by Steven Doyle
In reviewing an old press release dated July 2009 there was big promise in Park on Henderson with a freshly scrubbed chef Marc Cassel at the helm. With the restaurants scattered rooms and funky dwelling it seemed to click well with the neighborhood. Just a stones throw from Louie’s, the venerable quasi-Italian watering hole, all seemed to work and this riding the success of Tristan Simon’s many Consilient Restaurant Concept locations but before the major influx that has now a congested Henderson.
However in the past months there had been a disturbance in the force that is Park and we witnessed the departure of chef Cassel and he took his bowl of signature Green Room mussels with him. The search for a new toque at Park began and interestingly enough chef Garreth Dickey was chosen to replace Cassel. The same chef that had been part of the Cassel posse for so many years.
Dickey arrives at Park with a tremendous Dallas pedigree having worked at all the proper kitchens expected of a chef of his era. The chef cut his teeth in San Antonio working as sous for chef Bruce Auden of Restaurant Biga where he learned all the classic techniques that Dickey enjoys.
“Chef Auden taught me a lot as far as cooking the basics and respecting your product. Auden’s cuisine is a little more refined and based on Old World technique. I really latched onto this style, so as opposed to a perfectly architectured plate I prefer a well-braised osso bucco,” says Dickey.
Dickey made a few moves before landing in Dallas opening Star Canyon working as sous chef under Marc Cassel. Working for Stephan Pyles lifted Dickey’s appreciation for the more clarified plate — plus he picked up knowledge of working in a higher volume kitchen, a skill that would later come in handy as he made his way up the restaurant food chain.
Dickey then spent time in San Francisco, a familiar tale of following his heart, but soon found him back working with Cassel at the Green Room before eventually being offered the top post at Jeroboam in Downtown Dallas. The chef later opened The Porch (think Stodg Burger) on Henderson before moving across the street to be the exec at Hibiscus for Tristan Simon.
Today the chef is busily retro-fitting the Park kitchen and has removed many, if not all evidence of his predecessor. Gone is the chicken fried steak, gone are the Green Room mussels. Instead you will find a few items that will stay the course on an ever-changing menu such as a host of flatbreads that includes a Crave favorite made of a fresh burrata, pesto, Tom Spicer “forest mushrooms”, tarragon and Parmigiano–Reggiano. The crust is whisper thin with tiny patches of char that ring out flavor. The mushrooms burst with flavor and the burrata oozes a milky goodness that is satisfyingly delicious.
Other notable dishes on the new menu include a perfect duck confit served with Swiss chard and a polenta that sports a splash of Smithfield ham gravy. We also were enthralled with Dickey’s grilled pork ribs that was served with roasted potatoes and a sweet and sour apple and cabbage braise that gave the ribs a clean finish.
Our table also enjoyed the new Dutch Style mussels that is now made with Left Hand Stout, thyme, roasted garlic and served
with their signature bread. The bread is really nice and warm, but a bit too soft to work well soaking up the broth of the mussels. We hope Dickey keeps the bread around, but would like to see something a bit more substantial served with this dish.
Besides a few dishes that will remain through out most of the year, the menu will change a few times a week so there is always something new to try. We find menus with rapid paced changes keeps a chef happy and on their toes.
We were still able to spot the Texas Honeybee Guild bees perched atop the roof that is still maintained by Brandon and Susan Pollard. The bees are kept and the honey is gathered weekly to mix in their zip code honey program. Chef Dickey says he will continue to use their honey and all the other local sources such as Spiceman’s FM 1410 for their micro greens.
We were happy to see chef Dickey at the helm of the kitchen and will look for some great chow in the months ahead.