Kent Rathbun has nothing left to prove. The chef and owner of Abacus, Jasper’s and Blue Plate Kitchen demonstrated that last week, when he asked me to stop in to Abacus to see what’s new. Thanks in large part to the Asian-inspired cuisine he’s turned out for years at Abacus (which I awarded five stars when I reviewed it a few years ago for the Dallas Morning News), Rathbun stands tall among the luninaries of the Dallas dining scene.
So what’s new? A little and a lot.
Rathbun knows not to mess with a good thing. Though Daniel Burr is now the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, Burr and Rathbun continue to find ways to keep the menu relevant and vibrant without scaring away legions of local fans.
The duo’s newest menu is riddled with dozens of gutsy combinations, like pork tenderloin glazed with citrus and rosemary and ruby red beet demi. Big, plump scallops arrive with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and a vinegary pop of red grape mustard. There’s even a dinner version of eggs Benedict, except in Burr’s version, which he calls “eggs Bene-duck,” Burr drapes a tall buttermilk biscuit with housemade duck ham, a sunny side up quail egg, a spoonful of tangy hollandaise and a drizzle of maple syrup. Looking for grilled antelope? You’ll find it under Big Plates, where the Texas wild game shares a plate with smoked cranberry gastrique and creamed Brussels sprouts.
Abacus is as stylish and romantic as ever. The soft, elegant lighting makes everyone look like they’re stars on a movie set, which isn’t much of a stretch given Abacus’ whispered reputation as a celebrity hangout. (Ask for table 24 or 25, two circular banquettes tucked into the more private side dining room, and watch the rest of the restaurant gooseneck for a peek as they walk by.)
4511 McKinney Avenue Dallas, (214) 559-3111