Humble in name and size, Modest Rogers is one of Dallas’ most exciting new restaurants

Humble in name and size, Modest Rogers is one of Dallas’ most exciting new restaurants

1/26/2022 8:34:00 PM

Humble in name and size, Modest Rogers is one of Dallas’ most exciting new restaurants

“This might be my new favorite restaurant,” a guest at my table said. “You’ve had two bites of one appetizer,” I replied. It was our first visit to Modest...

(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)Non-seafoods are good, too, including a steak served with chimichurri and marbled potatoes at dinner, and lunchtime’s Cuban sandwich, starring tiny cornichons and roasted pork as thick and fat-ribboned as a slice of brisket. The burger, a pragmatic concession to Dallasites’ favorite food, isn’t the Caribbean flavor bomb you might find at pop-up

Picadera. Its tomatillo aioli is hard to detect; quieter pleasures come from the thick, peppery patty and caramelized onions.Something felt missing from our sandwich orders, until a customer at the next table asked for a side cup of that caper aioli, for dunking fries. Genius.

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Carne Asada at Modest Rogers Kitchen & Bar (Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer) Non-seafoods are good, too, including a steak served with chimichurri and marbled potatoes at dinner, and lunchtime’s Cuban sandwich, starring tiny cornichons and roasted pork as thick and fat-ribboned as a slice of brisket. The burger, a pragmatic concession to Dallasites’ favorite food, isn’t the Caribbean flavor bomb you might find at pop-up Picadera . Its tomatillo aioli is hard to detect; quieter pleasures come from the thick, peppery patty and caramelized onions. Something felt missing from our sandwich orders, until a customer at the next table asked for a side cup of that caper aioli, for dunking fries. Genius. Because Modest Rogers is so small, it’s not totally consistent. Flan arrived slightly overcooked and grainy on one visit, then perfect the next. The cook and seasoning on our carne asada varied, too. But we’re splitting hairs. The real limitation comes back to size. A restaurant this small is not equipped to handle big crushes of customers. (Don’t tell your friends about this article.) Its kitchen is about the size of mine at home. The small, old building creates awkwardness, like having the wheelchair-accessible entrance in the rear. On the other hand, it’s the size that makes this place so endearing. Dallas’ best restaurants right now are personal visions that come from individualistic chefs, not investors, real estate developers or focus groups. Modest Rogers is an ongoing story of self-discovery, a reflection of the immigrant journey and a meditation on the challenges of having two homelands, including one to which you can’t return because it’s in crisis . “It’s hard to describe it,” Rodriguez says. “Sometimes you find a connection, but it still doesn’t feel like you’re having the same conversation [with your heritage]. It’s not a burden, but it’s something that’s helped me to be creative. I always feel like I’m Tom Hanks in The Terminal . I don’t know what gate to go to.” Trying to find his way, Rodriguez is cooking some of the most exciting food in Dallas. Modest of him; lucky for us. Modesto (Mo) Rodriguez at the open kitchen in Modest Rogers Kitchen & Bar (Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)