Siblings Brittany and Hunter Ryan grew up on the West Side, and both graduated from New York’s French Culinary Institute. They’ve spent time as chefs in other restaurants –– Hunter has worked at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, and brother and sister have held positions at LightCatcher Winery & Bistro. Although there’s plenty of food diversity on burgeoning West Magnolia Avenue, there hasn’t been a deli or meat market (well, there’s The Usual, but that’s a different kind of meat market).
Ryan’s Fine Grocer & Delicatessen is only a few weeks old, so there are some rough edges. The day my group of four walked in, we were eager to try the “Legen-wait-for-it-Dairy” plate with caviar, egg, crème fraiche, and potato blini as a kind of group tapas, but no go –– that item won’t be ready until later this month. The New England lobster bisque also wasn’t available, but the cream of broccoli soup offered in its place was quite nice. Pushing past the slightly off-putting chartreuse-brown color, the rich, creamy soup tasted good: not too salty, with some pretty, tasty caramelized leeks on top.
The melted ham-and-brie sandwich was perfect as far as gooey, oozy, toasty sandwiches go. The melted cheese, some spicy arugula, and a mess of Black Forest ham had been loaded inside a tasty French baguette –– all of Ryan’s bread comes fresh from Fort Worth’s Black Rooster Bakery. We opted for the fig spread on the side, in case the condiment was too sweet. Not to worry. It tasted almost like cranberry sauce and nicely complemented the grown-up version of ham and cheese.
The turkey and chicken club was also done right: breasts of bird –– difficult to tell apart –– layered with bacon, Bibb lettuce, and tomato on three slices of plain white French loaf (softer and a little less crusty than the ham-and-brie baguette).
The lobster roll sounded the best of all the menu offerings. By the looks of things, it’s popular –– diners at three other tables also had ordered the oversized sandwich. Who doesn’t love lobstah? The generous serving of whole lobster tail arrived bathed in a crème fraiche studded with yuzu (a Japanese citrus that tastes like a cross between a grapefruit and an orange). The lobster-citrus combo was topped with crunchy watercress, smoky apple-wood bacon, and a spicy avocado aioli. All of the tastes and textures together were a little confusing –– the spongy, sweet lobster/yuzu; the smoky, crunchy bacon; and the slightly spicy aioli got lost in the creamy sauce. It didn’t taste bad, just busy. And the soft dainty roll didn’t exactly hold in all the goodies, although the bread was definitely a step up from the hot dog or hamburger buns that usually come with lobster rolls.
All of the sandwich plates come with a choice of house salad, Caesar salad, or house-made chips. The Caesar featured a garlicky homemade anchovy dressing, traditional romaine lettuce, and a crusty parmesan cheese tuile or “cookie.” Ryan’s house salad was a gorgeous mix of tiny red and yellow grape tomatoes, dainty sliced cucumber, and a multi-lettuce blend. The house dressing was a white balsamic vinaigrette, but the staff was happy to substitute the tasty homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. The potato chips were impossibly thin and crispy, with a nice coating of sea salt. And for sides, the portions were quite generous.
The only disappointment was the BLT salad, and it wasn’t bad, just not as good as the entrée sandwiches. The tomato wedges were salted, and the combination of the rich, salty lardons (little cubes of pig candy) and the salty dressing was just too much.
Ryan’s is certainly not cheap, but the place is charming. In addition to the eclectic eats, the brother-and-sister team operates a small grocery store, which is needed in the area. You can grab a loaf of Black Rooster bread or other baked goodies, meat that Hunter butchers himself, and practical items like paper goods, Pop Tarts, and spaghetti. It’s a little bit of a full circle for the Ryans, whose great-great grandparents owned a general store.
Ryan’s Fine Grocer & Delicatessen
815 W Magnolia Av, FW. 817-945-2770. 10am-6pm Sun, 9am-9pm Mon-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Cream of broccoli soup …… $7
Melted ham and brie ………… $12
Turkey and chicken club ….. $10
Lobster roll …………………….. $28
B.L.T. salad ……………………. $8