One reason foodies are making the drive to McKinney from Dallas and beyond, has everything to do with Patina Green Home and Market, which Robert and Kaci Lyford, along with Kaci’s mom, Luann, opened on historic McKinney’s downtown Square almost a decade ago.
Patina is one of those special places that gets under your skin, causing you to ache to return almost from the moment you exit. What’s the secret to its allure? Perhaps Freddy, Patina’s friendly ghost, is whispering sweet somethings in our ears. Or perhaps it’s the homey atmosphere that envelops guests like a cozy, fleece blanket. Perhaps it’s the feel of family among the staff. Or the uber fresh edibles — including the super popular “BOB,” the brisket-on-a-biscuit sandwich that Robert offers ONLY on Fridays, much to the dismay of its rabid fans. If I were the betting sort — and I am — I’d wager that it’s the glorious combination of all of these factors that draws visitors like magnets.
Patina: the perfect combination of style and whimsy … an unwavering commitment to excellence, local sources, and being a good neighbor. A place in which the past shakes hands with the present. Where friendships are birthed and relationships deepened. Where souls soar, and tastebuds and tummies get ecstatic.
The Lowdown on the Background …
Kaci, a gifted interior designer with a signature style (and Robert’s better half for the last fifteen years), is the dynamo behind Patina’s visual presence. She also takes the lead on the sales of the “curated collection” — from the yummy organic chocolates, to the decadent candles, to the farm table and chairs you might choose to perch on as you feast, whether at lunch, or during one of Patina’s monthly taco nights or five-course, farm-inspired Market Dinners. Robert, the creator of those innovative menus, clearly drives Patina’s kitchen.
My first impression of Robert: “He’s rather scary … like that Soup Nazi character on Seinfeld.” My second impression: “Scary chef makes some drool-worthy sandwiches.” And finally, months later, on that glorious afternoon on which Robert actually half-smiled and greeted me by name as I fought to keep my drool from cascading onto the glass case at the order counter, my impression changed to: “Scary chef LIKES that I love his sandwiches!” #yay #score #iwinthelottery
So it was with cartwheels that I accepted Robert’s recent invitation (okay, I BEGGED for the invite! HA!) to watch him birth another batch of his cheesy, buttery biscuit dough, a critical component of the BOB sandwich. Read on as I share my 60-minute visit with Robert behind the Patina counter.
*By the way, if you want to try making Robert’s fluffy, yet substantial biscuits at home, I’ve included the recipe link below.
“We should embrace the treasures left behind, respect our environment,
appreciate the beauty in nature, and nourish our bodies with real food.”
The Story of the BOB …
“We started out with 30 BOBs on Fridays,” says Robert. “Now we make 100 of them and sell out every week.”
I assumed, wrongly, that Robert named the BOB after himself, because he created it. Nope. It’s actually an homage to Whataburger, which played a significant role in Robert’s childhood, down the highway in Plano. On Sundays, after church, Robert would walk to the burger joint and order the “Breakfast on a Bun,” a mainstay item that Whataburger still sells today. Back then, says Robert, his food orders were hand-written on dry-erase boards as “BOB.” He laughs at the memory of telling them, “Hey, that’s my name!”
The acronym popped back into Robert’s head when he began dreaming up Patina’s lunch menu (which remains fluid, based on his mood and seasonal offerings by local farm sources). Robert decided to add McKinney’s Local Yocal Farm to Market brisket to a biscuit. “I have an ego,” says Robert, with a quick grin. “But it’s not so big that I had to name a sandwich after myself.”
Whataburger’s slogan for its BOB is “It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in the morning.” But take a gander at the photo of BOB on the Whataburger website, and you’ll see that it can’t hold a candle to Patina’s much yummier version. (Who in their right mind would choose that preservative-filled white bun when you can have Robert’s delicious biscuit??!! Okay, maybe a 10-year-old boy who didn’t yet know better. HA!)
The wow factor of Robert’s biscuit comes from top-shelf ingredients: smoked Cheddar, Plugra butter, and a locally sourced whole milk that contains 4.5 percent milk fat. Robert even pours the cream that sits atop the milk into the batter! The result is a biscuit that bakes up both dense and airy, so it holds together as the lucky eater bites into it. Because the biscuit is toasted just before serving, it also has a satisfying crunch. #bestillmyheart
My bestie, Lisa Hammett, is just one McKinney local who can’t get enough of this delicious combination. Lisa figures she has eaten hundreds of BOBs since Patina opened in 2010! It’s a given that she’s in Patina every single Friday, if she has anything to say about it. “I’m truly addicted,” she admits without shame. “The combination of ingredients and textures makes me very happy.” She laughs. “I think about BOB a lot.”
Lisa even purchased the Lunch Date With BOB t-shirt when Patina finally starting selling them this year. Just seeing her wear that t-shirt makes me hungry, which I am sure was Kaci’s goal!
**Okay, as promised, here’s the link to Robert’s biscuit recipe, including step-by-step photos, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News.
A few of Robert’s tips for great biscuits:
* Use a big bowl for mixing the dough.
* Use COLD butter. NEVER use margarine. It’s a man-made, saturated fat. Yuck.
* Don’t overwork the dough; this is a quick bread. But get the butter throughout the dough.
* The dough is perfect when the mixture has the texture of small peas.
* As you roll it out, rotate the dough, to keep it from sticking.
* Roll the dough to about 3/4-inch thick.
* Use a 2-inch cookie cutter, so the biscuits are consistent in size.
* Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
* Before baking, brush the biscuits with egg wash, to ensure a “golden brown, delicious look.”
* If baking several tray together, rotate oven position to ensure biscuits cook evenly.
NOTE: To make BOBs from your home batch of biscuits, grab a jar of the jalapeño-blackberry jelly, made by Luscombe Farm in Anna, from the Patina shelf. You’ll also need brisket. Local Yocal, just down the street from Patina, offers yummy grass-fed, hormone-free brisket. #reallygoodstuff
“Our food is REAL. We celebrate and respect the farms and animals it comes from,
the people who grew it, raised it, and prepared it.”
Earning Robert’s Smile …
I’m not kidding that I was intimidated by Robert’s stoic stare the first time Lisa dragged me into Patina to try a BOB. Lisa had been telling me that Robert was a really great guy, so I was expecting, well, a bit more, ummm, friendliness from him. But on my first visit, Robert was stoic. On my second visit, Robert was stoic. On successive visits Robert was stoic. Trust me; not even a crack of a smile!
But months later, on a Halloween night, I spied Robert in a clown costume — sporting a smile even sillier than his ridiculously large and floppy clown shoes. Ah-hah! Could it be that the stony expression Robert typically wears behind the counter is purposeful?
When I venture to suggest this to Robert during my field trip behind the counter, he freely admits it. “If I’d realized that people would want to interact with me so much,” he says, “I’d have arranged the kitchen to ensure I couldn’t be seen.” HA! “I’m busy all day,” he adds. “I don’t have a lot of time for chit-chat.”
*Especially* with people who have yet to prove they appreciate the Patina experience. I ask for five words that describe his and Kaci’s vision for what happens between these old brick walls. Robert selects authentic, eccentric, organic, unique, and family. “We’re different on purpose,” he adds. “We don’t want to be like everyone else.”
Robert has been a chef for more than 20 years, nearly eight of them at Patina. He’s onsite 10 to 12 hours a day, cooking from scratch — before then shopping, nightly, at Whole Foods and other “real food” purveyors, for the mostly one-pot dinners he whips up at home for Kaci and himself.
Clearly, he’s interested in stretching his culinary palate. But he’s also interested in nudging us, his guests, into discovery as well. How can we know if we’ll like something new — say, root vegetable slaw, kimchi, or roasted vegetables and pimento cheese, for example — if we only stick to safe, predictable choices like those offered up by Whataburger? (Dear Whataburger, yes, I am picking on you!)
Robert leans against the woodblock counter, his manner relaxed. His tone is serious, but decidedly lacks arrogance when he adds, “I want to cater to the minority who ‘get’ what we’re doing here. If you get us, we want you to come back. Often. If you don’t…..”
So, folks, here’s the point of this article: what you can expect, on your first or even tenth visit to Patina: out-of-the-box greatness. Robert may not smile at you at first. Or ever. HA! But think of it this way: just as you’re testing his culinary prowess, he’s testing your willingness to trust that he can tantalize your tastebuds — perhaps with a food item you *think* you can’t stand. Accept the Patina challenge: step out of your box!
In my case, that would be choosing to eat cauliflower — which I learned to hate as a child, thanks to my mom’s awful cooking. Fortunately, I hear Robert’s roasted cauliflower sandwich is way yum. So, Robert, on my next visit, I pledge to try it. Just don’t tell BOB I cheated on him! #patinachallengeaccepted
Join me…if you dare!
“People who love to eat, are always the best people.” ~Julia Child
Patina Green Home and Market
116 N Tennessee St., Suite 102, McKinney, TX, 75069
Robert Lyford, Market Chef
Kaci Lyford, Interior Designer
Luann Van Winckel, Retailer & Mom
The “Patina experience” is special because of the numerous, careful, calculated decisions Robert, Kaci, and Luann have been making since opening — from the careful layout of the seating, to the eclectic decor (every bit of which is for sale, by the way), to even the brown butcher paper used to wrap sandwiches. The goal of this cool trio? To inspire and delight people who appreciate “real” food.
Plano Profile: The Art of the Sandwich
Texas Highways: Green Living
The Dallas Morning News: Top Chefs Share Their Secrets to Biscuits Your Grandmother Would Love
The Dallas Morning News: Robert Lyford’s Smoked Cheddar Biscuits