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First Look: Margaret's

Located in Dallas, Margaret's is approaching its first anniversary

The view is stunning, and the restaurant opens up, cast iron and wood floors, section by section before me, as if rendering in real-time. To the right is a spectacular view of Dallas. “Wow,” I say to myself. 

We're 11 floors up at Margaret's in JW Marriott Dallas Arts District. "We're almost a year old," I'm told. Before going in, I didn't know what to expect. But when the first course, corn-shaped cornbread in a tiered server, arrives, I know I'm for a treat. 

Where has cornbread service been my whole life? This dish, fittingly called "acknowledge the corn," is jalapeño cheddar cornbread, whipped honey butter, nduja butter, pimento and peach chutney. Playful and delicious, I love everything about it. 

Food is delicious, but it should be fun. Executive Chef Jonah Friedmann is fun, rattling off puns as he picks fresh, local herbs from a plating station near the kitchen. "When I interviewed at JW Marriott, they asked me about sustainability," Friedmann says. "And that's my thing, too." It's JW Marriott's, too. Chef was — and is — a perfect fit. At Margaret's nothing was wasted. For example, every part of the banana is used for the bananas. 

"JW Marriott is all about sustainability," Joel Tennyson, director of restaurants, tells me later. "We like working with companies and suppliers that we can trust through every part of the process." 

A parade of flavor follows: basil and burrata (peach rose chutney, candied pistachio, aged balsamic and basil oil), smoked miso beef belly (Texas mesquite smoked K-Town elote, avocado serrano crema and cilantro) and lemon ricotta gnudi (shaved squash, smoked trout roe, beurre blanc and pistachio) — savory, creamy and delicious. The pillowy ricotta, in particular, is a standout. 

This groundwork is laid. Next up, the Diane, a 24-oz Outpost 76 bone-in New York strip, served with dijon-brandy jus and Texas wild mushrooms. The steak is dry-aged for 35 days, which Margaret's thinks is the sweet spot for aged beef. The aged nuttiness complements the steak, but doesn't overwhelm — the restaurant's desired flavor profile.

"When Texans come in for a steak, we want to do the best possible," says Friedmann. If you are a guest at this JW Marriott, you're in for a treat at Margaret's. Even if you're not, you are, too. This is a delicious restaurant. 

Evening settles in. The blinds are up, and the buildings glisten orange. I'm told that because the First United Methodist Church is located right next door, there isn't concern about the view being obstructed by a new skyscraper. Then it hits me. 

Sustainability isn't only about sourcing food and not being wasteful. It's also about place. It's about people. And it's about how they interact and continue — how that sustains, and how it lasts a long, long time. And that should be the case for Margaret's.


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