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Rockwall’s Ava Adds A Ten Course Chef’s Tasting

by Steven Doyle

We recently had a chance to check out the new ten course tasting menu at Restaurant Ava, the Rockwall wunderkind restaurant run by Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland. As the two prepare for their next venture in the Bishop Arts District, which will be called Boulevardier, they added a new chef in the Rockwall kitchen, Taylor Kearney. You may recall Kearney from his previous post as sous at Charlie Palmer under Scott Romano. Kearney is now chef de cuisine.

The new tasting menu opens up the chef’s bar where a small handful of guests enjoy special off-menu items while deep up in the middle of the kitchen action. The night we were at Ava Kearney was cheffing, Tate was in the expo position and Copeland ran the front of the house. It was interesting to have a first hand look at this smooth combination as orders were processed in a fast steady pace.   

Between plating’s for the main dining, Kearney would slide a few special plates across to Tate and he in turn would present each them to us in succession.  Mean while Copeland would pair each course with a specialty cocktail or wine for each new offering.

These types of tastings are interesting in the fact it is a moment where you see the chef’s passion at play. The thoughtful courses are planned days in advance and finally executed with precision for that sole moment. It is exciting to watch and enjoy.

Here are some of the stand out courses we enjoyed that evening. This is one of the more imaginative tastings going on in the DFW area, and highly suggest making reservations and enjoying the short drive acorss the lake to Rockwall which is just minutes from downtown Dallas.

One of the stand out dishes for the evening was this sweet potato soup garnished with a house-made garlic marshmallow and topped with an Aztec cocoa bitter foam.

This U-10 scallop with a crispy polenta cake was served with brunoised celeriac and butter roasted baby turnips and a turnip puree.

This dish was by far the star of the evening. This raviolo contains a soft-poached egg yolk and rests on an orange shallot marmalade with toasted sage and sage oil. Once you slice into the pasta the yolk fast becomes the sauce and has this rich, vibrant farm fresh orange hue.

There was definitely a theme to this plate. A chicken fried local chicken oyster on a bed of braised red lentils, a chicken fried quail with a fried quail egg with a butter milk biscuit gravy foam and local honey, and a foie gras with melted maple toffee, and a foie gras pave.

Suckling pig served two-ways. A very crispy pork belly on a bed of braised red cabbage, as well a tiny chop on house-made bacon and roasted Brussels sprouts with a curry and squash puree.

Beef served three-ways. A sweetbeard served with a bacon and onion jam, wet-aged strip loin with a Murray River mushroom sauce,, and a braised ox tail with a purple Peruvian potato puree.

A tasting of citus. This was a puff pastry tart with blood orange and caramelized white chocolate, lemon curd and grapefruit cells, served with a house-made yuzu soda and a scoop of coconut sherbert.


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