An 8-ounce filet mignon, sourced from Texas-local 44 Farms, cooked to perfection
Finally, a steakhouse with enough taste and flair to make us swoon. Former Top Chef contestant John Tesar is at it again. His newest eatery, Knife, in the chic Hotel Palomar, is a step up from the locale of his fine-dining seafood spot Spoon in Preston Center.
With wood-flanked walls, dark leather seating and a meatcentric menu, Tesar’s take on a retro steakhouse is spot-on. But it’s the modern edge that makes Knife so special and worth a second and third visit.
For starters, the warm and elegant space fills our senses. To the right, a floor-to-ceiling glass window exposes the chic outdoor lounge area. To the left, the interior of the warmly lit dining room provides a sense of unpretentious sophistication. Illuminated by candles on the oversize tables and exposed-bulb chandeliers, the ambience is as seductive as the scent of smoked meat floating from the kitchen.
Once settled, we are handed an iPad with the wine and cocktail menus. The wine list is robust with vino from around the world, but we decide on the Colonial Peach—a cocktail that must be mixologist Michael Martensen’s version of a boozy Bellini. Just as we begin sipping, a bowl of crudités with purple carrots, radishes, celery and a side of creamy herb dipping sauce is served over a bed of ice. If that is not enough to surprise, a piece of housemade beef jerky rests on top.
As we peruse the dinner menu, we can’t help but notice the sound of silence coming from the kitchen. The open space, visible from nearly every seat in the house, is splashed with green tile (a nod to the ’60s) and is run so smoothly even a symphony seems less organized. Chef Tesar, in his iconic thick-rimmed black glasses, and his team communicate quietly and create each dish flawlessly. Tesar communicates via walkie-talkie with the back kitchen—where cold dishes and desserts come to life—which maintains the harmony of the serene working space.
To begin, we choose the yellowtail from the raw selections. The thinly sliced fish is layered with grapefruit supremes, slivers of fresh avocado and drizzled with a light olive oil vinaigrette. Cold and simply tasteful, this dish excites our palates.
Next we move to Kent’s heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, deconstructed on the plate with cubes of melon and slices of tomatoes. Vibrant with sea salt and sprinkles of rice wine and olive oil powder, the salad is flawless. The wedge salad is also a strong contender with a large chunk of romaine lettuce, blue cheese and a creamy dressing.
As for the main course, making a decision is difficult. The menu contains New School items, including unique cuts of meat— culotte, chuck flap, sirloin flap, tri-tip and flat iron. There are also exotic delicacies such as spicy blood sausage. We go for the 8-ounce filet mignon on the Old School menu. The meat is cooked so perfectly—evenly and tender—it could easily be enjoyed bare. But if we had to order a sauce, the chimichurri beats the bearnaise by a mile. Complementing the splendid meat is a small serving of a memorable and savory mushroom flan.
As for the sides, opt for the decadent avocado fries or the tangy salsa verde fries. Better then chunky steak frites, we don’t need any condiments with these fries—they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just as they should be.
If there’s room, don’t miss dessert. We luxuriate in the flourless chocolate cake, reminiscent of an ice cream sundae—served in a tall glass and layered with chocolate mousse, cake and vanilla ice cream. Most impressive, the waitress places a warm chocolate bead on the chocolate disc resting on the glass. Before we break the chocolate with our spoons, the bead melts through, creating an opening for indulging.
To finish, our waitress brings a plate of tiny desserts, precisely symmetrical—a lavender macaron, Champagne gélee, a Grand Marnier cream puff and a brownie.
After finishing this satiating experience, we are handed a small bag with a buttery madeleine cookie so that we can continue this love affair with Knife at home.
5680 N. Central Expressway, 214.443.9339
Seven days a week: 11-1AM
Under the Stars
For a more casual vibe, drink and dine outside in the interior courtyard of the hotel.
Request a spot at the bar, which overlooks the main kitchen, to watch the cooks in action.
Dress to Impress
Business attire for men is suitable, while ladies work the skinny jeans and heels combo.
On the Side
Order an extra sauce or two for your meat. Among the five options are bearnaise, au poivre, bordelaise, chimichurri and salsa verde.