I recently dropped in for a gratis sampling of the new summer menu at CBD Provisions, which is tucked inside of The Joule Hotel in Downtown Dallas. This was not my first visit back since examining Michael Sindoni’s vision back in October of 2014. However, it was my first occasion to enjoy the fare under the stewardship of the new executive chef, Richard Blankenship.
The Texan-American Brasserie is a place where Chef Blankenship feels comfortable. He should be after all, since he has been the kitchen’s chef de cuisine since CBD’s commencement in 2013. Yes, the Berkshire pig’s head carnitas ($49) are still on the menu. Approximately seventy per week are still served family-style to patrons eager to witness the morbidly enthralling half pig’s head served complete with a roasted tomatillo salsa, radishes and tortillas. However, for those adventurous patrons, there is now an alternative entrée which is not commonplace on Dallas menus: Rooster. That cocky bird best known for strutting and early morning wakeup caws has met both the cleaver and the plate — and he is delicious.
Inspired by a recent trip to Mission Chinese in NYC (the original is located in San Francisco’s Mission District), Chef Blankenship had the desire to include a poultry dish on the menu that is both spicy and hearty. When he was gifted a couple roosters from friend Nelson Carter, proprietor of Cartermere Farms in Celina, Texas, his inspiration was realized. Chef Blankenship first braises the bird then fries it, garnishing the dish simply with hot chilies and garlic. The spice rub is a combination of Szechuan peppercorns and cumin, which provide the perfect kick to the pleasantly gamey, yet extremely, tender leg. Priced at $16, it’s the perfect curiosity share for the table.
Prior to diving into such a demonstrative dish, I recommend starting with a few selections on the lighter side, all of which are equally divine in their own unique fashion. Fresh kefir butter is made in-house, and is served with perfectly toasted sourdough. The dish is prepared by culturing cream with kefir grains, which consist of probiotic bacteria and yeast that feed on lactose. Starting from scratch, the growth process takes over two months, after which the cultured cream is broken into butter and buttermilk, the latter of which is poured over the former table-side and served with warm grilled sourdough. The resultant product is light, velvety, and possesses a nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the bread.
The vast majority of the vegetables are seasonal, organic, and local, just as they should be. Chef Blankenship has a simple family-style tomato salad on the menu, the preparation of which highlights individual ingredients. Sourced from Comeback Creek Farm, the tomatoes burst with piquancy, a sharpness which is offset by a mix of shallots, basil, and mint. A Latte Da Dairy raw goat’s milk is transformed into a yogurt, which provides a creaminess that contrasts perfects with the fried chicharróns which complete the dish. Other excellent options include the sweet corn succotash employing local squash, butter beans and smoked Berkshire bacon; and, a fresh avocado smear consisting of braised radish, cilantro and mustard seeds which is served with toast. Also popular and quite seasonal is a simple adaptation of grilled rapini which is hit with a splash of lemon, and plated atop pecan butter.
While we’re miles from the nearest ocean, Chef Blankenship doesn’t neglect the opportunities afforded by way of the Gulf. Fresh fish is always on rotation, including, but not limited to, Golden Tilefish, Grouper, Snapper, Amberjack and Triple Tail ($MP). Regardless of species, the fish is roasted and served with fresh seasonal vegetables that best complement the particular varietal. Gulf Shrimp a la Plancha ($16) is served head-on, with grilled gem lettuce, pickled pork skin, buttermilk and basil. A staple which has regulars calling for seconds is the Gulf Shrimp & Crab Cocktail which incorporates CBD’s signature Bloody Mary mix with avocado and horseradish, served with freshly fried tortilla chips that are lightly dusted with a chili lime salt ($14).
CBD Provisions remains as sleek and sexy as ever, which is emblematic of the culture created within the
Raised Palate portfolio (American Food & Beverage, The Porch, Hibiscus, Thirteen Pies, Victor Tangos) Headington Companies. And, Chef Blankenship has eased into his new role at the helm… much to the dismay of roosters everywhere. I am very much looking forward to his next inventive inspiration.