Restaurants / Openings

A First Taste of Quarter Acre, an Authentic Slice of New Zealand on Greenville Avenue

Chef Toby Archibald's New Concept is a Bold, Unique Addition in Dallas

BY // 01.31.23
photography Emily Loving

“There are more Kiwis in Dallas than I knew,” says Toby Archibald, chef and owner of the New Zealand-inspired Quarter Acre restaurant that recently opened on Lower Greenville. “They come in for dinner and the first thing they say is, ‘It feels like we’re in New Zealand.’”

Previously Chef de Cuisine at Bullion and Executive Chef at Georgie by Curtis Stone, Archibald hails from “the bottom of the world,” where he spent his childhood summers on the coast. “I could swim before I could walk,” he says. Down to its tasteful oyster-shell chandeliers, Quarter Acre conjures that southwest-Pacific vibe, and Dallasites, Kiwi and otherwise, are eating it up.

Among his standouts, Archibald’s kingfish ceviche appetizer is a nod to a recipe he enjoyed by the ocean. “We called it raw fish,” he says. (Makes sense.) He nestles that raw fish between a jam base and a foam topping. Light but complex, the dish delivers the tropics—coconut, lime, lemongrass—an elevated version of simple seaside fare.

Archibald’s style is confident and unpretentious, featuring flavor profiles that, while attention-grabbing, never overshadow the main ingredient. Hot-smoked, the salmon comes straight from the waters of Archibald’s youth. It’s dressed in a light shallot cream, served with greens from both land and sea.

 

Quarter Acre smoked salmon credit Emily Loving (Photo by Emily Loving)
Hot-smoked Glory Bay Salmon at Quarter Acre. (Photo by Emily Loving)

The Rise of Kiwi ‘Cuisine’

Although New Zealand-inspired food is novel in Dallas, internationally, it’s having a moment. Restaurants in Auckland and Wellington have become dining destinations. Kiwi chef Matt Lambert, who competed on Chopped, recently left the Michelin-starred Musket Room in New York for an executive chef position in his home country. Māori (New Zealand’s first people)-Samoan chef Monique Fiso, who wins awards internationally for her Wellington-based restaurant HIAKAI, was featured in the National Geographic series Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted and the Netflix series The Final Table.

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Paradoxically, “We don’t have a cuisine,” Archibald says of his country. (He emphasizes the significance of Māori food, but that’s for a different story—maybe one about Monique Fiso.) “We take our ideas from around the world. And we like to box above our weight.”

To his point, Archibald has cooked internationally with culinary superstars, most notably Daniel Buloud at Café Buloud in Toronto. That experience shows not only in globally inspired recipes, including Japanese fusion—fire-roasted wagyu that arrives in a smoke-filled glass dome; fire-roasted chicken with teriyaki sunchoke and miso emulsion—but in his attention to detail.

 

Quarter Acre Interior 1 credit Emily Loving
Interiors, designed by Dallas-based Coeval Studio, at Quarter Acre restaurant. (photo by Emily Loving)

An Authentic Ode to New Zealand

The space feels like a secret room, with its cozy, semicircular dining “pods” and vibrant oversized plants that seem to be growing out of the ceiling. The butter served with the homemade smoked sourdough bread is sourced from New Zealand. New Zealand-based artisans hand-wove the bread baskets and napkin rings with flax fiber. The woven-wood banquettes match. Sheepskin throws, placed with precision, only give an appearance of haphazardness. Thanks to sommelier Jacob Fergus, previously of Monarch, Old World, and Texas wines meet a meticulously curated list of New Zealand labels—no grocery-store sauvignon blanc here; think crisp, lemony chardonnay and pinot noir as translucent as stained glass.

Perhaps it’s a bold move to open such a unique concept on Lower Greenville, but if a restaurant is great, the diners will show up. They’re already showing up in droves, proving that Dallas is developing a more adventurous palate. Archibald lists some chefs who have introduced novel-for-Dallas concepts in the last handful of years, including Misti Norris at Petra and the Beast and Junior Borges at Meridian. So why not a touch of New Zealand? As Archibald says, “I felt like Dallas was ready for it.”

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