Dallas’ Not-So-Hidden Gemma

I never have trouble finding something to eat at restaurants that keep it simple. And at place where  every dish on a menu has cheese on it, I sense a lack of creativity. The best restaurants can work around the tyranny of dairy because they’re good at being minimalists. And if there’s one restaurant in Dallas that really gets it when it comes to simplification, it’s Gemma.

The food carves out its own niche in the city along Knox-Henderson Avenue, somewhere between Asian-American fusion flavors and rustic California-Southern cooking. Even better, the waitstaff is expertly versed in accommodating dietary restrictions. A hallway chalkboard lists the farms and suppliers of every ingredient on the menu in meticulous detail, including the limes in the jalapeño-infused tequila and lime cocktail.

The baby bok choy salad was a texturally perfect combination of thinly sliced greens, shavings of raw fennel and pomegranate seeds, cashews, and cubes of juicy and floral Asian pear, dressed in a refreshing Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Also tasty and very autumnal was the apple & beet salad, made with richly flavored, plump wedges of golden beets, thinly sliced apples (gala?), endive leaf spears and no Point Reyes blue cheese please .

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Baby bok choy salad with fennel, pomegranate, pear and Meyer lemon vinaigrette.

For a main course, it’s hard to go wrong with the duck breast and duck confit fried rice with roasted shiitakes and a light plum sauce (GF, DF!). But this time I tried the striped bass, a new seasonal addition to the fall/winter menu. The grilled fish was served over a bed of butternut squash quinoa “risotto,” which tasted as if it had been simmered in perfectly seasoned squash puree (I omitted butter to make it DF).

I usually skip dessert because it’s pure milk and sugar, but I’d sure eat Gemma’s naturally dairy-free coconut milk sorbet dessert by the pint if I could.

Between the savvy service and the consistently good food, Gemma is an exercise in effortlessness.

Gemma

2323 N Henderson Ave, #109 Dallas, TX. 75206

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