Encina opened one month ago. Chef Matt Balke previously worked at York Street, Bolsa Mercado, SMOKE and finally at Bolsa, which previously occupied this location. He combined his talents with Corey McCombs (last at Flora Street), who coordinates the beverage program and was very present on the floor of the place. Together they created Encina a restaurant that stresses fresh, seasonal ingredients presented in a simple, consistent quality driven style. They have a good sized interior but the real plus is the large open air patio out back. There are screens on the openings and covers if it gets too cold but they have installed heating so guests can still enjoy the well spaced outdoor wood tables. Plenty of light is in the room so the table candles are mostly for ambiance but music is provided by noises from the outside streets. A large bar window opens into the interior so it can service both side. A parking lot is adjacent to the building as well as available street parking. Service was well masked, friendly and willing to serve things one at a time so we could share.
<https://www.encinadallas.com>, 614 W. Davis, Suite 100, Dallas, 75208
We started with a tasty Negroni while we looked over the menu options. We chose to try 3 of their appetizers, a couple main plates and dessert and just be ready to leave some on the plate – but this would give us a good sampling of the place.
Crispy Beef Tongue was served on a confit of tomatoes and potatoes with a tonnato sauce. It was perfectly crisped on the exterior and tender. There were yellow and red cherry tomatoes that were matched in size by the purple potatoes. The sauce was good on all of it. The meat was good on its own but blended wonderfully with the vegetables and sauce. It was a really tasty dish and I’d order it again.
Devils on Horseback includes dates and blue cheese wrapped in bacon and served with apple butter. It might have been my favorite dish of the evening. The sweet dates were stuffed with the blue cheese, then wrapped in bacon and then grilled. It was delicious. Great textures and fun combinations of flavors made this one a real winner.
Skillet Cornbread was topped with Brazos Valley feta and sorghum butter and served in a small skillet. The 2 toppings were next to each other on top. The cornbread was made with blue corn which made for a nice surprise when you cut into it. It had a good crisp edge and soft crumbly interior. The feta was good with it but I far preferred the sorghum butter. It may have been small but this would be a heavy one if you ate all of it.
Turkey Leg Confit was accented with a black pepper gastrique and served with roasted carrot salad, brussels leaves and pomegranate. This was a large plate of food. Turkey is not the most exciting meat and this one had parts that were a bit dry and dull. The vegetables were a good assortment and well seasoned.
Veal Bratwurst was sliced and served on top of warm potato salad alongside apple mustard. I preferred this main plate even if it was smaller. The juicy tender brat burst with flavor and the spicy sauce was really good with it. The potato salad was fine but this plate is all about the perfectly cooked bratwurst.
Desserts were not on a menu but there were a couple verbal choices. We chose the Carrot cake topped with spicy pecans and icing and accented with a bit of caramel sauce. It looked like a small piece when it came out but believe me it was plenty. This was a rich cake with icing and a dollop of cream cheese icing and caramelized spicy pecans. Some caramel sauce was on the plate in case you needed to add to that. It was delicious, moist and a total sweet fix. Because it was so rich and dense it turned out to be just the right amount for two.