On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chefs Ryan Hildebrand and Efrain Villarreal join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Palace Social, the bustling new entertainment venue that recently opened inside the Loop. Hildebrand, best known for his work at Triniti and FM Kitchen, consulted on the project while Villarreal serves as the executive chef who oversees day-to-day operations.
Part of Hildebrand's challenge in creating the menu is that Palace Social's ownership tasked him with creating dishes that would stand on their own and make the restaurant component a dining option even for people who aren't coming to bowl or play arcade games. The result is a menu that uses a range of high quality local ingredients such as flatbread crusts from BOH Pasta & Pizza, breads from Bread Man Baking Co., and Texas wagyu steaks from RC Ranch. Sandler asks Villarreal about the importance of supporting local purveyors.
"When it came time for me to start sourcing things, I said the feel of this place is very community driven. I've always liked to help people that are up-and-coming," he says. Later he adds, "It's great to have these connections with people in the community, and it feels good to serve product that's local. I think it translates well to our guests."
The interview covers a number of other topics, including what people can expect from Palace Social's upcoming brunch menu and some of Sandler's favorite dishes from a recent meal there.
Prior to the chefs' appearance, Sandler and co-host Mary Clarkson discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Sambrooks Management Group's plans to open a wood-fired steakhouse in Montrose; Sekai Hospitality announcing plans for two new nightclubs; and the opening of Railway Heights Market, an ambitious new food hall and market from the owners of Bravery Chef Hall.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the two hosts discuss both the highs and lows of a recent dinner at Studewood Grill, a casual steakhouse in The Heights. Then, they praise their recent meals at Theodore Rex, the downtown restaurant led by CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Chef of the Year winner Kaitlin Steets.