There was a lot of buzz when this 50-seat American/Mexican joint opened in February in New East Dallas. Most of the excitement came from the fact that Peak & Elm is owned by the Moreno family, operators of two outposts of La Popular Tamale House. We arrived at 1 pm hoping to miss the lunch rush. Our party of two turned out to be the lunch rush. The menu is short but intriguing. We ordered elotes to start. When the server returned to the table, we placed the rest of our order: cheese enchiladas, tamale pie, and chicken and beef tacos. Every dish was delivered cold. The enchiladas were stacked, and the round pile was covered with a thick cheese sauce and topped with salsa. It might have been better had someone taken the time to run it under a broiler for a few seconds. Instead, it was too unappealing to eat. Even cold, however, the tacos worked. The crispy shells were stuffed, one with flavorful shredded chicken, the other with seasoned ground beef and potatoes. A smattering of freshly chopped jalapeños supplied the only heat to the Spanish rice. The elotes arrived last. The gorgeous pile of roasted corn carved off the cob spiced with a blend of lime and four kinds of peppers could have been frozen, and I still would have eaten every kernel. Chef Jesse Moreno Jr. knows how to cook, but serving cold food to the only two people in your dining room is not a good way to win over customers. Or dining critics.
For more information about Peak & Elm Cocina & Bar, visit our online restaurant guide.