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Restaurants & Bars

The New Petra and the Beast Opens in Lakewood Friday

Misti Norris calls it "Ultra Petra." Now we get to see what her kitchen can do with more space, more staff, and more gadgets.
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The bar at Petra and the Beast in Lakewood. This is the first time chef Misti Norris has supervised a drink program. Brian Reinhart

Petra and the Beast opens its new location tomorrow, August 11, in Lakewood Shopping Center.

It’s a big move for one of Dallas’ best restaurants and could portend big changes for Dallas as a food city. Petra and the Beast started five years ago as a temporary pop-up, a let’s-see-if-this-works culinary experiment that was a lovable underdog. Then it started picking up national recognition, expanding Dallasites’ palates, and establishing Misti Norris as a chef with her original culinary voice.

For Petra’s followers, the question has been whether that underdog spirit will go away now that it’s got a big, permanent new home, with more kitchen toys, a full staff, and a full bar. But judging from the opening menu, Norris was right when she told us last month that the new digs could be “Ultra Petra.”

In that interview, she said there would be room for a larger bread-baking program, smoked meats (using rotisserie smokers left behind by previous tenant Lakewood Smokehouse), and large-format family-style meals. She teased a cocktail menu that shares her philosophy of seasonal, foraged ingredients, and said that more formal tasting menus would return at a communal table in a private dining room. (I strongly recommend that article as a preview for the new spot. This is more of a news alert.)

As Petra prepares to open its doors, we’re getting more detail on what the new restaurant will look like. The main dining room seats about 68, including 12 at the bar and 10 at a kitchen counter (coveted seats if you enjoy watching the team assemble charcuterie boards). The old Petra’s collected bones, jars, dried flowers, and other eccentric decorations are all on display, so the new space feels homey even though it’s more modern. You’ll also get to see the wine and hanging charcuterie prominently featured. Windows look into the private dining room where formal tasting menus will be served in the future.

The new menu adds family-style dinners. One is “whole pig”—it’s not really the whole pig, but your table will get shoulder, belly, tongue, and pig ear chips—and another is a cured, aged redfish. Both come with small armies of side dishes.

Apart from the large-format dishes, there are two lessons to be learned from Petra’s opening menu. One is that its philosophy hasn’t changed at all. As Norris promised us, this is the restaurant we know and love, but with more resources, more room to grow, and more kitchen tools. It’s easy to imagine that, after ironing out the usual new-restaurant kinks, Petra will be even better than it was before.

The other place I want to direct your attention is Petra’s wine list. It is a perfect fit for the restaurant. The wines place heavy emphasis on food-friendliness, acidity, and minimal-intervention production methods. In other words, they are an extension of Norris’ cooking philosophy. This is a list full of “finds” and bottles that will fit with Petra’s food. Oh, and the best part: just seven of the several dozen bottles available cost more than $100. At a time when many of Dallas’ new restaurant openings seem incapable of finding and serving a decent wine for under $100, Petra is setting an example.

The restaurant could set an example in other ways, too. We’ll be back for a full review in a few months after the new team gets to build its chemistry, resume tasting menus, and maybe even add brunch. Until then, you should probably book a reservation. The first few weeks’ tables are filling up fast.

Petra and the Beast, 1901 Abrams Rd.

Author

Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

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