After a Flailing Start, RedFork Is Ready For A Second Look

Categories: Food News

REDFORK exterior sign construction.jpg
What an idea it was: Take a handful of top-tier chefs fresh from Dallas' top restaurants, give them access to the best ingredients and turn them loose on pub fare. RedFork Tavern was one of the most anticipated recent openings in the scene. Local food blogs ran preview stories in the weeks that preceded the opening. EscapeHatchDallas posted a first look titled "Finally a Real Gastro Pub in Dallas."

And then the locally sourced shit hit the fan.

Not long after it opened, CraveDFW reported that Jeff Harris and Matt Balke had bailed on the concept, citing creative differences. Pegasus, Eater, and D quickly followed with their own versions of the story. The Morning News called Harris to get a quote in an attempt to discern what had happened. And then things got quiet. All you could hear was the sputtering air gushing from a place that once contained such promise. Keg's kicked, the party's over.

That silence suited Ryan Carbery. The third in line in RedFork's chain of command was left to helm a three-man kitchen alone, with only a little help on cold plates. A few weeks at full capacity while understaffed, with a continuing media buzz, might have been enough to drive the upstart into the ground.

But he survived, and he has some backup now. He hired Drew Altimore, a catering chef from Houston, to serve as his number two. RedFork sounds almost ready for a second look.

Carbery may be best known for his time at Lazare, a farm-to-table concept in the West Village that didn't survive. Carbery told me the concept was misplaced, an attempt at selling upscale fare in a neighborhood filled with college kids that wanted cheap burgers and draft beer. A one-star review in the Morning News couldn't have helped things either. (It was before my time, but the Observer had a positive experience there.)

Since Lazare, Carbery has bounced around Dallas, working catering gigs and trying to find a home. He was seduced by the RedFork concept and the opportunity to work with Harris and Balke.

"It was a ton of fun," Carbery says when asked about RedFork's opening. "We had three people that really cared, and were determined and hard working." He describes Harris as extremely humble and professional and great to work for, but stops short when I ask him why the chef left, falling back on the "creative differences" phrase that's permeated news stories covering the split.

Carbery is likely tired of answering questions about the old guard. He's got a new cook to train and a new menu that rolls out today. RedFork has gotten off to an impossibly hard start, and the kitchen is his to save.

The gastropub concept that governed the original opening remains, but the style has shifted. Carbery is devoted to the simple principles of Italian-style cooking. A long-awaited pizza oven should arrive any day to start turning out Neapolitan-style pies. RedFork will also soon serve hand-crafted charcuterie that's cured in-house. Lomo, a long-cured pork loin, and coppa, a cured pork shoulder cut, will be available first. Whole hog cooking will follow, featuring "snout to tail" plates that feature three cuts. I'm hoping for crispy guanciale, head cheese loaded with fresh dill and mustard seed, and crispy pig ears. Please.

The restaurant is still sourcing the best ingredients they can while leaning towards local and seasonal cooking. For reference check out the burger: a blend of brisket, chuck, sirloin and recently added skirt steak. Carbery says he adds that for texture. The sandwich is refined but not stuffy, and served with perfectly cooked, simply seasoned pommes-frites.

"Things have relaxed a little," Carbery says, talking about his menu changes. "You don't have to do to much to the ingredients to do something fantastic."


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20 comments
runDMC
runDMC

Margie, Brad, Uptown & GuestNext time please review each others comments before posting. These were too similar, too tepidly effusive, all lacking in food specifics, and btw predicting the future is always a tipoff as in "be back soon" and "bound to take off". You also need to get a convergence on what crowd you are trying to fool into coming to this dismal dive, is it a "pub", a "bar", a "family" place or a "top ten" restaurant? 

bamustgo
bamustgo

Gastro pubs can only exist in England.  Quit trying to create something here that can not be.  Make it a gastro ice house. 

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Another thing, why do so many restaurantuers keep chaising this gastro pub bullshit. Its a bar, a bar with food, lots of bars have food, some bars have expensive food,  or its a restaurant, restaurants have beer and mixed drinks ,some restaurants have lots of drinks  

The defining charistic is not the menu or the price but the seating arrangement and service situation, hours etc. open till 2 with a livley crowd, bar !

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

So tired of these restaurant reviews that dont have the address, mention the neighborhood, talk about why the concept is wrong for the location but never mention the location

Live Music Dallas
Live Music Dallas

Ate there a few weeks ago...took over an hour to get our food and the food was cold.   Atmosphere was bad.  We joked that we thought we were on a hidden camera show.

Miss Macy
Miss Macy

Crispy pig ears? Oy, pass the Pepto Bismol.

Heathtc
Heathtc

Went there a few weeks ago. I thought the food was mediocre and everything was overpriced. Quite a disappointment.

Guest
Guest

I thought the service was amazing, great friendly staff.  But the food is what really shines at Redfork.  The chef has such amazing skills and it is now one of my top ten restaurants in Texas!  Keep it up, I can't wait to go back!

UPTOWN CREW
UPTOWN CREW

The food is great the drinks are strong with a great prices. Great tunes on the radio good time feel. There is talk of some more tvs going up and adding more of a bar feel. I love the place and plan to go back. Carbery and Altimore have picked up where the others have left off. Good luck to everyone that works there.

Brad Baker
Brad Baker

My family and I ate there about a week ago.  We had great service and a wonderful meal.  We highly recommend giving this place a go.  This place is bound to take off given some time.

We will definetely be back soon

joeat
joeat

Please note, Chef Ryan had been the chef at Lazare for a very short period of time when the 1 star DMN review came out after a disastrous period with opening chef David Gilbert.

Sammy
Sammy

The fact of the matter is that the financer of Redfork changed his mind about what the restaurant would be opting to run what he is more familiar with, a college bar that would be similar to the bars near Ross on Henderson. Fail.

Guest
Guest

We ate there 2 weeks ago and the food was incredibly salty and overpriced. $14 for a salad (which was also salty btw) that contains 4 pieces of lettuce just doesn't cut it. Wishing the best for them, but some adjustments absolutely need to be made.

Margie Hubbard
Margie Hubbard

I do hope things go well for them.  A very promising place.

Coleman
Coleman

It's called "astroturf," man. Of course their posts sound the same, they were made by the same uncreative scumbag sent in an attempt to shine this turd.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

My first impression as well. WTF, Observer is it really so damned hard to include the address?

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

dressed with a squeeze of lime. I'm tellin' ya.  GOOD

Jew-cee fruit
Jew-cee fruit

Too bad the cocktails are premade and the staff are being sent home without making any money because it's so dead.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Carbery was the chef responsible during the Observer's visit. "Veggie girl" paid the restaurant a visit, and gushed about Ryan's ad-hoc vegetarian cooking.

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