Screen Door Chef David McMillan on the Magic of Tei An and the Fall of Alma
In part one of our interview with Screen Door chef David McMillan, he told us about his youth in Berkeley and explicit calling to cook at an early age. In part two we discuss the Dallas and Colleyville food scenes, including some of his favorite spots.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in Dallas?
Tei An. I really like (chef) Teiichi over there. He bought me a lamb the other day and I need to go pay him for it. He wanted us all (in the One Arts Plaza) to use a different piece of it for the Fall Festival. The idea sounded great over gin, but it didn't really work out.
In South Lake, near my house, I like the Feed Store, Brio and Taste of India; it's an armpit, but the people are so sweet and their food is good. The guy there looks like an Indian Tom Cruise. It's undeniable.
And a creepy place is Clown Hamburgers in Fort Worth.
What would you like to see more of in Dallas?
The continuing development of small neighborhood restaurants and farmer's markets.
Your restaurant in Colleyville, 62 Main, got a lot of great reviews and had a loyal following, yet it closed after four years. What happened?
The demographics in Colleyville are spectacular. It's always in the top ten places to live, the income there is great. But the area we went into is just still not developed -- it's still half dirt. There are even closed Jack-in-the-Boxes and Sonics. It's just a bizarre spot. I know so many people who come into Colleyville with a good business plan, whether it be retail or whatever, but for some reason it just doesn't work. It's an enigma and hard to predict. There weren't enough ex-pats!
Do you think the Dallas palate is changing?
People want it to change. One thing that really surprised me that happened, even though I understand why it happened, was the rise and fall of Alma. It went quick.
What do you attribute that to?
I think it had established itself as Cuba (Libre), then they made that shift -- I don't know if you call it progressive or regressive -- but it was more Mexican and Tex-Mex driven, and working with that artisanal product, I guess that's not what that market wanted.
Where do you shop for groceries?
I love Central Market. And there's an Arabic spot called Alwadi Cafe and Giza Specialty Foods on Brown Trail. I also have two farmers markets near me in Colleyville; the guys there all work hard, they drive a lot to get their product. At 62 Main we would get a lot of our produce there and it always pushed us into a certain style because of what grows in Texas.
Do you shop at the Dallas Farmers Market?
Lemley was the big guy we would buy from. He has these great things, but he's already closed for the season.
Got any favorite dives?
The Windmill Lounge near Love Airport is a great spot with some great characters. They have a big neon sign of a windmill out front, but I think all the lights are burnt out on it now.