Northern suburbanites, rejoice! Chef Tre Wilcox (of Top Chef fame) and Darcy Dudley of Trendine Restaurant group have brought southern cooking to Plano.
Conveniently located at Central Expressway and West Park Boulevard in the former Allen Wickers Pub location, Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine open their doors for dinner earlier this month. Darcy Dudley described Julia Pearl (named after the family matriarchs, grannies Julia and Pearl) as his life-long dream, finally realized. Darcy wanted to bring classic southern traditions of food, family, and friends to the Plano area. His vision was a menu featuring scratch-cooked southern specialties with modern twists and surprises. To help accomplish this, in addition to Culinary Director Tre Wilcox, Chef Jermaine Brown (formerly of Abacus; Brennan’s of Houston) was brought on board as Executive Chef. I like to think Grannies Julia and Pearl would be proud as a pair of peacocks.
Julia Pearl’s menu is small but thoughtfully constructed, featuring a variety of expected southern fare, with the occasional vaguely Cajun twist. Shareable starters include Julia and Pearl’s Chicken Wings (served three ways: BBQ sauce, Hot Sauce, & Lemon Pepper) ($11), Deviled Eggs ($6), crowned with crispy chicken skin (yes, you read that right), and a crowd-pleasing Black-Eye Pea Hummus ($7), served on crostini. My personal favorite was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($10), served atop a delicate lemon mustard sauce, dotted with parsley oil. The crab was tender and moist, and the sauce provided a perfectly tangy compliment. Julia Pearl boasts a house-made Gumbo ($9), prepared with shrimp, crab, and andouille sausage, served with fried okra. The gumbo, which I found to be brothier than average, received high marks from my fellow diners. I am not a Native Texan, and not a gumbo aficionado but I have noticed you Texans take your gumbo very seriously…and therefore, color me impressed.
Julia Pearl’s featured entrees include Cornmeal Crusted Catfish, served with whipped potatoes, green beans, and a caper lemon butter sauce ($15), Marinated Jumbo Texas Shrimp with Spicy Cheese Grits, served with broccoli saluted and a smoked red pepper sauce ($20), and a Grilled Bone-In Pork Chop served with bacon cheddar grits, collard greens, and a ham hock maple glaze ($18). My preferred dish of the evening was Julia Pearl’s Southern Fried Chicken, served with a homemade biscuit (whole cut-up bird $21/ half bird $11). The breading was thin and crispy, with a notable lack of grease, and the chicken was moist and meaty.
Julia Pearl’s cozy bar area features a cocktail menu with eight southern-inspired cocktails. To name a few: the mild-mannered Pearl’s Old Fashioned- Jacob’s Ghost (Jim Beam) White Bourbon, Bitters, Orange; the sweet and fruity Jazzy Belle- Strawberry, Pineapple, & Tito’s; and my personal favorite, the particularly potent Julia’s Berry Mint Julep- Blackberry, Old Smoky Moonshine, and Fresh Mint (all cocktails $10). Julia Pearl features seven local drafts on tap, in addition to a carefully appointed wine list.
Reservations are encouraged; stretchy pants strongly suggested.
Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine
Facebook | Twitter: @jpsouthernfood | Instagram: @jpsouthernfood
2301 N. Central Expressway, Ste 195, Plano, TX 75070
***A huge thank you to Julia Pearl for having me in to enjoy a delightful media sneak peak, and a subsequent food coma.***