Photography by Jessica Turner.

The son of two chefs, Casey La Rue was born into the restaurant industry. He never went to culinary school but always enjoyed working in kitchens, especially because it kept him busy.

His skills developed as a stagiaire, or a stage, which is a kitchen intern. He started out at several Michelin-star restaurants in New York. Then he went to excellent restaurants across the country including Clio in Boston and Robuchon in Las Vegas — all in pursuit of working for the best. 

About seven years ago, La Rue was between jobs in Arizona and found work at a bakery, where he met his wife, Amy.

Later, the La Rues worked at a small inn on a farm in New Hampshire, about two hours north of Boston.

“It was beautiful to be there,” La Rue says. “New Hampshire’s actually really nice for a good part of the year. Then it’s very bad.”

Ultimately, they realized the inn wouldn’t be sufficient as a year-round business, so they moved to Dallas. They opened Carte Blanche last June, following several years of thinking about what their own restaurant would be like. 

Lowest Greenville was appealing because of its smaller streets, which reminded the La Rues of New England. And they wanted to avoid other parts of our city that “are a little more pretentious.”

Carte Blanche is in the former Mudsmith on Greenville. Some of the central architectural features of the coffee shop, like the wooden door at the entrance and a bar in the middle of the room, are still there. Otherwise, the space has been transformed into a fine dining establishment. 

The sturdy front door is flanked by two large windows. Inside, the bar, which is now used as a prep station for dinner, is the first thing in eyesight. Dining tables of various sizes are situated to the left and right, enough to seat 55 people at peak weekend hours. All the way to the back of the restaurant lies the kitchen, offering guests a clear view of the five chefs preparing meals and a spiral staircase leading to a storage area. 

New walls were added to cover the old ones, which were damaged and painted yellow. A moss wall was installed as a decorative feature where there was a coffee window.

Carte Blanche multitasks. On four mornings of the week, pastry chef Amy and her team prepare dozens of varieties of baked goods — everything from chocolate almond croissants to boar-in-a-blanket to several kinds of doughnuts. And in evenings, La Rue and his team serve 12- and five-course set menus.

Both menus rotate — the bakery monthly and dinner biweekly, though there are some staple items that remain. Foie gras stays, but everything around it changes. There’s usually a fish dish, but accompaniments are altered. Plus, only half of the dinner menu is swapped out at a time to allow staff to understand each ingredient.

“We try not to leave anything on the menu for too long, that way if a guest comes now, next month they can come back and have a different menu, different experience,” La Rue says. 

New dishes are developed as La Rue is inspired. He’s always searching for new ingredients — most of them sourced locally — which usually become available as seasons change. The restaurant incorporates a lot of wild boar, which is common in Texas, as well as venison and elk.

But one of the most quintessential Texas protein sources is missing: the cow. La Rue avoids it primarily because of environmental concerns and also because beef is served almost everywhere.

In addition to chefs and wait staff, Carte Blanche employs two wine experts — a full-time sommelier and the general manager, who is also a sommelier. This is to help with the restaurant’s optional wine programs, which allow diners to enjoy a drink paired with each course. For those who prefer to skip the booze, there’s a similar option but with tea instead of wine. Most of it is cold-brewed and comes from small farmers. And like the alcoholic version, the tea is served in wine glasses, with a specific glass for each tea. 

“Each glass is designed a certain way for certain wine, just depending on sparkling, aroma, olfactories,” La Rue says. “And we took the same kind of consideration into the tea as well.”

Carte Blanche, 2114 Greenville Ave., 214.434.1538

Bakery: 7 a.m.-noon Thursday-Sunday 

Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday