Apr 05, 2016 03:43PM
● By Dia
Smack in the middle of Deep Ellum is some of the best Southern food this side of the Mississippi. Texas may stake its claim in barbecue and Tex-Mex, but Filament is doing its own thing with what it calls “regional Southern cooking.” We’re talking grits and meat pies with a slab of red velvet cake to finish it off.
But don’t expect these classic Southern staples to be served up the same old way. The restaurant, which opened last December, does things a little differently. “I don’t really do Southern food as always fried chicken and biscuits,” says Owner and Chef Matt McCallister. “It’s more than that.”
After his many travels throughout the Southern states, McCallister knew he wanted to put a fresh spin on some of his favorite dishes from places like New Orleans, Charleston and Miami. So he opened Filament, a follow-up to FT33, his rustic-chic Dallas hotspot. Filament is every bit as good, but with dishes that are undeniably less fussy.
Here, the food isn’t delicately plated with tweezers. Instead, it’s meant to be shared, whether you pass around a taste of the Dry-Aged Beef Tartare or a scoop of the Cauliflower Gratin. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, the menu is peppered with plates that range from adventurous (who’s up for some Wood-Grilled Octopus?) to downright delicious. The Fried “Hot” Catfish and Heritage Berkshire Short Ribs caught our eye.
Chef McCallister has a different favorite. “The onion dip is my jam,” he says. “We wanted to do our own take on a French onion dip. We take onions and throw them on live coals. The result is an ember-roasted dip that has a nice burnt aspect to it. It has incredible depth of flavor.”
The food at Filament stays true to its Southern roots. Those Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes on the menu? You can bet those taters aren’t from Idaho. “We try not to get anything ingredient-wise that doesn’t come from the South or our region,” says Chef McCallister. “We’re very ingredient-driven, so we keep things as local as possible.”
Even the cocktails tend to sway more on the Southern side. The Old Fashioned, for example, comes with a house-made, sorghum-chicory syrup. One of Filament’s most creative cocktails is a shared Sazerac, which is bottled in advance and served to a table of two or three people. And the restaurant’s Boilermaker, which is typically a beer and a shot of whiskey, is a Lone Star with a shot of Mellow Corn whiskey. Now that’s a Texas twist.
The desserts follow suit, with options including Buttermilk Pie and Coconut Cake. The TX Pecan Pie is served with a heaping scoop of bourbon vanilla ice cream. Plain vanilla would be too, well, plain. The sweets don’t come cheap at $7 to $9 a pop, but if you’re indulging in a Southern dish, you might as well go all the way.
Filament exudes charm, but not in a cheesy, red-checked-tablecloth way. The sprawling interior is warm and inviting with an open floor plan. The focal point is the bar, which isn’t just lined with liquors, but with jars of vegetables being pickled. It may be out of the norm for the neighborhood, but it works at Filament.
For those in the know (which now happens to be you), Filament offers secret specials—menu items that are in seriously limited quantities and available to those who know to ask. These dishes are always changing, so just ask your server when you arrive. Even if you don’t end up ordering the secret dish, it’s still fun to be an insider.
The restaurant is come as you are, no reservations needed. It’s open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, so if you’re in the area for a concert or show, mosey on over for a drink. And although it’s a fair trek from Southlake, Chef McCallister promises a good experience. “It’s totally worth the drive,” he says. “Deep Ellum is coming back around to another resurgence. It’s a fun, lively place on the weekends.”
If Filament is a celebration of good, Southern cooking, we want to be at that party. Maybe we’ll see y’all there.