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A Look at Proof + Pantry’s Summer Menu

Carnivores will regale in the seasonal options offered at this trendy restaurant.
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Proof + Pantry is a restaurant that accentuates the balance of American food and drink. Harmony is achieved by breaking down complicated culinary concepts into simpler techniques, and executing them perfectly to achieve dishes that are not only full of flavor, but also extremely easy on the eye. The menu, which is categorized as “Soil,” “By Sea,” “By Land,” “Bulk,” and “Sweets & Cheeses”, highlights the fact that Proof + Pantry places a premium on sourcing the best ingredients to create each dish.

Barrel Aged Presidente

In addition to a robust craft beer and wine list, Chief Mixologist Michael Martensen and team have assembled a cocktail program, which rivals that of The Cedars Social (nominated for a James Beard Award in 2013). I admit that it’s easy to err towards the familiar, but rather than reaching for The Old Fashioned (which is excellent), slide into summer with the Barrel Aged Presidente ($13). Martensen uses a blend of Caña Brava rum with orange cordial, dry vermouth, and house grenadine. In addition to being barrel aged for over six weeks in uncharred New American Oak to accentuate its flavor, the cocktail possesses one of the sexiest presentations in Dallas.

Cobia cevice with pineapple and edible flowers.
Cobia cevice with pineapple and edible flowers.

Executive Chef Kyle McClelland takes a similar approach with the fare, utilizing sustainable products from respected farmers, ranchers and fishermen across the United States (including many from Texas). Seafood dishes change on a daily basis, so it’s no surprise that the selections are excellent. We sampled raw Glidden Point oysters from Maine, served in shell and topped with crème fraîche and caviar (MP), followed by the snow crab salad with avocado, and various micro herbs ($18). My favorite “By Sea” dish was an ensemble of wonderfully tender cobia ceviche with cucumber, pineapple, celery and edible flowers ($18); and coming in as a close runner-up was the seared diver scallop atop summer vegetables, namely English peas, fava beans, garbanzo beans and wild pea shoots ($36). There is an assortment of summer white wines with which to pair the seafood-based selections, my favorite being the Bernier Unoaked Chardonnay from the Loire Valley of France. At $11, it’s the best-priced French wine by the glass in the Arts District.

Seared scallop with bean medley.
Seared scallop with bean medley.

Carnivores will regale in the options afforded at Proof + Pantry. A “Tasting of Hams” ($21) includes Levoni and Speck, both from Italy, and Serrano ham, hailing from Spain. An additional twenty-five dollars will allow for a tasting of “Appalachian Ham”, which is cured in sugar, salt and aromatic spices for over three years. This process extracts moisture from the ham, and tightens the flavor into a nutty carnal treat so much that a veteran pallet can detect the grass and nuts consumed by the free-range pig.

Other options included bone marrow with onion marshmallows, tomato jam and gremolata ($15) and a lobe of Hudson Valley foie gras with candied rhubarb, crème fraiche and an olive oil cake ($24). I sampled the Berkshire pork chop with carrots, ramps, green onions, and hen of the woods mushrooms ($34). The Berkshire breed is known for its richer, deeper flavor profile by way of heavy marbling and pink hue. Many consider Berkshire to be the Wagyu equivalent in the swine category. McClelland’s preparation was exquisitely cooked and the colors brought forth encapsulated summer, which is quite unusual for a pork dish.

Glidden Point oyster with caviar.
Glidden Point oyster with caviar.

I wasn’t able to sample anything from the “Bulk” section but the chicken caught my eye, especially priced at $45. Often overlooked, there are very few dishes that provide more satisfaction when properly prepared. Kyle brines the bird for over twenty-four hours in a mix of vinegar, salt, sugar, apples, herbs and aromatic spices, and then sets the chicken aside for another twenty-four hours to dry. The final product is steam cooked in a combi oven, and finalized with the use of a convection oven, which continuously circulates dry heat to crisp the skin and seal in the juices. Each bird serves between three and four people.

Proof + Pantry has a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Dallas (it has been selected as one of the ten finalists for CultureMap’s “2015 Restaurant of the Year”), so I had high expectations of the quality of the dishes when I walked through the door. I was surprised, however, by the beauty and attention to detail when each successive plate reached the table.

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