Radar Range: Judd Fruia, one of Dallas’ best GMs, is Back
Judd Fruia, one of Dallas’ iconic restaurant personalities, is back where he belongs: in the restaurant business.
“It’s in my blood,” said Fruia, who left the restaurant world a year ago for a corporate job until he was recruited by old friends to “take the Ranch at Las Colinas to the next level.”
Despite a busy lunch crowd, half-price wine on Saturday nights (!), and live music on their back porch, the Ranch at Las Colinas has struggled to get its farm-to-fork message out.
“We’re committed to using as many local, Texas products as we can,” John Franke, Ranch’s corporate chef told me during a recent visit. “Ninety percent of our menu is Texas products. Once people come in and see what we’re doing, we keep them coming back.” The problem, Franke and Fruia say, has been getting the message out that the Ranch is dedicated to using fresh, local, seasonal Texas products in every dish.
I walked through the kitchen and prep areas with Fruia and Franke to see for myself. While the freezer was virtually empty, a walk-in refrigerator was stuffed with fresh, local products such as fresh herbs from Tassione Farms in Stephenville, mushrooms from Southmill Farms in Dallas, wild boar from Westphalia, quail form Bandera, goat cheese from Lonestar Cheesemakers in Cleveland, 10:15 onions from Winter Garden Farms in Uvalde, yellow squash from Jacksonville Farms in Tyler, butter from Lucky Layla Farms in Garland–even half a bushel of fragrant, just-picked peaches from Cooper Farms in Fairfield.
“We really are farm-to-fork,” says Fruia. “We know our farmers, we know our cheesemakers, we know our ranchers.”
“We’re serving rib-eyes and strip steaks from cows raised by a single rancher,” Franke told me. “He slaughters two cows a week, and we get the meat.”
What other Texas products did I spy? Hot sauce from Sucklebusters in Coppell, blueberries from Nacogdoches, Texas catfish and redfish, Dublin Dr. Pepper, honey from Stroope Bee and Honey in Pearland, olive oil from Texas Olive Ranch in Carrizo Springs, cornmeal from Morrison’s Mills in Denton.
Honestly, I don’t know of another fast-casual restaurant in Dallas as committed to using as many homegrown ingredients as the Ranch. With most entrees priced between $11 and $20, this isn’t fussy, sophisticated food; it’s high quality, well-made, tasty, creative cooking. No question: the road from farm to market runs through this Ranch.
Check out the menu here.
I’ll be back.