When Sangria Tapas y Bar closed in January, foodies frowned all around Dallas. For starters, where would people go for a lively lunch or boozy brunch on perhaps one of the best patios in town? Those who know owner Alberto Lombardi, however, knew better than to think the successful restaurateur didn’t have a plan.
That plan — a new adventure in southern Asian cuisine — is entering a realm of food and flavors that Lombardi Family Concepts had yet to tackle until now. Dallas will meet KĀI Asian Bistro this April.
“I have always loved Asian fusion cuisine and felt the neighborhood could use that type of concept,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi introduced Michelin award-winning chef Richard Chen as executive chef back in January when Sangria closed. Prior to relocating to Dallas, Chen served as executive chef of Wing Lei at the Wynn Las Vegas and chef de cuisine at Shanghai Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago.
“When Richard and I met, we discussed my idea,” Lombardi said. “He has a great culinary background and great experience. I felt that he would be a great fit for Lombardi Family Concepts and Dallas.”
Together with Lombardi, Chen created a menu that includes light, fresh dishes like shrimp and green papaya salad and heartier ones like roasted Peking duck. Steamed buns also make an appearance or two. Hoisin, fish, and hot mustard sauces will bring the flavors of southern Asia to Cole Avenue.
And while there is no sushi, which is sure to sadden some, Lombardi hopes to appease appetites by offering brunch on Saturday and Sunday. A single diner can expect to pay around $18 for lunch and $27 for dinner.
Lombardi has been in the business long enough to know that a restaurant is only as strong as its beverage program and has staffed his new spot accordingly. Yes, creative cocktails on the patio are still happening at this prominent Knox-Henderson address.
“I am excited to announce that John Michael O’Shea has joined our team as the beverage director,” Lombardi said. “The new concept will have a separate bar area with beer, wine, cocktails, and sake.”
As for the aesthetics, Lombardi describes the interior as light and airy with American mid-century modern accents. Inviting wood tones combined with an open wok kitchen overlooking the dining room will make for a casual yet elegant atmosphere.