Kitchen LTO, the Dallas-based, self-described “permanent pop-up restaurant that reinvents itself twice per year,” appears to be making its latest reinvention permanent. And although it’s a Dallas restaurant, there’s a lot of Tarrant County in its executive chef’s past.
Junction Craft Kitchen will open Thursday in the former Kitchen LTO (Deep Ellum) space at 2901 Elm St. in Dallas. Junction gets its name from a bit of Deep Ellum history: “In the early 1900s,” says a release, “Deep Ellum hosted the intersection of two major railroads at Main and Malcolm X, mere yards from where the restaurant stands today. The ‘Junction’ was the gateway to business in Dallas. So important, in fact, Henry Ford built one of his earliest Model T assembly plants nearby.”
According to his bio, the executive chef, Josh Harmon, worked at Grace in downtown Fort Worth and at the too-short-lived Milk & Honey Co. in Keller; and created the seasonal French menu at Main Street Bistro & Bakery in Grapevine.
According to Star-Telegram archives, Harmon got his start in the food industry at Chef Point Cafe in Watauga, then returned in 2014 (after his Milk & Honey stint) to work as chef de cuisine.
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He was also the latest chef at LTO, which stands for “Limited Time Only,” because a new restaurant started there every six months, with a new chef and menu concept, as well as a new artist transforming the interior walls.
For Junction, Harmon is teaming with Casie Caldwell, who ran the front of house at Kitchen LTO. According to the release, Harmon and Caldwell thought the collaboration worked so well, right down to the kitchen crew, that they decided to make things permanent.
There’s another junction at Junction: Tennessee-born/Texas-bred Harmon’s intersection of southern and Asian cooking, including such holdovers from his Kitchen LTO days as Brussels sprouts with fish sauce caramel, hot fried chicken and Korean duck leg, as well as new dishes such as Korean braised beef and family-style miso pork belly served with steam buns and house made sauces.
Harmon went to high school in Los Angeles, and aside from his Fort Worth experience has worked at FT33, Driftwood and Savor in Dallas, as well as at New York restaurants David Burke Townhouse, Buddakan and Le Cirque.
Brunch dishes at Junction, such as a Cap’n Crunch parfait and a kimchi frittata, get our attention. And it’s a family affair: Harmon’s mother and sisters will be in the kitchen making desserts such as five-flavor crumble cake.
And there’s more out there where the Cap’n Crunch came from. “Our food is a lot of fun and great for sharing and has a sense of humor,” Harmon says in the release. “Potato sticks, Funyuns and corn nuts make their way onto my plates because they play the same role that crispy onion or fried potato would play on a dish.”
Not mentioned in the release is a Texas Akaushi “smash burger,” which sounds like the next great upscale take on an old-school burger with its housemade American cheese, onion, pickle garlic mayo on a brioche bun. It’s also a holdover from LTO, and the Dallas Observer raved to the point of glazed eyes about the housemade cheese and the burger as a whole. According to the Observer story, Harmon was trying to re-create drive-thru-style burgers of his youth — except, you know, with housemade cheese and Akaushi beef.
The dinner menu on the Junction website is divided among “small” and “big” plates, with “small” prices ranging from $9 for fried green tomatoes to $15 for a steak tartare, and “big” prices ranging from $14 for the burger to $26 for dry-aged Korean braised beef.
The restaurant will also feature something called Cart #10, a weekly, reservation-only, 10-course chef tasting menu on Saturday nights. It’s $125 (not counting drinks, tax or tip) and there’s one seating in a private dining room every Saturday. Reservations are first-come first-serve, phone only, credit-card only.
Junction Craft Kitchen is at 2901 Elm St., Dallas, 214-377-0757, www.junctiondallas.com. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday brunch, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday brunch, closed for dinner on Sundays.