The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


If you like change, Kitchen LTO is the place to be

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Photo credit: Emily Heft

The black walls and shining wood tables may be the only permanent features of Kitchen LTO’s cozy interior. The massive painting of chili peppers hanging in a far corner may draw the eye now, but will soon be retired. If you return a month from now, your favorite risotto won’t be available, and if you want dessert, you’ll have to try something new.

Just over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Trinity Groves, Kitchen LTO is a restaurant that acts as a blank canvas space for a constantly evolving dining experience. LTO, meaning “limited-time only”, opened a year ago on Sept.11. It is Dallas’s first-of-its-kind permanent pop-up restaurant, meaning the restaurant itself stays stationary, while the heart of it, the kitchen, switches chefs and menus about every four months. The décor also shifts with the selection of a new local artist.

“I love the concept of this restaurant,” said Amy Dobson, who has dined at the restaurant. “Dallasites are always looking for the newest hottest thing; this restaurant gets to reinvent itself every few months to keep us interested and coming back for more.”

Owner Casie Caldwell, who also owns the Dallas chain restaurant Greenz, has seen the restaurant through three chefs: Norman Grimm, Eric Shelton, and currently, Brooke Eggers. Each put a new spin on the restaurant’s cuisine which is generally American in style.

The chefs who design the menu compete for their position, assuring the best of the best are selected. Their cooking and vision are judged by a panel of local Dallas restaurateurs, chefs and owners.

The public was invited to watch and vote on a chefs’ cook-off earlier this week. In fact, voting is through Saturday and the announcement of the winner will be on Sept. 15. The selected chef will bring his or her menu to the restaurant on Oct. 1.

“They’re involved in who gets to work here,” Caldwell said. “They can say, I helped make that happen.”

The last few months were marked by self-described “Urban regional cuisine” from chef Brooke Eggers of Santa Barbara, CA. Her eclectic menu runs through Sept. 30.

Her most unexpected concoctions include Famous Fritos, a classy spin of Frito pie, bison tartare, sweet tea hen and violet-infused tenderloin.

Guests can also enjoy Eggers’ more conservative plates, such as chicken soup, salads, risotto, fish and assorted pastries like spiced carrot cake.

Brunch offerings are just as creative, like French toast with smashed Heidelberries or scallops with eggs. Again, the less adventurous will enjoy chicken and biscuits and a bacon waffle.

Caldwell notes the gazpacho on the lunch menu is refreshing and cool which is perfect for these last hot lingering days of the year.

In addition, the Marscapone waffle wedges on the dessert menu, with an avocado cream garnish, may sound odd, but Caldwell called it one of the best desserts she’s ever had.

Current art by the Bianca Antognelli Art Gallery is on display until the upcoming rotation. Modern and abstract, the pieces feature many cool blues that match the sky shining through a windowed wall. An outdoor terrace is visible, a warm and romantic alternative to the dining room.

Many SMU students say they don’t know much about the restaurant, but would be willing to try it.

“I haven’t been there yet. I don’t drive far for restaurants, except a grand opening,” said SMU Junior Moez Jamohammad. “But I love trying new restaurants and seeing how chefs put a spin on things.”

SMU alumni Hunter Goodson, who lives in Uptown Dallas, says he and his college friends frequent the area. Kitchen LTO is “great for dessert,” he said. The restaurant also boasts a full brunch, lunch, dinner and wine and cocktail menus.

Most notably, Goodson enjoyed the “LTOOMG” dessert, a gargantuan chocolate ball with a fruit, cake and Rice Krispies treat filling.

Revolutionary as it may be, the concept of the restaurant is not universally popular. Many Yelp users noted their frustration that they couldn’t return and order a favorite dish forever, but “that’s the essence of LTO– get it while you can or in 20 days it’s going to be gone,” Caldwell said.

Others felt the service was slow, though clearly the bustle of the restaurant accounts for the wait. Reservations are recommended.

Jennifer Staciokas of Dallas, rarely goes back to the same restaurant twice, but she’ll be back for more at Kitchen LTO.

“You will now get my business a minimum of 3 times a year, so I can try out the new concept and chef,” she said. “Genius.”

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