If you are accustomed to corn-fed beef, Company Cafe may disappoint. It uses three types of grass-fed beef: buffalo, regular steer, and longhorn, all of which are leaner than regular meat and almost impossible to serve medium rare because they cook so fast. The Belmont Burger, ordered medium rare, was served with a dark gray center. I found it dense and dry and had trouble swallowing it. On a return visit, an upgrade to the more flavorful buffalo patty between two gluten-free buns proved to be a more satisfying choice. Bottom line, though: I wouldn’t go to Company Cafe if I were on a mission to get a great cheeseburger.

company_03 The Deep Bowl photography by Kevin Marple

No matter. The short menu offers too many other unique and inspired dishes to worry about the burgers. Breakfast is served until 3 pm every day. The list of fresh and local ingredients offered to stuff a cage-free egg omelet is impressive: seven types of cheese; vegetables aplenty; buffalo, venison, and grass-fed beef; and all-natural bacon and chicken. One omelet is the size of a deflated regulation football. Ours was filled with tasty ground buffalo, feta, grilled onions, tomatoes, and spinach. We passed it around the table, and it vanished within minutes. The migas are a splendid concoction of tender chicken, bell pepper, and onion scrambled with eggs and strips of white corn tortillas. They were presented on a pile of black beans garnished with feta and hot Texas tomato salsa. But the best item on the breakfast menu is the Deep Bowl, a mound of sweet potato hash made with bacon, green onions, and cilantro, then covered with ground beef and sliced avocado, and topped with two eggs sunny side. I dream about this meal.

I’ve also had recurring fond memories of the braised short rib, which is served in the evening. The short rib, fresh from the green grasses surrounding Greenville, Texas, is slow cooked in a house-made barbecue sauce with hints of pomegranate and orange. A shallow bowl is layered with softly sautéed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes flavored with maple syrup and butter, and a generous short rib. Crispy fried onions are sprinkled atop. I recommend that you eat this meal from the top down, to appreciate the contrast of flavors and textures. It’s a genius presentation and as fine a meal as you’ll get for twice the $16 price at more upscale restaurants.

Two dishes, in particular, I feared would be disastrous, given the gluten-free preparation: chicken-fried steak and chicken and waffles. If you’ve experimented with other gluten-free foods, especially baked goods, you know the texture is different. I expected a funky mouthfeel to be followed by blandness. But both dishes blew me away. The thick waffle was a tad spongy, but once my tongue hit the jalapeños and bacon cooked in the batter, I didn’t mind the texture. The chicken strips, fried in olive oil, were lightly breaded with all-purpose gluten-free flour. They could have been bathed in Elmer’s glue for all I cared. The sweet, savory, spicy flavors exploded in my mouth like a strand of Black Cats. The chicken-fried steak created a similar effect. Sirloin steak is dredged in Mesick’s “secret batter” and topped with rich jalapeño-honey gravy.

“We have a customer who has celiac,” Mesick says. “This is the first chicken-fried steak she has eaten in 10 years. She thanked me because she missed her grandma’s cooking and she never gets to eat it anymore.”

I’m sure sufferers of celiac disease will also marvel at the wide assortment of desserts. Gluten-free baking is tricky and not always pleasing to new palates. The kitchen uses a variety of wheat-free flour blends and adds xanthan gum, a common thickening agent that, like gluten, adds volume and viscosity to cakes and breads. Results can vary wildly. Even fresh products can taste dry. Not at Company Cafe. The texture of the carrot cake was springy, almost elastic, and the red velvet clung to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. If you don’t have celiac disease, you will be pleased to know Company Cafe carries an all-natural cinnamon crumb cake produced by Dallas’ Crumbzz Bakery. The moist yellow cake is made with free-range eggs and rich butter made from local milk. The cinnamon cake is covered with a thick layer of crunchy brown crumbles.

Grab the sports section of the Sunday Dallas Morning News, sip a bottomless drip cup of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters coffee, and enjoy a late breakfast at Company Cafe. Even if your small intestine isn’t overly sensitive, you’ll be glad you did.

For more information about Company Cafe, visit our restaurant guide.

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