When I first saw the “Coming Soon” sign for The Theodore at NorthPark Center, I couldn’t help but think it was going to be some weird spin-off dedicated to Alvin & the Chipmunks. But after hearing the former spot of Luna de Noche was going to be occupied by Tim Byres (Smoke/Chicken Scratch/Bolsa) I eagerly waited for The Theodore to open.
It’s really hard to mentally get-away when you’re at NorthPark. The craziness of shoppers, the slow steady pace of the mall walkers, and that one random old guy lugging his 27inch iMac can be overwhelming. But walking through the dark wood folding doors of the The Theodore, you no longer feel the stress of the mall; you’re surrounded by many leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany.
Before you get seated, you have the option of checking your coats and checking your shopping bags, a NorthPark first. Now you no longer have to squeeze your purchases like a Suzanne Somer’s thighmaster between your legs. There may be even room to check your strollers too, provided they fold up. The Theodore will also have a fully covered, heated outdoor patio with a fancy moisture sensing cover that will open when skies are blue and close immediately when it starts to rain.
The layout of the restaurant is broken into three areas, each with a small nook for larger parties to gather. The kitchen is open to the diners so you’ll be able to hear the kitchen lingo being shouted out by the chefs, almost as if you’re front row for a Top Chef competition.
One thing you won’t find here are any pictures of the restaurant's namesake, Theodore Roosevelt. Maybe the mustache sporting, monocle wearing former president gave off too much of the hipster vibe that the design team wanted to focus on everything but ol’ Teddy. But if you look around, you will notice the amount of detail and thought that went into the design. The intricate canvas murals inside were hand painted on-site, the ice cubes in the drinks come ‘branded’ with images and letters. If you look closely, you can even spot the hidden rooms a la Clue - where parties can dine in private. At times you’ll feel like you’re in a museum and all of its curated exhibits; books pile up in a bookcase, a stuffed goose, and even a skull of a giraffe. It’s been mentioned numerous times that it feels like you’re eating on the set of a Wes Anderson movie. How fitting that the take out pizza boxes come with a Bill Murray quote. Even the nice weight of the silverware showcases the thought that went into all aspects of The Theodore.
But all that attention details is meaningless unless the food is good. And luckily, Tim Byres and his team do not disappoint. The house made bread is created by the same hands from Easy Tiger in Austin. A thick slice of the sourdough bread is charred and served alongside the steamed clams. The crunchy crust holds its texture as you submerge it in the rich seafood broth. I just wish it came with more bread, preferably a whole loaf. I just needed something to prevent me from picking up the bowl and drinking the broth.
The corned beef and cabbage sandwich on rye bread came with a decent amount of the thinly sliced brisket and the cabbage had a slight hint of vinegar. It was a good sandwich that doesn’t weigh you down. Which is good, since you’ll need the room for the dessert, a crabapple toffee cake. The warm cake soaked up the poured-over toffee drizzle and the tart crabapple cut the sweetness of the dessert.
The Theodore offers that escape when you’re at NorthPark. A place to settle down and enjoy a classic cocktail (with a twist) and not have to deal with the insanity of the food court. Tim Byres has successfully reinvented mall dining.
*Just Eat Dallas was invited to visit The Theodore for a sneak peak and our meal was complimentary. While the gesture was appreciated, we would have shared the same sentiments if we had purchased our own meal.