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Into Shelley’s Belly: The Lot in East Dallas

Covered Patio seating (left) home ground cashew sandwich (right) photos by Matthew Shelley
Covered Patio seating (left) house ground cashew sandwich (right) photos by Matthew Shelley

You may recall back in 1989 the muscly, taut action/drama, Roadhouse. It caused the nation to swoon and wrestled in a new era of gritty/bar brawling/martial arts/tai chi/poignant sprawling epics that flooded theaters the following years. It was an exciting time to breathe and an even more exciting time to be a Hulk Hogan-loving 6-year-old, fresh out kindergarten in Missouri. My interest in Marxist/Morrison philosophy has swayed to some exponential degree, but my love and Swayze-induced hot sweats have endured and even strengthened. While the new Lakewood restaurant, The Lot, doesn’t possess the threat of a rib stabbing or a powerful roundhouse boot kick from a brutally apt martial arts henchman, it does appeal to our American Roadhouse desires and hopefully beckons to the late Mr. Swayze’s iconic “Dalton” and his passion for a friendly, lively and safe roadhouse gathering.

The Lot, which opened this Monday, has covered a great deal of space with its robust remodeling of the old Backyard Beach Bar. Its countrified barn house appeal is friendly and welcoming. There are two playgrounds (one for kids and one for adults), an outdoor stage, and an outdoor bar that will serve burgers, Hoffman hots, tacos and beers. Plenty of communal picnic tables are there for you to rest your bum while you indulge in the sights, sounds and tastes that surround you. I normally avoid the kid zoos that call themselves restaurants, but this place was surprisingly tempered thanks to the playground and the well-designed acoustics of the interior. The bar area is separated from the main dining hall by glass garage doors, which helps maintain its adult-necessary privacy.

Fresh Sangria (left); Fresh shishito peppers (right)
Fresh Sangria (left); Fresh shishito peppers (right)
The DIning Room
The DIning Room

The Lot calls itself a beer garden, and while they offer a large list of hops, they refrain from being too daring and surprisingly lacked all the wonderful local beers that I’ve become so proud to call my own. There wasn’t a single beer from Deep Ellum, Peticolas or Revolver. What gives? I know they just opened this week and I don’t consider myself an expert on alcohol acquisition, but I find myself wanting more. I holstered my beer snobbery for the time being and accepted that perhaps this neighborhood is populated more by the fringe craft beer drinkers and this menu was meant to accept all walks of beer lovers. Don’t get me wrong, they had some great beers, and I decided to start off with the Rahr Ugly Pug from Rahr and Sons Brewery in Fort Worth. This black lager, as many have noted, is exceedingly light for its darkness, and the roasted malts are easy to enjoy with the light head, faint hop feel, and pleasing aroma. We also decided to try the sangria, and it possessed hints of nutmeg and a mild sweetness that was beautifully fresh. They offer some great cocktails as well, and I definitely want to try their freshly pressed juice that you can add alcohol to, you know, when I’m being especially healthy. Today’s juice was beet, ginger and apple, and I can only imagine the addition of vodka bringing me into mountain pose after a shirtless game of washers on a warm summer night in the adult’s playground. Stay tuned.

Outdoor patio
Outdoor patio
Rahr Ugly Pub (left); yucca fries (right)
Rahr Ugly Pub (left); yuca fries (right)
Rotisserie Chicken
Rotisserie Chicken

As the carnival of kids and families enjoyed their burgers, beers and sodas, we decided to taste from the shared plates. The Redneck Cheddar board came with toasted, pumpernickel raisin bread and local honey. It was a clean and simple balancing act of delicious textures and complementing flavors. We also had the yuca fries with malted vinegar dust and a garlic mayo dip. The dusty, soft texture was lifted by the bright tang of the garlic mayo, and the fries had a wonderful weight in my hand. They were thick, well-proportioned little lovelies. The malt vinegar recalled visions of London pub life. For the entrees, we had the rotisserie chicken with roasted garlic, charred lemons and dipping bread served with a salad bowl. The salad came first, loaded with dark greens, a lightly coated with pepper and a mild vinaigrette. It doubled as a great palate cleanser and dipping sauce. The chicken was well seasoned, nicely cooked and put together like a de-brothed stew on a plate. The bread became soggy, but the dish was pleasing enough. Then came the house ground cashew butter sandwich on nine-grain bread drizzled with the wonderful local honey. I opted for the bacon and banana additions, and I ate it again this morning. I also could not leave without trying the burger. It comes with a thin slice of smoky ham, cheddar, white onion, crisp lettuce, and a delightful red chili smear. It looked tired and had little to command as the bun visually overpowered the burger, but the insides sang with juicy meat and tender onion strings. I finished every bite. We also had the gluten free biscuits, and they came out too dense and lacking in the airy, fluffiness that I so love in my biscuits. Put the gluten back in and let me indulge, please.

The Gluten Free BIscuits
The Gluten Free BIscuits
The kids' playground
The kids’ playground

The Lot suits its neighborhood well and was filled within its first week with smiling children and food-happy patrons. There was a genuine air of friendliness and conviviality that whispered and stroked my shoulders, leaving me peaceful within this new establishment. They offer healthy choices, approachable dishes with slight flare, and the staff is tremendously kind. We even took our leftovers home in compostable containers. I imagine this place doesn’t need my referral to blossom, but I will certainly return when the weather warms.