Beginning Thursday, Dec. 10, diners at Twenty Seven will order from an a la carte menu of 16 to 18 sharable small plates, each priced at less than $20. Temple's friend Cable Smith, fresh from a stint as chef de cuisine at the terrific Austin restaurant Foreign and Domestic, is helping him create the menu.
Temple, who gained popularity in recent years with his underground pop-up dinners, debuted his three-nights-per-week brick-and-mortar restaurant in January 2015, offering three-course and six-course fixed-price dinners only. Dining there required some effort -- it wasn't listed on OpenTable, and you couldn't just pick up the phone and make a reservation, though reservations were required. You had to go on the restaurant's website, fill in a form, decide in advance what you wanted to eat and for a party of four or more, surrender a credit card number. There were two nightly seatings only, and choosing from one of the fixed-price menus was compulsory.
About four months ago, Temple quietly introduced an a la carte menu, which he has been offering along with the fixed priced menus. Now, in keeping with the neighborhood, he's taking the restaurant full-on laid-back. Tablecloths have gone from white to black, he says, and plans to get "new funky tables" soon. Beginning Thursday, Dec. 10, you'll be able to walk in off the street, grab a table and order from the menu any time it's open. He's working with OpenTable to offer a more convenient reservation process.
So why the more relaxed and casual attitude? The $90 per-person menu was "a stigma," he says. "It looked like you couldn't really go there unless you had $90 per person to spend." This, he says, was a problem in Deep Ellum, a neighborhood more known for funky breweries, down-home barbecue and late-night fried-chicken dives than for white-tablecloth, triple-digit dining. "If we were in Highland Park, I think we could do the fixed-price-only thing a little better. This is going to be a lot more fun."
Dishes on the new menu will continue to reflect Temple's southern roots (the chef grew up in Louisiana and Virginia), but they will be "way less complicated." His preliminary menu, which he plans to change with the seasons, includes Louisiana crab salad with cornbread purée and pepper jelly; hoppin' John croquettes with succotash, green tomato jam and crispy pancetta; gnocchi "cacio e pepe"; veal sweetbreads "Buffalo style"; braised short rib with sweet carrot purée and more.
The restaurant will continue to serve dinner three nights per week (Thursday through Saturday), with a full menu offered from 6 to 11 p.m., happy hour food and drink specials from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and limited bar snacks till 2 a.m.