Chas Martin, one of the founders of Duro Hospitality, was not a fan of Eater Dallas calling Mister Charles “steakhouse-ish,” a play on how the group describes many of its restaurants (The Charles is Italian-ish, El Carlos Elegante is Latin-ish). He says it with a laugh when asked but gets serious quickly, saying, “We have a fantastic steak program, but it’s small. One day, if we get to do a steak house, it’ll have 30 cuts of meat. So I don’t think we’re that at all.”
Martin describes this restaurant as “an irreverent play on the classics,” aiming to honor the classic dishes that inspire himself and his partners. The menu takes inspiration from French and Italian cooking, broadly, with flavors from Asia woven throughout and even the occasional nod to American classics. And Duro has hired Brendan Frankel from the Mansion Restaurant as executive chef.
Martin walked us through five dishes on the menu to get a taste of Mister Charles for those who haven’t been in yet or are on the long wait list for reservations. And, amusingly enough, the selections feel like a play on classic dishes one might order at...a steakhouse, although Martin swears they were selected on that basis.
A5 strip loin on brioche with wasabi
“It’s adorable. We wanted a canape section on the menu because it’s a fun, old-school way to start a meal. We wanted it to be reminiscent of the Adolphus or some old, turn-of-the-century hotel where you’d sit down and have proper hors d’oeuvres.
“The A5 brioche is a tiny strip of Miyazaki A5 beef [a Japanese wagyu that comes with a certificate of authenticity] on top of a little piece of brioche with fresh horseradish and some wasabi to make an aioli. People experience value in different ways. We want people to experience things however it fits them. This item is a fun way to experience A5 beef without getting a $150 steak. If you want the steak, we have that as well. But this is a way to have that experience, and a little nosh.”
Little gem Caesar with anchovy caper vinaigrette
“We wanted a lighter, crisper play on the Caeser. Listen, I love a Caeser in the classic and expected sense. We wanted something different than that. We try not to do anything that’s super expected. We’re not using cream or egg yolk. It has a vinaigrette-based sauce. We like crunch and playing on the senses. Texture is one of those. A normal Caeser would have crutons, so we use bread crumbs to add texture to this salad.”
Truffle duck berlingot with artichoke and tomato
“As we messed with this menu, we went back and forth about having a pasta program. At the end of the day, we think that pasta can go on almost any menu — you see noodle varieties in many countries. This dish came about when the team was working on the menu at The Charles and just happened to have some duck confit. The thought was, ‘I’ll put that in some pasta!’ And that’s how the dish was born.
“The kitchen at Mister Charles took it and made it their own. It has pickled artichoke hearts, chopped up. The berlingot pasta is made by hand, which takes tons of work, and we do it as a spinach pasta. We dehydrate the tomatoes, almost turn them into raisins, and then bring them back to life with olive oil. And we’re using Chilean black truffles on top, because we go to the Southern hemisphere for truffles in the summer because the price is fair and the quality is good.”
16 oz. A Bar N Ranch wagyu New York strip
“We wanted an au poivre. We wanted the electric, peppery, slightly acidic, light-your-face-up sauce that remains classic. We believe in turning up the flavor. Some people believe in balance; we believe in getting it balanced and turning it up. In this sauce, that means more of everything: more spice, more acid, using a little bit of red pepper to give it some oomph.
“This steak is from a local ranch in Celina, and we’re using its platinum-grade wagyu beef. The A Bar N Ranch recently got purchased, so I don’t know what will happen with it. We’ve used their products at The Charles, and we think the quality for the price is outstanding. We went back and forth over which steak to use and settled on this strip because it has a good balance of tenderness and fat content. We put a slight crust on it with some breadcrumbs, a little mustard as a binder, and a little parmesan.”
Banana pudding baked Alaska
“This dish has two inspirations. My sister used to always make banana pudding for my dad and myself. We played with a few variations that were really good, and then someone suggested we make a baked Alaska. I can’t remember who thought we should set a banana pudding on fire. That’s how deep our collaboration is.
“No one has been lit on fire by this dish yes, which is good [laughs]. We’ve had to instruct the team that it might feel very natural to them to blow it out once it’s on fire, but do not do that. It is not your Baked Alaska.”
Mister Charles is open now and scant reservations are available. Check Resy to shoot your shot.