The Front Room Tavern, a neighborhood tavern concept next door Hotel Lumen and right by SMU, experienced a restaurant makeover late last year. With a tweaked name, new chef (Executive Chef Michael Ehlert) and a transformation of the space, guests will see a whole new side of this Kimpton restaurant.
The NL Group, in collaboration with Headington Companies, has transformed the space with warm colors and textures. Wood tabletops and chairs with industrial lighting and other elements make this an approachable and inviting neighborhood restaurant and bar. The polished dining room, bar and patio is comfortable yet chic. Executive Chef Michael Ehlert complements this with his whimsical take on classic dishes, but adds a few unanticipated ones as well. That’s what makes this restaurant a fun place to visit!
New entrees and sides
The knowledgeable staff introduced me to the new dinner entrees available now on the menu. The prices of the meals are a bit on the higher end but are worth the splurge if you’re looking for a nice dinner. New dinner plates and starters to the menu include:
Sea Scallops with market peas and carrots: Easy to chew on, the sea scallops on this plate aren’t your typical scallops. The dish comes with a carrot purée and roasted baby carrots, along with field peas and English peas, that are sautéed in butter and fines herbes. The dish is finished with a little “vinaigrette” of pine nuts fried in brown butter and Banyuls vinegar.
Wild King Salmon with farro, olive and artichoke:
This delicate piece of salmon was rich in flavor and came on a bed of grains and artichoke (which I love).
House Tagliatelle with braised bunny, Swiss chard and morels: I stepped out of my comfort zone with this dish and daringly tried the rabbit. The food was delicate and reminded me a bit of chicken. I also enjoyed the strips of ribbon-style pasta (the tagliatelle). The mix of Swiss cheese added great flavor to this light-tasting dish.
Roasted Sakura Pork Chop: This slab of pork belly is another new meaty dish to the dinner menu. The pork chop has is crispy on the outside and incredibly delicate and full of flavor on the inside.
Chop-Chop Salad with napa cabbage, avocado, watermelon and pickled vegetables: Summer is the season for watermelon, and that makes me one happy girl. The addition of watermelon on the salad definitely caught my eye and was a sweet addition to the salad. The avocado slices were great to have, too. This is a light dish works well as a starer to share with your table…or have it all to yourself.
Housemade Lao Sausage pickled ramp, red curry: This starter is the first taste of red curry I’ve had that wasn’t spicy. Since my taste palette isn’t a fan of spicy food, I was okay with it! The meat was juicy and whet my appetite for the remaining courses.
Coffee bar and pastries
Another reason I love this restaurant is for the coffee bar and pastries. A small cup of coffee is the perfect pick-me-up I need after a big meal, and of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a bite of cake too, right? Choose from a Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, French Press or a Cold Brew from the coffee bar. I opted for a Cappuccino, a slice of Chocolate Cheesecake and the Salted Caramel Pot de Creme (shown below).
The Front Room Tavern offers an extensive list of refreshing, artisanal craft cocktails. From drinks like She has the last word to Pear-a-Sol and the Ruby Gimlet, expect a lot of exotic and fruity flavors. A handful of sparkling, red and white wine is also offered, as well as dessert wine options. Additionally, the restaurant offers a variety of craft and imported beers. See the entire list of refreshments here.
Front Room Tavern is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. This hidden gem in the Park Cities area is definitely worth the visit. Check them out next time you’re around SMU and leave a comment below sharing your thoughts!
Front Room Tavern is located at 6101 Hillcrest Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75205.
(Disclaimer: My meal was complimentary, and all thoughts are my own.)