Restaurant Review: Private Social in Dallas

(from left) Chef Derry opts not to work the room, and pan-seared scallops. (Photography by Kevin Marple)

Dallas can’t claim many celebrities as its own. With few exceptions (Hi, Don Henley!), if they make it big, they leave us. That’s why Troy Aikman can’t get through a meal at the Highland Park Village Mi Cocina without a guy coming up to his table to shake his hand. We’re starved for celebrities. Which also explains why we make so much fuss over our famous chefs. Louboutin-heeled ladies fawn like groupies when in the presence of Kent Rathbun, Dean Fearing, or Stephan Pyles.

Television has elevated at least four of our chefs to national fame. Bravo’s Top Chef has featured three from North Texas: Tre Wilcox (then of Abacus), Tiffany Derry (then of Go Fish Ocean Club), and Casey Thompson (then of Shinsei). Kooky restaurateur and caterer Lisa Garza (then of Suze) mesmerized and polarized fans when she competed on The Next Food Network Star. These days, it’s easier to get in touch with Brad Pitt than Lisa Garza.

None of the aforementioned chefs won the big prize. All four returned to the Dallas area and, eventually, starred in new restaurants backed by investors. After her appearance on Top Chef, Thompson left her post at Shinsei and co-founded Brownstone in Fort Worth. After losing in the finals, Garza operated an upscale catering company for several years and has opened Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar on Henderson Avenue. After Tre Wilcox packed up his knives, he juggled consulting and private gigs before he landed center stage at Marquee Grill in Highland Park Village. And Tiffany Derry, who couldn’t sell a piece of halibut at the now-defunct Go Fish while she competed on Top Chef, is now ruling the kitchen at Private Social.

Jump for the rest.


  • D

    Stupid review! Not accurate at all. Y’all should keep Nancy on the more simple jobs because she obviously cant handle a real review of a real restaurant. I wouldn’t base your opinion of PS off this lousy review. Go and see for your self, its a great young restaurant full of energy and life, and beautiful to look at. The food is well above great and they are fixing the acoustics in the private side s well. At worst there may be some minor consistency issues like any young restaurant but those are kinks that will iron out. PS is a great restaurant and I think everyone should expirence it at least once.

  • honeymadger

    While I’ll agree it’s not the best restaurant in Dallas, it’s not nearly as bad as this review makes it out to be. And suggesting that the food would be better if the chef spent more time “working the room” is ridiculous–at least to me. I want my chef in the kitchen cooking her butt off and overseeing the details for me and every other diner, not insincerely schmoozing the room the entire night. But maybe I’m an atypical Dallasite (yeah, I’m imported) who doesn’t care about celebrity status. As long as the food is good, I’m happy. And I have to say, I’ve left Private Social more than happy on more than one occasion.

  • chris

    Very accurate review of an overhyped restaurant and chef. Why is it when chef’s become well known they stop cooking?

  • VV

    This review was spot on. My experience there was one of the worst dining experiences so far this year.

  • Al

    Agree 100% with the review – chef and restaurant needs HELP!!!

  • Uptown Uppie

    It must get too hot in the kitchen for a chef when he/she becomes “famous”.

  • dallasboiler

    The food was very good when I visited Private Social in January. However, the noise is completely out of control. I like a restaurant to have a bit of a lively ‘buzz’ to it, but at Private Social it is impossible to hear somebody seated directly next to you. Seriously, it’s louder than most rock concerts that I’ve attended. The constant, high-decibel roar at Private Social makes it very difficult to enjoy even a well prepared meal.

  • @D please explain what “well above great” means exactly??

  • brad (no, not the brad)

    Have been to PS twice – PS’s night #2 and once around New Year’s. Food and service impressed both times. Since then, it seems that the menu’s focus has strayed from the really exceptional new-south cooking that wowed us on night #2. If that’s the case, I hope the chef takes the review in stride and uses the next 6 months to retool and refocus. If she does, I hope D sends Nancy back to re-review and update. I think the restaurant and the chef have a lot of promise – here’s hoping they get the execution back under control.

  • jay

    Well people should notice this first..That never DMN review the place and give them 3 to 4 stars or write good about the restaurant and the same restaurant will be reviewed by D magazine and they well SCREW the place badly…. I guess this is just the game played by MEDIA…. Do not believe in media please … go and check your self….

  • Al

    @Jay – obviously we have!!!

  • Jay, you are wrong. There is no game played here. I ate at Private Social four times. I sent a dish back to the kitchen two out of four times. I can’t tell you the last time I sent one dish back to the kitchen because I usually just report the inferior dish. Both times the replacement dish was fine. That indicates wild inconsistency. This should not happen in a restaurant that charges over $30 for an entree. BTW, biting into undercooked sweetbreads is a disgusting dining experience. Vile. How many other people would spend, as I did, close to $1,000 to get a decent meal? That is no game.

  • Joe Abboud

    Well, it’s not like you were spending your own money.

  • Al

    @Joe, silly comment – it’s about the FOOD and the SERVICE!!!!!

  • Borborygmus

    The only flaw I saw with this review was that it didn’t warn people of the ridiculous valet situation that is shared with Del Frisco’s Grill. Line stretched down the street. 1/2 hour wait for our car when leaving.

    I found the menu to be very seafood-centric, and the flavors uninspiring. And the window on the kitchen displayed exactly why we had such a long wait for our entrees. You could plainly see the lineup of waiters checking for their table’s food to come out of the kitchen. Which it wasn’t.

    Maybe it was just a bad night, Tiffany was not in the house. But we didn’t see a GM anywhere, either.