So said Archimedes, apparently while in the bath, although it is not generally considered to be an anatomical reference. In the modern context, Eureka! is a new eatery, open only about a month, in the new Uptown development 3700M (so named because of its address on McKinney Avenue).
It occupies the highly visible slanted corner facing busy Blackburn and McKinney so we expected it to be discovered quickly. Shrewdly, our media event had been planned for what turned out to be the coldest night thus far in 2015, 28℉, which made concurrent temperatures in Stockholm (37℉) look OK and London, at 52℉, positively balmy. Plus, it was a Wednesday, so we figured we would have our pick of plum tables. Fat chance! The place was packed, and there was even a line. Twenty and thirty somethings had braved the cold to down the food that we were about to discover. Additional customers appeared every few minutes to pick up takeout orders (a bravery award to the bearded guy in the blue t-shirt).
Eureka! already had a following.
Part of a small chain (14 sites) started in California, Eureka’s Uptown location is their first in Texas. More are planned, although GM Matt Ellis refused to be drawn as to where. The interior is comfortable booths and tables with lots of wood decor that keeps the atmosphere warm. A lively buzz at these traffic levels (82dB on Decibel Meter) drowns out the rock music in the background. Conversation was easy enough in our location. For warmer times there is a large dog-friendly patio (they also give out dogs biscuits).
The Eureka! web site bills them as “American Craft” and they have a defensible claim to make there. They source near where they are, as is feasible, so, by way of example, we had local grits out of Waco and a mussel stock made with Peticolas Golden Ale. 11 out of 28 whiskeys on the list (about 40%) and 24 out of 40 beers (60%) are from Texas. That is a serious and laudable effort. The one chink in the mantra is the wine list. Be aware, wine is an afterthought at Eureka! (only 20 selections) and none come from Texas (I have sent them a list of the best to consider).
We let the chef choose the food to send out. He started with Lollipop Corn Dogs ($7.50). These were delectable polish hot dog sausages deep fried in a crispy batter. The best part was the three dipping sauces – ranch, ketchup and mustard porter. The latter is the winner, being based on a slightly piquant mustard and a ‘Block Party’ porter from Trinity Groves’ Four Corners Brewing Company.
Golden Ale Mussels ($13) came with a broth so flavorful I wanted to sip it directly from the bowl, as though in an Asian restaurant. Again local beer in the ingredients.
Burgers are the biggest category on the Eureka! menu. Our secret aspirations were rewarded when the chef sent out the Bone Marrow Burger ($16.50). The marrow is actually mixed in a butter which is slathered on the patty. The marrow flavor is restrained relative to unadorned marrow offerings around town, but still distinct. Also, if you order a burger here tell the waiter or waitress how you want it cooked. I happily run the risk of an immediate and total failure of the central nervous system by ordering mine medium rare, in flat defiance to the FDA guidelines that state all commercially prepared burgers must be physically indistinguishable from a hockey puck. We weren’t asked, and the patty came closer to medium rather than medium rare.
Two sides we recommend with your burger are the panko crusted onion rings ($4) and the honey cinnamon sweet potato fries ($4), which will each serve two. If the sweet potato fries are too sweet for your palate there are “Signature Hand-cut Kennebec Potato Fries” ($4) which are pretty spectacular.
A “Signature” dish, Beef Ragu Grits ($16) was glorious long-cooked meat for a chilly winter night and led into the stellar dessert of Americana Apple Crisp ($6). Good as it stands, I recommend that Eureka! dump the commercial ice cream and splash out on a Pacojet to make their own ethereally smooth glaces just like Anthony Bombaci used to at Nana.
Our waitress, Melissa, conveyed a real sense of interest in her guests and provided us with professional service throughout.
Overall, the mystery of Eureka’s popularity on a Wednesday night in the middle of an ice age surrounded by earthquakes was solved. The food, beer, whiskey and people make it a great neighborhood eatery. We look forward to more opening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.