Tuesday, October 6, 2009

“Park” Your Bocce Balls Right Here

Sorry it's been so long since my last post, but I've been performing with Lone Star Floyd and as many of you know, I am now the Bar and Night Club columnist for Lit Monthly Magazine, writing at least one article a month for them. I'll post each article here, for those of you who can't get the mag in you area. Here is article numero uno...

Hi, my name is Greg Holman and while this column is not about me, I feel that a short introduction is necessary for you to understand why Mr. Mark Beneventi has graciously seen fit to inflict my knowledge of Dallas-area bars, night clubs, and restaurants upon you all.

I’ve lived in Dallas since 1974, and have lived in North Oak Cliff for the past fifteen years. I’m a bartender, DFW foodie, award winning cook and local musician. As a Dallas area musician, I’ve played a wide variety of venues ranging from the old Hot Club, Theatre Gallery, and O’Riley’s, to the Across the Street Bar, Memphis (in Addison), and Starplex (that’s right, I still call it Starplex!). In the early 80s my father was involved with the creation of the Starck Club and I consequently spent a lot of time “Starck Raving” and schlepping at other hot spots of the time like Nostromo, Zubar and Tangos.

I like all styles of music and will be visiting new and forgotten honky-tonks, blues bars, dance clubs, spots where the elite meet and greet, and all places in-between. I’ll be looking at good cheap drinks, cool patios, great bar food and DFW events where drinking, eating and partying is a requirement.

I love patios! Drinking and dining Al Fresco has a certain Je ne sais quoi. Food tastes better, wine is sweeter and vibes are cooler, so to start off the column I thought that I would hit Marc Cassel’s new collision-fusion, bocce ball bastion, “Park” on Henderson, which had its semi-grand opening on July 21st. Before the opening, I was intrigued by the first descriptions that I’d read of their lush patio and couldn’t wait to check it out. I’ve stuck primarily to the bar, patio and drinks for this article.

You may know Marc from his previous stints at Dragonfly in the Hotel Zaza and the always awesome Green Room in Deep Ellum. He’s also worked at the Mansion, Baby Ruth, and Star Canyon. Donald Chick, of La Condesa Comida y Tequila fame, holds the purse strings to this Breck Wolsey-designed, Eames House-inspired urban oasis on Henderson. In addition to the Wolsey interior, there is plenty of eye candy to be seen here, for both boys and girls. This includes the staff (a good looking bunch)! To get the groove going, they have DJs on Fridays and Saturdays and Dallas icon Jeff Liles has been spotted, spinning tunes on occasion. Girls wear everything from jeans and colorful tops to short slinky dresses with heels. Guys are wearing jeans or slacks with collared shirts, but all appear to be dressing to impress.

After getting past the valets and entering the big twin red doors, we were greeted by a jazzy soundtrack playing at a talkable volume and nice ambient lighting from George Nelson bubble lamps. Beverly Hills Hotel inspired banana leaf wallpaper and landscaping by Jason Pautz added a comfortable feel. Marc was very visible, expediting food from the kitchen and assuring that it was up to his specs.

The restaurant/bar is broken up into five different sections that easily flow from one to the other. And despite what you may have read, the bocce ball courts are outdoors and set to open on the third or fourth week of September, as is the new back-room bar which will be available for private parties.

The horseshoe shaped bar is spacious and accommodating and our bartenders Scott and Kevin were very helpful with questions about the menu and restaurant and genuinely seemed to be happy to be there, as did the rest of the staff. Fresh ingredients such as citrus and herbs are stored decoratively throughout the restaurant and fresh garnishes of fruits, herbs and berries fill drinking glasses at the bartender’s stations. The mixologists show a bit of flair while pouring the ‘60s themed specialty drinks ($8.00) with names like Voodoo Child, the Easy Rider, Jagger’s Lips and Pineapple Garcia. There are also twenty draft beers available, ranging from $4 to $6 a pint. They offer a house sangria ($5 a glass, $16 a carafe) that we thought was refreshing, if not a little bland, compared with the likes of Bolsa’s or Gloria’s and wines average $25 to $50, with a few higher-end bottles available, and several are served by the glass.

Park is pretty much as “green” as a Dallas restaurant can be. The kitchen uses sustainable, local and organic ingredients when viable and the interior is constructed with reclaimed wood. Tables, bars and benches are made from local rough-hewn cottonwood trees. They produce their own in-house bottled water, compost all of their biodegradable waste, support an herb garden and bee hives on the roof and have landscaped with hearty indigenous plants. A three trunk Live Oak, transplanted from Wilmer is the centerpiece of the patio, which also sports Japanese maples, and bamboo. Smoking is allowed on the patio.

Being one of the newest additions to one of Dallas’ hottest areas for food and drink, the crowds on the weekends can be a bit daunting, but during the week there seems to be no problem with seating. The drinks are well made and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. I could certainly be happy sitting and sipping on the patio, spending a relaxing evening in the Park.

Park is located at 1921 Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206 Phone: 214.824.3343. The bar opens at 5:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday and at 4:00 pm Friday through Sunday. The Kitchen opens at 6:00. They are closed on Mondays. They will take reservations for parties of 6 or more. They can be found online at http://www.parkhenderson.com/.

You can read more of Greg Holman’s incoherent ramblings at http://eatdallas.blogspot.com/.

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