Smoke Chef Tim Byres has been busy. Last Friday, June 4, he was in Washington, DC at the White House meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama regarding her initiative to teach school kids about healthy eating with “Chefs Move to Schools.”
And a few weeks before that he was in New York City cooking for a gathering as the invited guest chef at the famed James Beard House.
So it should be no surprise that as one of the co-founders of 48 Nights, when it was finally his turn in the kitchen he made sure to put on an amazing show.
The theme for the evening was ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, inspired by Byres use of wild fish and game throughout the meal and complimented by Mike Thompson’s innovative interior decorating. The tables had large bamboo centerpieces that soared to the ceiling, creating a dark, forest-like setting in the 48 Nights dining room. Thompson also designed the interior of Smoke, is the maître d‘, and is Byres neighbor.
Keeping the neighborly vibe going was Mick Tinsley, Byres other neighbor who was recruited to provide the soundtrack for this wild night. Tinsley, with a flask of Jack Daniels on his amp, played bluesy electric guitar with smoky vocals that paired perfectly with the six-course meal.
Course one featured a shot of Oaxacan mescal with a chili and lime infused cherry tomato nestled in the bottom of the glass. The mescal was smoky and smooth but the tomato needed some help getting out. Byres explained to the group that the mescal had been distilled in ceramic pots and then filtered through bamboo poles before being ready to bottle.
Course two was a wild pacific salmon that had been smoked and was served atop a charred red pepper and homemade pickled vegetables and then covered with a subtle watermelon sauce. Along side the salmon was a small river rock, still smoking from being kept on dry ice all afternoon, with bright orange trout roe served on top. The salty burst of the roe paired well with the sweeter watermelon sauce and was a favorite at our table.
Course three was a layered spread served in a small terrine jar alongside two pieces of crispy grilled toast. The bottom layer of the spread was a silky smooth goose liver pate, topped with a porcini mushroom jelly and a poached quail egg. Several of our tablemates named this their favorite dish of the evening.
Byres passion for meat came through in courses four and five. Course four featured a roasted rabbit leg on the bone, a boneless rabbit thigh stuffed with poblano pepper and onion, and a homemade smoked rabbit sausage with a wonderful flavor of allspice. The trio of meats was served atop the creamiest grits I’ve ever tasted, which Byres mentioned he got the grain from a mill in Waco.
Course five included another trio of meats, this time with a focus on pork. The cold meat platter featured house-smoked thin sliced ham, a thick slab of jowl bacon, and a pork terrine made with headcheese and pig trotters. The meats were served atop a plate painted with a tangy mustard with a drizzle of jalapeño jelly and half-sour pickles.
Finally, the night came to an end with course six, a flaming sour cherry custard cake covered in meringue. 48 Nights co-founder Christopher Jeffers said it reminds him of the Baked Alaskan served on the Titanic before they struck the iceberg, He also hoped aloud that there weren’t any other similarities between the Titanic and 48 Nights.
I had read positive reviews in the Dallas Morning News and D Magazine, and had heard from several friends about their great experiences at 48 Nights. However our evening at 48 Nights surpassed our expectation, despite the hype. This is a completely unique event in Dallas and one that shouldn’t be missed.
There’s just 14 nights left in the 48 Night run, and reservations are going quickly. See the 48 Nights website for more details.