There have been several highly anticipated fall/winter openings from big Dallas names this year (Casa Rubia, Village Kitchen, Mesero Miguel, et al) but Gemma might just be this season's wild card. Husband and wife duo Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder just recently relocated from Napa Valley, where they worked together at a restaurant called Press — he as executive chef and she as general manager. Now they're preparing to open their first solo venture on Henderson Avenue come the day after Christmas, and several factors make Gemma one to watch:
·The menu promises "fresh and modern American" fare with Asian, Italian, Mediterranean and French influences, with a heavy focus on local sourcing (read on for the full menu).
· Expect a small and intimate atmosphere: just 55 seats inside and another 30 on the patio.
· The restaurant will offer a late-night menu from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. every night it's open (that's Wednesday through Sunday).
· The couple's time spent in Napa Valley means expectations for the wine list are high — and the duo promises "friendly markups."
· Lending a hand with that wine list is sommelier Sabrina Snodderly, whom some folks may recognize from her time at John Tesar's Spoon.
· They've snagged former Cook Hall exec chef and Craft Dallas alum Richard Graff as their exec sous.
· They're attracting homegrown Texas talent by way of Las Vegas: Pastry chef and Kerrville native Stephanie Childress most recently worked at swanky Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace in Vegas (it shuttered last summer), while Texas-born sous chef Michael Lawson did time at Jose Andres' China Poblano and Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante.
· An airy Hamptons-inspired dining room includes "farmhouse" tables, dark wooden beams and a marble-topped bar.
· Cocktails look as carefully crafted as Dallas diners have come to expect these days, with drinks like the Persephone (Tito's, citrus, mint, pomegranate seeds) and a Fennel Rickey (gin, fennel fronds, lime).
[Photo: Kevin Marple]