Meet Dallas’ New Debutante: Sister

 Kersten Rettig

The much-anticipated sister restaurant to The Charles has made her debut and it’s as fabulous as you’d expect it to be.

Sister, an Italian-ish trattoria on Greenville Avenue inhabits the space of The Grape, a fabled Dallas dining institution that opened in 1972 and closed in 2019.

Those familiar with the space will recognize it from its former days, but barely. The space has been completely opened up, lighter and brighter with wallpapered trellises of pink roses climbing the walls and two sculptural but rather authentic-looking trees columned among curved banquettes in the main dining room.  The interior is feminine but not girly, anchored by built-in shelves with artfully placed slightly kitsch on one side, and a spacious pale rose marble in-line bar on the other. Designed by Sees Design, it’s well done in Grandmillennial style.

Chef J Chastain is the culinary director overseeing day-to-day operations at Sister and her brother, The Charles. Chef Matt Gold, formerly of Georgie by Curtis Stone runs the kitchen at Sister, and he and his team overflow with talent.

“Sister isn’t The Charles 2.0,” Chas said.  It stands on its own with thoughtful selections of menu items in five segments: smaller, vegetables, pastas, larger, and desserts.

Whereas The Charles is a destination with limited neighboring businesses or housing, Sister is in a neighborhood, an area already dense with energy and diners. 

“East Dallas is ripe for this,” Martin said.  Everywhere is ripe for this, Sister is just about perfect.

The menu has a touch of Mediterranean influence, with ingredients such as labneh, tahini, feta, dates, and tabbouleh making guest appearances on dishes. The wine is robust for an 80-ish seat restaurant, and the prices are practical.  The list features primarily Italian wines with a few French, American, and even a singular Greek red wine thrown in for the ish-ness of the Mediterranean vibe.

Every dish was perfect. Flavor combinations and execution were flawless. Though we only tried a few items, I’m confident every menu item is equally spectacular.

Lobster Burrata

A smaller plate must-have item is the Lobster and Burrata with tomato and Calabrian chile sauce served with dainty potato chips dusted with Nori, dried seaweed. The dish is visually stunning with warm red chunks of lobster, red and yellow tomatoes that are propped up in the pale orange sauce, earthy gold chips and cool green whole basil leaves form a crown around the creamy white burrata drizzled with sunshiny olive oil.  The dish is served in a speckled blue and white bowl which makes the whole thing look like an Impressionist painting. It was otherworldly.

Two of the five pastas we tried were exceptional. The Wild “Boaranaise” pasta is so much more than pasta Bolognese.  The ribbons of Malfadine pasta, elevated with rye are like magnets, attracting the creamy sauce while firm enough to hold on to the ground cinghiale when you draw it from the serving bowl. The rye gives the pasta a slight chewy earthiness that compliments the tender, meaty sauce.  Small strips of sheep’s milk cheese give a little tang to this dish.

Calabrian Chile Ravioli

Calabrian chiles aren’t particularly spicy, but the heat is still tamed by the broccolini and ricotta that fills the half-dollar-sized flower-shaped Calabrian Chile Raviolis. Sprinkled with ricotta and flakes of chile, the dish is like a big, orange sun against the blue-sky bowl it arrives in.  The Duro team has thought through every detail of this restaurant.

Protein offerings include lamb, fish, pork, and a Prime ribeye, all appealing. Our choice was the Chicken Marsala that is prepared and served with four generous bone-on poussin legs rather than slabs of breast meat often seen in other preparations.  The mushroom marsala sauce is studded with slices of black truffles and served alongside the chicken, so the skin remains crispy. The bird is so tender and juicy, it could stand on its own without the sauce, but then . . why would you deny yourself?

After all of that, you might think you want to skip dessert. Don’t. There are three options, and, like the rest of the menu, they offer interesting flavor combinations.  The Double Chocolate Bar includes cherry, Mezcal, and smoked ice cream and another offers a Campari-poached pear.

Campari Poached Pear

What does all this fancy food and drink in a beautiful setting cost? I was pleasantly surprised at the pricing, it’s reasonable compared to other restaurants in Sister’s peer group, and well worth it.  Smaller plates range from $13 to $21, that one being the lobster, which is a generous serving and easily shareable. Vegetables are also shareable and range from $10 to $14.  Pastas hover in the teens and low 20s, the priciest protein, by far, is the Prime Ribeye at $65 which is quite fair for the quality.

Boulevardier, Baby

Sister is unlike any restaurant I’ve been to in Dallas. It’s sophisticated but quaint, glamourous but approachable. The food is phenomenal, yes, but the décor is just as much a part of what makes Sister so ineffably good.

Well, done, Duro Hospitality.  Please save me a seat because Sister girl is going to be the belle of the ball for a long time. Cheers!

All photos by Kersten Rettig.

Let Me Introduce You to Two of My Favorite New Restaurants
Loro and Roots Southern Table

It’s pretty wacky that Dallas has so many new restaurants popping up this time of year, but there are. Here are what I think are two of the very best to open recently. I love to support restaurants where the people involved are as good as the food they make, and these two definitely fit the bill.

Loro is the love child of Uchi chef Tyson Cole and Franklin BBQ’s creator and Pitmaster, Aaron Franklin. The restaurant offers a combination of southeast Asian and Japanese flavors including lemongrass, curry, Thai chilis and miso, and the smoky, rich taste of Texas-style smoked meats. The result is a breathtakingly good menu built for experimenting and sharing.

The spacious restaurant on Haskell Avenue has a modern service style; guests choose their seats, scan the menu, and then order at the bar. I guess it’s a cross between Uchi, where guests are treated like royalty, and Franklin’s BBQ where you wait in line for hours for Texas’ best ‘cue. You return to your table with your drinks and visit stations positioned in the dining room to get your own water, utensils, and to-go containers.  Food runners bring out the food as it is ready and offer a well-informed, comprehensive explanation of your dish and tips for maximizing flavor “be sure to squeeze the lime,” for example, over the Texas Sweet Corn to give a pop of acid to the slightly sweet side dish.

This is the perfect place to stretch your culinary repertoire. The menu is filled with proteins you’ll recognize such as salmon, beef, turkey, pork, and sauces you might also recognize – sriracha, hoisin, red onion jam, salsa verde, but they are combined in unexpected ways to create flavors that are contrasting but symbiotic. One dish that comes to mind is the Curried Brisket Rice which arrives in a traditional Asian take-out container, filled with sunny yellow curried rice punctuated with a spicy peanut crunch, sweet/tart currants, and chunks of crusty brisket. Mix it all up and inhale it.

The restaurant has a full bar and cool cocktails, literally. The Thai Watermelon Punch with gin, watermelon, lime, and chili was refreshing on a hot summer night. Loro also offers boozy slushees, a Tex-sian beer menu that offers a nice selection of local and imported beers, including False Idol from North Richland Hills and Japan’s Sapporo and wines by the glass (some on tap) and bottle.

It’s unusual for two spectacularly successful and award-winning chefs to collaborate in the way Cole and Franklin have with Loro, and we are all the beneficiaries of their friendship.  Loro debuted in Austin and will open its third location in Houston later this year.


Roots Southern Table Celebrity Chef Tiffany Derry has opened her long-awaited full-service restaurant, Roots Southern Table, and it’s worth heading to Farmer’s Branch for it. Tiffany might be best-known for her recurring roles on Top ChefTop Chef Junior, and Bar Rescue, but those who have followed her culinary career have been waiting for this restaurant to open since she closed her four-star restaurant Private/Social several years ago.  In the meantime, she has been traveling to advocate for social justice and food access and lobbying for sustainable and healthy food policies. She also spent a few months in her hometown of Beaumont feeding thousands of folks after Hurricane Harvey. She’s an extremely talented chef and an even better person.

The name Roots Southern Table perfectly explains the concept. Tiffany’s roots in southeast Texas and Louisiana and the generations of families together at the table, eating meals created with love from generational recipes, some of which appear on the Roots Southern Table Menu.

You’ll recognize the names of southern dishes here: shrimp and grits, gumbo, cornbread, but these dishes are prepared just a bit differently. The shrimp and grits resemble a hushpuppy and are lightly fried, so fluffy and light.  Tiffany’s “My Mother’s Gumbo” is just like my late father’s gumbo, the color of oxidized iron, not the black coffee-colored soup you get in Cajun restaurants. It’s filled with shrimp and sausage and is the best gumbo you can get in North Texas.

Still working with southern ingredients and flavors, these dishes were among my favorites and were refined and elevated: Texas Peaches with Steen’s vinegar, toasted pecans, prosciutto, crème fraiche and greens, sea scallops with Texas Corn Ravioli, halibut with lima beans, okra and roasted tomato and the vegetarian Grilled Hen of The Woods mushrooms with creamed corn, turnips, and basil.

The restaurant has a full bar with a very photogenic mixologist making very photogenic drinks and a fabulous wine list that includes my fave, a Chassagne-Montrachet, a white burgundy that would be the perfect accompaniment to most everything on the menu.

Roots Southern Table is in Farmer’s Branch, east of I-35 off at The Shops at Mustang Station, an up-and-coming redevelopment that includes a craft brewery. Reservations are highly suggested and Roots Southern Table is only open for dinner right now.

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