It was nearly two years ago that Brian Williams and Michael Martensen announced that they were opening a pair of businesses in the old Trece spot at 4513 Travis, just a jet off of Knox. The promise was for an unusual reservation bar serving extremely customized cocktails at Smyth, and a ramped up version of Cedars Social called The Establishment. The idea behind the Establishment would be to offer similar fare as Cedars, with an added bonus feature of an oyster bar offering a spread of at least a dozen varieties from both the east and west coasts.
The promise held true, and the Establishment opened nearly a year and a half later, and without Martensen. He moved on to assume part ownership of Driftwood, and will soon open Proof + Pantry in One Arts in the Art’s District. That leaves Williams, who brilliantly hired chef Brent Hammer from Hibiscus as exec (remember his lamb ribs?) and Jason Ferraro as chef de cuisine. Emphasis on the brilliant.
The bar has some extreme talent. The last night we ventured into The Establishment we found seasoned cocktail wiz Candice Marie mixing up some pretty terrific summery libations including a good bit off-menu items that are well worth sitting at the bar to enjoy those may oysters. Definitely one of the best seats in the house with dinner and a show.
Besides those beautiful oysters (priced at a Dallas average of $3 each) we found some wonderful starters, along with some shared plates which always makes us smile. A must sample are the duck wings, given an Asian yakatori treatment which were both crisp and succulent. Or the scallop sashimi.
Chef Hammer is one of the extremist farm-to-table chefs that changes his menu as often as he is able, sometimes daily. Some menu items seem o have a longer shelf life as in the deliciously prepared Ocean Trout, or the agnolotti stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta (by far our menu favorite).
Most evenings you might find Williams holding court, as he often did at Cedars. Sometimes he enjoys going behind the bar, and has some definite cocktail skills himself.
photos 1-4 by Joey Stewart