Deep Ellum is dead. Well, at least that’s what “they” would have you think. Who are “they”? Well, not sure, that’s just what I’ve heard – even when I was living there about seven years ago.
Many things have changed since then (like me becoming a vegan for one), but guess what? Deep Ellum is still alive. Which is why when Eddie G mentioned a new restaurant in Deep Ellum called Lemongrass, I accepted the invitation without hesitation.
Lemongrass is inhabited by the same space as “East Wind” back in my days in DE. Apparently, the previous owner and chef came back to re-open the restaurant in anticipation of the increased traffic of the new DART Green Line.
First impressions of the place are positive – a fine-dine atmosphere in an area where fine-dines are few and far between. We were greeted by a pleasant host and told we can sit “wherever we want”. We chose seats close to the windows for better “natural light” to help with our photos, given that we were using a new experimental video device (…?).
We started off with one of the only three vegan rolls available off the sushi menu – Avocado. Luckily, this was a perfect choice. Big chunks of fresh, ripe avocado encased in not too chewy seaweed and not too sticky rice. A perfect start to the meal - after we discarded our unwieldy plastic chopsticks in favor of the more useable wooden ones.
The seaweed salad, however, made Eddie G’s “brain sad” (not a good thing). My take on the salad wasn’t too bad – until I realized the brain-saddening culprit was the carrot, which tasted like it was pickled in double-strength brine (also not a good thing).
The “vegetarian” section of the menu included around 6-7 items, most (if not all) of which could be made vegan. Most dishes came with jasmine rice – but a word of caution – jasmine rice here comes with egg by default. Be sure to order the rice without egg. I opted for #58*, and Eddie G # 55. This introduces the weird thing about the menu. As opposed to finding either traditional or at least made-up catchy names for dishes, everything is given a number. Luckily, the numbers do come with descriptions. So to be more specific, I had the “Fresh tofu sautéed with curry sauce, coconut milk, chili sauce, lemongrass, bean thread noodles, onions” and Eddie G had “Tofu sautéed with lemongrass, chili sauce, onions, vegetables”.
#55 turned out to be not much more exciting than the number itself. It was your standard Asian vegetable chili sauce mix that can be had in any restaurant around. Not that there was anything wrong with the dish, it just didn’t quite have the pizzazz we were hoping for in this new up-and-coming place.
#58 * (* for “spicy” – of course I’m going to order the only spicy thing on the menu), was much better. The creamy (but not too heavy) flavor of the coconut milk paired perfectly with the mild but noticeable heat in the chili peppers. The curry did not overpower the dish, so it was the perfect balance of curry and coconut that I’ve not had in a dish before (maybe “C” n “C” – it could be the dish’s new catchy name!).
Lemongrass is a new endeavor, and I think as they find their way in the new DART inspired environment, they could come into their own as a big name in Asian dining. One hurdle they need to overcome, being in an entertainment district, is their drink menu. With a short wine list a one-choice sake menu, they have a long way to go.
In the end, everyone comes to (or at least used to come to) Deep Ellum for the entertainment and night-life. The great thing about Lemongrass, is that it’s right across the street from a great music venue (Club Dada) and great art venue (Kettle Art) – not to mention the fact that Lemongrass has its own free parking lot across the street from the restaurant. If you’re hankering for some Asian inspired goodness to go with your cultural Dallas experience, Lemongrass is the place to be.
Lemongrass Asian Bistro
2711 Elm St
Dallas, TX 75226