A grandly ambitious restaurant is opening in Grapevine with a performing arts center in tow. Called The Experience Restaurant and Performing Arts Center, it'll open at 1713 Cross Roads Dr., nestled between 114 and 121, with a hoped-for opening date set for March.
The Experience takes over a space previously occupied by pan-Asian restaurant The Cultural Catch; hard to say which name is worse.
But never you mind the name: The Experience has a capable team behind the wheel with general manager Greg Minella, whose resume includes tenures at hotels and restaurants such as Zaza. Chef is Michael Hackman, who has won awards for his work at institutions such as Medical City Alliance and Dallas Country Club.
The Experience will be upscale with a fine-dining bent. Hackman says his style is to do gourmet food with surprises and masterful technique.
"The best way to describe it is 'American chop house fusion,' and we can pull that off thanks to our skill level," he says.
There'll be a grilled Caesar salad with tomato confit and white anchovies. They'll have familiar entrees such as crab cakes, but made with high-quality jumbo lump crab; and chicken cordon blue, stuffed with gruyere and tasso ham.
"We'll have a chop house menu with indulgent toppings," he says. "It'll be different cuts of steaks and chops that vary from week to week, with treatments such as Oscar style. But instead of propping it on two asparagus spears, we create an asparagus slaw using blanched asparagus and Bosc pears."
Hackman admits he occasionally goes "off the reservation."
"I'm known for doing things you're not supposed to do," he says. "One thing we are going to do is an alligator stuffed quail. It's so much better than chicken. We'll also have alligator tail fritters, served with mango cocktail sauce. We always use wild-caught alligator."
A signature dish will be their cured salmon carpaccio.
"One thing I'm into lately is house-curing," he says. "I've developed a new method of curing salmon. For years, chefs thought you could only cure salmon for 20 days. But I take it 45 days. When you slice it, you can see light right through it. I hope it's the best cured salmon in Dallas-Fort Worth. We're hanging our hat on that."
The wine list will feature boutique labels Minella discovered while serving as a wine manager at Central Market.
"I learned that one big difference between retail and wine served on-premise is that the distributors don't always show you the same wines," Minella says. "I got the opportunity to learn about some wonderful boutique wine vendors."
They're aiming to open in February, although there are many moving parts, including the restaurant, bar, patio, event center, and performing space.
"It's not a huge room, it'll be a more intimate 6500-square-foot venue that's set up so there's not a bad seat in the house," Minella says.
Last but not least, there will be brunch.
"It'll be on Sunday mornings, but it's not just brunch — it'll be an 'inspirational' brunch," Minella says.