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Twelve Stones’ pot de créme is a delicately caramel-flavored pudding with crystals of sea salt. Photo courtesy of 12 Stones.

You have to admire a second-career chef  –– someone who loves food so much that he would ditch a successful IT career for the grueling pace of running a kitchen. Twelve Stones’ chef-owner David Burdick went to culinary school mid-life, and worked in the chi-chi Hotel ZaZa’s Dragonfly restaurant in Dallas before opening his own place in Flower Mound.

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Twelve Stones

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1221 Flower Mound Rd, Ste 100, Flower Mound. 972-539-0200. Closed Sun-Mon. Tue-Thu 11am-2pm and 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. All major credit cards accepted.

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The building is a bit nondescript, and the plain façade at the edge of a strip mall belies the restaurant’s pretty interior bathed in natural light, with bright wood flourishes and soft, cozy seats.

Lunch began with deviled eggs: five egg halves presented on a plate adorned with flower petals and slivers of pickled red onion. Between the flowers and the delicate piping of the yolk into the whites, the Southern staple looked almost too pretty to eat. Sadly, the dish was downright bland with no discernable flavor, and the pickled onion garnish didn’t help much. Fortunately, the shrimp and avocado grits appetizer looked just as pretty and tasted a little better. Grilled shrimp sat upright with tails intact on a tablespoon-sized scoop of green grits. The ground corn was combined with pureed avocado, a mix that was neither creamy and flavorful like guacamole nor chunky and savory like the plain version of the Southern brunch classic. It took a bite or three to decide that the dish was not just weird. The three grilled shrimp were plump and delicious.

The duck tacos sounded like a not-to-be-missed option. Three soft corn tortillas held a generous mound of the bird in a subtly sweet orange glaze, with more pickled onion and cilantro. The duck was served cold, which contradicted my expectations (usually tacos are warm). The corn tortillas were made in house but fairly devoid of flavor. The real winner on the lunch menu was the flatbread with house-cured pastrami. The wood-fired flatbread crust was almost delicate, like really thin-crust pizza. The uber-crunchy bottom was the perfect underpinning for a generous serving of diced tomatoes, avocado, mild cheese, and the insanely tasty, salty, slightly chewy house-cured pastrami.

Chef Burdick excels at dessert. The flourless chocolate cake was decadently dense, moist, and almost ganache-like, topped with caramel and peanut brittle shards. The confection was extremely tasty but a couple of bites were more than enough to satisfy even the most devoted sweet tooth. The sea salt caramel pot de crème, served in a dainty mini-mason jar, was probably the pinnacle of the whole meal. The thick, heavy, delicately caramel-flavored pudding combined magically with the oversized crystals of sea salt on top. Unlike the almost excessively rich cake, the pot de crème was light and yummy enough to make us contemplate licking the container clean.

The service at Twelve Stones rivaled that of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Reata Restaurant, and either of Jon Bonnell’s fine dining establishments in Fort Worth. That’s surprising for a semi-casual, sorta upscale restaurant in a strip mall in Flower Mound.

The restaurant’s menu uses a lot of trendy verbiage: chef-driven, farm-to-table, local, seasonal –– again, all surprising given the location. Local food sourcing includes cheese from Granbury’s Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese and Flower Mound’s own Latte Da Dairy, and organic greens and vegetables come from growers in Fort Worth, McKinney, and Argyle.

With the seasonal, artisanal menu items comes a higher price tag for lunch. That doesn’t seem to matter in a city like Fort Worth, which is full of non-chain joints where people think nothing of spending $50 for a leisurely lunchtime experience. However, Burdick has lived in Flower Mound for 15 years, and probably knows what his neighbors are willing to pay to dine well without driving very far.

[box_info]Twelve Stones
Deviled eggs     $9
Pan-seared shrimp with avocado grits     $15
Duck tacos     $15
Flatbread with house-cured pastrami     $14
Flourless chocolate cake     $10
Salted caramel pot-de-crème     $8[/box_info]

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