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A chef in an apron sits at a table, deep in conversation. A plate of food sits in front of him, with white tablecloth covered seating behind him.
RJ Yoakum, the latest executive chef at Georgie, comes to Dallas fresh off a stint at French Laundry in Napa.
Courtney E. Smith

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Georgie Enters Its Second Act

The restaurant parted ways with celebrity chef Curtis Stone this year. Its new chef is giving the menu a makeover.

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.

Georgie shed a few lines of text from its bio this year. The restaurant lost the “by Curtis Stone” from its name as the celebrity chef parted ways with the establishment and Travis Street Hospitality, its parent company. When Paper City reported the news in August, it had been a done deal since early in the year. “The pandemic changed a lot of things for everyone, and it just made sense for [Stone] to focus on his own operations,” Travis Street Hospitality head honcho Stephan Courseau told Paper City.

Stone was only on-site a few times a year, but his influence over the place was significant. Its executive chef, Christian Dortch, was a longtime employee of Stone’s food empire — and he followed Stone right out of Dallas when he left. Stone also ran a steak-forward menu, bringing in meats butchered from California and working with ranchers in Texas to butcher on-site. It was known as a steakhouse. But diners who’ve been there of late are noticing there’s a lot less focus on steak. And that’s down to the new executive chef, RJ Yoakum.

Yoakum came to Georgie as its executive sous chef at Dortch’s invitation. He left a position at the world-famous French Laundry in Napa run by Thomas Keller, one of the country’s most acclaimed chefs, where Yoakum was working as a tournant, a floating chef who can work all the stations as needed, as well as training chefs on each station, helping to write the daily menu, and working closely with Keller to develop dishes.

As if that weren’t impressive enough, Yoakum’s resume also includes stints at the Michelin-starred Angler in San Francisco, the chefs-menu led Playground 2.0 in Orange County by Jason Quinn, Tom Colicchio’s Craft in New York City, the Michelin-starred 42 Grams in Chicago, as well as stage positions in London and Tuscany. He’s rapidly risen up the ladder in the last decade while working in some of the country’s top kitchens.

A light brown bowl holds watermelon gazpacho with visible oils and a dollop of buttermilk sorbet.
Watermelon gazpacho with cultured buttermilk sorbet.
Courtney E. Smith
A black wafter holds tuna tartare and tomato water gelee, along with miniature jalapenos and edible flowers.
Bluefin tuna tartare with tomato water gelee on a forbidden black rice cracker.
Courtney E. Smith

The menu, which will change again in September, focuses more on local farms and ranchers. Yoakum mentions establishing personal relationships with Reeves Family Farm in Princeton, Comeback Creek Farm in Pittsburgh, and Profound Microfarms in Lucas, among others. “Thomas Keller told me, ‘The gardener spends three months growing this and I take two hours to prep it. I have to respect their work, because [the dishes] start with them.”

So where there is still steak, there’s less of it. Yoakum is interested in focusing on fish, locally sourced quail, and using whole animals. He serves a trout tartare on top of a chicharron made from trout skin and topped with roe. That same trout is found under the entrees section, served with cucumbers and spinach puree.

On a grey plate, chicharrones hold smoked trout tartare, roe, and horseradish.
Tasmanian trout tartare with horseradish creme fraiche.
Courtney E. Smith
A woman’s hand holds a potato that has been cooked and shaped like a churro. It has been dipped into a small bowl of onion dip nearby that’s topped with caviar.
Potato churros with caramelized onion dip.
Courtney E. Smith

There’s a lot of creativity and whimsy in Yoakum’s dishes, even if the menu doesn’t necessarily belie it. The potato churros might have diners imagining something Mexican when it’s extremely not. “My grandma and I used to fight over potato chips,” he says. “My favorite way to eat potato chips is with caviar. So I took a potato and made a churro out of it.” He pairs it with perhaps the most sophisticated onion dip on the planet.

Even the grilled Spanish octopus, a standout dish on the current menu, is unexpected — at first for the brown butter mole negro, which no one would expect on Georgie’s menu. But one of the chefs makes a great mole, and Yoakum wanted to find a way to showcase it. He paired the octopus with yellow squash and baked squash blossoms into a potato tortilla to get seasonal vegetables in. The effect is visually stunning, and the taste is a collection of flavors that perhaps shouldn’t work together but do.

A light brown plate holds a tortilla with squash blossoms in it, a octopus tentacle, sliced grilled squash, and mole negro.
Grilled Spanish octopus with squash blossom and potato tortillas and brown butter mole negro.
Courtney E. Smith
A bowl holds a filet of snapper that has been crusted and sits in an arugula sauce. There are also oversized lima beans and radishes in the dish. A fork holds a bite.
Pink snapper with a Meyer lemon and ginger crust and arugula.
Courtney E. Smith

When asked what diners can expect at Georgie under his reign, he says, “A lot more fish and a lot more vegetables. To me, steak, if it comes from a great product from Australia, Japan, or even Texas is good. But can you cook a vegetable? It’s hard. And it takes the most technique, thought, and care.”

While a glance at the menu makes dishes sound straightforward enough, Yoakum says he’s an “under promise and over deliver” kind of person. So when he says he’s bringing over a plate of snapper, there’s no way to know it will make the list of best dishes for the month based on the description that it is served with a Meyer lemon and ginger crust and arugula. That hardly touches on what the dish is. The crust starts with potatoes that are fried like Panko and crust the fish along with ginger. The Meyer lemon is almost like savory pastry icing. And the arugula is the sauce in which it sits, reduced with oil rather than served as a pile of greens.

So sure, one can still order a steak with sides and a martini at Georgie, although there are no more tomahawks or sharable sizes, and the steaks are in 8- to 16-ounce portions. There is still caviar service and still a six-course tasting menu. But Georgie’s menu is now loaded with options for those looking for something new and unexpected.

Georgie by Curtis Stone

4514 Travis Street, , TX 75205 (469) 466-8263 Visit Website
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