FIRST LOOK: ilume’s new Cedar Grove restaurant

IMG_3137Dish has been gone since the winter, and now,  just as summer is about to officially begin, the space at the ilume is about to reopen. Cedar Grove is the reimagined version by Dish owner Tim McEneny. Design-wise, McEneny has gone for an urban forest of custom-made abstract tree branches. They frame the largely communal seating of the space, but also divide it to make an intimate dinner for two work as well as big gathering of friends. “It’s very European,” McEneny told me during a personal tour. The seating has also increased by about 50, allowing 212 diners and an additional 20 at the bar.

It’s not just the atmospherics that got an overhaul. The menu was created by executive chef Taylor Kearney to appeal broadly to the community.

“Frankly, Dish was too powerful for the neighborhood,” McEneny explains. “It was good for special occasions or once a week, but we want people to stop by on their way out for the night, grab a drink and quick bite and still have money for the rest of the evening.” For instance, every day will offer a 2/4/6 drink menu — some draft beers on tap for $2, a selection of well drinks for $4 and some premiums for $6.

Only a few food items are over $20, McEneny said. “There are 22 items called ‘snacks,’ which is a sharing section. Then there’s the ‘bread and bun’ — that’s burgers and sandwiches, but also pizzas. Then what we call large dishes. And it’s mostly food we grew up with.”

The popular drag brunch will be back eventually… probably. “I’d say yes, but not right away,” McEneny said. “We’re still working out things, and it will be very hot in July and August, but I expected we will bring it back right after Pride” in September, he said.

Nevertheless, fans will still recognize a lot of things. The bar hasn’t actually moved, although they extended the front door all the way to the property line so it feels more centered. And the bathrooms are — as they have always been — unisex: One door, different stalls.

“We’ve done this for six years,” McEnery said. “My daughter goes to the University of North Carolina. I’ve said, ‘Let me show the governor there how it’s done.'”

Service will begin at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and be open seven says a week (dinner starts at 4 p.m.). Cedar Grove will also be open for brunch Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Check of some first look photos below, and look for more here next week.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DISH in ilume closing


DISH interior

DISH, located in ilume on Cedar Springs Road, is closing Monday, Feb. 29. The restaurant will relocate, but the new location has yet to be determined.

Cedar Groves, a casual restaurant with an American menu and creative and vibrant design is set to open in its place in May 2016, according to a press release received by Dallas Voice. Executive Chef Pete Harrison will run the kitchen. Harrison has been at DISH Cedar Springs for 6 months. Prior to that he was at Hotel Zaza, Capital Grille and Dakota’s.

DISH Preston Hollow continues to0 do well and will remain open.

—  David Taffet

Last-minute ideas for New Year’s Eve

toast copyStill trying to figure out what to do on Wednesday night? Consider these food, drink and party options.


Dish: Offering a $60 prix fixe mention with optional wine pairings and champagne toast at midnight. …

Steel: Two seatings — early (5:30–6:45 p.m.) for three-course dinner ($50) and gala (7–11 p.m.) for four-course dinner ($80), plus a DJ until close. …

Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck: Two ways to celebrate are a five-course dinner in the dining room, 5:30–8:30 p.m. ($200, plus $75 for optional wine pairings; available at or a private party hosted in the new Cloud Nine party level ($200, at …

SER: Two ways to party — a six-course dinner ($175) starting at 7 p.m., and a floor-wide party ($75 cover) starting at 10:30 p.m. with awesome city views. …

Malai Kitchen: The West Village eatery features a five-course chef’s tasting menu plus complimentary glass of bubbly for $44, as well as a full selection of menu items. …

Abacus: Kent Rathbun’s Uptown eatery has two seatings (5–7 p.m. for $90, 7 p.m. on for $125) for New Year’s Eve. …

Stephan Pyles: Two seatings — 6–7 p.m., four courses, $95, and 9–10 p.m., five courses, $145. …

Stampede 66: Three seatings from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., from $65–$85, with live music. …

San Salvaje: Also three seatings from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., all three course dinners, from $50–$75. …

El Ranchito: Give your last night of 2014 a Latin flavor with this soiree featuring Elvis impersonator Johnny Lovett; $10 cover.


Panoptikon’s New Year’s Masquerade: The Swiss Avenue venue glams it up, with doors open at 8 p.m. …

LeVu: Recording artist JES performs at the Deep Ellum disco. …

W Hotel: Get great views of the new year at Altitude in Victory Park. General admission: $50 (VIP packages starting at $1,000). …

Club Dallas: The party begins at 11 p.m., with a champagne toast at midnight.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Jenna Skyy and Jenni P pitch Dish’s monthly Drag Brunch on “GMT”

Looks like Dallas drag is going mainstream. Every month, Dish hosts Drag Brunch and cast members Jenna Skyy and Jenni P put on their P.R. drag yesterday morning to tell all of Dallas about it. The two went on Good Morning Texas and talked up the monthly event along with identifying Dallas as having one of the largest drag communities in the country. Clips of P and Skyy are also featured, but the fun part is watching how the cameraman tries to keep Skyy’s abundant cleavage out of sight.

Watch their segment after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

GLBT Community Center offers Christmas Dinner

GLBT Community CenterFor many, Christmas is a time for family, but as we all know, not everyone in the LGBT community is on the best terms with their family, and for others financial concerns keep them from traveling during the holidays. For those of us spending the holidays alone (or those of us who just enjoy a good potluck) the Houston GLBT Community Center, in cooperation with the AIDS Housing Coalition Houston, is hosting a Christmas potluck at the Center’s offices at  the Historic Dow School (1901 Kane). There is no charge for the Potluck and Turkey and Ham will be provided. Those attending may bring a side dish to share but should not feel obligated to bring anything if they are not able.

“The Center family is thrilled to partner with Matt Locklin and AIDS Housing Coalition Houston on this Christmas luncheon,” said Tim Brookover, president of the center. “We hope people will join us who don’t have plans for the holiday — or maybe need a break from the plans they have! Christmas and your GLBT family. Now that’s festive!”

If you would like to volunteer or make a contribution to offset expenses, contact AHCH executive director Matt Locklin at

—  admin

Drag brunch returns to Dish with Krystal Summers, Jenni P

Krystal Summers, pictured, and Jenni P dish out the camp at Dish’s Drag Brunch

A few weeks about I wrote about Dish’s Sunday drag brunch — two seatings that come with live drag entertainment — and it returns Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. In addition to DJ Paul Paredes, drag divas Krystal Summers and Jenni P will provide the camp along with an excellent meal that includes bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys.

Can’t make it this weekend? Mark your calendars — the next after that is Aug. 21.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dish hosts drag brunch, brings back Tardy Party

This week’s cover story is about brunches and how Dish and other restaurants are pushing the nightclub-feel to Sunday morning. Well, the next one is this Sunday, with two seatings: One at 11 a.m., one at 1 p.m. Jenni P and Jenna Skyy will provide the entertainment along with DJ Paul Paredes.

But just because some of the fun is in daylight doesn’t mean you can’t be there at night as well. Dish just announced tonight’s Tardy Party, the return of the late-night soiree. DJ Moses will spin from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. while you enjoy $5 premium vodkas. And if you miss this one, no worries — it’ll be back next month on Aug, 19.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

COVER STORY: Brunch meets nightclub

MIMOSAS AND DRAG | In gay culture, brunch is a major social and culinary event, where fancy eggs benedict (like that at Dish, above left) and bottomless mimosas are standard issue. But they are becoming more fun, with drag queens part of the morning’s entertainment at Dish and Axiom Sushi Lounge in the ilume, and ZaZa’s Sunday School brunch (above right) serving up sparklers, DJs and girls dancing on tables. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)


Sunday brunch in Dallas’ LGBT community has evolved into much more than just a meal; it’s a way to keep the weekend party going

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  |  Life+Style Editor

Mad Men portrays the 1960s white businessman’s three-martini lunch. The Golden Girls ate cheesecake late night around a kitchen table. Carrie always sipped cosmos with the girls during cocktail hour while gossiping at the local club.

But in gay culture, the ritual of a Sunday brunch has long served as a social nexus, a place where all the major deals are made — and the arbiters of local society convene to hold court in the sobering light of day.

Putting together the right crew is part of the finesse that comes with planning the ideal brunch experience. “Not all my friends get along so I have to juggle it,” says one brunch regular.

“I usually have a herd of about five [regular brunch buddies],” says Joshuah Welch, who manages the ilume property where two tenants — the restaurants Dish and Axiom Sushi Lounge — have recently initiated theme brunches. Today, though, it’s just Welch and one other friend: “I was in a coma until 15 minutes ago,” Welch said.

Nursing a hangover is definitely another purpose of the brunch trek: Where else can you have food and alcohol on a Sunday morning to satisfy the twin desires to ease your headache and fill your belly? But the hangover element can affect where you choose to meet your friends. A place with loud music isn’t necessarily all that welcome when you’re sound sensitive, one diner — wearing sunglasses inside — ruefully admits as the music strikes up.

And there’s definitely music, highlighting the latest local trend in brunching: Turning the traditionally staid eggs-benedict-and-mimosa chatfest into something more like a nightclub bathed in sunshine.

The glam world of the party brunch is upon us.

Gays, of course, have always made brunch more a social function than a dining one — at least in urban areas. (Out-of-towners visiting Dallas say the gay community in Northwest Arkansas does not gather routinely for brunch.)

While a hearty meal accompanied by some hair o’ the dog is a reason for brunch, it is by no means the only one. Sunday in the gay community can be akin to a war room strategy session.

“You meet to plan your week — decide what you’re going to do for Sunday Funday,” says regular bruncher Eli Duarte.

“Where else can you find our community gathered in the daylight?” asks Tim O’Connor, another diner, with a hint of sarcasm. “There are not a
lot of places to do that outside the Strip, though it can be a kind of continuation of the bar scene.”

That social aspect has caught on in the broader community, and has even been raised a notch of late in Dallas.

At Dish one recent Sunday, 200 to 250 diners are expected to enjoy the morning’s entertainment. It doesn’t come from a pianist playing songs from “Your Hit Parade,” but rather a dance-mix DJ spinning tunes louder than Grandma would probably enjoy. And that’s not the half of it: Midway through the day’s two brunch seatings (one at 11 a.m. another at 1 p.m.), Dallas drag divas Krystal Summers and Erica Andrews rend the control booth from the DJ to put on a full show for the Taste of Drag Brunch.

Taste of Drag doesn’t take place every Sunday — on special occasions like Mother’s Day a more traditional service is offered — but owner Tim McEnery says they try to do it once or twice a month. And it’s not just for the gay community.

“It really is for everyone,” McEnery says.

CHAMPAGNE | ZaZa’s Sunday School brunch serves up camp with their frittatas. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Anecdotal evidence tends to bear that out. When I mention to a middle-aged straight woman that I am headed to a drag brunch, she excitedly asks where. “I need to know where I can see a good drag show,” she declares enthusiastically. At Dish, there certainly is a mix of gay and straight folks, though queerer heads prevail.

McEnery doesn’t claim to have invented the drag brunch, but he thinks it’s high time Dallas has one. It’s been a staple in cities like San Francisco and New York for years, but has only recently gained currency outside the coasts.

On this particular Sunday, the first seating already has a nine-top (including two women — one, a former New Yorker who notes that brunch has burgeoned as a social event since she moved to Dallas); across from it, five diners, including four well-appointed women in sundresses and espadrilles, their makeup and hair obviously fussed over, have taken a prime location to watch the shows.

A decent-sized crowd fills in the 11 a.m., which is generally less well attended than the later — not surprising in the gay community, several brunch regulars quickly note.

“Part of the point of brunch is to see and be seen,” acknowledges Welch, who is not at all surprised by the girls who turned up at 11 in full, flawless makeup. “People dress up to come here.”

Of course, gays and straights can mingle together or separately anywhere in town during brunch, though there is certainly a concerted effort at Dish — which is located along Cedar Springs — to make Sunday morning feel like an extension of Saturday night.

STEAK AND EGGS | Brunch is a social function, with friends attending in crews where they enjoy a little alcohol along with steak and eggs to keep the Saturday night party going like this group at Dish. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

“Who went to church today?” asks Andrews of the Dish crowd. “I did, but I still smell like last night at the Rose Room.”

Doing the Taste of Drag Brunch, she says, makes performing on the weekend almost run together.

“It’s a different group than I see at the Rose Room,” says Summers. “And we tend to do different music on Sundays — more classic drag. But it’s a perfect time to catch up with friends, to talk about how your week went.”

Over at the Hotel ZaZa ballroom, the third Sunday of every month morphs into Sunday School Brunch, where staff dress as nerdy bookworms and sexy Catholic school girls for a prix fixe menu that comes with a bottle of champagne per couple.

But it’s not just the costumes and food that attract the crowd; indeed, many attendees pay the $10 SRO cover just for the entertainment: Around 2 p.m., the lights dim, the curtain pulls back and the brunch room turns into a naughty discotheque, replete with sparklers, women dancing on the bar, mood lighting and a pounding dance beat.

Today’s a mixed crowd — “about 50-50 [gay-straight] observes one regular, “though it’s often ’mo central.”

The crowd is up and dancing before long, with muscular men in surplus among the attendees as the music gets louder and the lights dimmer. The sunglasses stay on. Gossip can wait; for now, there’s still some partying left to do.

—  John Wright

Father’s Day ideas

I wrote a story this week about two gay dads who treat every day like Father’s Day. But for those of us who like to celebrate more traditionally, here are some things you might do this weekend:

• Dish restaurant at the ilume in the gayborhood, has a three-course brunch option for dads on Sunday.

• If Dad runs more to the meat-and-potatoes side of lunch, the Highland Park Cafeteria has a medium-rare prime rib or bone-in ham lunch for just $10.99 on Sunday.

• Another story this week extolls the attractions of Uptown. You can put those to work for you by buying a commemmorative trolley token for a buck, and using it at area restaurants for discounts on food for Father’s Day, including 25 percent off dinner at Breadwinners, Grimaldi’s and Uptown Bar & Grill. Visit for details.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

What’s the best way to get young people involved in the struggle for LGBT equality? Free alcohol

Judge Tonya Parker
Judge Tonya Parker

Everyone knows it’s difficult to get young LGBT people to give more than a shit about gay rights, but if you offer them free alcohol, they just might show up. This appears to be the strategy of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, which is offering a free drink to anyone who attends its monthly meeting tonight at Dish Restaurant & Lounge. Actually, you could be eligible for up to four free drinks if you bring a friend, according to a message we received from DSYD:

“That’s right! Everyone attending Tuesday’s DSYD meeting will receive a free drink ticket. As an added incentive, people who bring a friend (a.k.a. a potential new member) will receive two drink tickets for themselves and two for their friend.”

We’re currently seeking clarification as to whether this means you have to be a member bringing a non-member to be eligible for the four free drinks, or whether it can just be two random people. And in case you’re wondering why her photo is alongside this post, the meeting will also feature Dallas County District Judge Tonya Parker, the first openly LGBT person elected judge in Dallas County, and the first out African-American elected official in Texas.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. For more info, see the Facebook event page.

UPDATE: DSYD Vice President Jared A. Pearce stopped by the Instant Tea brewery in response to this post. As Pearce pointed out in the comments below, you have to be 21 to drink, and these types of promotions are not uncommon. Pearce also mentioned that DSYD held a very successful fundraiser over the weekend, featuring House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar. The event raised $5,500 and drew 100 people, Pearce said. The DSYD chapter is approaching its second anniversary after being launched in March 2009. The chapter has 250 members on its roster and has raised more than $13,000 for the Legacy Counseling Center. Read a story about the chapter’s launch here.

—  John Wright