Michael Ehlert is the brains behind the new Front Room Tavern at Hotel Lumen. The restaurant recently received an update on every front, from a new chef, to a new look, a new menu, and even a new name (it was previously The Front Room).
Ehlert acknowledges that working at a hotel restaurant puts him at a disadvantage, but he hopes Front Room Tavern will connect with those in the surrounding Snider Plaza and SMU neighborhoods as well as hotel guests.
The restaurant debuted in September and has been busy since. Ehlert came up with the menu, and said he wanted to find and choose foods that people understand and are approachable, but are anything but boring. They are familiar dishes with a bit of a twist.
“‘Make it nice’ is sort of our mantra in the kitchen,” Ehlert said.
The menu has some cheaper snacks and appetizers, as well as a procured selection of wines and entrees, giving guests the ability to stop in for a quick bite or sit and linger while they eat a few courses. He hopes guests will find something that appeals to their adventurous side, but there are some more common options as well.
“One thing I’ve learned about Dallas, is it’s a burger town,” Ehlert said. “What I’ve also learned is rather than resist it, it’s better to do a version that you can be happy with and just put it out there.”
Ehlert’s culinary career began as a simple way to make money in college, but as time went on, his skills improved.
After working at a few restaurants, he trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and graduated at the head of his class. He has worked at many well-known restaurants under experienced chefs, including “Top Chef” winner Hosea Rosenberg. In Dallas, he has worked as the executive chef at Campo and Hibiscus prior to Front Room Tavern.