Deep Ellum in Dallas. I said it before, and Iâ€™ll say it again â€“ the evolution of this sector of Dallas is something to not only observe and but also enjoy.
A few weeks ago, I had a chance try out Deep Ellumâ€™s newest concept, Junction Craft + Kitchen.
Then again, itâ€™s not really new. Chef Josh Harmon was the final iteration at Kitchen LTO, the clever pop up concept where seven rising-star chefs had the opportunity to capture the hearts and bellies of food enthusiast around the city.
His innovative culinary perspective was such a hit that the pop up became a permanent fixture in the Deep Ellum community. I didnâ€™t have the chance to try his menu at Kitchen LTO, but if you ask me, no one will have to think twice about whether or not Junction Craft Kitchen is here to stay.
Chef Harmonâ€™s culinary genre is indeed a homage to his own personal experience. Born in the south in Tennessee, raised right here in Texas and graduating from high school in Los Angeles, a little piece of each place he called home is apparent in his cooking. His southern roots and training in Asian cooking has yielded a unique menu that will keep diners wanting more.
The menu is well curated and features appetizers or snacks, small and big plates. Itâ€™s perfect for sharing if youâ€™re in a big group or if youâ€™re a special date night and want to try a little bit of everything.
Our first bite gave us the perfect sneak peek of the complexity of flavors and cultures to come. Any meal must begin with Chef Joshâ€™s Deviled Eggs, his daily spin on a Southern classic, but really, thereâ€™s no telling what heâ€™ll stuff in the protein-rich canvas. And thatâ€™s the best part.
After our tastebuds were awakened, we were presented with the Deviled Pork Belly which was sinfully savory and delicious (pun intended). The salty pork belly had the perfect companions â€“ smoked pickles, house cheese wiz and chicken biscuit crackers. By no means am I trying to degrade his meal, but it reminded me of my childhood when we used to eat those heavily processed lunchables, except like me, the ingredients have grown up and become sophisticated. I could have made a meal of chicken biscuit cracker bites, covered with pork belly, a dish of cheese wiz and pickle for a tangy kick.
The small plates just kept coming, and each time I was reminded to never underestimate the power of a small bite. Chef Joshâ€™s interpretation of the fried green tomatoes will give everyone a little southern charm. Not only are you blown away with the modern presentation, but the layers of flavors from the creamy burrata combined with the exotic curry and a hint of strawberry will leave you awestruck.
Warm potato salad and Brussel sprouts completed our journey through the small plates. Chef Josh noted that this sprouts were a fan favorite during his time at Kitchen LTO and the love hasnâ€™t diminished at all at Junction either.
For the larger entrees, we dined on the Hot Chicken and Korean Sticky Duck Leg. As a Tennessee native, Chef Josh almost had to make the spicy poultry, but of course, he had to add his own twist. I loved the extra crispy, spicy flavor of the chicken, and each crunchy bite was followed by moist, flavorful meat.
And just when I thought my palette couldnâ€™t take any more, out comes Gigiâ€™s Texas Sheet. Now, Gigi is Chef Joshâ€™s mom and sheâ€™s made quite the name for herself through the desserts, especially the pie. But if the pie is anything like the sheet cake, she deserves the accolades.
Sheet cakes are yet Southern classic, but after one bite, everyone will be saying â€œyaâ€™ll!â€ This simple chocolate sheet cake has layers of cajeta nestled throughout the rich batter, but itâ€™s the malt and cocoa puff butter cream that make you want to slap your mom, or maybe Chefâ€™s mom, but I definitely donâ€™t encourage that. Itâ€™s addicting and borders on the fine edge of not too sweet that you could only eat one bite. Even my plus one, who is not even a fan of chocolate, found himself completely captivated by the dessert. And after he (basically finished) the whole thing, he sat in utter disbelief. Satisfied and forever changed.
Junction prides itself on being a place where all good things come together. And in a location like Deep Ellum, where you have a mix of people, experiences, food, art and just life, it breeds in an environment that celebrates those differences. Chef Joshâ€™s style Progressively Modern American is a beautiful mix of stunning synchronized flavors that indeed come together and leave you wanting more.
Junction Craft Kitchen is located at 2901 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75226.
(Disclaimer: My menu sampling was complimentary, and all opinions are my own.)