by Steven Doyle
Last night Chef Kent Rathbun of Abacus fame played the venerable host to a special dinner where he gathered several large tables of media types to show off his latest Fall/ Winter menu. He also wanted to officially announce his new Chef de Cuisine, Daniel Burr, a long time Rathbun employee who has been bouncing around various Rathbun concepts, only to land at the flagship Abacus as top toque.
Rathbun explained each dish as it arrived and paid special attention to the first course, a few pieces of sushi packed with flavor. Rathbun mentioned that in the beginning days of Abacus he rolled the sushi himself, and it wasn’t until much later when he hired sushi wunderkind Elvis, now at Tracy Rathbun’s Shinsei, did he finally relinquish that roll to one far more experienced.
Rathbun did share a fun cheffy secret with us, and it was all about pressed sushi. Rolls are more difficult for the home-cook to create, but for those wanting a quick treat at home Rathbun suggested we spend just a few dollars for a sushi press and skip the whole nori thing, which can be off-putting to some palates. It takes seconds to create pressed sushi, and there are very few spots in Dallas who serve this fun style.
The new menu is sharp, and full of fun dishes that will be familiar, but with the Rathbun take. The chef takes special care in sourcing his ingredients, using many local farms as expected. The Rathbun family of restaurants also takes advantage of the bycatch program which we have discussed at length on craveDFW.
This program uses all the unusual fish caught while the fisherman is after a certain species. If the fisherman is hunting redfish and by chance also catches 50 pounds of John Dory, the latter would normally be tossed overboard, killing about half of the fish. Bycatch uses all the fish and sends out a list state-wide to chefs and markets in the program. A chef has minutes to respond with their needs or the entire lot is snatched up by another restaurant. Locally there are very few restaurants in the program. You may often find Bycatch fish at TJ’s Seafood Market.
The latest in cocktails at Abacus are slurpy good, and are festooned with fun flavors for the holidays. Especially wonderful is a champagne cocktail laced with Hendricks gin and muddled grapes. How can you pass on bubbles this time of year?
Let’s take a look at some of the new dishes we sampled last night. You might wish to grab your phone so you can start dialing up for a reservation.
Warm Sonoma Mushroom Salad, Grilled Raddichio, Watercress, Quail Eggs, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Maple Glazed Foie Gras, Apricot-Vanilla Pate, Whipped Goat Cheese, and Toasted Oat-Pistachio Waffle
Seared Georges Bank Scallops, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Roasted Acorn Squash Polenta, Red Grape Mostarda
Rosemary Citrus Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Garlic Farotto, Ruby Beet Demi Glace
Smoked Paprika Grilled Duck Breast, Caramelized Onion, Demi Crispy Seranno Ham Wrapped Rock Shrimp Paella
Butter Bated John Dory, Truffle-Cauliflower Mash, Meyer Lemon Butter, Crispy Artichokes