How do you transform a hamburger into a gourmet meal, without alienating the meat-and-potatoes palate?
All it takes is a homemade honey-wheat bun.
“Everything starts with the bread,” said Tony Winkler, co-owner of the Nodding Donkey Kitchen, recently opened at the corner of Greenville Avenue and SMU Boulevard.
“Every burger and every sandwich needs great bread, if you really want to do it right,” Winkler added.
At most neighborhood restaurants, patrons don’t expect fresh-made bread on the menu. They certainly don’t anticipate that their favorite sandwich, pizza, wrap or burger will feature bread made in house. But that’s what they get at the Nodding Donkey Kitchen, and the results are captivating.
Penelope Ryholt is the restaurant’s pastry chef. Her talents heighten the quality of almost every dish the Nodding Donkey serves, from main courses to desserts and coffee.
“I’m a rare breed, in that I serve both as a bread-baker and pastry chef,” Ryholt said. “Bread has my heart, while the pastry side of the business gives me an opportunity for creativity and experimentation.”
Ryholt trained at the Art Institute in Houston before working in restaurants around the country, including assignments in Maine, California, Florida and Texas. The more she learned about the culinary arts, the more she fell in love with bread.
Ryholt works closely with the restaurant’s chef to ensure the menu is enhanced with her homemade breads. Chef Joey Ryholt – who is Penelope Ryholt’s husband – takes standard fare such as burgers and cheesesteak to the next level with attention to detail and unique flavors.
“He tells me the flavors and textures he is going for, and I craft something he can really be proud to serve with his food,” Penelope Ryholt said. “My goal in baking bread is to make Joey’s food pop.”
On the dessert menu, the Nodding Donkey Kitchen takes the standard brownie sundae to a new place. The big, fudgy brownie boasts a scoop of vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce. Best of all, each of these components is homemade.
Ryholt also has embraced the art of the fried hand pie, creating an ever-changing menu of delicious fillings surrounded by her flaky, buttery crust. Flavors range from standard tastes such as chocolate, cherry and lemon to more exotic dolce de leche and mango-orange-vanilla bean. The Elvis pie features banana, bacon and peanut butter.
Where Ryholt’s creativity truly shines, however, is with the creation of new ice cream flavors.
“I love playing with ice cream flavors, and we’ve developed a real following for some of them,” Ryholt said. “I create three ice cream flavors each week. They are all natural and made with fresh milk, cream, eggs and sugar.”
Ryholt chooses many of her flavors based on items that are in season. For example, a recent restaurant favorite featured an ice cream base with mascarpone cheese, which was even more exciting with a ribbon of pureed raspberries and strawberries.
Come in this month and redeem an offer you don’t want to pass up – 2 for 1 Brunch, Lunch or Dinner at The Nodding Donkey Kitchen. [Click here to redeem your coupon] The Nodding Donkey Kitchen is located at 5600 SMU Boulevard, #120 near the southwest corner of Greenville and SMU Boulevard.
The Nodding Donkey Kitchen
5600 SMU Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75206