by Steven Doyle
Sixteen years ago a young chef named Anastacia Quinones approached restaurateur Monica Greene looking to work at the famed Ciudad in Dallas, which at the time was Greene’s premier modern Mexican restaurant located in Dallas. It wasn’t necessarily a good fit then, but fast forward to this week and we find the couple have finally teamed up for something new in the Cedars Social space. The name will remain Cedar Social, but the cuisine will be all about modern Mexican.
“I have put together the dream team which includes Anastacia Quinones and Leann Berry, and business partner Frankie Jimenez,” Greene told us today.
Quinones recently left her post as executive chef at Oddfellows, and has worked in some fine kitchens in Dallas including Kitchen LTO, Komali and Alma. Quinones is a classically trained chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, first working at Jardiniére in San Francisco. The chef plans to use her experience with modern techniques along with fresh Mexican ingredients to bring us the cuisine she has been planning for all these years.
“Oddfellows gave me this work-life balance that I had been looking for. I have been planning to make a move back to this style of cuisine for the past three years, and when the opportunity presented itself to work the Monica I jumped at the chance,” Quinones told us.
In fact Quinones and Berry have been scouting locations for quite some time. The pair worked together at Komali and have been fast friends since. Berry also has a connection with Greene at Ciudad so many years ago. It is this grand puzzle that somehow brought all the pieces back together.
The cuisine will be modern Mexican which Greene explains will have this beautiful plating but affordable and extremely approachable. They will be grinding their own corn for tortillas they plan to make themselves, which is the basics for any great Mexican restaurant.
“At the very heart of the menu will be the mole. Instead of creating one recipe for the mole this will be a living breathing mole that changes daily. On day one we will serve day one mole and it will progress from there,” continued Quinones.
The mole is the chef’s passion, something she has been making all of her life and dates back to her mother who catered in Mexico in the 70’s.
“Close your eyes and you will taste my mother’s mole, but open and you will see this beautiful modern plate,” Quinones said.
Leann Berry, who has repeatedly been named as the best bartender in Texas, will be bringing back her signature tamarind margarita, which Texas Monthly claimed to be the best margarita in the state.
“I don’t want to be pigeon-holed with tequila and mescals, and we will offer those. But I plan to offer cocktails for the neighborhood and will also feature the Cedars Social smoked old fashioned that has been on the cocktail menu since the original restaurant opened,” explained Berry.
She is inheriting a great bar with a good variety of liquor and she plans to incorporate all of them into her new menu.
Cedars Social has been closed for retooling for the past two weeks and will re-open Valentine’s Day with a shortened menu. Then the plan is to close again and regroup only to open back again the following week. The name and most of the decor will remain the same, the largest difference will be the menus. If you have missed Monica, she will be working the front of the house managing daily operations.
The game is about to change in the world of Mexican cookery in Dallas.