The Driftwood restaurant duo: Can they hit a second home run with Casa Rubia?

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Driftwood in Oak Cliff is hotter than hot. Can owner Jonn Baudoin and chef Omar Flores do it again with a brand-new eatery at Trinity Groves? For critic LESLIE BRENNER, the anticipation level is high.

photographs by Manny Rodriguez

Jonn Baudoin and Omar Flores are really going places. Don’t worry: That doesn’t mean they are leaving their posts at Driftwood, where they are owner and chef, respectively. That would be tragic, as Flores is cooking at the height of his powers there. Baudoin, for his part, runs a wonderfully laid-back and welcoming dining room, with a wine list that is refreshingly food-friendly, approachable and compelling. At this point, the Oak Cliff seafood spot is one of the best restaurants in the city.

But Flores and Baudoin are poised to launch another venture — a modern tapas restaurant. Their new baby, Casa Rubia, is the most exciting project announced to date for Trinity Groves, the West Dallas restaurant incubator development that is arguably the hottest thing going in Dallas dining this season. (The other contender would be the Joule downtown, where the new CBD Provisions is scheduled to open this month.)

Flores’ menu will spotlight seasonality — “taking classics, putting a spin on them and making them our own,” as he puts it. In the planning? Mussels escabèche presented in a sardine tin and served with faux chicharrones flavored with mushrooms, garlic and shallots. Or fideos (vermicelli-like pasta) done up with calamari, lobster, squid ink, tomato confit and aioli. “Catalonia is my favorite area of Spain,” says the chef, “so I want to utilize a lot of seafood.”

Baudoin plans an all-Spanish wine list, with lots of sherries on offer. Makes sense: Tapas were originally designed to go with southern Spain’s delightful fortified wines.

And yes — there will be paellas.

I can’t wait.

LESLIE BRENNER is the restaurant critic and dining editor for The Dallas Morning News. Reach her at lbrenner@dallasnews.com, twitter.com/lesbren or facebook.com/leslie.brenner.

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