by Joy Zhang photos by Joy Zhang
Somewhere in Dallas, lays a rousing treasure – nestled over yonder in between a couple buildings and trees you will find the perfect spot. There you will find a place to unwind and relax, a place where you get to meet new people and a place where you will eat one of the most inspiring meals of your life.
Behind the ingenuous concept of it all is Chef David Anthony Temple (Chef DAT)– a rising young talent in Dallas and yes he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s started a highly coveted weekly happening called Underground Dinners, an exclusive, invite-only dinner event. Think of it as a secret society, where you’ll experience tranquility, culinary greatness and do feel free to bring bottles of wine for yourself and to share with your new friends.
Upon walking up to the red bricked building, the windows are completely covered, and in front of you stands this magnificent metal grated door. Take a moment and pause before entering, prepare yourself for the eminence you’re about to experience – because folks you’ll be blown away. From the ceilings hang delicate paper lanterns of all shapes and sizes, beneath runs a gigantic communal table adorned with freshly cut Spring flowers which easily sits 18-20 people. Walk a little further and you’ll spot the eclectic bar; the surface of the bar was extracted from a large piece of ancient Texas wood specially designed and cured by a highly coveted wood artist here in Dallas.
The layout is perfect, with the large open kitchen stocked with a huge wooden island and spotlights that sets the stage for Chef DAT’s culinary creations. Take this rare opportunity to watch the Chef in action, an insider’s look on how the magic happens – his speed and execution is mesmerizing. Don’t be afraid to venture out just past the kitchen, there you will find my favorite place of all: the courtyard. It’s everything you’d want your backyard to be and more: feel free to sit on the numerous old Texas tree stumps and enjoy the crackling fire by the chiminea, wander over to the koi pond and relish in the beauty and soothing sounds of trickling water, and don’t forget to visit the art gallery just a couple steps away.
Tonight Chef DAT has teamed up with Artizone – a newly launched company that specializes in delivering artisan products to the Dallas area. At Artizone you’ll find some of the top vendors in Dallas – Vongeertsem Butcher Shoppe, Spiceman’s FM1410, Scardello Artisan Cheese, Flavors From Afar, JJ&B Artisan Spreads, and La Duni. They generously supplied most of the main ingredients for the dinner and I highly recommend everyone to check their revolutionary service out. On the menu tonight:
Shaved Black Truffles with local farm egg topped with Scardello Parmesan
Spiceman’s Wild Mushroom Soup with Proseco and Pink Hawaiian Volcano Salt
Scardello’s Bleu Cheese, Spiceman’s Arugula, Bosc Pear and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Vongeertsem Veal Chop with Shallot Confit Risotto and Bourbon Pan Sauce
JJ&B Ginger Pear Tart with Chef DAT’s Black Garlic Ice Cream
Before dinner service began, Chef DAT gave a short speech on his philosophy in food – he stressed his dedication to seasonal ingredients from local farmers as well as taking advantage of foraging for wild edibles, for instance the trumpet mushrooms that were found in our soup that night. This not only ensures that you get to eat the most natural and best tasting ingredients out there, but at the same time it helps reduce our carbon footprint and limit the spread of crippling commercial farming that’s so prevalent in America today.
The food to say the least was absolutely inspiring. A simple scrambled farm fresh egg was suddenly brought to a different dimension by delicate execution with thinly shaved pieces of truffle and a dash of crunchy Hawaiian Volcano salt bits, which added a touch of sweetness at the end. The Vongeertsem Veal Chop was roasted to a tender, juicy perfection that paired well with the creamy Shallot Confit Risotto from Flavors From Afar. The dessert was my favorite, immediately intrigued by the Black Garlic ice cream; Chef DAT may have just found my new favorite ice cream flavor. At first glance people may be skeptical but the Black Garlic gave the ice cream such a smoky yet sweet depth that naturally made you raise your eyebrows in delight. It was simply amazing.
The night couldn’t have been more perfect. With Chef DAT’s earthy demeanor and charismatic smile he immediately puts you at ease and makes you feel right at home. The communal table that brings complete strangers together to share one common passion further proves the notion that Food is indeed universal: we all want to eat good food while nourishing our bodies, minds and souls. Chef DAT’s Underground Dinner does just that. So search far and wide for an invite, gather a group of friends, or go by yourself and find your way into this secret society of magnificent food, charming aesthetics, and being in the company of one of Dallas’ most talented young chefs: Chef David Anthony Temple.