Brothers help launch concept of casual fine dining with The Classic Cafe at Roanoke

Chris and Curtis Wells of The Classic Cafe at Roanoke.
Brothers Chris (left) and Curtis Wells are the owners of The Classic Cafe at Roanoke. (Marice Richter/Community Impact Newspaper)

Brothers Chris (left) and Curtis Wells are the owners of The Classic Cafe at Roanoke. (Marice Richter/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Chef Charles Youts' house specialty is the Pan-Seared, Farm-Raised Rainbow Trout. (Marice Richter/Community Impact Newspaper)
Brothers Chris and Curtis Wells decided long ago that they wanted to go in business together.

For more than two decades now, they have operated The Classic Cafe at Roanoke, which has earned national recognition, including an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, and has helped the town earn its designation as the “Unique Dining Capital of Texas” from the state House of Representatives.

Partnering in a restaurant was the logical choice for the brothers, who grew up in Irving together but initially went their separate ways. Curtis got a job at the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas, working his way up from server to manager and learning the ropes of upscale dining. Chris, meanwhile, honed his skills in commercial real estate.

But the two put their talents together at The Cafe, which is set on a unique property with historic roots in downtown Roanoke.

When the restaurant first opened in 1993, Chris said, “it was us, Babe’s [Chicken Dinner House] and Dairy Queen."

“It was close enough to Trophy Club, so we thought it would be stronger,” Curtis said. “Turns out everyone was going to Grapevine, so it took time.”

But these days, Chris said, “life is good.”

With few other fine dining options in the area, The Classic Cafe has thrived through its commitment to “staying current on trends, maintaining quality food and service and building a community,” Chris said.

The Classic Cafe was one of the first restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to adopt the concept of casual fine dining, eliminating the need for dress-up attire but providing quality meals, the pair said.

The lunch and dinner menus have evolved over the years, with the addition of wild game offerings and specialty fish and seafood dishes developed by Chef Charles Youts.

Besides standards, such as prime rib, beef tenderloin, stuffed chicken breast, seared duck breast and half-rack of lamb, the menu also boasts an ever-changing cast of specials, such as Risotto Cake—smoked duck breast risotto with an orange-garlic reduction.

The restaurant maintains its own garden for growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts to add farm-to-table wholesomeness to its dishes. An outdoor patio, a full bar with craft cocktails and live music on the weekends help round out the dining experience.

The Class Café at Roanoke

504 N. Oak St., Roanoke, TX


Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m.; Sat. 5-10 p.m.; closed Sun.

Try your hand at the restaurant's Pan-Seared, Farm-Raised Rainbow Trout

Serving Size: 2-4

What you will need:

4 rainbow trout fillets

½ medium bell pepper cut in julienne strips

½ medium poblano pepper cut in julienne strips

1 medium red onion cut in julienne strips

½ cup yellow squash cut in julienne strips

½ cup zucchini cut in julienne strips

1 tbsp fresh minced garlic

Virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Step 1:

Place julienned vegetables in a medium bowl. Toss with garlic, salt and pepper.

Step 2:

Season trout fillets with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.

Step 3:

Brush flesh side of trout fillets with olive oil. Place into pan. Cook for 45 seconds on one side; flip fillets and cook 45 seconds more. Remove fillets and set on a platter.

Step 4:

With pan still heated, drizzle a small amount of olive oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.

Step 5:

Toss in vegetables; saute for about 1 minute until vegetables are al dente. Ladle vegetables across the top of trout fillets. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Serve with whipped potatoes and snap peas or other sides.

Source: Chef Charles Youts at The Classic at Roanoke/Community Impact Newspaper

Marice Richter