THE BLACK ANGELS + BREAD WINNERS CAFE.
Tunes N' Spoons : 4 :
If the midst of their Dropout Boogie Tour with Black Mountain, we caught up with The Black Angels before their sold-out performance at the newly renovated Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff. We invited them to join us for dinner at Bread Winners Cafe & Bakery, an uptown hot spot on McKinney Avenue in Dallas.
The Black Angels with Black Mountain. How is the tour going?
Alex: It's going pretty well. It's a co-headlining bill so we're getting some of the biggest crowds that we've ever had so far. Tons of people have been coming! It's also really good to see that because it means the economy is getting better, people are coming to shows, people are buying merchandise - it's awesome. Black Mountain - they're really cool people. We've known them for a pretty long time.
How did The Black Angels begin?
Christian: Well, Alex and I have known each other since we were 12 years old growing up in Seabrook, Texas. We attended the same church my father preached at and went to the same high school. I went off to college at Florida State University and Alex went to Texas State in San Marcos. In 2002, he and I met back up in Austin where Alex was playing in a band called Elevation 33. So I went to go check them out.
Alex: It was folksy stuff. We covered stuff from Buffalo Springfield to a lot of other stuff.
Christian: Around that time, I called him up and came over to his house with a digital recorder to record like 6 songs. Ever since that point we were playing together and trying to find people to play with. I guess the Black Angels started in May 2004 and took about two years before we met Stephanie, our drummer. We went to go see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in 2003 at Emos. Nine people on stage, two drums, three guitars, low red lighting. We were mesmerized!
Left to right, pictured are Christian Bland & Alex Haas [The Black Angels]
Alex and Christian, we know of your advertising and business backgrounds. Have you implemented any collegiate knowledge into the band's infrastructure?
Christian: Yeah, my studies were in graphic design so I created all of The Black Angels album covers. Also, I went to school for advertising so that significantly helped us as well.
Alex: I graduated with a business degree so it really helped out with the psychology end of business. You know? How to motivate people and how to encourage people. We always knew that that was an important aspect to making music and I definitely think that it helped during the beginning phases of the band. It still does.
The Black Angels are really bringing focus back to psychedelic rock. Your music, as a result, quickly spread internationally. In your opinion, where has it hit hardest?
Kyle: Germany was crazy! It was our first time in Berlin and it was incredible. We performed at this place called The Comet which sold out a week in advance. At the end of our set, we were literally trying to get to our upstairs dressing room by trying to walk offstage, but couldn't! Alex was the only one that got through. We were essentially carried off stage by the fans. It was absolutely crazy. Also, we stayed at an awesome hotel called the Michelburger Hotel, which was walking difference from the venue. It's this high-rise, industrial style space renovated in this super artistic way. They had these huge umbrella lampshades made out by magazines, stacks of vintage suitcases lining up the walls, all these things. The hotel catered to artists too, so that was really really cool. There was even a "band room" where each room slept 5 people. Berlin was awesome!
In Austin, what do you eat? Where are the spots?
Alex: There are tons of taco places and tons of barbecue. Stephanie cooks a lot for us also.
Kyle: Personally, I like to make Italian. I can make a mean cream sauce but you can't eat a lot of it...it's really rich. We had a 4th of July party at my house once and we were just hanging out by the pool. I asked, "Hey who wants to eat? Let's just make a totally random dinner." I ended up cooking for 13 people. I made a vegetarian spinach cream sauce with red peppers and a really creamy Italian sausage sauce as well. It was a feast! We also had other events where I made my traditional red marinara sauce with fresh basil and penne pasta, influenced by none other than Mario Batalli. That recipe was great! Sometimes, I tend to improvise by adding some chipotle, bell, habanero, and crushed red peppers. I call it my five alarm pepper cream sauce. But as far as restaurants in Austin, I'd have to say Uchi is definitely the best sushi I've ever had. Tyson Cole, the executive chef of the place, went up against Marimoto in Iron Chef.
Alex: Uchi claims that they ship their food from Japan daily. It's true...they do. We have a friend that worked there and yes, it's true.
Kyle: The weirdest thing on their menu is a baby octopus popsicle, which is basically an octopus on a skewer. My wife and I go there every year for our anniversary. When we go, I never see her more relaxed, with a big smile on her face. We sit there and eat for like two and a half hours. She calls it her "happy place".
Alex: It's not in Austin, but there was this seafood place we went to after Letterman called Fatty Crab in New York. It was delicious. It was family-style so we were served entree after entree. The weirdest part about the place was (it totally freaked me out) but I went to the bathroom and they had a PA system in the bathroom of sex noises! But yeah, delicious food though.
Stephanie: Yeah, they apparently get live audio from the hotel rooms above the restaurant and feed it down to the bathroom PAs.
Is that a fact?
Stephanie: No. [laughs]
Kyle, it sounds like you have a cooking background? Where did you learn?
Kyle: For two years, I lived with my cousin who went to cooking school in France. He was an aspiring chef but eventually went the way of wine distribution instead of cooking. His dad (my uncle) was a great cook as well so I kinda learned second hand from both of them. Then, once I got married, I really got into it. We had the Food Network for a long time so I geeked out on that for a while. It's really fun to me.
Alex, what did you eat growing up in Seabrook? Did you learn to cook anything along the way?
Alex: I grew up in this place called Seabrook which is a huge seafood town. Kema is huge for the shrimp industry. In the '70s, many Vietnamese workers would come in a bring a whole bunch of oysters. There was huge competition between the Vietnamese and the Czechs. So we were raised on tons of fried seafood. Fried oysters. Stephanie grew up outside of Houston as well. One of my favorite things in the world is fried oysters and shrimp.
Stephanie: Probably my favorite are oysters for me, in general.
Alex: Every year we do a Christmas party where everybody brings their own food items. I do a slow-roasted ham with bourbon Coca-Cola glaze. I make sure to use Mexican coke because its real sugary. Then, I throw in salt, minced garlic, and a little bit of brown sugar to add to the gooiness. I'm a big fanatic about opening it every five seconds and putting in more glaze to make sure it's that perfect golden brown. Everybody else kinda does there own thing. The last two years, we also did avocado margaritas. It's basically a normal margarita but adding an avocado to it to make it creamy and smooth while cutting out some of the acidity. During South by Southwest, I also buy one hundred pounds of crawfish, throw it out in the backyard and eat and drink until the wee hours in the morning.
Stephanie: I tend to watch the Travel Network a lot and so I'll check it out and tell the guys, "Ok guys.. today, these are our four choices of where we can eat."
On Letterman, we saw you wearing a shirt from Austin's, The Shed Barbecue. What are your favorite types of barbecue?
Alex: It depends on the region. I'm a total rib junkie! If you dangled a rib over a bridge, I'd probably jump off to get it. I like brisket too, but I love ribs. If they're done right, they're amazing. Salt Lick is the place to get them in Austin. You also need to try this place called Franklin's.
Kyle: Not barbecue, but one of our favorite places to go as a group is Polvos. It's not necessarily Tex-Mex, but it's a great place for margaritas. Also, there's Maudie's. Maudie's is like home away from home for me. Alex: Regionally, what's also pretty hot right now are taco trucks. There's a chicken waffles truck next to a Korean barbecue truck. Those are also pretty awesome.
Bread Winners Cafe Entree Selections :
On the other side of the table, we had the 14 Oz Bone-In Ribeye (Alex's selection) with cabernet demi with loaded mashed potato gratin,the Pulled Pork Tacos consisting of jack cheese, crispy onions, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, black beans & rice, San Francisco Cobb Salad (Stephanie's selection) with greens, bacon, chicken, egg, tomato, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, and blue cheese dressing, the Wild-Mushroom Risotto (Kyle's selection) with toasted pinenuts, pecorino cream and brown butter sauce, and the Buttermilk Pan-Fried Chicken Breast (Christian's selection) with cream gravy, mashed potatoes, and apple chutney.
Photo of Buttermilk Pan-Fried Chicken Breast with Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Gravy and Apple Chutney
[To The Black Angels] What are your thoughts on Bread Winner's selections?
Kyle: Ohh delicious. The risotto was thick and had great consistency. Man, the presentation is also pretty ridiculous! Alex: My entree is on a thick bed of mash potatoes. Wow! It was really tender. Yeah the meat was right on the money. Incredible. Also, I really like to atrium here at Break Winner's. It's a really cool inside/outside vibe they have going here.
DESSERT: The Triple Chocolate Cake layered Chocolate Fudge, Milk Chocolate, and White Chocolate with sweet whipped cream topping.
Kyle: Man it looks real rich but it is pleasantly not. I could eat this whole thing without a problem.
Christian: This cake is exactly what I wanted to cap off the dinner. The layers, the different types of chocolate, but not too much chocolate? It's perfect man.
House of Plates:
In Dallas, on McKinney Ave, what you're looking for is a place you can call home. A place that will always embrace the progressive, collegiate, and uptown demographic. Bread Winners is a restaurant encapsulated in an old, part Georgian/part maisonette house. It just might be the most interesting, original structure left in Uptown. It's a neighborhood spot with crowds filtering in from all areas of the city. Incredible bakery, incredible fare.
Pictured is Christian with the cake's first cut
Bread Winner's cooking is a rustic, regional and contemporary collaboration. I've never seen fried chicken and mashed potatoes look so elegant, yet so... inviting. The Calamari Steak appetizer didn't disappoint largely because it wasn't briny at all. Rather, it tasted gently sweet amidst the cheesy, saucier crisp - similar to that of a honeyed eggplant. The spinach? Perfectly touched with lemon and garlic. Fairly straight-forward.
The layout of the menu is mainly three-parted: sandwiches, pastas, and main entrees, presenting an array of New American dishes with subtle Southern ingredients. The key is to not over indulge on dinner to later regretfully neglect their perennial staple, their baby - the desserts.
With tables outside under trees on a relaxed patio fronting McKinney Avenue, and a display case full of scrumptious desserts just inside the door -- not to mention a name promising exactly little else -- it would be easy to think of this charming spot as a place for a quick lunch or dessert and coffee. But step back into the garden-like series of dining rooms and you will find a more serious restaurant. In the warrenlike house that was once the legendary Andrew's built around an enclosed courtyard, the restaurant is transformed into a romantic, easygoing dinner affair -- still a great spot for a date after all these years. The Pulled Pork Tacos are excellent, and vegetarians will be pleased by a veggie menu (on request) as well as a long roster of pastas and salads. Of course, if all you want is a burger or any of the couple dozen sandwiches for lunch, Bread Winners is a winner at that, too.
A special thanks to The Black Angels, General Manager Genevieve Koons from Bread Winners Cafe & Bakery, Lauren Pattenaude from Vector Management, and Kyle, The Black Angels Tour Manager.
The Black Angels are:
Alex Haas - vocals/keyboards/guitar