It’s been just over a year that we met chef Luis Colon. As a former member of the Texas Cooks’ Co-Op, Colon, a Johnson and Wales-Miami alum has a résumé that includes time as sous chef for Bella on the River and Biga on the Banks, as well as stages at Chicago’s Publican and Alinea. After more than a dozen years in the industry, Colon’s turn at the helm of his own eatery has finally come, and the results have been worth waiting for.
He’s partnered with Daniel Eisenhauer to open Folc inside the former Ciao Lavanderia and yes, some semblance of the shuttered Italian spot still lingers inside the new restaurant, which seats 45 on a good day. Folc is intimate with touches of stained-wooden tables without coming off as pretentious. And I’m not entirely sure Colon and co. could have pulled off that snooty air if they tried. The interiors are bright as light streams from the glass walls and modern fixtures illuminate the room leading into the open kitchen. Think rustic chic without stumbling into Pottery Barn territory.
Folc is a place for people wanting to dip their toes into the elevated food pool (and that pool is filled with tasty chicken liver mousse). But there is one teensy quibble that can be easily fixed but did intimidate one of my dining companions. Where other restaurants can deliver a deluge of menu options, Folc keeps things tight with a fairly small list of items, yet the groupings are…off. Fowl, Land and Earth are almost synonymous…and well, ducks (available at Folc in pastrami fashion) swim. Ditch the labels and just stick with livestock names (pork, fowl, beef, etc.) and maybe try garden, crop, harvest instead of Earth to delineate greener offerings.
And although the menu is limited to between 16 and 20 items, the concept encompasses a wide berth of styles that can all be tapped as contemporary American fare. No, you’re not going to find a burger on this tapas-friendly menu, but you will find schnitzel, fried chicken and a handful of toasts. For my dinner visit, I introduced a friend to what will likely end up on my “Best Things I Ate This Year List”—the fried sweetbreads. If the idea of lightly fried, salty, tender and moist veal bits topped with thinly sliced radish rounds makes you tingle, then the folks at Folc are here to help. The only thing that could make the dish better is a second helping of coffee-infused mayo, presented as elegant dots on our plate. Give me all the coffee mayo, and everything will be all right.
Then there’s the matter of the toasts, which have already received tweaks since Folc opened its doors to the betterment of the dish. The combination of creamy and fresh ricotta meets just-shelled peas, a sprinkling of salt and herbs is both dainty and filling, savory and sweet. It’s plenty shareable, but you won’t want to. The chicken liver parfait was perhaps the most adventurous of the dishes we sampled that evening as fresh and bitter berries gave way to cool cucumber jelly and airy chicken liver mousse paired with house-made toasted bread for a visually appealing and pleasant approach.
Our entree, a fried half chicken, at the suggestion of server Bridget, was a safe hit. At $14, the chicken was flavorful and moist and featured a bright chimichurri sauce along with a grilled lemon to keep the party going.
My return for lunch with a co-worker was of the same caliber. A lunch menu is offered, but the complete dinner menu is still available. I settled on my go-to entree of late, a pork schnitzel with capers and leafy greens that was crunchy and tender. The pretty presentation of the yellow squash salad, with skinny green vines, nut powder and whey vinaigrette gave me hope for salads anew, but I could have done with just a tad less dressing, which turned soupy as I dug in deeper.
If there’s one hard-pass on this end, it’s the “Schwenk” open-faced sandwich with pork shoulder (which was slightly overcooked), onions and melted American cheese. I should have liked it; it has a winning combination, but the delivery fell flat.
A fan of Colon’s since he introduced this eater to dehydrated meringue at a Texas Cooks’ Co-Op dinner, I ordered a scoop of the cajeta ice cream to pleasant results. What could have been an overly sweet toothache-inducing dessert was balanced and playful with touches of olive oil powder and just a hint of homemade ricotta. Colon’s love of technique shines through, and while there are tweaks to be made just yet, the overall experience of Folc as a place for friends and food is definitely on its way.
226 E Olmos,
The Skinny There’s a bit of everything for everyone at Olmos Park’s latest eatery. Folc promises contemporary American bites and delivers with meaty entrees, shareable tapas and balanced flavors.
Best Bets Sweet breads, peas, herbs and ricotta on toast, pork schnitzel, chicken liver parfait
Hours 11am-2:30pm and 5:30-10 pm Tues-Sat; 11am-2:30pm Sat-Sun
Prices $9-$15 lunch, $9-$65 dinner