One of newest restaurants at NorthPark Center boasts a quirky design sensibility, a vibe and menu inspired by Teddy Roosevelt, and a team behind it that has launched some of the city’s best restaurants of recent years.
The Theodore is the latest concoction of a group of dining-scene aces that includes restaurant mastermind Christopher Zielke, of Oak Cliff stalwart Bolsa; chef Tim Byres, the James Beard Award-winning restaurateur who created Smoke and Chicken Scratch; and Christopher Jeffers, The Theodore’s creative director whose adoration of film looms large here.
Their collective vision has given birth to a casual eatery that’s whipping up elegant American favorites (think lamb pot pies, beef Wellington, craft pizzas, and sandwiches on homemade bread).
“We are looking to be a timeless restaurant that feels vintage and modern at the same time,” Zielke said.
But why root a chef-driven dining experience in a mall? Zielke said he couldn’t resist taking advantage of the impressive foot traffic the shopping center attracts.
“It is the largest stage in Dallas – the number one tourist destination – and has the highest traffic count,” he said. “We are obviously attracted to the possibility of serving so many people.”
And so many people there will be; the mall draws more than 20 million visitors a year. In addition, the restaurant team hopes the bespoke interior — inspired by director Wes Anderson’s films — will pique curiosity while providing a hip setting.
“Anderson’s films embody a timeless quality, which we looked to when it came to aesthetics,” he said. “We want our guests to walk in and instantly feel as if they are not in a shopping center.”
The menu at The Theodore is as thoughtful and fun as an Anderson flick, while showcasing some serious culinary pedigree. For example, The Theodore’s starters capitalize on the of-the-moment appetizer in Dallas: toasts. A version with cured ham, horseradish egg salad, and mustard seeds stacked atop thick slabs of sourdough makes for a salty, meaty, satisfying start to dinner.
The restaurant prides itself on making its own bread and dough, including the chewy-crunchy base that anchors its pizzas. I topped mine with mushroom cream, chicken, fresh mushrooms, and mozzarella, which turned out a bit too woodsy for my taste, though that didn’t stop me from putting away a couple slices.
The buffalo fried chicken sandwich on fluffy ciabatta bread garnered most of my attention, however, partly due to its heft. It took quite some maneuvering to knife-and-fork or pick up and bite the saucy, blue cheesy behemoth, but it was worth the effort. The entrée paired well with a nicely balanced cocktail, called the Badlands — a mix of cognac and bourbon adorned with a red wine ice ball.
Another meaty highlight is The Theodore’s burger, draped in American cheese, stacked with bacon, and served with house-made potato chips. This entrée is terrific for pairing with a wine by the glass or cocktail like the Yosemite or the Glacier Bay.
The handcrafted cocktails here come from the mind of barman Kyle Hilla, who brought the bar at Bolsa to new heights in his tenure there. The drinks are meant to evoke the rough-and-tumble Roosevelt.
Diners are certain to run into other homages to the former president, from photos and décor cues to his bons mots emblazoned on to-go boxes. All of it’s a natural fit for a restaurant with a love of American fare, Zielke noted.
“We wanted to be a timeless American restaurant, and who is more classic than Teddy?” Zielke said. “He lived his life without fear. … He was a larger-than-life character who embodies the American spirit.”