An epicurean utopia has emerged in the Bishop Arts neighborhood in Oak Cliff, Dallas, where a kitchen, on-site coffee roastery and full craft bar work in unison for the enjoyment of all.
La Reunion — which takes its name from the 1850s socialist utopian community that once occupied the area — opened in October with a mission to offer fresh, high-quality coffee, food and drinks.
Roasting in the 1,500-square-foot space occurs on a 5-kilo US Roaster Corp machine situated in front of a cool-blue tile wall visible to patrons inside and to passersby on the street.
“Our goal was to envelop our guests in the process — to be transparent and theatrical,” La Reunion Owner Michael Mettendorf told Daily Coffee News. “Our kitchen is tiny — just 300 square feet — however, we prepare all of our offerings from scratch.”
A counter-mounted Modbar AV espresso system contributes to the show. With seating for 10 people along the white marble-topped bar and for three more at the wood-topped espresso and pourover station, coffee and cocktails are performed with neighborly intimacy while rarely overlapping. The spirit of craft pervades both, although Mettendorf said the company doesn’t indulge much in coffee cocktails or mocktails.
“Our only [coffee and alcohol] offering is the simple but delicious Carajillo,” said Mettendorf. “Our take is an espresso with Licor 43 and a splash of brandy, chilled then dry shaken with an egg white. It’s a fantastically balanced but sweet coffee custard in a glass.”
Coffee for the Carajillo and all other espresso beverages is ground first by a set of obsessively maintained and calibrated Mahlkönig Peak and EK43 grinders prior to extraction on the Modbar. La Reunion General Manager and competitive barista Ali Abderrahman also stands by La Reunion’s batch brew offerings, according to the owner.
Said Mettendorf, “We offer several coffees and methods for pourovers but always recommend our Fetco batch brew, which is meticulously dialed in.”
A breakfast menu with items such as a croque madame, a French toast flight and an avocado sandwich eventually gives way to an afternoon/evening menu that features items such as steamed mussels, panzanella, or a speck and arugula sandwich. Coffee also makes more room for a wide selection of tap beers and wines by the glass or in bottles. Designing for this transition required a certain amount of spontaneity, Mettendorf said.
“We made decisions as we built. we were our own general contractor,” he said. “While La Reunion doesn’t look as we originally envisioned, it feels exactly as we planned. It transitions neatly between day and night, going from an airy and bright morning cafe to a romantic and modestly dramatic date and dinner spot in the evening.”
La Reunion will continue to take those day-to-night transitions one by one, with no aspirations towards expansion for the time being. Rather, the focus will remain on continuing to hone best practices, recipes and profiles under one roof.
Said Mettendorf, “We just really enjoy being baristas in a place that suits us and our neighbors.”
La Reunion is open now at 229 N. Bishop Avenue in Dallas.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.