DISHES WE LOVE
Bowled over at Café Modern
While we’re waiting for the restaurant, now part of Wolfgang Puck Catering, to bring back Friday-night dinners, we’re more than happy to sit by the glass wall and gaze out at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s reflecting pond during lunch and brunch. (Light bites and cocktails are available on the terrace, with cocktails and music from 5 to 7:30 p.m.) New chef Jett Mora is showing us his love for bold flavors and globally influenced dishes with his take on a beef bowl featuring marinated flank steak, chili garlic rice, kimchi pickled vegetables with Korean dipping sauce and a fried egg.
3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth, 817-840-2157, themodern.org
Whistle Britches is more than fried chicken
While we love the thin and crispy skin on the fried chicken and the little jar of pimento cheese topped with jalapeno jelly and those big buttermilk biscuits and the honey butter, our surprise find at Whistle Britches is the juicy whiskey-brined pork steak with corn succotash, a perfect summer side dish. Chef/owner Omar Flores knows his way around a kitchen, and we’re glad we don’t have to truck to Dallas for his modern comfort food. While we sort of wish they had a patio, we’re OK with ducking in midday when it’s 100 degrees in the shade. We’re also looking forward to Flores’ Muchacho Comida Tex Mex, opening most likely in early fall at 321 Grand Ave. East. We’ve learned that good things come to those who wait.
Southlake Town Square, 1230 Main St., 817-912-1096, southlake.whistlebritcheschicken.com
Getting sauced at Maria’s
Owner-chef Felipe Armenta’s new Fort Worth restaurant gives a nod to foods from his mother’s native home of Guanajuato and to the Armenta restaurant empire that began in West Texas. “My mom loved this mole I made for her back in San Angelo. I tweaked that recipe here to give it even more depth.” Among the 30 or so ingredients Armenta uses for the mother mole are numerous chiles, sesame seeds, prunes, raisins, almonds and peanuts. He then builds upon it each day: “The deep flavors intensify as it becomes more complex.” The pescado al carbon — the fish of the day — also features a memorable tomato-avocado salsa spiked with just a bit of chili oil. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Armenta’s newest restaurant is Towne Grill in Alliance Town Center where you can check out his saucy Mexico City enchiladas.
Saddle up for Second Rodeo Brewing
Owner-chef Jason Boso named his first Fort Worth venture with a wink, a play on the familiar line, “This ain’t my first rodeo.” Second Rodeo Brewing Co., opening late in July in the Fort Worth Stockyards’ Mule Alley quarter, is an indoor-outdoor brewery/bar/eatery/music venue with tree-lined Marine Creek as a backdrop. Boso, creator of Twisted Root Burger Co. and Truck Yard (both Dallas-based), goes big with an 11,000-square-foot space encompassing giant, shiny brew tanks, all covered by a retractable roof that makes dining al fresco possible. Decor includes nods to the state’s outlaw musicians (think Waylon and Willie and the boys) as well as the famed Texas prison rodeo culture. A dozen taps pour made-on-site beers, crafted under the guidance of brew boss Dennis Wehrmann, a German native from a five-generation brewing family and founder of Franconia Brewing Co. in McKinney. Look for classics and seasonal offerings, plus hibiscus seltzer and spiked kombucha — in addition to cocktails on draft and a full bar. Boso specialties include signature Truck Yard cheesesteaks and a menu of chicken wings that promises the usual suspects along with wild flavor innovations such as Key Lime Pie and Bacon-Maple Syrup with Waffle Crumbles. A live music calendar promises daily family-friendly entertainment.
Mule Alley, 122 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
A new toque at Saint-Emilion
The most exciting news since owner Bernard Tronche announced the reopening of his flagship dining spot Saint-Emilion is word of chef and Paris native Pascal Paviani joining the team, which also owns Paris 7th. After working at his own place on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, as well as kitchens from Paris to Michigan, Paviani moved to North Texas to be near family. He’s hit the ground running, ramping up service at the Cultural District spot to include Wednesday-night wine dinners. Accommodating 24 guests, the program features a new wine region each week. Book fast; seats sell out within two to three hours of being announced. Follow at instagram.com/st.emilion.paris7th to learn when reservations are available. Open for dinner through Sunday.
3617 W. 7th St., Fort Worth, 817-737-2781, saint-emilionrestaurant.com (reservations via RESY link on website)
Denise Shavandy now in the kitchen at American Revelry
Burleson’s The Standard at Chisenhall development lured Dough Boy Donuts away from Fort Worth. Now it also has attracted chef Denise Shavandy, who recently was named executive chef at American Revelry. Shavandy says she looks forward to putting her own spin on the menu. “I not only want to feature a particular cuisine from that region, but I want to pay homage to the people who developed those cuisines, the immigrants who came to our country, who developed a lot of the foods that we now know and love,” says Shavandy. (She was last at Café Modern but was not asked back when Wolfgang Puck Catering took over the restaurant inside the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.) Revelry is a handsome restaurant with a focus on American classics including food and specialties from various regions of the country. It opened in late 2019 with Eric O’Connor (formerly of HG Sply Co.) in the kitchen but has been without an executive chef for a while.
279 W. Hidden Creek Parkway, Burleson, 817-484-6553, americanrevelry.com
IN THE WORKS
Vegan goes fancy at new Spiral Diner concept
Spiral Diner founder Amy McNutt had been searching for a Fort Worth spot to launch a high-end vegan dining venue since before the pandemic. “We looked along South Main and around Magnolia, but just hadn’t found the right thing. And then everything shut down.” Then, proposed development PS 1200 landed in Spiral Diner’s backyard. Friends from Near Southside connected the developers with McNutt, who launched Fort Worth’s first vegan restaurant in 2002 and now has locations also in Dallas and Denton. “This felt totally perfect — it’s so nice and a little weird, which fits us just right. We will work with them up through build-out.” Her dream-come-true concept, Maiden Fine Plants & Spirits, will occupy a 2,000-square-foot space with seating at about a dozen tables. The fine-dining experience — which will include a full bar and an abundance of great wines — will likely offer a six-course seasonal tasting menu, with the option to pair wines and cocktails (with or without alcohol). “This gives us a chance to do what we cannot at Spiral. We’re so excited to get really creative and make dishes you can’t find anywhere. We like that it’s a totally cruelty-free way to feel fancy and celebrate a special occasion. The setting will be beautiful, and each dining experience will be at least two hours,” McNutt says. “The older we get, the more bougie we want to get.” In the next-door space, McNutt will also open Dreamboat Donuts, a tiny vegan doughnut shop. Both concepts should open in early 2022; watch for updates by subscribing to Spiral Diner’s newsletter, spiraldiner.com.
Mesero: Margs and more headed to Southlake
Mesero is in (and Howard Wang’s is out) at the Shops of Southlake. Plans call for construction of the second Tarrant County location of the modern Tex-Mex restaurant to begin soon. Expect 7,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining space for the popular fare and sublime margaritas (we’re hooked, thanks to their curbside service at the Clearfork location in Fort Worth).
1471 E. Southlake Blvd., mesero.net
Three’s a charm as Haywire Uptown opens
The folks behind The Ranch at Las Colinas and Haywire in Plano have opened a third location of the fraternal twin restaurants. Haywire Uptown, which takes over the former Water Grill space a block north of Klyde Warren Park, evokes the same Hill Country feel as the others, incorporating rich textiles, soft leathers and Texas limestone accents throughout. The two Texas-themed brands share menus but will consolidate under the Haywire name as the brand grows (Houston and Austin are next). “We serve the kind of food we all grew up with in Texas,” says Judd Fruia, Haywire’s VP of operations. “Gulf seafood, chicken-fried steak, Texas redfish, fried okra, prime steaks — and hundreds of whiskeys and wines to go with them.”
1920 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 469-501-5522, haywirerestaurant.com
Tiffany Derry offers home cooking at Roots Southern Table
Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry opened this Southern charmer with Creole flair last month at the Shops at Mustang Station in Farmers Branch. Roots Southern Table is a riff on her Roots Chicken Shak, a walk-up kiosk at the Legacy Hall food hall in Plano. The menu at Derry’s new sit-down spot ventures beyond her well-regarded fried chicken and duck fat fries at Shak (though both made the jump to Roots) to include plates of fried shrimp and grits, and crawfish ravioli along with spicy greens, cornbread and black-eyed pea hummus with crispy pea fritters. “My grandmother was cooking field-to-table before it was a trend,” says Derry, “so this concept is something I’ve been cooking up for years.” The chef gives a nod to her family’s Louisiana roots on the menu, too, offering a slow-simmered stew of chicken, sausage, Louisiana shrimp, blue crab and herbed rice called My Mothers Gumbo.
13050 Bee St., Farmers Branch, 214-346-4441, rootssoutherntable.com
Manpuku brings the meats
USDA prime steaks, domestic wagyu and imported Japanese A5 beef grilled tableside are the calling cards for this Dallas newcomer with a Tokyo pedigree. Manpuku specializes in yakiniku (meaning “grilled meats”), a Japanese dining experience similar to Korean barbecue. At Manpuku, the in-the-know move is to season the beef after it’s removed from the heat with flourishes such as sea salt, grated garlic or a splash of sesame oil. In addition to an a la carte selection of prime beef and vegetables (kimchi, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, for example), the restaurant also serves Kurobuta pork sausages, pork belly, chicken and sushi, as well as omakase dinners ($40 to $100) that feature Manpuku’s chefs choosing and serving the dishes. The Manpuku brand was established in Tokyo 70 years ago and now encompasses seven locations there, plus four outlets in Southern California.
2023 Greenville Ave., Dallas, 469-677-0818, manpuku-tx.com