After shuttering University Park hotel restaurant The Front Room, Tim Headington and the other minds behind Hotel Lumen set out to create a radically different dining experience. The Front Room opened in 2012 to mostly positive reviews, but quietly transitioned into Front Room Tavern after a massive renovation to the space and a newly refined menu via chef Michael Ehlert, whom some diners may remember from his stints at ill-fated spots CampO and The Chesterfield.
The SMU parents and Park Cities residents that frequent Hotel Lumen have plenty to look forward to: The newly renovated dining room offers that modern-industrial-yet-comfortable vibe that's so omnipresent in new restaurants these days. If you're seated next to a window, you'll be able to enjoy the parade of luxury vehicles that drives up and down Hillcrest every day. A full bar is stocked with all the libations needed to make a solid list of craft cocktails.
First things first: If you don't save room for dessert, you'll be kicking yourself when you see the Orange Soda Float land on a neighboring table. The tableside preparation involves your server pouring half a bottle of Dublin Bottling Works' orange cream soda over a few soft scoops of rich housemade cheesecake ice cream. The bubbly, creamy concoction is topped with a crunchy cookie crumble (also made in-house, naturally).
And then there's the other food. The "Snacks & Apps" category of the menu features the usual modern bistro suspects, like marinated olives and burrata, but there are a few surprises: A jar of pickled shrimp is marinated in a light olive oil vinaigrette and served with a whiskey remoulade and a stack of quality crackers. A salmon ceviche served "michelada" style with a zesty tomato-based sauce would also make a worthy candidate for a light lunch.
Front Room Tavern has also completely retooled their list of entrees, focusing on modern twists on classic dishes like chicken paillard and pork schnitzel. Even though Dallas clearly doesn't need another great burger, the thick patty made from house-ground beef might just be a new contender for one of the city's best. The restaurant's housemade aioli makes an ideal accompaniment for the massive pile of frites served alongside the burger (or is that the other way around?).
Front Room Tavern is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, with lunch served until 3 p.m. Weekend brunch runs 11 am. to 3 p.m., ensuring seven-day-a-week access to that dreamy float.
Front Room Tavern: 6101 Hillcrest Ave., (214) 219-8282, frontroomdallas.com