Eating Like Aarón, With Chef Aarón Sanchez at House of Blues in Dallas

Rockin'new menu at Crossroads at House of Blues in Dallas.

We sent D Magazine intern Suzanne Asfar to check out Chef Aarón Sanchez’ new menu for the Crossroads dining experience at House of Blues.

Chef Aarón Sanchez – Food Network star and restaurateur – is all over the culinary map these days, but this week you can find him in Dallas. He’s in town shooting a new season of Heat Seekers for FN and will be at Central Market on Lovers Wednesday from 11AM-2PM signing copies of his new cookbook, Simple Food, Big Flavor. Yesterday afternoon he was at House of Blues introducing his menu for their new Crossroads dining experience.

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It was a fancy event complete with complimentary valet parking and a blue carpet entrance – perfect for a gloomy Monday and pre-Rangers game party, as marketing manager Chris Spinks pointed out. But that was just the bow on the package of taste bud delight offered at the sparkling buffet inside. Give me any event where the photographers are doing close-ups of the buffet table. Uber-attentive waitstaff kept plates filled with Chef Sanchez’ “bold and classic, yet contemporary” dishes while DJ Joe Vega kept the beat pumping.

It’s not just bar food and it’s not strictly Southern. They’ve kept some of the old favorites like the jambalaya, which actually had the least flavor and spice to me, and brought in food that Aarón says he likes to eat when he goes out. He’s proud of his short rib meatball sliders that are surprisingly good with Sanchez’ signature spicy kick. My favorite was the creamy shrimp and grits with a citrus spice: fancy in a martini glass, but still down-to-earth with tale-on shrimp that became finger-food. Other dishes like tuna tartare, lobster mac n’ cheese, and flatbreads make up the menu of filling, comfort foods.

I got to sit down with Aarón for a short chat, and although I recognized him from FN’s Chopped, in person he not the prim suit-and-tie persona I’d seen on the show. Wearing an HOB “rockaholic” pearl-snap, beer in hand, he looked like he was just hanging out and enjoying the party (I caught sight of him dancing solo at the bar while waiting for a beer). He’s also extremely friendly shaking hands and offering “free hugs” to all.

Aarón said he is happy about his collaboration with House of Blues which has a great reputation and also similar values in “music, art, and spirituality.” He told me he has worked hard to be where he is and finds inspiration for projects like this in his practice of Buddhism as well as in his new son, Yuma. A New York-Texan, he is enjoying “feeling small” in Dallas’ high-ceiling spaces and ready to check out restaurants like The Commissary and Smoke.

After Dallas, he continues his tour to implement the new Crossroads menu. Also, his new show, Aaron Loves New York, airs on Fox’s Utilisima channel in November. Later this month he will open Mestizoin Kansas City. It will be his first restaurant outside New York. This guy has his finger in a lot of pots, and when you get food like I did yesterday, you should be glad one of those pots is located at Crossroads at Dallas’ HOB.

Book Signing

Dallas Central Market

5750 E Lovers Ln.

Wednesday the 12th, 11 am-2 pm