Find a Que joint.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen), Dallas, TX

If you have never seen a strip mall of restaurants before, behold Phil Romano’s Trinity Groves. His restaurant concept has singlehandedly baked, taken, and devoured the cake – even if it was slightly overdone.

From the kitschy outside appearance – likely due to a Christmas light sale at Costco – to the massive flaming rock columns beckoning you into the coliseum of window shopping for food, Romano went full-fledged Liberace with this.

Upon initial eye contact, it is overwhelming in a childlike sense of wonder kind of way. Once your burned retinas have adjusted to the electric light orchestra, the uniqueness will captivate you.

Entering this dining compound, one conspicuous detail sticks out – each patio was constructed with nothing more in mind than simplicity. A striped down approach was taken –purposefully or not – and unfortunately, this lack of architectural ambition does not match tenants such as Casa Rubia and Resto’s individuality when it comes to their interior design.
While this concrete uniformity may not translate well with the more upscale destinations, it works effortlessly with LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen). Opened in late October of 2013, this gastropub relies on local craft beer while serving variations of regional dishes.

For starters, bierrocks, breaded shrimp, and the pretzels were ordered. The breaded shrimp was less memorable, while the pretzels were as appealing as I’d expect from a homemade pretzel.

Coming three to an order, the bierrocks were reminiscent of the Czech pastry, Klobasnek, which can be found on the way to Austin in West, TX.  With a fluffy texture from the marginally sweet bread, the ground beef and cheese contents meshed well together. Complementing this appetizer was beer cheese and au jus for your dipping pleasure.
For our main entrees, our table of eight ordered the pastrami sandwich, fish and chips, shrimp and grits, pozole, torta de lengua, and pork schnitzel. Sadly, the shrimp and grits were under seasoned with the grits more liquefied in the bowl. The pork schnitzel didn’t exactly set fire to my lenden (Google translate) either, as it was a tad bland. Their fish and chips were good, but you can locate better in one of Dallas’ Irish pub knockoffs, and there are plenty of those to kick your little green shamrocks in.

Having never tried pozole before, this is one dish of LUCK’s that threw a better right hook than those previously mentioned. Again, a pozole rookie here, but without an overabundance of spice, the pork and hominy stew were well seasoned and came across even tempered upon inhalation. A second bowl was ordered.
For LUCK not being a barbecue restaurant that only concentrates on smoked meat, I found the pastrami to have been cooked nicely. Thick slices of meat served between two slices of sourdough bread, along with caramelized onions, ground mustard and a slice of Swiss – this is a well above average bar sandwich. But also, your average bar doesn’t turn brisket into pastrami. And for that reason, try the meat as separate from the sandwich as it’ll allow the pre-smoking brine to be more palpable upon taste.

Recently, I was told not to eat anything that could lick me. Well I do, but I can’t recall much detail about the torta de lengua other than it was enjoyed very much. By this point, my third high ABV beer was about finished, and so was I.
LUCK does craft beer extraordinarily well; but they have some minor misses on the menu. Clearly taking more cues from south of the border and eastern Europe, and given they’ve been open three months and some change, the consistency isn’t there yet.

What the other restaurants in Trinity Grove lack from not having a bar, LUCK provides a closure to that gap. With better than average food, it is an enjoyable spot to relax and attempt to navigate through all 40 taps. Considering most of their inventory hovers around 8% ABV, that’s one challenge I’d like to see.