Ida Claire restaurant enters the noisy Addison restaurant corridor like a genteel Southern belle. This Southern style gastropub couldn’t be more different from her brash neighbors. Inside, a whimsical world awaits as if your eccentric Southern aunty had a hand decorating it.
Antique bird cages, one of which houses a puffer fish hang from the ceiling, a library of interesting books are pinned on the wall as art and charming Southern memorabilia are thoughtfully placed all around.
The dining room is cavernous with a busy cocktail bar in the middle of a spray of bar tables. Yet despite the size, it somehow manages to hold many nooks for quiet, private dining.
We’ve been there several occasions and each time, something new catches my eye, making me pause to admire it. Like on our way to the patio we spied the prettiest tiered garnish tray packed with an assortment of goodies like candied ginger, fruit and herbs to embellish cocktails .
Be warned that the juleps and pre-Prohibition cocktails pack a punch. The drinks may look like lovely ladies all dressed up but under each velvet glove, there’s a iron fist.
Step outside onto the patio and the whole scene switches to pure, casual retro fun. A vintage Airstream with a colorful patchwork adorning the seats and walls is a 21st century hippie haven.
Note that the Airstream must be booked in advance. It’s fitted with air conditioning and makes for an excellent party space.
Harmonious to the decor, the food lends itself to the South and in Ida Claire style, the dishes are bursting with lots of character. With most dishes under $18 except for the Wagyu Sirloin steak ($26), this price point makes Ida Claire more enticing than her Dallas counterparts in town. Start with a different style hummus made with butter bean, lightly smoked with chow chow and flat bread.
Or a sweet potato chip duck confit that comes with goat cheese fondue, duck fat gravy and a sunny side up duck egg. Both dishes are too rich to eat alone so pass the plate and share the love.
If you want to go traditional, the Chicken in a biscuit is a solid standard. The chicken breast comes on a huge buttery biscuit covered with peppered gravy, spinach and a sunny side up egg. There’s a kid’s menu version without spinach or the egg but comes with green beans instead which suits 10 year old Pikelet better.
The kids’ favorite dish on the menu is the tea smoked braised pork shank. The meat is fork tender and comes with a celeriac mash, Brussels sprouts, tomato, lardons and a spiced tea gravy.
The crawfish ravioli with a tomato broth, celery gremolata and oregano oil was much less exciting than described. It lacked the layers of flavor we expected. Beefcake went for the more flavorful burger on subsequent visits. The burger was stacked tall with pimento cheese, pickles, black pepper aioli on a sweet potato bun.
Salads also makes for a good meal like the blackened shrimp with pickled garlic, Asiago, white anchovy and bacon vinaigrette on a bed of frisee.
The pecan grilled half chicken with kale, wild mushrooms and cipollinis filled the tummies and was a bargain at just $14.
For dessert, there’s Ida’s Vice Cake which combines bacon love with chocolate. A stout cake with coffee butter cream, thick chocolate ganache topped with a slice of bacon.
On the flip side, the Bartender’s cake is a butter cake with spiced pecans and brown sugar cream cheese frosting. We found these inconsistent like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. One day they were divinely rich and moist and on another, a little dry to the taste. I suppose, every gal is allowed her bad hair day now and again but most other days, the visits to Ida Claire are pretty wonderful.
Till our Next Happy Meal!
Click here for more info on Ida Claire.