Friday, October 19, 2007
Best Bites: Dining out in Dallas-Fort Worth October 19
Three Old Monk veterans have created a new restaurant-pub in old historic downtown Plano.
Two more places have opened in the Historic Downtown area of Plano, on 15th Street east of US 75. That's two more optimistic entrepreneurs gambling on the Street Without Pity (but with more than its share of old-lady antique shops). But both of these new guys seem to have half a shot.
1. Fillmore Pub is the most promising opening in the area in the past five years. It comes from a team of veterans who previously worked at the Old Monk, including former Old Monk general manager Gabe Whatley; former manager Kelly Wesner, quaintly known as "the Mayor" because he seems to know everybody; and former chef Kirk Mexia, who was at the Old Monk, then helped open the Idle Rich Pub.
"I was at the Old Monk for the past seven years," Whatley says. "Then my wife and I moved to Plano. I'd been eyeballing this spot; my wife found it two years ago. It just looked like a pub."
They've been working on the space, which used to be a gift shop called Just Gotta Have It!, for about a year, adding the dark woods and booths that give it that quintessential pub feeling.
"We have great food -- fish and chips, Reuben sandwich, pan-seared pork tenderloin, grilled salmon, Guinness cheddar cheeseburger, chicken salad sandwich, Greek salad," Whatley says. "And we have a big list of scotches and American whiskeys."
Prices on the food are cheap, with the highest item being only $10.95 for the pork and salmon. And they do something no one in Plano does: stay open late, until 2 a.m. every night.
While on the topic of the Feargal McKinney empire, chef Ian Beach left Tecole Taco House about a month ago; according to a guy who answered the phone Thursday night, it was "the best thing for all parties involved." Given his Culinary Institute degree and previous stint at the Mansion on Turtle Creek (which, by the way, will now be called Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek), Beach seemed an odd fit for a taco drinking joint; he's been replaced by a fellow named Jeremy Chastain.
2. Back to old downtown Plano: Sheik's Restaurant is a middle-Eastern place that just opened on Avenue K, in what used to be the site of a short-lived Italian sub place called Poppy's and a Philly-cheesesteak place called Feels Like Home which before that was called the Philly Connection and well, let's not beat it into the ground, OK? Suffice it to say, there's been some turnover there.
However, if a place can survive on the dedication of its management alone, then Sheik's has every chance of making it. Owner Mohamad Salame moved here from Detroit, where there's a large population of middle-Easterners including Lebanese, which is Salame's heritage. So they're making a Northern version of middle-Eastern food, which is to say that the quality is better than what you find in the South (and that's true of almost every cuisine, the quality is just better up there, sorry to say).
Sheik's does shish kebabs, grape leaves, hummus, falafels. One dish with chicken in an intensely flavored lemon-butter-gravy comes off as a Mediterranean version of curry. The "Sheik's Special" is a family banquet with everything -- shish kebabs, shawarma, falafel salad, fatoosh, and more -- for $55.50. The location's nothing-fancy, and they don't serve alcohol. But they're friendly and responsive, exhibiting a degree of attentiveness that shows they know that the customer is important.
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