“If you start any dish with the proper technique and proper treatment of ingredients, the flavors will burst through. With that same philosophy, at Restaurant Beatrice, we’re going even further back. We’re collectively starting this entire restaurant with a new kind of consciousness. Those sentiments will be felt by our staff, the community, and our guests,” owner and executive chef Michelle Carpenter says. That philosophy is what seems to have gotten so much of the staff, including executive chef Terance Jenkins, on board with the concept.
Restaurant Beatrice is a Cajun-inspired fine dining restaurant from Carpenter, owner of Zen Sushi in Bishop Arts, opening soon in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. The restaurant takes its name from Carpenter’s mammaw, her grandmother who hailed from Louisiana. The interior decor is evocative of French New Orleans culture, featuring navy blue wallpaper with gold embossed fleur-de-lis, a marble bar with flourishes of gold, indoor and outdoor stained glass sourced from all over North Texas, and plush, comfortable booth seating that lines the newly reconfigured dining room from previous tenant, Jonathon’s Diner.
The menu, which was designed by Jenkins, pays homage to Carpenter’s Cajun family and Jenkins’ roots cooking Creole food at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans — the place to go for a fine dining experience in the Big Easy. Under Jenkins’ direction, it will also be one of the few fine dining restaurants in DFW to have a Black executive chef.
Jenkins tells Eater Dallas that they will be working with Restorative Farms in South Dallas. The farms’ growers are working to turn former agricultural parts of the city’s most impoverished areas into sources of locally-grown produce for the community. The farm aims to provide job training and profits from their sales, but so far they’ve focused on selling to the local community—this will be the first restaurant they open an account with. Restorative Farms will be providing the restaurant with collared, mustard and turnip greens, as well as tomatoes, okra and micro greens, among other things.
Jenkins and Carpenter aren’t just sticking to the tried and true recipes for Cajun and Creole cooking. Jenkins points to the vegan green gumbo as a signature dish on the menu, but rolls his eyes a bit when he talks about the origins of the idea. “I never in my life thought I would make a vegan gumbo, ever,” Jenkins says. “This is part of having to ego check myself and share my vision of what food can be.” Jenkins not only created the dish with awareness of the popularity of plant-based eating and an eye towards a sustainably sourced dish, but also to challenge himself to explore the outer limits of his abilities as a chef.
The recipe is, Jenkins says, his ode to Leah Chase, the queen of Creole cuisine, and will include house-made vegan sausage. Mammaw’s fried chicken, dark meat only paired with pepper jelly and pickles is another dish sure to become a Restaurant Beatrice standout. “We’re doing a fine pepper jam on top that’s more of a gastrique, so you get the sweet, salty, heat, pickle, and vinegar tastes. And there’ll be chicken and waffles for brunch on Saturday and Sunday.”
Jenkins’ sense of whimsy comes out in so many elements of Restaurant Beatrice, from the inspired pickled eggs, brined in smoked hot sauce, which diners will find on the Cajun Cobb salad or sitting in Mason jars behind the bar, to his excitement about the trays of drying apples and hand crafted spices sitting in Ziplock bags in the kitchen. The small space is all his, and he can’t wait to get cooking.