeroboam serves food virtually all day, starting at 11 a.m. and finishing at midnight during the week, and 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We want people who work through lunch down here to know they can come in and have a late lunch,” Wood said. “They can have a glass of wine or a beer and read a paper or magazine. There’s plenty of natural light during the day.”