I stopped in to have lunch with a few friends at Private Social, the beautiful restaurant on McKinney in Uptown run by chef-owner Tiffany Derry. She is going three months into her grand opening and exudes excitement, and for good reason. The restaurant is successful and she has met with rave reviews (Dallas Morning News gave it the four star treatment).
I have been to the restaurant many times since the opening, once for a press luncheon, a few dinners on my own, and often make this a stop when out cocktailing for an evening. Bar manager Rocco always has a few concoctions to share, and it is good to pop in for a light bite and a sip or two of whatever he dreams up that night. Now is a fantastic time while he is making his house-made egg nog for the holidays.
Yesterday I was invited to share lunch and sample the new mid-day menu offerings. It also gave me a chance to chat with Tiffany Derry and find out what she had planned for the holidays.
“I usually go to Beaumont to be with my family during Christmas, but now that I have the restaurant I won’t be able to this year,” sighed Derry.
Instead, Derry will be spending time with her new husband and cook for his family that includes just a handful of people. Tiffany will miss her usual family holiday treatment, which includes up to 75 people and every food imaginable. — including gumbo.
But this won’t be a quiet year. Derry has been busy filming hundreds of hours of footage for her new reality series that included scenes of her selecting china, buying kitchen gear and finally opening the restaurant. In fact, she had just returned from Los Angeles where she was doing some production work for the program.
As for the new lunch menu, I was excited to sample some of the new fare that included these wonderful Surf and Turf Sushi Rolls that were made of spicy tuna, torched beef, ponzu and truffle. The rolls are addictive.
“I tried different nori when making the rolls,” said Tiffany, “some can be too stiff, others can be too fishy. This is made with yellow nori and works out very well.” And it did.
On the entrée side you will find a Ramen Noodle Bowl that has home-made ramen noodles, a poached egg, slices of very tender pork belly, shredded nori, green onions and herbs. The broth tastes powerful and complex, but we were told it was extremely simple and had few ingredients. The complexity came from the many, many hours she left the broth simmering. At $12 the ramen bowl is a real find, and Dallas needs more dishes like this.
We also tried a few sandwiches including a crisp turkey Panini and the lamb burger. The Panini had Derry’s house-smoked turkey, poached pears, a triple cream cheese, and arugula served on a raisin nut bread. It worked very well and left us all wanting more. But then there was the burger.
The lamb burger worked. There wasn’t much tell-tale lamb gaminess, in fact there was none at all. If you didn’t know it was lamb you would sear it was beef. I personally missed some of the lamb flavor, but the burger was very juicy and was a total turn on burger-wise. I enjoyed the ciabatta bun it was served on as well. The bun lent a crunchiness that soaked up the burger juices and held everything together to the last bite.
To finish off the meal we were served a trio of gelatos including a sea salt caramel, a crispy coconut and a strawberry. The strawberry fell a bit flat, but the other flavors were bright and flavorful. The tiny bits of crunchy coconut definitely caused conversation at the table.
Derry mentioned that people are coming in asking for quarts of the ice cream now. At first she was taken back a bit, she makes these daily in-house and had just a quart or two available. Now she is getting more requests and keeps extra on hand for take-out.
Lunches at Private Social are quieter and more relaxed than the more frenetic evenings. I like the energy during the evenings. The bar can be a bit of a squeeze, but who wants to go to a quiet bar when out on the town? For those wanting to sample the cuisine at Private Social in a more serene, elegant atmosphere, check out the new mid-day menu. And don’t forget to order a bowl of the ramen. There is enough served to share.