I know, I know… this is getting crazy. First John Tesar tells the Hatch that he’s expanding and reformatting his Commissary burger concept, then he’s launching a mobile Commissary food truck– in a double decker London bus, and now, he’s constructing a new, chef-driven, fine-dining place in Preston Center, at the southwest corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road.
He’s calling it Spoon, a 2,800 square-foot restaurant soon to be constructed on the pad where 24-Hour Fitness once stood. It’ll be directly adjacent to Hopdoddy, the burger import from Austin. Target date for opening the yet-to-be-constructed Spoon: Next January. Tesar says he’s secured the financing and the lease.
He sure didn’t look crazy when he told me this.
I’ve seen Spoon’s working menu and been briefed on the concept. Edgy, cheffy food with reasonable prices. In the plans, there’s a raw bar up front, a 12-seat chefs counter abutting a long galley kitchen,(“like at Momofuku,” in NYC, says Tesar), where guests can interact with the chefs as if they’re sitting at a sushi counter. In the back of Spoon, accessed through a narrow hallway, a chef’s table will occupy the center of a private dining room that overlooks the rest of the kitchen through a big glass window.
“I’m happy with what I’ve done with burgers and the Commissary,” Tesar told me.
“But it’s time I get my ass back in the kitchen and cook every night–and yes, I’ll be there every night.”
“I want to push the envelope, really create the kind of good food that people want to eat. I want them to say, ‘Wow! That’s a great restaurant,’ so that they’ll come back–a lot.
“So we’re going to control prices, offer great values. We want to push the culinary envelope but not their pocketbooks”
Tesar says he’ll use local and seasonal ingredients where it makes sense, but that he’ll focus more on buying top quality ingredients from wherever he finds them, noting that farmers in the area can’t meet every chef’s demands for locally grown, high quality ingredients every day of every week. “They just can’t grow enough,” says Tesar, adding that he’ll source “the best ingredients I can find from anywhere in the world.”
FedEx-to-fork? Ok, I’m still with him.
The menu Tesar showed me–which he created to illustrate where he’s headed rather than as a blueprint for opening day–was pretty ambitious. Crudos (“Big eye tuna avocado creama, micro cilantro and artichoke chips; Great south bay fluke with watermelon, ligurian olive oil and opal basil; Uni and Iberico lardo on crostini”), small plates (“bone marrow and oxtail marmalade with brioche toast; Alaskan king crab with garlic butter and parsley garlic foam; pig’s trotter Milanese, fried duck egg, marinated tomato and arugula salad”) and big plates, such as rabbit three ways (“herb roasted leg and thigh cooked sous vide, loin with saba and porcini mushrooms, and braised leg with paparadellle”) and “Ham and Eggs” (“crispy pork belly, chanterelle mushrooms and green onion risotto, fried duck egg and pork brodo”).
The name is kinda catchy, echoed in what Tesar says will be “a spoon collection from famous chefs, celebrities, and regular VIP customers.”
Will it work?
I don’t know.
Tesar has a lot on his sharing plate. Two new Commissarys, a double decker burger bus, plus a history of a whole lotta crazy. And now this?
I’m hoping he can pull it all off, though he may need some Frankincense and myrrh and a couple of wise men to do it.
What do you think?