Dallas chef Matt McCallister and restaurateur Michael Barnett have picked March 8 as the tentative opening date for new restaurant Homewood, the most anticipated new restaurant in Dallas in 2019.
McCallister is the former chef of FT33, an exciting, unpredictable, modern restaurant that closed in the Dallas Design District in summer 2018. The Dallas Morning News' critic in 2017 called it "one of Dallas' very best restaurants," with McCallister as one of Dallas' best chefs — one who never went to culinary school.
The new restaurant Homewood, located in a former Beck's Prime burger joint near Highland Park, is expected to be "less fussy" than McCallister's work at FT33, I wrote in late 2018. McCallister, and many other folks opening restaurants in Dallas in 2019, have used words like approachable to describe what they think Dallas diners want, which becomes especially notable when you consider that a flurry of fancy restaurants like the French Room, the Mansion, Flora Street Cafe and Mirador have been making significant changes to their staffs.
McCallister visited The Dallas Morning News' test kitchen in 2018 to tinker with a few dishes he was considering for his upcoming menu. That menu is not finalized, which is typical McCallister: always tinkering. It's been through more than three dozen iterations already.
But for diners who remember McCallister's food at FT33, expect a less pretentious approach at Homewood: "You won't need a dictionary to decipher the menu," McCallister has said.
Even the name, Homewood, was chosen as a wayfinder, a subliminal signal that the restaurant will be cozy — and perhaps more of a frequent destination, a problem McCallister battled at FT33.
Unsurprisingly, McCallister wants his menu to feel "simple," as he puts it. But seriously: His kitchen staff will still make butters and vinegars — "we may just not tell you about it." He's been pickling stuff in his home for months ("My wife is like ... can we have our living room back?"), and those ingredients will land on Homewood's menu, somewhere, sometime. What McCallister seems to mean by "simple," then, is complicated when it comes to time and preparation. But to his point, he hopes to create a menu that honors the vegetables, fruits and proteins on the plate.
Homewood will be "not as insane as FT33," essentially, he said in late 2018.
"That stoic tasting menu never really worked in Dallas that much anyway," he admits.
For anyone who wants to geek over his green processes, he'll be growing some of his own food outside of the restaurant, composting and sourcing locally. Of course he will be. His business card says "executive chef" and "head gardener."
Many staffers from FT33 will join him in the nine-person kitchen at Homewood. That includes Kerry Moffett, chef de cuisine; Jessica Alonzo, sous chef and head of fermentation; Maggie Huff, pastry chef; and Rose de la Rosa, pastry sous chef. Lauren Festa, the bar manager when FT33 opened, will also rejoin her old crew.
The restaurant will use Resy, an online reservation system that's a competitor to the more ubiquitous OpenTable. Some of Dallas' buzzy restaurants, like Lucia, the Charles and HG Sply Co., are also on Resy. Now's the time to download Resy if you haven't already.
Homewood will be located at 4002 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas, and is expected to open March 8.