By Sara Newberry
I am sometimes mystified by Dallas diners. There seems to be a deep and abiding love for average to mediocre food in this town. Places like Idle Rye and The Blind Butcher, who served well-crafted, interesting food, are closing their doors, while spots that are serving unseasoned and uninspiring plates are doing a booming business. Unfortunately, Lakewood Village’s newest tenant, Kozy Kitchen, falls into the second category. They recently relocated to the former Dixie House (and briefly Sugarbacon) space after more than a decade of business in Uptown in order to accommodate growing crowds. After visiting twice, I am still befuddled as to what the appeal is.
We tried breakfast first, sampling the Grassfed Scramble and The Ranch Hand. The Scramble includes ground beef, zucchini and cheddar atop scrambled eggs. On paper the components seemed kind of haphazard, but I thought the whole might be greater than the sum of its parts. Not so: there was nothing connecting the elements in the dish — they just remained disparate ingredients, only pulled together by proximity. The Ranch Hand was more successful, with tender beef sautéed with peppers, onions and mushrooms and added to an omelet. These ingredients were well cooked and seasoned — this seemed like a dish that had been thought through completely.
A side of buttermilk pancakes was the best thing we tried at breakfast. They were fluffy, not too sweet, and absorbed just right amount of syrup and butter.
A return visit to dinner was disappointing as well. Perusing the menu, one of my guests commented that there didn’t seem to be any real flow to it, that it just seemed like a bunch of stuff that whoever wrote the menu knew how to make. We ordered the Chips and Stuff, because I was fascinated by the thought of bacon-blue cheese guacamole. Our server informed us that the kitchen was working on a new menu and encouraged us to try the new spinach dip instead of the dips listed currently. We decided on that and the also-recommended queso. (What he didn’t mention, even after my friend had ordered her entree specifically without chicken, was that there was chicken in the spinach dip.) Two of us felt like what was called spinach dip was more like the frozen chicken a la king our mothers made when we were children, just with less seasoning. The guacamole was the best part of the trio; the bacon and blue cheese were very subtle, just adding a little funk and a little smoke to the mix. The queso was lukewarm, but the flavor was fine.
Our entrees were, in a word, lackluster. I tried the Wild Salmon, served with risotto and asparagus. The asparagus was perfectly cooked. The salmon, in theory cooked medium, was on the edge of well done. I understand that wild salmon is less fatty than farmed, but it was dry. My risotto was firm and separate, not al dente and creamy. It needed another round of broth and stirring.
One of my guests chose Chicken Marsala but was let down by the dish she received. The marsala sauce was rich and creamy, but the mashed potatoes on the side had zero salt. Neither did the sautéed vegetables on the plate.
My vegetarian friend ordered the Penne Pasta but asked for the chicken to be left out (there are remarkably few vegetarian options on the menu). I can’t imagine that the dish, even with the chicken, would be successful. The sauce is described as “gorgonzola pesto,” which seemed to be a bland pesto (the consensus was that it was not made in-house) covered with gorgonzola. While the broccoli in the dish was excellent, all of the flavors were overpowered by the cheese, and the sauce was watery and under seasoned.
Service is friendly and attentive and was the best part of both of my experiences at Kozy. Bring a jacket — the temperature in the room runs the gamut from chilly to meat locker. Our server told us that the team in the kitchen is reworking the menu, but from what I saw, the issues are not just with the menu — the real problem is in the execution.
400 Gaston Avenue
Monday – Saturday
8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.