By Teresa Gubbins of dallas.culturemap.com
JoJo Eating House & Bar, surely destined to go by “JoJo’s,” opens Monday, November 19, in the old Tin Star spot on Howell Street across from the Quadrangle. As a prelude, the restaurant held friends-and-family dinners on Friday and Saturday night, sharing some signature dishes and a look at the spiffy new design.
The omnipresent Plan B — the design firm behind Bolsa, Oak and pretty much every other restaurant that has opened in 2012 — has seriously upgraded what previously felt like a long, barren, unfriendly space.
The floor plan has always been long and flat, but now there is a bar that breaks up the space, making it feel warmer and more useful. The restaurant also boasts an indoor-outdoor wall that extends the bar area to the sidewalk, a Plan B signature.
Chef is the French-accented Laurent Poupart, who was previously a private chef for clients such as Mike Moreno (his partner in JoJo), Gerald Ford, Kevin Costner, Cindy Crawford, Kenny G and Hollywood producer Joel Silver.
The menu has a similar classic/familiar/French theme as Boulevardier in Bishop Arts, with steak frites, osso buco, mussels and Caesar salad. Dishes shared over the weekend included shrimp cocktail, clams picante and pizza, of all things, which a server said was being promoted as a specialty of the house.
Prices seem high for the casual spirit they appear to be going for, with appetizers running from $14 to $17 (for a crab cake) and $18 to $36 for entrées; the $36 item is a New York strip steak. Lobster is also on the menu, and you can see them agitating in a tank in the corner of the room.
Desserts also trended toward classic: crème brûlée, tiramisu, chocolate cake and Key lime pie. Notables included the almond and cherry nougat glacé bergamot, a dome of ice cream with a knob of sorbet at the center, and a baked-to-order soufflé studded with diced candied ginger.
Joining Poupart is manager Gregory Sawin, and the pastry chef is Laurel Wimberg, who both worked at, among other places, Craft Dallas.