WHY THE MOTH: Many a captain of industry has bemoaned the demise of the three-martini lunch. The noontime custom—in which dotted lines were signed oh-so-much quicker with a little liquid lubrication—swept out long ago on a wave of gently stirred gin and political correctness. In other words, boring.
But the Meddlesome Moth defies the new business norm. It practically dares you not to partake in a libation or two. In the Moth’s case, gimlets have been replaced with beer. Oh, but not just any beer. The Moth pours rare cask ales, black lagers, English pales, porters, and stouts. More than 130 beers, 42 of which are on draft. And the always grinning Shannon Wynne is the one pulling on the tap.
Wynne is Dallas restaurant royalty. A nightlife impresario. His creations are legend: 8.0, Rio Room, Nostromo, Flying Fish, and his chain of Flying Saucer Draught Emporiums. Wynne has an uncanny knack for knowing what the people need and delivering it with verve and style.
WHAT TO EAT: The Moth is no different. Wynne has seized on the burgeoning gastropub movement—a complimentary combo of specialty beer and gourmet pub fare—and tweaked it for eager Dallas palates. Executive chef Chad Kelley tackles old favorites—meat pies, fish and chips, bangers and mash—and elevates them from their humble origins.
A must starter is a skillet of fried hominy. Golden, lightly fried, and dusted with cayenne, it’s a highly addictive snack. Our table also shared two bowls of the Moth’s mussels. The frommage version suffered from too much blue cheese and tarragon. It felt heavy handed. Not so the other bowl: a classic blend of lemon, thyme, white wine, and butter. It was a harmonious balance.
Sandwiches ran the gamut from a perfectly fine burger enchanced by a dollop of Thousand Island dressing to a hearty BLT on Texas toast to a croque monsieur, the classic French pairing of ham, gruyere, and creamy Béchamel.
Speaking of the French, chef Kelly’s steak frittes—a well-crusted 14 oz. strip with thin cut fries—was brasserie food at its cozy best, especially when paired with a North Coast Old Rasputin imperial stout (as recommended by our server). Kelly’s spin on English pub favorite bangers and mash featured buffalo sausage served over whipped parsnips. Another winner.
I decided to test my server, asking him to pair the aforementioned stout with a dessert. His surprising suggestion—a raspberry napoleon with Grand Marnier ice cream—smoothed out the beer’s rich notes and proved to be a sweet companion. My table mates also swooned over the chess pie, claiming it the best they’d ever had. I nodded my head in agreement. Or maybe it was the beer talking. That’s the sneaky thing about Wynne’s new creation: By the end of your meal (and a few pints later), you’re not sure if it’s true love or you’re viewing The Moth through beer goggles. Either way, it’s a deliciously opportune time to close the deal.
The food: Gastropub fare
The cost: Average lunch entrée price, $12
Full bar: Yes
Who's there: Laura Bush, Don Henley, Daryl Johnston
The Power Table: Tables 50 & 54: Round booths found under The Moth’s stained glass windows.