First Look: New Dallas restaurant Filament

<img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-16213″ src=”” alt=”filament copyright Michael Hiller-11″ width=”1014″ height=”1200″/> filament copyright Michael Hiller filament copyright Michael Hiller-13 filament copyright Michael Hiller-12 filament copyright Michael Hiller-6 filament copyright Michael Hiller-5 filament copyright Michael Hiller-4 filament copyright Michael Hiller-8 filament copyright Michael Hiller-2You may or may not catch chef Cody Sharp with a pair of tweezers in his hands at Filament, the new Deep Ellum restaurant from FT33 partners Matt McCallister and Jeffrey Gregory. It doesn’t matter either way; Sharp’s style of cooking and playful blend of southern favorites don’t need them. Wood roasted baby carrots drizzled with creamy, chorizo-spiked yogurt and Sharp’s play on Nashville-style fried “hot” catfish and chicken — spicy, crispy and messy — are among the better choices on a menu that includes of-the-moment ingredients trumpeted on the pages of food magazines this month.

“Anson Mills heirloom peas,” “laurel aged rice” and bits of black truffle jumble into a mighty fine hoppin’ john, while “fermented pepper salsa” spikes the “Mississippi Delta tamales,” “bone marrow pistou” accompanies a Texas wagyu steak, and “caramelized garlic chimmichurri” rides shotgun on a plate with the area’s poultry darling, “Windy Meadows chicken.” For the most part, Sharp doesn’t often allow all those glossy adjectives to get in the way of tasty cooking.

But if you’re expecting traditional southern food or artful FT33-style plating, that’s not in the cards at Filament. There’s a johnny cake on the menu, a humbler, cornmeal sibling of a pancake. But don’t look for maple syrup.  Filament’s johnnycake begins southern enough with crisp edges and smoked ham, but then it veers oddly left with benne, red cabbage, a smear of Duke’s mayo, a sprinkling of bonito flakes and a glug of “kentuckyaki,” a teriyaki-style sauce flavored with sorghum, bourbon, ginger and garlic. I loved the east-south interplay of umami, salt and tang, but YMMV.

I also found a lot to like in Sharp’s roasted trout, Nashville-style fried chicken and his rabbit rillette, spooned into a jar then served with crisp chicken skins and tart green tomato “chow chow.” Next time, though, I’ll order it without the “grilled country bread,” a dense, crumbly slice made in house but probably shouldn’t be.

At precisely 9 p.m., Filament now offers an off-the-menu burger. Sharp only sells 20 per night. It’s a good burger, constructed of freshly ground beef and good condiments, but its house-made bun, clunky like the grilled country bread, hampers its potential.

Like nearly every high cuisine chef in town, McCallister is taking a shot at a downscale place. My visit, soon after Filament’s debut, had a few service missteps and the kitchen hadn’t quite gotten its footing. I loved many of the dishes Cody Sharp served me at the Standard Pour, where he cooked prior to Filament. I’m doubling down on his ability to make Filament a go-to on my rotation of favorite Dallas restaurants.