Step away from your boring old restaurant and go check out Tillman’s Roadhouse. Located in the heart of the Fort Worth Arts District, this four-month old restaurant captures the charm of this historic community in every way. Rustic logs blend with crystal chandeliers for an effect that is every bit as stunning as its Oak Cliff counterpart, which was voted one of this years top ten best looking dining rooms by the Dallas Observer.
The servers there are very knowledgeable, so tell them you’re interested in local, organic and pasture-raised products. They’ll steer you to what’s available that day.
After hearing about the purpose behind our meal, Executive Chef Lance Smith stopped by our table to talk about his vision for the restaurant. “The push we’re going for, that I’m going for, in this restaurant is that the more local and sustainable we can be, the better. So the spring menu is going to be a lot better. It’s hard, since we opened in December, to get hooked in with farmers in their down season. Still, we’ve got numerous items on the menu where we’re dealing with local farms,” he said.
Despite the challenges of opening during many suppliers off-season, Lance has already developed relationships with a long list of local farms, ranches, and even a creamery. “If we can buy it within 10, 15, 30 miles great. Then we just start going out from there,” he said.
Another challenge, says Lance, is finding local and organic suppliers able to meet the demands of a 200 seat restaurant. He considers his efforts a work in progress. For example, most of Tillman’s beef currently comes from conventionally raised Texas beef. However, Chef Lance is hoping by midsummer to obtain organic black angus beef from ranchers in Oklahoma. Hamburgers featuring Burgundy Pastures beef should come even sooner (estimated May 2010). Yay!
Although most of our blogged meals are more of a private thing, we decided to make this one a double date with our good friends Drs. Jim Bob and Cindy Haggerton. They loved it and are actually headed back this weekend.
Pictured Left: Grilled Texas Farm Chicken with herbed spaetzle, local goat cheese, roasted winter squash and hazelnuts.
Top Right: Hardwood grilled sirloin burger with housemade bun and sweet potato fries.
Bottom Right: Chicken Fried Hangar Steak with house cured bacon, braised green beans and buttermilk mashers.
NOTE: Some of these entrees didn’t meet our criteria for local, organic or pasture-raised. Read below for news on how ingredients will change in the future.
Pictured Above: Farmers Salad featuring shaved fennel, baby carrot and Tassione Farms watercress salad with fiddlehead ferns, fava beans, lemon mint and spring onions dressed with white balsamic and lemon thyme infused oil.
Since the menu is a work in progress as far as ingredients go, I’d like to highlight some of their best choices:
Butchers Block Special – Available only on the dinner menu, this entree features Burgundy Pastures grass-fed beef and produce from local farms.
The Farmer Salad – Local, seasonal, fresh and delicious. All sourced from regional ranchers and farmers.
Saturday and Sunday brunch features farm fresh local eggs purchased from Wendy at Burgundy Pastures. “She’s got a family that she buys eggs from, so I buy them from her,” Chef Lance told us.
Tableside S’Mores – Artisan maple, coffee and orange marshmallows, chocolate bark and homemade cinnamon grahams toasted over an open flame at your table.
Kim’s Cupcake Carousel – Although they don’t fit in the the local, organic and pastured theme I have to mention these cupcakes. “I’ve got to say our cupcakes are dear to my heart. Our baker is my fiancée,” said Chef Lance. He sent some to our table. Daniel took one bite, looked at Chef Lance and said “How are you not fat ?!?!?” It is hard to imagine how he doesn’t eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Although the date has not yet been announced, Tillman’s is planning a “Wine and Swine” dinner featuring Dominion Farms pork.
An Impressive List
Below is a list of vendors Tillman’s has established relationships with. Some names will probably be familiar, but there are likely a few new ones as well. All are open to the public so why not try them yourself?
- Tassione Farms – Rocky and Celeste Tassione of Stephenville grow specialty greens, salad mixes and herbs. Their produce is available at the Dallas Farmers Market.
- Young’s Farm in Sunray, TX
- Lemley Farm – Grows a wide range of produce year round, which can also be found at the Dallas Farmers Market.
- Burgundy Pastures – Provides beef for the Butchers Block Special. Chef Lance also hopes all burgers will feature Burgundy Pastures beef by May. Saturday and Sunday brunch also features eggs purchased from Wendy at Burgundy Pastures. Wendy is a reseller for a local family.
- Dominion Farms – Although their products are not consistently available at Tillman’s, Chef Lance does buy from them as often as possible.
- Brazos Valley Cheese – Some info from Brazos Valley’s website: “All of our soft and hard cheeses are handmade by us at Homestead Farms. We use raw cow’s milk, vegetable rennet and all-natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives. Our smoked cheeses get their flavor from being smoked over pecan shells in our restored 1860’s smokehouse. We age our hard cheeses for at least two months. Wholesale pricing available.”
- Dallas Mozzarella Company – Provides Tillman’s goat cheese
Our meal at Tillman’s was the greatest experience yet. Even though a few items we ordered don’t yet fulfill the local / organic mandate, Chef Lance’s enthusiasm and vision for the future are so infectious we couldn’t help but feel like partners with him as he pursues the goal of providing the most wonderful dishes via local organic fare. Four entrees were sampled and, let me tell you, our taste buds were tingling! It’s my goal to share these reviews with as much balance as possible. The savory factor of each entree from Tillman’s restaurant stands out above the rest. It’s not yet as local or organic as some of the others, but we understand the challenges that come with a new restaurant. Without a doubt we will be back!