Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, January 13, 2006 Page: 30 of 60
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Stephan Pyles returns to the kitchen for his first new restaurant in four years.
Was it worth the wait?
By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer
How's this for self-confidence: After
making a career with signal restau-
rants like Routh Street Cafe/Baby
Routh, Star Canyon and Aqua Knox,
Stephan Pyles, the top of Dallas' top chefs, final-
ly came up with a name for a restaurant that suits
his reputation: Stephan Pyles
"I'm getting older, so I needed a name I could
remember," grins the legendary gay chef.
He's spent the last year developing the concept
for Stephan Pyles, the style of which he describes
as "new millennium Southwestern cuisine."
"You know the difference between Tex-Mex
and Southwestern?" the fifth generation Texan
asks rhetorically. 'Tifteen dollars. So, I call it
'new millennium Southwestern.' Doesn't that
sound like it would be worth five dollars more?"
And then some.
As one of the founders of Southwestern cook-
ing — the modern Texas culinary style devised
more than 20 years ago — Pyles and his com-
rades ushered in an era of respect for the ingredi-
ents that made Tex-Mex a popular regional
delight for decades. He entered mythic realms
when Star Canyon
opened in 1994, which
led to him being named
one of the 20 most influ-
ential Texans by Texas
Monthly in 1998.
Pyles parlayed the
growing enthusiasm for
fresh peppers and red
chili ribeyes into an
from his PBS series
■"New Tastes from
Texas" to books like
"The New Texas
Cuisine" (named one of
the Top 10 cookbooks
of the 1990s by Bon
The inaugural recipi-
ent of the James Beard Foundation's best chef-
southwest division in 1991, Pyles was inducted
into the Beard Foundation's "Who's Who" pan-
theon of culinary masters. With all the acclaim,
you might think he wouldn't need to work — or
that he wouldn't walk away for it on a bet. But
the truth lay somewhere in the middle.
"I stepped down in 2001 and I was gonna take
six months off," he says.
But Stephan Pyles opened late last November.
"Quite a bit longer than I planned," he says.
He hasn't been dormant during that time. He
30 I dallasvoice.com I 01.13.06
COOKING UP WINNERS
During the past 22 years, Stephan Pyles cre-
ated 14 restaurants (several outside Texas). He
also published cookbooks, established founda-
tions and hosted award-winning TV programs.
Here are some of the highlights:
• Routh Street Cafe/Baby Routh, 1983-93.
• Goodfellow's/Tejas (Minneapolis), 1987-93.
• Taste of the Nation (Dallas fundraising event),
• Star Canyon, 1994-2003.
• "The New Texas Cuisine" cookbook, 1993.
• "New Tastes of Texas" (PBS cooking series),
• AquaKnox/Fishbowi, 1997-2003.
• Stephan Pyles, 2005-present.
was the consulting chef for Dragonfly at the
Hotel ZaZa and for Ana Lur at the Gaylord
Hotels Resort in Grapevine. But those gigs didn't
demand "more than four days a month of my
time," Pyles says.
He was ready for a change.
There are some who predicted that Pyles was
setting up himself (and his fans, who are numer-
ous and rabid) for a letdown. Not because anyone
questions Pyles' mastery in the kitchen, but
because the delay in getting a new restaurant off
the ground has made expectations almost too
The location raised eyebrows, too. The restau-
rant is in Downtown Dallas, a notoriously risky
area for dining ventures. Will suburbanites pile
into their SUVs, leave the comforts of
Restaurant Row and shell out big bucks to try
out a new place amid the skyscrapers and pan-
They might when the owner-chef is one of
the brightest stars in the culinary constellation.
The decor is gorgeous and inviting, modern
while still shouting "Texas." So how much of
a hand did Pyles have
in the design? "What
do you think?" he
asks rhetorically. He
rebuffs the sugges-
tion that he is a
though. "No, I'm a
visionary," he says
with a wink.
And a good
cook — indeed, Pyles
is the best there is.
"He is the profession-
al — what we all aspire
to be," says Joanne
Bondy, chef at Ciudad.
Despite the thematic
similarity to past proj-
ects, this isn't a retread
of former glories — Star Canyon the Sequel.
Indeed, Pyles says only three holdovers from his
Star Canyon menu (an appetizer, an entree and a
dessert) have finagled their ways onto his new
bill of fare. Instead, he's exploring a different
"It's Peruvian and Spanish," he says. "I've
spent a lot of time in both places" recently, and he
drew inspiration from them. Machu Picchu, the
Incan holy place near Cuzco, even lent an ele-
ment of spirituality to the menu.
His gourmet take on seemingly ordinary ingre-
DINING AT ITS FINEST: Stephan Pyles goes downtown with a namesake restaurant and introduces "new millennium
dients has always been a signature: Key lime-
marinated rockfish with cilantro, a lobster-pump-
kin soup with pomegranate seeds, even elegant
little versions of s'mores. And while it may take
some time to decide whether the downtown
enterprise pays off, one thing is certain: Having
Pyles back behind the hot plate again, however
long it takes, is always worth the wait.
Stephan P)'les, 1807 Ross Ave. (Southwestern
Plaza Building). Open Monday through Saturday
at 5 p.m. (dinner starts at 6 p.m.); opens for lunch
Jan. 21 214-580-7000.
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, January 13, 2006, newspaper, January 13, 2006; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth238891/m1/30/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.