Where We’re Eating on Lovers Lane
Sixty-eight years ago, the Inwood Theatre began standing watch over the corner of Lovers Lane and Inwood. The corner back then – two years after the end of World War II – was on the Northern outskirts of Dallas.
The theater still stands on its noble watch over the intersection, and has much more to see than it did on the day of its completion. It is the heartbeat of Inwood Village and its surroundings, where restaurants, retailers, bakeries, coffee shops and more thrive under its marquee. And while we might leave Inwood Village proper, as this week rears its head we’ll never travel far from Inwood Theatre as we find some of our favorite fare on Lovers Lane.
Since opening in 2006 as a seafood market only, Rex’s has found a loyal fan base among Dallas seafood lovers. Owner Rex Bellomy notes that on any given day a customer can find between 25-30 different seafood offerings, from clams to salmon to lobster. However, it wasn’t until the customers started asking for prepared dishes that Bellomy started seriously considering putting the kitchen to full use, and it turns out that their requests came to a fruitful end. Four years after opening for lunch, the kitchen at Rex’s now accounts for around 75 percent of their total business – gumbo, crab cakes, snapper and oysters grace either the main menu or Rex’s blackboard menu during the week, and the variety of soups they offer can also be purchased in quart-sized containers to be taken home and eaten later. Even house-made fish or lobster stock can be found at Rex’s for those looking to do their cooking from (mostly) scratch.
And then there are the lobster rolls. Served for lunch every Friday, they are appropriately simple affairs: lobster, mayo and diced celery on a buttered and grilled bun. A note, though – get there early, or prepare for the line.
There’s a reason Celebration Restauarant looks like a house – and it’s far more than simply being a design of convenience. Built more than 40 years ago in 1971, Ed Lowe knew that just because that particular area of Lovers Lane had been rezoned from residential to business, he had every intention of making his customers feel as at home as possible.
Celebration (which has since 1971 expanded to include a market and a catering company) has been succeeding in that effort, continuing into its fifth decade in Dallas serving what Lowe describes as ‘comfort food,’ using fresh, local ingredients. Even the dinner service is reminiscent of home at Celebration – optional seconds are available for almost every entree, and most of the sides are served family-style. The restaurant is also much like a house in that it is segmented into different rooms, promoting a smaller, more personal feel. And the service – while smiling and friendly – strives to remain unobtrusive. Special dietary requirements are readily accommodated, and the vegetables on the menu are reflective of what’s good at the market.
There are four seats at the French-style restaurant in Inwood Village where, from behind the counter, one can watch the souffles being made. Sweet, savory – even a soup souffle – the cooks are beating eggs until they peak, mixing and folding bechamels and bases, sauteing ingredients, timing the ovens to a clockwork precision; it’s all right there, just a couple of feet in front of the customer. Head Chef Cherif Brahmin is there, too, making sure that the dishes have risen from their original, uncooked and custardy form to the sublime souffles they have been intended to become.
As a Salon de Soufflé, Rise features souffles of every sort, from savory offerings such as Truffle-Infused Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Chevre to sweet options that range from Chocolate to Grand Marnier. Even their Marshmallow Soup features them – three goat cheese souffles (the ‘marshmallows’) served in a bowl with carrot bisque and pesto. But the souffle it is not the only category of food they offer. Along with an international, Franco-centric cheese selection and a wine offering befitting an upper-tier French restaurant, Rise also allows for space on the menu for classic dishes such as Soup a L’Oignon Gratineé to plates of their own invention, such as the Rise °1 Salad, a salad that features baby greens, pecans, blue cheese, and Granny Smith apples.
Chefs T.J. Lengnick and Shuji ‘Elvis’ Suguwara have an interesting dynamic at Shinsei. In this Pan-Asian restaurant with Lengnick in charge of the hot kitchen and Suguwara in charge of the sushi, the two combine forces to bring a wide variety of options to the spot owned by Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun.
From Coconut Chicken Jalapeno Poppers ($9) to Garlic Pork Potstickers ($14), Honey Hoisin Baby Back Ribs ($15) to Oven Roasted Mahi Mahi ($34), the offerings at Shinsei – which is run by Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing – would be considered varied even without the sushi bar, but it is the sushi bar that makes the concept complete. Sugawara worked for three year’s with Soda Takashi, now at Richardson’s Sushisake, and went on from there to stints at Anzu, Tei-Tei Robata Bar and Teppo before taking the reins as Shinsei’s sushi chef. With his experience, he presents a traditional, trained – yet creative – aspect to Shinsei in the form of sushi.