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First Take: Café Momentum

Café Momentum opens to the public on Thursday, January 29.
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I was invited to dine at Café Momentum Friday night for one of its soft opening dinners. The space has come a long way since I stopped in a couple of weeks ago. Dark wooden tables adorned with orange gerbera daisies lined the dining room, which was buzzing with a young staff dressed in black and white gingham pearl snap Western shirts. In between the lull of songs (primarily a mix of doo-wop and ’60s hits), the sound of entrées sizzling erupted from the open kitchen. It was a lively accompaniment to the neon white strobes of light that shot in every few minutes from passing DART trains. And while it wasn’t bustling (this was a soft opening, after all), a steady flow of diners was seated throughout the evening.

For the first course, my table ordered the cauliflower head with manchego powder, salsa verde, and mustard yogurt. It was literally a head of cauliflower. “Sure, CBD has a pig’s head, but we have a cauliflower head…” executive director and chef Chad Houser teased. We also ordered the shrimp and grits beignets with tasso aioli. The doughy, bite-size nuggets stayed true to the flavor of shrimp and grits, but in a State Fair-inspired, finger-food sort of way. They were fun. Other options were the fried pork rillettes with caprino royal goat cheese fondue; toast with carrot butter, muhammara, and eggplant caponata; and octopus tiradito with toum, olives, and aji amarillo.

The salad list included the Momentum salad with garden harvest greens, and red wine vinaigrette; roasted root vegetable salad with watercress and ginger vinaigrette; pea shoots salad with lemon, house ricotta, and crispy prosciutto; and the Texas caviar salad with black-eyed peas, bourbon cured salmon, and cornbread blini. I ordered the pea shoot salad. It was the best thing I ate all night; bright and tangy with generous chunks of ricotta, and salt-packed bits of prosciutto.

Entrées included scallops with ricotta gnocchi, rapini, sage, and brown butter; pork loin with cider baked beans, mustard seed, and cardamom; smoked fried chicken with red eye gravy, Randall’s biscuits, mashed potatoes, and braised cabbage; and beef braciole, marble potatoes, house italian sausage, Sunday gravy, and tomato jam.

The meal ended with a dessert plate crafted by pastry chef Sarah Green, and showcased three squares: cranberry, pecan pie, and kabocha squash.

Overall, the dining experience was pleasant. Services was beyond attentive, I couldn’t get through two sips of water without a young busser swooping in and re-filling my glass. And while my server didn’t exactly know how to pronounce “braciole” (to be honest, neither did my dining companion), he was beyond conscientious. I look forward to watching the restaurant blossom.

Café Momentum opens to the public on Thursday, January 29, and will be open for dinner Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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