A Chat With Gilbert Garza at Suze

by Steven Doyle

Recently we sat with chef Gilbert Garza, owner of Suze in North Dallas. Suze is considered one of the better secrets in the restaurant trade, tucked away in its snug strip center surroundings on Northwest Highway and Midway.

Garza was classically trained at California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, but actually started his road to cooking in his grandfather’s restaurant at the age of 11. Suze has been featured in top publications nationwide, including Bon Appétit, Gourmet Magazine and USA Today.

Garza traveled to Tuscany and worked under some of the region’s premier chefs, but has also worked with some top hitters in the Dallas area including David Holben, Dean Fearing and Kent Rathbun.   

For nearly a dozen years Suze has become an institution as they played host to Preston Hollow residents. Today we sit down with Garza for a few questions.

craveDFW: There have been a few changes recently at Suze, tell us about those.

Gilbert Garza: We recently had a long time member of our staff move on, Jeffrey Hobbes. He went to work with Jack Perkins at Maple and Motor. We wished him well and promoted Ernesto Mendoza. He’s really been taking care of the specials and the menu development for the past year. He has been with me for 3 years now.

craveDFW: What sort of changes will you be working on now?

Garza: We are going to be breaking down the menu and doing some new stuff. Ernie is extremely well organized, he has a really nice touch with the food, especially fish which is important.

We have been in business now for 11 years. We will see some esthetic changes and see if we can’t dial up some of the fun at the restaurant by doing some of the things we already started to implement.

craveDFW: How does a restaurant dial up fun?

Garza: We take some of our regular customers and do dinner and the theater. I have taken a dozen or so people, picked a show and did a quick three-course dinner, then all go to the theater and see this play. We allow them to bring in their own wine and on these nights I won’t charge a corkage fee as a way to say “come on in the restaurant in a different fashion”. We engage them while they have dinner and have a really good time.

craveDFW: Brunch is one of our favorite meals. Any chance of seeing a Suze brunch?

Garza: I would love to do brunch. Once we get a few facets worked out with new menus I will quickly to make that happen. It’s one of my favorite meals of the day. My only conflict is I will be working it rather than eating it, but that’s OK.

craveDFW: Seasons are changing and we are seeing new Fall menus everywhere. What do you have planned?

Garza: We have a good season coming forward. Lots of catering and special events. We do get a lot of product from the East coast and Honolulu. We will be focusing a little bit more on, well I wouldn’t exactly call them exotics, but you might see rabbit a little bit more frequently on the menu. You will probably see a combination of feral quail and some other things as we work away from the more conventional primal cuts as most people know they are about to escalate in price for the next year and a half because of the drought.

I love to focus on vegetables when they are available. That to me is always a challenge. I also want to work on drinks with regards to our particular license. There are some things that other people aren’t doing and I am not quite at liberty to reveal. But we have been testing out some new types of drink items besides just the beer and wine we have now.

craveDFW: We have heard rumors that you might be wanting another restaurant. What’s up?

Garza: We are always keeping our eyes open for new locations. I have been asked this question many number of times and Suze to me is a unique restaurant. It is such a personal expression of who I am and the people that work here that I seriously doubt you will ever see another one unless there are some unusual circumstances.

In my opinion the landscape of restaurants is changing dramatically. With the extended economic situation people are looking for restaurants to step up with a broader price point that appeals to a lot of different people.

If I do this again I would look at a full bar and not just beer and wine.

Suze Restaurant
4345 W Northwest Hwy # 270
Dallas, TX
(214) 350-6135
 

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Filed under chefs, Crave, Dallas, Jeffery Hobbs, Nightlife, restaurant news, Steven Doyle, Wine

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