The dining scene in McKinney is starting to get downright impressive. With the addition of Jon Thompson’s Sugarbacon, the weekend tasting menu at Patina Green, and the continuing growth of historic downtown McKinney, the epicenter of the local dining scene is decidedly moving north. Chef Jeff Qualls, well-known to McKinney diners, has opened the latest addition to this up-and-coming culinary hotspot — a farm-to-table concept simply called Rye.
As CultureMap reported today, Rye actually opened its doors on November 17, giving them restaurant the perfect opportunity to soft-open and work out all the kinks while the masses were distracted by the Thanksgiving hustle.
Rye chef Jeff Qualls has plenty of experience opening (and running) restaurants. Locally, he’s worked for Kent Rathbun at Hickory, and spent time at Henderson Avenue’s Hibiscus. In McKinney, he’s also known for opening Poppy’s Garden Cafe, and opened a restaurant near Sherman before that. Now, though, the Culinary Institute of America-educated Qualls is setting his sights on comfort food preparations with plenty of locally-grown ingredients and fine dining inspiration.
On the menu at Rye, you’ll find plenty of not-pretentious plates that will give you a serious hankering to drive to McKinney, like Dr. Pepper-braised pork belly glazed with bourbon and molasses ($11), coriander roasted red snapper ($24), and seared scallops dusted with fennel powder ($26).
The building that Rye will occupy in Downtown McKinney has special significance for local history buffs -- it is the original home of former Texas governor James W. Throckmorton’s law office. Throckmorton served as Governor of Texas from 1866 to 1867, and Rye is in the process of cultivating a sort of mini-museum to the governor that was removed from office less than a year after being elected for being (allegedly) "too easy" on Confederates. Locals are asked to pitch in any Throckmorton memorabilia they have to be displayed in the restaurant.
Of particular importance for Chef Qualls are Throckmorton’s fingers -- not the real ones, of course. A statue honoring the Texas governor has been in McKinney for decades, and according to Rye’s website, it was popular for locals to break Trockmorton’s fingers off the statue. If you’ve got one that was passed down from your prankster grandpa, it may have just found its perfect new home at Rye.