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Park ’n’ Playby Mark Stuertz | Photo: Jill Broussard | Modern Luxury Dallas magazine | May 20, 2013
“I’ll give you my beer when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” Flip one word and the famous Charlton Heston missive on guns becomes the battle cry for Lark on the Park, the new chic dining cavern by nightclub impresario Shannon Wynne. As the founder of once iconic Dallas night haunts such as Nostromo, Tango, The Rio Room and the Fast & Cool Club, Wynne scored big with beer. He crafted Flying Saucer Draught Emporiums in a half dozen states.
He elevated the froth with the Design District gastropub Meddlesome Moth. Last January, Stephen Beaumont, author of the blog World Atlas of Beer, named The Meddlesome Moth one of the two best beer places in the world along with Bir & Fud in Rome, Italy. That’s good company.
“We know a lot about beer,” says Wynne. Lark on the Park features an extensive beer list with 18 craft brews on draft including these local works: Deep Ellum’s Dallas Blonde, Community’s Vienna Lager, Lakewood’s The Temptress and Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer. Plus dozens more in bottles and cans from across the globe.
And though the menu doesn’t scream “marry me to hops,” it is an impressive showing. Nested across from Klyde Warren Park, the sleek Lark is a departure from Wynne’s typical funk-ridden venues. At Lark, Wynne promises “no cute food.” What does this refer to? “I’m referring to all the cuteness involved with certain chefs in town that shall remain nameless,” he says, “macaroni and cheese, sliders… just the same old cute stuff that constantly circulates through until they pick up something else out of California, some other cute trend.”
For the Lark on the Park menu, Wynne tapped two Los Angeles chefs—Dennis Kelley and Melody Bishop, late of chef Suzanne Goin’s Tavern. Like all New American craftworks, their eclectic menu is French discipline and Asian finesse drubbing American grub into haute submission.
There’s a delicious duck breast Bánh mì—perfectly sliced ovals of house-smoked duck breast with blush-red center—packed with aioli, cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and cilantro in a halved baguette. Crunch and drool. Slow smoked salmon salad with red and orange carrot, cucumber, Meyer lemon slices and a smooth yogurt dressing is bright and balanced. Think salade nicoise in Cal-Tex drag. There’s a clean antipasto plate with cured olives, grilled rosemary bread, sheets of bright thickly fat-striped folded prosciutto di Parma and a baby artichoke and pepper salad next to a blob of moist burrata. But dither before the grilled leeks plate—a mealy, mushy bed of grilled leeks topped with a spiraling mass of frisee nesting a poached egg all fragged with bread crumbs—textural confusion to our tongues.
Yet it’s the simplicity of it all that waters the mouth. Grilled rib-eye bleeding simple jus is as spot-on as a fastball kissing the thick meat of an arcing bat, with bittersweet caramelized char, rose-red medium-rare gore and greased juices that smudge the lip and sully the chin.
Haddock smeared with a parsley chive rub, registered the same effect. There’s the berm of carrot puree and the spiky crown of braised fennel. There are heavy hints of herb and citrus. It all collides to heighten and foil the delicately sweet flakes of fish in one big uncute detonation.
Lark’s ambiance is as invigorating as an unexpected spit from a lawn sprinkler—fresh and modern with clean lines, smooth surfaces, wood grain and lots of natural light spilling from floor-to-ceiling windows facing the skeletal embryo of the emerging gastropub Relish & Savor. Sound levels are so perfect, the discernable Simon & Garfunkel croon doesn’t “lai la lai” into your conversation. “It’s not supposed to be a real ‘la de da’ environment,” says Wynne. “I wanted it to be funkier than it turned out.” Still there’s funk. Consider the massive panoramic chalkboards featuring the artistry of local illustrators: dragons, British racing cars, Dallas Country Club landscape. Each white chalk composition will be erased and reworked over a period of 36 hours by another local artist at three-month intervals. Consider the art-in-progress happy hour possibilities.
And do get far enough in your mind to absorb the sticky toffee pudding slathered in whiskey caramel sauce with a candied kumquat and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to keep it company. Add suds and rinse.
Lark on the Park
2015 Woodall Rodgers Freeway
Daily 11am to midnight
“Yoko is 80” is printed in the upper left hand-corner of the menu. What the…? Says owner Shannon Wynne: “Weren’t you kind of awestruck when you realized Yoko was 80? That’s really serious if you ask me.”
Nothing Stronger Before Breakfast
In a world monsooned in fizzes and tonics, nothing shines brighter than Gin Bright: Ford’s gin, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Aperol, peach liqueur, Reagan’s No. 6, Herbsaint anise-flavored liquor.
Tight. Global. Fairly priced. No funk.