Donna Albanese is betting that Fort Worth’s general lack of Mediterranean food and lack of family-owned eats on South Hulen Street will combine to make her new venture a success.
Located in a strip mall with a parking lot shared by retailers and medical offices that close up shop around dinner time, Red Door Bistro is worlds away from Piola, the well-loved and well-established Italian restaurant in the Monticello neighborhood that Albanese co-owns with husband/chef Bobby. And while Red Door’s menu shares some of Piola’s DNA, the new bistro is definitely more global, incorporating hints of French and Greek cuisines –– along with an All-’merican burger and fries.
The meal started with beignets with feta, olives, and honey. The little pastries were not savory in the sense that the dough was spicy, and they weren’t even particularly heavy on the herbs. But the slightly salty doughnut paired well with the sweet-spicy olives and piquant feta cheese. Dipping the feta in the honey and chasing that with the beignet was a treat.
If I could have only one soup for the rest of my life, I would choose Red Door’s potato-and-artichoke cream soup. Full of puréed bits of green artichoke heart, thickened with creamy potato, the soup was delightful: seriously fresh, slightly lemony, and a little peppery.
For a mere four dollars extra, you can add to your entrée a side-sized portion of one of the three dinner salads. Red Door’s version of a Waldorf was a little a little different, but it was tasty: candied walnuts and slices of grapes and apples in a sweet-tart dressing along with both fancy frisée and regular lettuce. The arugula salad, which was heavy on the blessedly light citrus dressing, was also pretty scrumptious. Giant shavings of parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts added a lovely depth of flavor to the greens.
The list of entrées was full of yummy-sounding options: a juicy burger on a brioche bun, some grass-fed beef tenderloin, a crepe with chicken, black beans, and a poblano cream sauce –– which to choose?
The winner was the grilled chicken panino. Slices of succulent bird covered in gooey smoked gouda cheese were pressed between pieces of buttery bread slathered in a spicy sundried tomato pesto. The accompanying hand-cut shoestring fries were fresh and addictive.
The shrimp risotto should have been delicious. Should have been. The lunch portion featured six perfectly grilled, plump shrimp atop a red pepper-and-asparagus risotto. The risotto was flawlessly cooked, but the competing tastes of the sweet pepper and slightly acrid asparagus just didn’t blend well. Upon seeing my mostly uneaten dish, server Jeanette took it away and offered something else. An order of the pesto couscous sounded tempting, but there was dessert to consider.
Just like the regular menu, Red Door’s dessert menu is full of choices that sound exceptional. The flourless chocolate ganache cake was indeed above average. Moist and dense like a really good cheesecake, the ganache was not too sweet and came out accented with raspberries and whipped cream.
Red Door’s food is good, the wine menu offers some interesting selections, and the restaurant itself is beautiful inside. The place succeeds partly because of the menu, partly because of the excellent service, and partly because Donna Albanese is right –– Fort Worth could use another family-owned bistro that’s not locked into downtown.
Red Door Bistro
4938 Overton Ridge Blvd, FW. 817-292-0000. 11am-2pm Mon-Fri, 5-10pm Mon-Sat.
Closed Sun. All major credit cards accepted.
Beignets w/feta, olives, and honey …… $8
Potato-and-artichoke soup ………………. $7
Grilled chicken panino ……………………… $12
Shrimp w/risotto …………………………….. $18
Flourless chocolate ganache cake ……. $7