Meda Kessler And June Naylor 2017-08-30 01:26:00
Doors open and close, chefs come and go in the restaurant world. We do our best to try to keep up. Honey Smoke Pit | Now open The good new is that just three months after he helped open and quickly left the troubled Smokey Mae’s Pit BBQ in Mansfield, pitmaster Rodney Lambert is back with another ’cue shop in Fort Worth. The scary news is that the newly opened Honey Smoke Pit is trying to make a go of it in the beleaguered corner spot in the Montgomery Plaza shopping center that housed the much-missed Mac’s and recently shuttered M Bistro, among other restaurants. Lambert says Honey Smoke Pit is a better fit for him, allowing him to bring together his barbecue expertise (the long-gone Deer Creek BBQ and Cowtown BBQ were his) and his burger background (he worked at various Fred’s Texas Cafes). Given its location on the bottom floor of a residential high-rise, Lambert is using a high-tech smoker that doesn’t emit heavy aromas. The results are admirable inclulding his signature Three Way, perfect for anyone who can’t decide what to order. Towering at about 6 inches in height, this sandwich piles hot links, pulled pork, brisket, crunchy slaw and crispy onion rings between two halves of a toasted bun. The only way to eat it is to deconstruct it on the aluminum serving tray. A terrific surprise is the taco selection; each a la carte offering is served on a double layer of supple corn tortillas. Pulled chicken topped with fried onion tendrils, pico de gallo and avocado crema is excellent; pork and beef are other options. Sides worth noting include a mustard potato salad made from a recipe by Lambert’s beloved late mama, Litti Turner, and a creamy, spicy mac and cheese creation. The space pretty much looks the same with a small patio, bar seating and a spacious dining room. Wall-hung TVs from the previous incarnations are for your sports viewing pleasure. Servers are young girls in shorts and tank tops, but they’re friendly and earnest. Here’s hoping the food will be the main draw. Honey Smoke Pit is open for lunch and dinner daily. Montgomery Plaza, 2600 W. 7th St., Suite 153, Fort Worth, 817-720-7288, honeysmokepit.com. Hopdoddy Burger Bar | Now open Now open in Fort Worth’s Left Bank, the Austin-based sandwich-and-drinks spot brings new twists to the local burger scene. Large and airy with light spilling in through walls of windows, the space facing Trinity Park serves a big menu in fast-casual style with seating in booths and at high tables and counters. The Impossible Burger (exclusive in Texas to Hopdoddy) deserves attention for its plant-based patty that looks and tastes like beef but is a cholesterol-free creation composed of wheat protein, coconut oil, potatoes and an iron-rich molecular component called heme that makes the patty’s center red. (True vegetarians may be averse to its meaty look, but it appeals to carnivores seeking a healthy alternative to beef.) The decadent prime burger boasts brie and a truffle oil topping, while the bsion burger is gratifyingly juicy. Ahi tuna burgers are lightly seared and deliciously topped with sprouts, nori chips, pickled ginger and honey-wasabi mayo. Special to the Fort Worth store — this is the company’s 20th location and fourth in the area — is Hoss’ Hot Chicken, a massive chicken breast with a crunchy, superspicy fried jacket, baby kale slaw, mayonnaise and tomato on a toasted bun. For the first time, sweet potato fries join the varied ranks of addictive skinny-cut fries, including those dusted with a Parmesan-truffle topping or served with green chile queso. Cocktail specialties include margaritas rimmed with black sea salt and black cherry hard limeade. Special milkshakes include a densely sweet Red Velvet and the one-two punch of the Stout Chocolate with its hint of hops. Open for lunch and dinner at 2300 W. 7th St., Suite 140, Fort Worth, 817-270-2337, hopdoddy.com Eagle Mountain Tavern | Coming soon Brian Olenjack, whose food we’ve enjoyed since Reata’s early days atop a Fort Worth bank tower, returns with a venture near Eagle Mountain Lake. He’s been busy with consulting and catering jobs since he was unceremoniously laid off from his Arlington namesake Olenjack’s Grille a couple of years ago. Now, he’s ready to resume his restaurateur-chef status with Eagle Mountain Tavern. Taking over a space outgrown by Hudson Oaks-based Boo-Ray’s, Olenjack creates what he describes as a Texas-inspired American grill and bar. “I’d been working with partners for a long time, but then this building fell into our laps. It was such a great opportunity; we couldn’t let it pass.” He’ll reprise signature dishes like shrimp and grits, short rib mac and cheese and the kitchen-sink burger while adding new dishes. Look for entrees all priced under $20. The bar will serve several Texas beer and spirits brands as well as wines that are not too fancy. Olenjack aims to be open by early October, serving lunch and dinner daily at 7255 Boat Club Road, Fort Worth. Whiskey Ranch | Opening soon Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of their award-winning whiskey, Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson are expanding their Fort Worth distillery. Seven years after opening F&R Distilling in an old warehouse on the Near Southside, they’re opening a large production facility, visitors center and event venue on Fort Worth’s Eastside later this month or early in October. Whiskey Ranch sits on the site of the former Glen Garden Country Club, where Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson learned the game of golf as young caddies. While Firestone and Robertson continue to make whiskey at the original site (it remains open for Saturday tours, too), the partners take their blended whiskey and bourbon production forward in a giant leap: The original location at 901 W. Vickery produces three barrels of whiskey per shift, whereas the new distillery can make up to 40 barrels per shift. Tours move through buildings that represent a collaboration between Tryba, an award-winning architecture fi rm in Denver, and Fort Worth’s Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford. Buildings are detailed with repurposed wood from barns, truck beds and local rail yard buildings as well as Texas limestone and weathered corrugated metals. A wraparound porch deck with views of the reconfigured golf course (open for play to private parties) welcomes guests for cocktails, as will the tavern where tours conclude. Soaring copper stills, a retail area and spectacular views of downtown Fort Worth are bonus attractions. 2601 Whiskey Ranch Road (the entrance is off the 4200 block of Mitchell Boulevard), Fort Worth, 817-840-9140, frdistilling.com. Burgundy’s Local Jon and Wendy Taggart, producers of Burgundy Pasture Beef and owners of the market called Burgundy’s Local in Fort Worth’s Cultural District (and another in Dallas), aim to give us more ways to eat well. Instead of grilled-to-order burgers, they’re planning a ready-made meal service featuring the natural/grass-fed beef raised on their cattle ranch down in Grandview. Plans to be implemented later this month or in early October call for making three to five different heatand- eat entrees available weekly, each serving two to four portions. Menus will change seasonally, with rotating dishes each week. Look for items such as meatloaf, meatballs, steak, taco meat, shanks, stews and chili, as well as items made with pastureraised pork or chicken. “This will truly evolve us from the pasture to the plate. We’re keeping the recipes simple, our ingredients basic and pure, in order to hold costs down,” says Wendy Taggart. 3326 W. 7th St., Fort Worth, 817-878-2722 or burgundypasturebeef.com. The Keeper | Now serving The folks behind Velvet Taco, Sixty Vines, Whiskey Cake and The Ranch at Las Colinas have hooked another winner with The Keeper, a casual seafood restaurant now open at The Shops at Legacy in Plano. The East-meets-West menu celebrates fresh fish and bold flavors amplified by pan-Asian ingredients, with stops in Hawaii, Thailand, Vietnam and the Pacific Northwest. “We’re flying in fresh fish from the entire Pacific Rim,” says Judd Fruia, The Keeper’s director of operations. “Right now it’s Hawaiian opah, wild salmon, whole sea bream, even sablefish, but as the seasons change, so will the species of seafood our fisherman catch for us.” Tiki cocktail glasses and caricature portraits of famous captains from Ahab to Kirk share equal billing. Snap an Instagram photo under the “She/ He’s a Keeper” sign on the restaurant’s exterior wall — flip a switch to go from He to She. 5840 Legacy Circle, Plano, 469-210-5337 or thekeeperplano.com. Betty Ringer Ice Cream | Now serving A new ice cream shop called Betty Ringer is drawing crowds to the Sylvan | Thirty development in Oak Cliff. The owner and chief ice cream maker is Steve Smith, a classically trained chef who makes each flavor and every ice cream cone completely from scratch, without chemical stabilizers, commercial bases or preservatives. Smith attended culinary school in Paris, then earned his professional cooking chops at famed Michelin-starred restaurants that included Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain, and Taillevent in Paris. With a passion for chocolate and ice creams, he opened Betty Ringer to offer super-premium ice cream. Ten flavors are available each day, all made in 3½-gallon batches from classic French custard bases. “I make all of the ice creams from scratch, starting with fresh eggs and cream and zero chemicals,” says Smith. “I don’t like overly sweet desserts, so my ice cream flavors aren’t sticky sweet, either.” Standout flavors include a vanilla matcha made by steeping cream with vanilla beans and tea leaves, dark chocolate ice cream conjured from melted premium chocolates, and sweet corn ice cream with swirls of blackberry jam made with fresh corn, vanilla beans and pureed Texas blackberries. 750 Fort Worth Ave., Dallas, facebook/bettyringericecream. Lights Out A number of high-profile restaurants have closed: once high-flying Casa Rubia in Trinity Groves, Filament and Amsterdam Falafelshop in Deep Ellum, Smoke restaurant in Plano (the original Smoke at the Belmont Hotel in East Dallas will continue), Quincy’s Chicken Shack in Coppell (the future of outposts planned for Mansfield and The Colony has not been announced), and Max’s Wine Dive in Uptown (the Fort Worth branch remains open). Michael Hiller is a Dallas-based travel and dining correspondent for 360 West.
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