The name Michael Cox may be unfamiliar with the average diner in Dallas, but you can be assured they have all been touched with his past accomplishments. The restaurateur helped give Central Market their prominence in this market, was CEO of the M Crowd (Mi Cocina, Mercury and Taco Diner), worked with Stephan Pyles. Cox resigned as CEO of M Crowd almost a year ago to open his own restaurant, and judging from our experience he has an instant his on his hands.
Opening OSO Food & Wine with super chef Kelly Hightower almost two months ago, they both have enjoyed a steady build of clientele. The location is a bit precarious, hidden in the same shopping center as the Tom Thumb at Preston and Forest to the northeast, but once found, you will discover a treasure of a menu and wine list. The menu is a bit short with specials created by Hightower each night. The chef tells us that he has already cycled the menu once, and plans on constant changes, keeping it fresh with seasonal offerings.
Hightower has a superb resume, working at the Mansion, Tei Tei, Hatties, Aquaknox, and Kavala (which is now called Nova in Oak Cliff), and most recently at Wild Salsa downtown. The new menu has a definite Hightower flavor about it, with noticeable fare from his past. He makes a thoroughly wonderful hummus, and that may be found on his mezze plate.
The menu itself is described as Mediterranean, which could mean most anything, but certainly OSO benefits from the regions braising techniques and kicked up flavors. A shining example would be the Lamb Kofte, made with Moroccan spices, and pickled shallots, served with an olive salad and blistered shishitos. The Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates with a piquillo sauce also screams Mediterranean.
One of my new favorite dishes is the Crispy Chicken Liver Fra Diavlo served with heirloom grits and honey glazed bacon. Sharing this plate, it was difficult not to scoot it closer to grab every savory morsel. Order this.
There are some pretty terrific seafood dishes available, as you would certainly expect. We were taken back with the Grilled Big Eye Tuna, with harissa, grilled eggplant tabouli,and a drizzle. You will also find currently a beautiful pan roasted halibut.
We enjoyed the bounty that was the braised oxtails with a dill papperdelle, a perfect dish on a blustery winter’s evening. The pork chop Milanese is often raved about, and is served with our favorite side – a farm egg raviolo. That is just a big ravioli with a whole yolk center. So delicious, and makes for an added sauce as the lush center escapes its pasta pouch. We will be back again soon for the lamb shank, served up with an apricot cous cous and winter root veggies.
There are some delicious desserts that will certainly change, but we believe the Spiced Date Cake with Cardamon Ice Cream, which is otherwise known as sticky toffee pudding, will be a permanent addition to the menu. The dessert has that slight delicious cardamon scent giving it that regional flavor. We pray it stays around. We also enjoyed a citrus panna cotta, which was large enough to share. the panna cota was laced with sections of orange and grapefruit, giving us a perfect send off into the evening.
You may want to study the wine list online before arrival. There are some beautiful wines both familiar and unfamiliar, all carefully curated by Cox himself. The mark ups on the wine are more than fair, and you will find a favorite that is palatable with your price range. In fact, the whole menu is priced smartly with dishes hovering in the mid-20’s, and the wine at the mid century mark. There are some bargains to be found on both menus.
OSO Food & Wine takes a place in a neighborhood that appears to have embraced the restaurant, and will no doubt continue to grow as word gets out about this perfectly darling gem. Be an early adopter while tables are still easy to grab. This will make for a nice holiday dinner this weekend.