Even on a Tuesday night, Spoon Bar and Kitchen is packed with patrons enjoying one of the most anticipated restaurants to open in Dallas last year. The sustainable seafood eatery in Preston Center has the perfect location to compliment the intimate dining experience you’ll feel once you are seated. The lights are dim, the pale aqua tones of the interior are calming and the bar is surprisingly large for the space. Ipads are distributed to assist diners in navigating the wine list but the staff is great at providing suggestions to anyone that is on the fence.
The dining room seats about 60 and I’m quite sure I had the best seat in the house, the bar top facing the kitchen. The Spoon kitchen operates seamlessly. John Tesar, Executive Chef, is nothing short of a conductor leading his orchestra to a symphony of plated perfection. The menu reminds me of being in a candy store as a child; there are enticing items I’ve never had before and I want to try everything.
With so much buzz surrounding Tesar and his new spot, I was glad to have the opportunity to ask him a few questions. I knew what I’d heard about Spoon but I wanted to know what feedback John had received personally. He told me, “there are one or two people that don’t get it” but he felt 99% of people understand and appreciate his approach. Would there be more locations of Spoon or other restaurants in the near future? John happily said, “No, this is what I’ve created, this is what I enjoy”.
He said if he were to do something else at some point he would bring in a younger chef. He brought up a great point; who are the young chefs that he feels are impacting the Dallas food scene right now? He said he’s really impressed by the things that Matt McCallister is doing over at FT33, he has a lot of admiration for Danyele McPherson at The Grape. And, just when I thought maybe he simply had a thing for people with Scottish surnames he threw out that he was also looking forward to what Andre Natera would do with the reconcepting of Marquee Grill.
I was surprised when Chef Tesar mentioned FT33 so I had to know what feelings he had about Josh Valentine upon his departure from Top Chef. John quickly replied that he thinks Josh is a “nice and very intelligent guy”, he even went as far to defend him when we discussed the final elimination when it appeared to viewers at home that Josh was throwing him under the bus a little bit. Wow, I was not expecting the kind words he had for Josh. The Most Hated Chef in Dallas according to D Magazine was starting to seem pretty unhatable. So, what does John Tesar see for the future of the Dallas dining scene? “Less covers, more boutiquey restaurants”.
He thinks highly of places like Driftwood and FT33. Places that are at the Top of his list are Tei An, where he can share culinary inspirations with Chef Teiichi Sakurai and Smoke. Chef Tim Byres of Smoke will be participating in Suds and Smoke late next month. He asserted that, “passion and integrity are what define you as a chef”. It was clear that he has high praise for many of his colleagues here in Dallas.
If you’re wondering what’s next for John Tesar, look for him to be involved once again this year with Burgers and Burgundy benefitting DIFFA. He was very memorable at last year’s Chefs for Farmers event in Lee Park, so hopefully he will make a return visit there as well. I was describing Spoon to one of my friends last week and I was thinking of how to convey the unique approach to seafood. The flavors were clean and balanced, the presentation was simple yet rousing, but most of all the seafood is prepared with a great deal of respect and restraint.
If you haven’t already, treat yourself and any food lovers around you to Spoon. Make reservations, go hungry, and don’t be afraid to go Dutch.