by Steven Doyle
The story sounds familiar, a few guys who own a couple of restaurants in California visit Dallas and have such an amazing time one of them decides to move here and open an outpost. This was the case for one of the owners of the very new Laurel Tavern on Lowest Greenville Avenue, home to delicious burgers and interested apps and cocktails.
First, let’s get that burger out of the way. In the land of many, many, many burgers I can personally testify it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish one from the other, much less pick out a dozen best of the pack. In the case of Laurel Tavern they have succeeded what many have attempted in the past. In the words of Jules Winnfield, “This is a tasty burger”. And indeed it is one of my favorites now in Dallas.
What the kitchen does not make, they source from the highest quality purveyors possible. Breads are sourced via local bakers and the burger is a proprietary blend ground in-house daily and hand formed. Produce is also hyper local and fresh, delivered daily. All this makes for one amazing flame-grilled burger. One that is perched high with flavor and stands in honor among the very best.
The rest of the menu is thankfully short and sweet. How often have we witnessed a menu of encyclopedic proportions in a sad attempt to please all comers. Thankfully, again, Laurel does a few things simply well.
Grilled artichokes seem to be all the rage on menus today, and seriously this is a good thing. Whole artichokes fall into the same category as crawfish in that they are fun to eat, share and taste. They take a but of time to enjoy, what with the plucking of each leaf, dipping into the house-made remoulade, express an “ahhhh”, take a sip of beer, then go back for another. Some will get this, to the others I send my heartfelt sympathy that you have never spent time on Venice Beach doing this exact same thing.
You would think pork belly has been played out but then you place an order out of habit, if nothing else, then realize that the dish is nothing more than kicked up bacon. And you love bacon. Everyone loves bacon, even vegans who have their own version of the treat.The pork belly skewers are thankfully not vegan, and decidedly delicious with their glaze of maple, and additions of lime and cilantro. Enjoy the crisp exterior of pork with tender meaty layers of love. A must order item.
There is a duck club on the menu, Just warning those who might want a burger, because as I mentioned it is one of the new best in the city. Order the duck club as an appetizer for the table. They come pre-portioned and everyone will want a bite, or two. I know I would. Think duck confit, smoky bacon, pickled green tomatoes with a dollop of cherry mustard. Holy mother of pearls, this is a great sandwich.
Let’s discuss the French dip just for a moment. Oh, yes Laurel has a French dip and it is sinfully good with its layers of Wiccan tender roast beef, caramelized onions, au jus and a horseradish creme fraiche. The day I sampled this version of the classic sandwich (which is difficult at best to find in Dallas) the au jus was a bit thick for my taste. Squirrel this out before you order the sandwich, because that roast beef is other worldly. Yes to the French dip!
Cocktails are not an afterthought, and I spotted some true talent behind the stick at Laurel Tavern cranking out amazing old fashioneds, a killer blueberry mojito, and a spicy pineapple margarita that had me lapping the glass for the last drop. Ask for extra spicy to cut any bit of sweetness in the latter.
The burgers are grand, the cocktails slurpy good, the apps wonderful, what is there not to like about this new California transplant? They have a location in Hermosa Beach and Studio City, but the Greenville Avenue location will leave you with spare change to order something extra, like the brunch.