Much to my disappointment, Stampede 66 was unavailable for any reservation on Thursday evening, let alone my request for a table of 10. Our group had grown from the first evening’s trio of my friend Shawn from Grand Rapids, my coworker Toni and me, to eight on Wednesday as more people arrived from both chapter groups, to our robust group of 10. In my chase for a table, I leaned on the Eater’s Dallas outlet, which calls Meddlesome Moth one of Dallas’ top places to eat. The gastropub is listed on the website’s Eater 38, a list of the 38 restaurants in the DFW metroplex at the moment that are must visits. It also appeared on the website’s Heatmap, a compilation of the hottest and busiest restaurants in town. The price range looked right. The beer lineup looked amazing. And, they had room for two tables of 5 (they could not fit one table of 10).
Meddlesome Moth’s dark dining room accompanies the bright, lengthy bar that accommodates 40+ draught beers and nearly 100 more in bottles. We were seated in booths located under the slanted ceiling, reminiscent of a contemporary home design if not for the stained glass windows of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. The King was suspended over us in red, yellow and blue backlit glass, like a devotional at a surreal Catholic Church where the communion wafer is replaced by a guitar pick. My co-workers did not know what to expect. Neither did I. Eater was vague:
Meddlesome Moth pioneered the gastropub movement in Dallas, and it remains head and shoulders above the rest, with food that’s better than ever under seasoned chef David McMillan and a breathtaking beer selection.
Our waitress, a Jersey native who relocated to the area, walked us through the menu that was broken up between share plates, in the style of Spanish tapas, and For Those Who Don’t Share entrees with steaks, burgers and fish. We went for the former, ordering a pair of dishes for each of the five in my group. Dishes are delivered as they are prepared, though there is a method to the madness in the order they arrive. It might just be easier to list what we ordered and give a quick recap (let’s see if I can remember the order):
- Blue crab deviled eggs. (top row, left) I don’t do deviled eggs. The smell on its own makes me gag. Toni assures me that they were good, with crabmeat blended into the yolk and served with a chunk of bacon on top.
- Zucchini chips. (top row, center) These guys were sliced razor thin and roasted to the point where they melted in your mouth. A Mediterranean sea salt blend seasoned the chips with flavors of fennel seed and rosemary. This was the dish that couldn’t be killed. A hearty spoonful of them barely put a dent in the portion.
- Crispy duck wings. Presented like chicken wings, the duck was tossed in a chili-lime sauce and served with blue cheese. I skipped the dipping sauce and found the duck to be delicious.
- Roasted quail. (top row, right) This was the first time that I had quail. It tasted like chicken. For me, the best part was underneath the petite wings and legs of the bird. At the bottom of the cast iron skillet was a rutabaga puree swirled with blackberry preserves.
- Pig and Fig. (bottom row, left) Cubes of pork bellow were served with figs over bleu cheese grits in a small cast-iron pan. The pork belly was perfect: crispy with a mellow creamy flavor. The grits were the big surprise, as I was skeptical about how bleu cheese would work as a flavor. Turns out, it works quite well.
- Asparagus. Ordinary. Sauteed in lemon and oregano, it was a bit of a letdown.
- Tandoori lamb. Presented as a sausage, this came from the “stick meats” section of the menu. The lamb sausages with presented on a skewer with an cucumber yogurt called raita, sort of like an Indian tzatziki.
- Shrimp and homestead grits. (bottom row, center) It was good, but not memorable. I could have just eaten the grits here and might have gone with fried hominy instead. The shrimp, though, were massive.
- Bacon lollipop. (bottom row, right) Almost like a dessert, hunks of uncured bacon were cooked crispy and served in a maple hollandaise sauce with strips of funnel cake. The collision of savory and sweet was so good that it hurt.
- Mussels fromage. A dozen Prince Edwards Island mussels were steeped in a blue cheese and tarragon broth with bacon fat. The mussels were PERFECT. The best that I’ve ever had. Enhancing the dish was a plate of crostini served along side for mopping up the broth.
Meddlesome Moth is located at 1621 Oak Lawn Ave. in Dallas. Reservations are strongly recommended and available online or by phone. Dinner for five, with multiple drinks, was…I have no idea. I did my damnest to try as many beers not available in New York as possible and I totally missed it.