First Look: Rapscallion’s Modern Take on Soulful Southern Cuisine

By Bev Garvin, Foodable Contributor

Attorney-brothers-turned-restaurateurs Brooks and Bradley Anderson, along with their business partner Nathan Tate and crew, have been busy. They now own and operate three unique and wildly different concepts, Veritas, a cozy neighborhood wine bar off Henderson Ave., Boulevardier, a neighborhood bistro with a soft French accent in Oak Cliff, and this month, they debuted Rapscallion, Boulevardier’s younger sibling with a Southern backbone and global ingredient highlights on lowest Greenville Ave.

Think of Rapscallion as going to your family’s house for a serious throw-down with all your favorite things (if your family was a dream team of chefs, wine pros and spirit guides). Foodable sat down with key members of Rapscallion’s management team to get the inside scoop.

Why Rapscallion?

“About a year ago, I was reading an article in Wine Spectator about rum that said, 'this rum came from a time when there were nothing but pirates and rapscallions about.' The word rapscallion resonated with me, so I texted Nate and Brooks," said Partner Bradley Anderson. "At that point we had a concept but not a name, so I asked, 'What do you guys think about Rapscallion?' My brother, Brooks, responded first, he loved it. Then Nate said he remembered when he was a kid, his grandparents used to call him and his brothers rapscallions when they were misbehaving. We all loved the name, so we started doing research, and filed the paperwork to secure the name so no one else could use it.”

What’s on the Menu?

The menu at Rapscallion features Gulf and specialty oysters, pickled Gulf shrimp, wrapped scallions (of course), and cornbread-dusted catfish. You’ll find tea-brined roasted and Nashville-style hot fried chickens, barbequed boneless short ribs, dry aged steaks from 44 Farms, and grass-fed burgers. There are salads, sorghum and locally sourced veggies (including some sourced from Nate’s family’s farm, Tate Farms). There are desserts and boozy floats, too!

 
 
Rapscallion’s menu is based on my Southern roots with unexpected twists and turns in new directions along the way,” said Nathan Tate, partner and executive chef. “I wanted the menu to have a Southern backbone, but be slightly elevated and not relegated to doing traditional Southern food. It’s fun to bring in unexpected flavor components and use global ingredients to transform a dish into something new. I also wanted to try to keep things fairly healthy and fresh. Southern restaurants can be heavy and fried, and there are definitely some aspects of that on our menu. But I wanted to make sure we had plenty of vegetables and vegetarian options, too.

Our collard greens are a play on classic Southern braised collard greens. We ferment the greens to make kimchee, which is lightly sautéed with house-made bacon, then we toss in some Chinese water spinach for fresh texture and crunch. Fermenting the greens tenderizes them and gives great flavor. Since the dish is made to order, and bacon is only added at the end, it can easily be made vegetarian.

We’ve used sorghum in both sweet and savory dishes, it’s one of the most popular grains in India and is used all over the world. It’s a really healthy grain that’s very filling and is naturally gluten free. It’s popular in Southern cooking, but is not as well-known throughout the States.

Our J&R Manufacturing custom wood-burning rotisserie is also a big focus, we use it to roast tea-brined chickens and other meats like our barbequed boneless short rib. We felt dry aged meats would work nicely with the fire component of the rotisserie. I’ve been experimenting with dry aging over the past year, it practically does itself, you just have to have enough space for it and the results are so amazing compared to other methods.
— Nathan Tate, partner and executive chef

Thirsty?

Partner, Brooks Anderson was responsible for curating the wine list.

We were tasting the geekiest wines from all over the world and they were great, but something just didn’t feel right. The thought occurred to me that we should do an All-American wine list. I called my brother, Bradley. He said, ‘I totally agree!’ What’s funny is we were both thinking the same thing. So, we scratched the list after tasting over 100 wines, which sounds like fun, but it really is time consuming and tedious. We swirl, we spit, we don’t drink it, it’s not fun, we eat a cracker, take notes, and move on to the next. So we started over, and began tasting American wines.

Now, where the menu has global high-points of flavor on its decidedly Southern foundation, we’ve complimented the cuisine with wines from right here in America. The list offers wines from New York, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Washington. We feel we have some of the best representations of American Chardonnays, Cabernets, and Pinots available, most people will recognize those, but we really had fun with the remaining 40% of the list and added eclectic, relatively unknown grapes people might not necessarily associate with being grown in the U.S. What really struck me was the incredible depth, and breadth of wines available in the world of American wines today.

We now have a great list with a lot of fun, fresh, acidic food-friendly wines that work really well with the menu at Rapscallion. The list will change frequently, but at last count we had 126 bottles, with sixty of those priced at $50 or less. Which is great, because people will find things they’re very familiar with, along with others they’ve never seen before. Wine is an adventure. That was the whole point when we crafted the list. Half the fun of drinking wine is discovering what’s under the cork! If you only order what you know you like, that can be boring. What’s really fun is to find a fantastic wine for just $35. If it’s not your favorite, it’s not the end of the world, at that price point it’s easy to explore and discover new things.
— Brooks Anderson, partner

General Manager, Eddie “The Glue” Eakin, developed the bar program at Rapscallion. He’s worked with the Andersons going back to Veritas, and has been an integral part of Boulevardier’s operations, as well.

“The focus of the Rapscallion’s bar menu is on dark flavorful spirits distilled from grains, cane and agave that play nicely into the Rapscallion theme and Southern influence," said Eakin. "Of course, we have a full bar, with vodka and a decent gin selection too, but the majority of our specialty cocktails are geared towards whiskey, rum, tequila, and mescal. We will offer martini service with house-pickled garnishes. We also developed a signature Rapscallion cocktail, it’s a twist on The Boulevardier, only made with rum. We also have 13 house mules with your choice of liquor, and we make our own house-made syrups and infusions. We’re hoping to roll out tiki cocktails in a few weeks, as soon as we’re able to resolve some equipment issues. There aren’t many tiki bars in Dallas, so I think this will be fun for the market here. We’re here to give people what they want, a different guest experience.”

Rapscallion is currently open for dinner service only opening at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays and closing at 10:00 p.m. (11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). Weekend brunch service and hours will be announced at a later date.