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The orange clapboard exterior of Restaurant Beatrice looks like a refurbished home. The sign is white with blue outline and reads: Beatrice. Eats. Drinks. Patio Boils.
Restaurant Beatrice is named for Carpenter’s Louisiana “Mammaw,” whose Cajun cooking inspired her.
Kathy Tran

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Step Inside Restaurant Beatrice, Where the Cajun-Style Menu Comes With a Mission

Restaurant Beatrice comes from executive chef Michelle Carpenter of Zen Sushi

Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

“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.

The dining room in Restaurant Beatrice, where the upper half of the wall is lined with navy blue wallpaper emblazoned with gold fleur dis lis.
The bar at Restaurant Beatrice: in the foreground, off-white barstools with heavy backs are pushed into the white marble bar at a 45 degree angle.
The patio is covered with handmade wooden picnic-style tables, varnished a medium brown. Behind the seats, just above head level, are inserts of stained glass.

(Top) The dining room in Restaurant Beatrice, full of fleur dis lis. (Left) The bar at Restaurant Beatrice. (Right) The patio at Restaurant Beatrice with inserts of stained glass collected from around North Texas.

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.

Blue and clear stained glass windows in the dining room of Restaurant Beatrice that separate diners from the kitchen.
The Restaurant Beatrice dining room with dining tables cover in white cloths.
A close up of the dinner setting at Restaurant Beatrice, where white dishes sit on a white tablecloth with Ball jars for glasses.

(Top) The stained glass windows in the dining room of Restaurant Beatrice separate diners from the kitchen. (Left) Facing the front of the room in Restaurant Beatrice. (Right)Though it uses tablecloths, there are homey touches at Restaurant Beatrice, like the napkins and Ball jar glasses, to put diners at ease.

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.

Chef Terance Jenkins, a man in a baseball cap, black-rimmed glasses, an apron, and black chef’s clothes, preparing food in the kitchen at Restaurant Beatrice.
Chef Jenkins, hard at work at Restaurant Beatrice.
Chef de cuisine Craig Pouncy stirring an oversized silver pot in the kitchen of Restaurant Beatrice. Behind him is a white wall and silver shelving with ingredients. In the foreground is another oversized silver pot, with steam rising from it.
Chef de partie Brandon Armstrong stirs away.

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.

Two bartenders behind the bar at Restaurant Beatrice. One is making a cocktail in a shaker, the other is searching behind the bar.
Restaurant Beatrice’s bar staff gear up for opening night.
An ice cube imprinted with a B floats in a cocktail.
An ice cube imprinted with a B floats in a cocktail.

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.”

A Ball jar of pickled vegetables sits on a glass shelf with a brass bar inside Restaurant Beatrice.
Jars of pickled and preserved goods made in house are available to buy in Restaurant Beatrice.
A white plate of fried dark meat chicken covered with confit.
A plate of mammaw’s fried chicken, all dark meat, at Restaurant Beatrice.

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.

A chef grills chicken outdoors on the porch at Restaurant Beatrice.
Outdoor grilling at Restaurant Beatrice with chef de cuisine Craig Pouncy.
Jars of eggs pickled in the Restaurant Beatrice house-made hot sauce sit above the bar.
Jars of eggs pickled in the Restaurant Beatrice house-made hot sauce sit above the bar.
Grilled chicken rests in a silver dish in the kitchen of Restaurant Beatrice. A chef works in the background.
Duck confit, sourced from Crescent Farms, being prepared by line cook Max Soto.
Mixed vegetables boil in an oversized stock pot in the kitchen of Restaurant Beatrice.
Cooking up a storm in the kitchen of Restaurant Beatrice.

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