Erin Willis thought the neighborhood lacked a good spot where neighbors could gather and sip drinks. She hopes RM 12:20 Bistro can fill that void. The executive chef, with experience at High Hill Farm, the Meadows Museum and Patrizio’s in Highland Park, draws inspiration for her menu from her travels abroad in France, where she wrote journals that she often refers to for ideas. RM 12:20 Bistro is a cozy European-style restaurant with a patio that will soon host monthly live music events. It’s one of the many businesses involved in the redevelopment of Lakeridge Village.
How did RM 12:20 Bistro get started?
Well, it actually fell into my lap. I was working at a resort in East Texas and one of my investors asked if I would be interested in opening a restaurant here. I hadn’t really thought about it. It was something that I wanted to do, but I didn’t know it would be here. Everything just kind of fell into place.
You hadn’t thought about opening a restaurant before?
I did, but I wanted to wait until both my kids were out of high school. I’ve got a junior in high school now and another one in college.
What’s the story behind the name?
It’s after the Bible verse Romans 12:20. The verse is, “On the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.’” A lot of people like to misconstrue that Bible verse. But to me, that Bible verse has significant value. It taught me how to forgive. And I learned through that Bible verse that I have to forgive for me and not for the other person.
What type of food do you serve?
It’s French-inspired with a little bit of American inside of it. We do everything seasonal, so we try to outsource all our produce and meats through local vendors. A lot of the menu is mine, but we also have several items that are other staff members’ creations as well.
Why French-inspired cuisine?
Traveling. I’m not classically trained. Everything is through my travels, through my experiences, through books that I’ve read.
How did you become interested in cooking?
My grandmother is my inspiration. She owned a grocery store in Fort Worth and I would spend my summers working for her. She had a grocery store that also had a cafe where she served fried chicken and bagels. That’s what she did. She was always cooking. Between her and my mom, that’s where I learned my love of cooking.
And how did you learn to cook?
I had the opportunity to work under some chefs here in Dallas that kind of gave me a head start. I do a lot of reading. I do a lot of studying. I’m always just trying to learn something new. And I surround myself with people that know what they’re doing, as well.
What is your go-to cookbook?
“The Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. Or “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
RM 12:20 Bistro
9850 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 305
Hours: Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-11 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-midnight
Saturday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-midnight
Sunday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
more info: rm1220bistro.com