Inside Enrique Tomás’ First U.S. Restaurant — a New Dallas Wonderland
Editor’s note: While the City of Dallas closes dining rooms due to COVID-19, the new Enrique Tomás restaurant is offering most of its menu by delivery, pickup, or Uber Eats. The visit for this story happened before dining-room closures.
Let me show you something,” says Ricardo Sieveking, co-owner of the new Enrique Tomás restaurant, as he bounds up the stairs from the dining room into the second-floor lounge. Off in a corner, a glassed-in room holds dozens of magnificent mahogany-hued legs of jamón, the cured pork product that is justly Spain’s pride and joy — and, at up to $1,300 per leg, some of the priciest ham in the world. Aged 18 to 36 months and hanging in neat rows, each jamón is ready to be expertly sliced and savored.
“I don’t think there’s another room like this in the U.S.,” Sieveking says, ushering me inside for a whiff of the ravishingly intense aroma. Of the 150 Enrique Tomás shops worldwide, this is the first in the U.S. — and the first to focus on being a restaurant, he says.
Dallas seems to have been a smart choice for the debut: In the first 15 days since the restaurant opened in February, it sold 35 legs, in portions as small as 1.5 ounces. (When dining rooms were ordered to close to help flatten the coronavirus curve, the restaurant shifted to takeout and delivery.)
Whole jamóns are part of the show in the dining room, displayed on an elevated platform where trained cortadores carve them into neat slivers that maximize the way they will melt in your mouth and surrender their complex flavors. Start with a platter called The Jamón Experience, a sampler of all three types of jamón that Enrique Tomás imports, served with tomato-rubbed toasts.
It’s a lesson in taste to go from the firmer, porkier 18-month jamón de campo to the supple king of the hams, Ibérico de bellota, made from pata negra pigs finished on a diet of acorns.
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Then move on to other dishes on chef Jaume Barnadas’ menu, a blend of classic and contemporary Spanish cooking, with Galician octopus, grilled chistorra sausages, or a warm manchego dip that’s like a sexy Spanish version of queso. There are plans to turn the upstairs into a gin-and-agave lounge. Meantime, you can sip Spanish-style gin and tonics, such as one made with Barcelona’s Ginraw and garnished with rose petals, a lemon twist, and blueberries.
And if anyone invites you into Tomas’ jamón room … Say yes.