by Steven Doyle
Kitchen LTO is now in full swing motion and in its second incarnation. You recall the restaurant in Trinity Groves that reinvents itself every four months, and the public chooses the chef. That chef brings along different flavors and a menu that is uniquely theirs and runs the restaurants as their own for a quarter of a year. The latest chef is Eric Shelton who most recently was the executive chef for the M Dining at the State Fair Music Hall. We have chatted with Shelton many times in the past and you can find some of our conversation here , but the chef comes to Dallas with a wonderful CV and an excellent culinary education.
You may also recall Shelton recently from the Food Network’s Cut Throat Kitchen episode where he cooked from a tackle box that was bestowed upon him. We love an inventive chef. Tuna Tower with a side of chicken skin cracklings
You may experience Shelton’s cuisine at LTO both for lunches and dinner each day in Trinity Groves. We checked out some of the menu recently and was extremely pleased with his menu selection, the beautiful plating and the very generous portions. Among the dishes we found Shelton’s signature Salmon BLT, which is perfectly moist slab of fish that meets up with a layer of bacon for an extremely unique flavor bomb.
The restaurant has an easy-on-the eye type of menu that seems to attract a healthy crowd, so you will want to make reservations. We started our evening off with a trio of appetizers that included the Avocado “Hummus” Toast, which amounted to a thick slathering of crushed avocados, Gulf shrimp and a pickled watermelon radish slaw. The bites were tender, generous, and packed with flavor.
Gin Glazed Short Rib
The Velvet Hammer Glazed Belly was far too irresistible not to order, and the table was quite pleased with the selection. The pork belly was not overly fatty, which can be a turn-off, and the Peticolas beer bath was a joy. The rock star of the plate was a panko crusted egg that when tapped, oozed its luscious inside onto the plate of greens. I never grow weary of this.
The Tuna Tower was the surprise addition to the evening. Although the name might mislead a tad, there was no towering tunas bantering about any of our plates, what we did find was a layer of sushi rice with a large helping of tuna tartare and a side of chicken skin cracklings. The chicken ski made that dish so uniquely delicious that we could have begged for more.
Double Boned Pork Chop
Berbere Rubbed Strip Loin with a side of Lil Kim Chee
Five Spice Duck
Making our way down the menu we spotted so may local ingredients that made us smile. Certainly it was fun to see Shelton use Peticolas beer that they do not serve themselves, and can only assume he is buying growlers from neighboring LUCK for his brew since it is not bottled. But we also spotted Luscher’s sausage and other cool local items that pegs Shelton as a team player.
Shelton has always had a flair for the fun in the kitchen, and it shines through with his strip steak, the Berbere Rubbed Strip Loin that is plated with a large portion of smoked fingerlings and his own Lil Kim Chee, a playful use of words for a spicy and delightful condiment.
Shelton does not stop with the entrees and has a fair amount of desserts, a feat most chefs shy away from unless they employee a pastry chef. There are several musts on that side of the menu, including his version of S’Mores that arrive tableside all in flames.
We hope to be back to LTO very soon and take advantage of Shelton’s talent. As for what the chef has planned when his four month gig is up? Shelton told us last night that he only wished to concentrate on making LTO as successful as possible, and actually has a revised menu planned as the season change this Spring.