I’ve been anxious for Kitchen LTO, a literal “limited-time-only” restaurant space, to open in the developing Trinity Groves area of Dallas, and today is the day! Johnny and I lucked out with a table for two last night during one of the two preview nights and enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle of a new opening.
Today marks the public opening at Kitchen LTO, with its first concept from Chef Norman Grimm, who describes the cuisine as “modern French/American.” John Valverde, commercial real estate broker, and Miguel Vicens, architect, of Coeval Studio took the first crack at designing the rotating restaurant space in Trinity Groves with a clean, modern finish.
With the exception of a couple expected hiccups that occur during a preview night (they ran out of dessert and a few dishes offered on the menu for the night), in all we enjoyed the atmosphere and meal.
As usual, I was anxious to try something from the cocktail menu and went for the Velvet Fizz, a combination of gin, lemon, house infused honey syrup with sage, egg whites and topped off with club soda. Johnny tried the Modest Mule, a take on a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer and lime) with vodka, lemon, tea-infused vermouth and ginger beer. Both drinks were a little flat, with the lemon overpowering the flavor mixed with a heavy sweetness, but I chalk it up to a hectic preview and some inexperience with the recipes.
On the other hand, the wine list offers varieties from around the country and world, as well as some Texas choices, at a reasonable price. Guests will see some familiar options such as Stag’s Leap and Justin, while experienced winos will find some eclectic offerings. Every bottle was under $70, with plenty of diversity.
The menu for the evening encouraged Guests to choose one Nibble, Crunch (salad) and Treat per two people, and one Savor (main course) per person. We opted for the Classic Arrancini with Arrabiata sauce to begin and were delighted with the crunchy texture and mildly spiced sauce. Of the two salad options for the night, the restaurant was out of the Heirloom Tomato Salad (which would have been our choice) and the Mixed Green Salad left a little to be desired in flavor, and needed more dressing. Again, I am reminded that this was pre-opening and will likely show some opportunity for improvement.
We were told that the Kitchen was out of the Baby Lamb, as well as all desserts, so we ordered the Branzino and Crispy Skin Chicken but shortly after were notified that the chicken was depleted as well. Our next choice was the Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi. I was pleased when the general manger brought out the Quail to accompany the Branzino and Gnocchi, to accommodate for the missing kitchen ingredients.
All three dishes were rich in flavor and cooked to perfection, albeit with the missing heirlooms (substituted with roma tomatoes) from the Branzino. Like the server explained, the Arrabiata was significantly different on the gnocchi than it was with the Arrancini, with more of the spice coming through. The quail was tender and flavorful and the Branzina was nice and crispy, while packing flavor.
A Dallas restaurateur once told me that it takes approximately three months for a restaurant to make or break it in this city and based on what I’ve seen, I’d say that estimate is pretty accurate. Kitchen LTO is a great experiment for chefs hoping for discovery and Dallasites who love a good restaurant opening, while providing service staff with a new experience year-round. Chef Grimm showed off his talent and the service appropriately managed the hiccups that come with a preview. I will definitely be back and can’t wait to see more from this chef and others to come!