Monday, October 28, 2013
Restaurateur Dee Lincoln lures Dallas’ younger crowd with new burger bar in Uptown
And she does so without comprising quality.
“Watch this. Watch how this works.”
Dee Lincoln has just picked up a plate with a 2-and-a-half pound, bone-in prime rib cooked to medium rare on top and is walking to three men who have just finished lunch and are chatting by the door of her new restaurant.
“Hey guys! Thanks for coming in today – did you enjoy it?” The men affirm that they did.
“Good! I just wanted to show you our special for Monday night – it’s a prime rib for two,” she displays the plate and her audience ogles accordingly, “with wagyu beef that we get from our butcher in McKinney – Local Yocal.”
Her plan appears to have worked; she won’t know for sure until Monday night, but by the look on the three men’s faces – stomachs already satiated by burgers just moments earlier – to say they were intrigued would be an understatement.
Such is the appeal of the menu at Lincoln’s new spot in Uptown, aptly named Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar, where the steakhouse draw has no less power to the everyday businessman than it has in the past, but is also accompanied by a philosophy that incorporates accessibility, a broader menu with creative options, and locally sourced spirits, wines and beer. Oh, and hamburgers. Don’t forget the hamburgers.
The beef ones, made with half-pound patties from Local Yocal, include the American Classic, The Cowboy (crispy onion shavings, molasses glaze, pepper jack cheese), The Benedict (sunny side up egg, béarnaise, tomato bacon jam, frisée) and South of The Border (tomatillo salsa, avocado, pickled red onion, queso fresco cheese, chorizo chili). However, the wealth of options of other meats (lamb, crab cakes, tuna – even fried green tomatoes) leave plenty of variety for those looking for it.
“The beef burgers are made with a loose grind, and the Wagyu gives it a nutty, earthy flavor, but not so pronounced that it’s an unfamiliar flavor to the guests,” Lincoln explains. “And for people that really love burgers, I do want them to try all the different types, but at least once you just have to try the American classic.”
The appetizers and salads are as equally diverse as the burger selection at Dee Lincoln, with familiar steakhouse ingredients presented in a thoughtful manner. Steakhouse Street Tacos (garlic chili mojo beef tenderloin, grilled corn hash, hatch chili salsa) and Hushpuppy Shrimp dot the menu, while the Blue Cheese Salad’s dressing is a bacon vinaigrette, rather than blue cheese – though the cheese can still be found on the plate. As for the drinks, all the house-specialty cocktails feature spirits made in Texas and the wines (there are 100 of them under $100) also feature 25 from the Lone Star State.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of young people who want to do a salad to share, each get a burger, a couple of sides and a dessert, but everyone is getting a bottle of wine between $35-$50 for the table,” Lincoln says. “It’s giving people a more comfortable feeling about wine – it’s not all high-end and intimidating. People are able to try different things.”
And, of course, there are the steaks. Prime cuts of filet, rib eye and strip are all on the menu, as are select cuts that the restaurant likes to rotate nightly – such as the 2-and-a-half-pound behemoth prime rib. Given Lincoln’s background (as the co-founder of Del Frisco’s), it was never a question for Lincoln what type of cut or what kind of steak they were going to serve, though; the variability of the rotating option aside, she knew one thing for sure – the standard cuts were going to be prime or nothing at all.
“My reputation is for prime steak. The question was, ‘Would you want to do choice or select along with the prime for a strategic price point that would cater to a younger crowd that doesn’t want that big ticket?’ But I knew that if I was going to do steaks, it was going to be prime – no doubt about it,” she says. "That’s just who I am. But more importantly is that I felt like I could price the steaks right and that we’d be able to sell them, and that’s what’s happened: People come in the afternoon and want burgers, and then at night they want steaks.”
And whether it’s a prime rib that could feed a normal-sized family, a couple appetizers or a burger made with Wagyu beef with an affordable bottle of wine, Lincoln’s goal remains the same.
“The big-ticket steakhouse will always be there, but there are a lot of people that don’t want to put on a coat and tie and don’t want to have to plan – they want it to be easy. From the golf course, or watching the game, it’s easy,” she says. “I think people pretty much leave their office or home and want a place that’s upscale casual without any fuss – with the expectation of really good food.”
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