We checked out Vijay Sadhu’s latest dining concept yesterday in his old Sutra location in Plano’s Shops at Legacy. Pepper Smash looks to be a perfect combination of cool craft cocktails, tasty bites and a load of whimsical fun.
There is no doubt that Sadhu can cook. He has proven his chops time and again from his stints at restaurants such as Clay Pit in Addison (back when it was actually good), Bukhara Grill in Richardson, and the James Beard nominated Samar by Stephan Pyles.
Sadhu’s previous venture, Sutra, seemed to fall flat on the palates of our brethren in Plano and it has been suggested time and again that his restaurant would have been well received in a more urban environment, as it was simply fantastic. Regardless, Sadhu says that he was excited to reconcept the restaurant and partner with Al Bahkta, CEO of The Chalak Group who owns the Genghis franchise, many units of Yum! Brands and Hampton Hotels.
Bahkta is a brilliant 33-year old University of Texas grad born in Pecos, Texas, and over the past few years has proven to be a pure genius in the restaurant industry. A perfect partner for chef Sadhu.
“I met Bahkta when he was just a customer of mine. He would come to Sutra and even Samar. We became good friends and agreed we needed to do something together. Something unique and chef driven. Not just a restaurant but a great bar,” said Sadhu.
The Pepper Smash concept is a kicked up cocktail kitchen much in the vein of Chicago’s Aviary. The bartenders will actually be cooking and sautéing fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits at the bar to create these marvelous craft cocktails.
Sadhu also mentioned the term molecular mixology several times in our brief chat together. That means we will see spheres, liquid nitro and fun techniques that will wow crowds.
“The prohibition thing seems to have worn its welcome and we want to do more of a modern cocktail. The ingredients and techniques will be playful and entertaining for the customers,” continued Sadhu.
Sadhu is also tapping into a local cocktail spiritualist Keith LaBonte, owner for Four Lounge. LaBonte has been training the staff to make some of his signature cocktails, and many that Sadhu and LaBonte are creating together. Sadhu refers to LaBonte as a mad scientist. Cotton Burrows will be managing the bar on a daily basis.
As far as the kitchen goes, the set up looks remarkably similar to the set up over at Pyle’s Samar. The kitchen is very open with seating surrounding the chef’s prep area. There are grills and ovens, but the tandoor oven stands out giving a foreshadowing of what Sadhu might offer.
“In terms of what we will offer in the kitchen, we have some really nice items planned. For example, one of my favorites, a roasted bone marrow. I am spotting that with a thyme, garlic and piquillo pepper relish. It is so refreshing,” said Sadhu.
He also has planned an almond crusted soft shell crab. He has made this dish at other restaurants and has been a signature dish that people go mad for. The dish has a tropical touch with a coconut mango sauce.
Sadhu will also have a range of kicked up salads including one with large lump crab, beets and balsamic. You will see smaller plates mixed in with larger portion plates, with a variety of recipes from around the world.
The restaurant is still the building phase but looks to be shaping up wonderful. In the coming week Sadhu plans to tear out the front wall and make way for a garage door opening that will allow guests to spill out onto the front sidewalk where a smattering of tables will be set up.
Look for an opening date in the first week or two of June. If this location does well look for a future rendition elsewhere in Dallas, presumably south of 635.
How do you make a Pepper Smash? Simple. Give it lots of vodka.