We Got A Sneak Peek At The Arts District's Very Fashionable New Restaurant, Proof + Pantry.
Over in One Arts Plaza, one of the most-anticipated restaurant openings of the season — and we're talking nationally, even — is just around the corner.
And, like, right around it, too: Proof + Pantry, the newest venture from Sal Jafar II and noted bar veteran Michael Martensen (formerly of The Cedar Social and, famously, of Smyth) will open its doors in the corner space of One Arts that formerly housed John Tesar's The Commissary for its grand opening on Wednesday. And, with a little luck, the badass team behind P+P can break the losing streak of restaurants occupying that space.
Not that they'll really need any luck. Joining Martensen on the staffing side of things, P+P has executive chef Kyle McClelland crafting the “pantry” part of the equation. At this point, McClelland, who originally relocated to Dallas from the east coast, is a veteran of the Dallas food scene himself, having been the food man at two other venues that Martensen was also involved in — Cedars Social and Driftwood in Bishop Arts.
And, as a result, the prospects are solid: The menu, printed on a stone-gray sheet of heavy weight paper, is beautifully concise while also having the diversity to satisfy many palates. Broken into four sub-sections — Soil, Bulk, By Land and By Sea — the fare offered here is also slated to change based on seasonality and demand.
Notable standouts for the restaurant's forthcoming launch include a roasted chicken from the Bulk section, which is seasoned for nearly a day and then roasted, plus a cauliflower stalk dish that promises to be filling and satisfying. Overall, these dishes are kept quite simple; none boast more than six ingredients and, more often than not, they stick to just three or four. Each sub-section, meanwhile, only houses four to six dishes, which slims the chance of being overwhelmed by options.
In addition, P + P will offer a daily menu, printed on a small yellow sheet of paper, which will list three to four dishes to be cycled out daily.
As for the Proof part of the menu, Martensen and his frequent cocktail collaborator Josh McEachern came together to craft an alcohol menu possessing an extensive list of over 100 wines along with an impressive cocktail list. Broken into three parts, the cocktails can be either served No Proof (no alcohol), Low Proof (little alcohol) and High Proof (a regular cocktail). Beer will be offered, too, although Martensen assures us there will be no commonplace beers such as Bud Light.
Martensen also made some claims about serving “the best Coke you've ever had,” due to some sort of special glass that he totally swears noticeably enhances the flavor.
Another thing he's enhanced is the interior of the space. At just 1,900 square feet, there isn't a ton of indoor dining space here. Yet, even with just 10 tables, P+P still boasts distinct seating areas that feel separate yet connected through common design elements. And, in the front and back of the space alike, patios add some extra seating.
The bar, meanwhile, is the only area that houses televisions, and Martensen says that the music coming through the speakers in that part of the room will be louder than in the rest of the space. Additionally, a drop-down cabinet from the ceiling is meant to help bring into focus the working bar staff. And there's plenty else worth taking in there, too, including a climate-controlled wine cabinet that further helps separate the bar from the dining area.
In fact, the entire space is smartly separated by such shelving units housing condiments, fruits, vegetables and some rustic antiquities. There is an even split of worn metal and reclaimed wood throughout the space with a huge pop of color over at the kitchen, which is covered in bright yellow tiles. The design makes it feel like an upscale bar, while also bringing in elements which lend themselves to the surrounding art district.
Overall, the new venture is an exciting one — based, for now, purely off presentation. How the food and drink side of things holds up, well, we'll know very soon.
One thing is for certain, though: If you find yourself in the Arts District, this place looks like it's going to be a damn cool place to stop off at for a bite and a tonic.