I continue to slowly – very slowly – chip away at my goal of visiting and reviewing as many restaurants in Downtown Dallas as possible, at least those within my price range. A couple of months ago, a couple of us trudged across the street to CBD Provisions, at the swanky Joule Hotel on Main Street. CBD Provisions draws rave reviews from food critics, who rate it as one of Dallas’ best new restaurants. But would it meet the Sriram Seal of Approval? Read on to find out.
Reminder of my top secret, proprietary rating system:
5 – I Would Walk 500 Miles (And I Would Walk 500 More) to visit this place
4 – Worth a visit when in town
3 – Meh; I won’t object if a friend suggests it, but I wouldn’t recommend it on my own
2 – Only if nothing else is open
1 – Run, Sriram, Run!
- 1530 Main Street, Dallas, TX
- Hours: 7 A.M.-10 P.M. M-Th; 7 A.M.-11 P.M. F-Sa; 7 A.M.-9 P.M. Su
- Price: $20-30 per person (lunch), dinner somewhat more expensive
Directions: on Main Street between Ervay and Akard Streets, which is easiest to access via IH-45/US 75/Woodall Rogers Freeway. From US 75 (Central Expressway) southbound, exit Ross Avenue and turn right. Turn left at Pearl Street, then right at Elm Street. Turn left at Akard, then immediately left again on Main and the hotel and restaurant valet will be on your right. From IH-45 northbound, exit Main Street, continue straight ahead at the end of the ramp, and the hotel will be on your left. From Woodall Rogers, exit Griffin Street, go south, turn left at Main, and the hotel will be on your right. Or take the DART rail to St. Paul Station, walk south on St. Paul, then head right on Main to the hotel (5 minute walk from the station).
CBD Provisions (“CBD” stands for “Central Business District”) bills itself as “a modernTexas brasserie”, a description that raises the antenna on my pretentiousness meter sky high. This isn’t helped by CBD’s location at the Joule, a hotel that revels in its pretentiousness, exhibited perfectly by the garishly pretentious “Eye” sculpture across the street (trust me, it’s hideous). The basic idea is a modern, upscale take on traditional Texas dishes. The term “Texas-style” is a bit hard to define, as the vastness of the state leads to large differences in cuisine depending on where you are, but the general idea is comfort food. Having grown up in East Texas, I have quite a liking for comfort food, so I was intrigued going in.
I started off with the ‘nduja pimento cheese, a pimento cheese spread made with ‘nduja (a spicy, spreadable Italian pork sausage), served on sourdough toast and garnished with arugula.
This is about as wacky a mix of modern and traditional as you can get. Pimento cheese is the quintessential old Southern appetizer, but you’d expect to see arugula and ‘nduja as basket ingredients on the next episode of Chopped. It shouldn’t work, but in this case, it actually does. Pimento cheese is naturally rich, but the richness is tempered nicely by the fresh arugula and the light sourdough toast. The slightly nutty flavor of arugula also complements the pimento well, though the chef perheps went a bit overboard in this serving. Overall, though, count me as a happy customer to start off.
For the main course, I went with the “whole hog Cuban”, a regular Cuban sandwich dressed with jalapeño mustard.
Ok, I’ll start off with the obvious – a Cuban sandwich is most definitely not Texas cuisine, though the chef tried to Texas-ize it with the addition of the jalapeño mustard. I’ll start off with the good – the sandwich was perfectly toasted to a golden brown, the ham was fresh, and it had some KICK thanks to the mustard, much to the excitement of this heat seeker. But, it was also too greasy to the point of being very, very heavy. You definitely have that ball of concrete in the belly feeling after polishing one of these off. So much so, I could barely get through a few of the fries, which were actually very well done – crispy yet light at the same time. Maybe they swapped some of the grease meant for the fries with the sandwich instead.
The restaurant was fairly busy at the lunch hour, though I didn’t notice anyone having to wait for a table. There is also a very large bar area, and CBD Provisions is perhaps most acclaimed for its cocktails, which are said to be among the best in town (I haven’t had the chance to try one). The open kitchen is also a nice touch, though the main dining room was a bit noisy.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars. Above average, but didn’t live up to the hype. But, I saw enough that I’d like to return again for dinner.