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Chef TJ Lengnick has left Shinsei to open new restaurant with former Jasper’s GM Johnny Carros

<div>T.J. Lengnick, the longtime chef of Shinsei, has left the popular pan-Asian restaurant to strike out on his own. In addition working for Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun, the owners Shinsei, Lengnick’s resume includes a stint as top chef at Jasper’s in Plano, owned by Rathbun’s husband, Kent.

Lengnick says he is partnering with an old friend and a former Jasper’s GM, Johnny Carros, to open a 200 seat casual restaurant in downtown McKinney’s McKinney Square. An outside investor is providing the capital. Lengnick will handle the kitchen, while Carros handles the GM duties.
“We are taking over an old 1940s gas station, the kind with old-fashioned pumps still out front, and turning it into a restaurant,” Lengnick told me yesterday. “It’ll have a comfortable feel with a big patio and a private dining room.”
“‘We’re all still working on the name, but we know what kind of food we are going to serve,” Lengnick said. “We’re calling it crafty comfort cuisine, similar to the style of food you’d find at the Porch and Victor Tangos,” both on Henderson Avenue, north of downtown Dallas.
Lengnick says you can expect to see pot pies, burgers, fresh seafood, local meats and a lot of pork on the menu. Lengnick likes pork.
“We’ll serve a bacon wrapped pork tenderloin that will blow your mind, with grits and ancho chile gravy and homemade chicherones. And a smoked duck tamale with poblano mole.”
Lengnick promises lots of fresh seafood, too, which I think is his strong suit.
Just don’t be call his cooking farm-to-fork. “I’ll use local ingredients when it makes sense but I’m going to use whatever ingredients are best,” Lengnick emphasized.
“I really hated to leave Shinsei,” Lengnick told me. “Kent and Tracy and Lynae have been so good to me and such strong supporters. They made me feel like part of their family. But at some point all the kids have to strike out on their own.”
Look for a summer 2015 opening.

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