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Restaurants / Openings

Restaurant in Flux Finally Hires a New Chef Who Promises to Shake Things Up

Up-and-Coming Talent Refuses to Have a Cookie Cutter Menu

BY // 07.20.17
photography Jimmy Ngo

Lark on the Park finally has a talented new executive chef in the kitchen. The restaurant hired Dallas native Ryan Barnett to take the reigns after a months-long search for a new head man.

All that waiting paid off, though. Barnett has cooked in some of Dallas’ most prestigious kitchens. Most recently, he held the position of sous chef at The Adolphus. Before that he worked for Stephan Pyles at Stephan Pyles, the James Beard-nominated Flora Street Cafe, and the now-defunct San Salvaje. He also spent three years working under Nick Badovinus at Neighborhood Services. Oh, and he worked at Nonna for a while.

Barnett started his tenure at Lark on the Park on Monday, and he’s slowly started making his mark on the restaurant’s cuisine. You’ll see his influence in the new, unexpected ingredients on the menu. For example, the rare Apalachicola oysters currently on offer.

“It’s not like I want weird, really out there stuff – just not as common,” Barnett says. “My motto is ‘How can I have something different from the rest of the city?’ “

Speaking of ingredients, Barnett is focused on using fresh, seasonal ones, so the menu will follow suit.

“I think 90 percent of the menu will change, but it will be over a six month period,” says Barnett. “Some things are definitely going to stay and be with us for a while.”

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The former chefs Melody Bishop and Dennis Kelley, a husband and wife team, started when Lark on the Park opened and remained there for four years. In April, Kelley told Guide Live that he had been let go due to declining business at the restaurant; Bishop left shortly after. Now the duo will be back in the kitchen at Up On Knox, an American brasserie set to open in September.

“It’s definitely a very humbling honor to be selected as the next chef to move it forward,” Barnett says.

While Bishop and Kelley added some Asian elements to the menu, Barnett will lean more towards French influences.

“I have a lot of ideas, and I’m figuring out what my unique voice in the city is,” he says.

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