AF+B = Upscale Comfort
Dallas restaurateur Tristan Simon, founder and CEO of Consilient Hospitality, apparently knows trendy. In addition to five Dallas restaurants, including The Porch and Victor Tango, the company also owns two Fort Worth properties within walking distance of each other in the West 7th development — Fireside Pies, which is almost always packed, and the recently opened AF+B (American Food and Beverage). A mixture of home cooking and industrial chic, AF+B pivots on chef Jeff Harris’ resolutely farm-to-table approach, which has resulted in comforting classics and truly eclectic items, including the chorizo Scotch egg appetizer.
AF+B’s high-class version of pub grub featured two gently coddled eggs with several pieces of the Mexican sausage wrapped in a delicious fried batter, all topped with a bunch of chiles. The combination of warm, slightly gooey egg with spicy and heartwarming fried meat was outrageous. For balance, my table of three ordered a salad with mixed greens, watermelon radishes, herbs, and sugared pecans. The radishes had been painstakingly shaped into triangles so they looked like teensy watermelon slices, and the lettuce was so fresh it probably didn’t know it had been picked. The herbed dressing tasted strongly of anise. Two of the diners at the table liked the salad; the third thought it was a little too twee and spicy.
Our first entrée was the chile-rubbed pork chop, a mighty slab of perfectly cooked pork goodness with a wonderfully chunky, tangy salsa verde as a condiment. Too bad the cowboy baked beans on the side were undercooked.
The giant cheeseburger of grass-fed beef was topped with onions sautéed in sherry. The treatment made them taste smoky, almost like bacon. The sandwich, which included butter lettuce, tomatoes, and a blanket of mild cheddar cheese, was a great, juicy, sloppy, scrumptious mess. The accompanying home-style fries were joined by three dipping sauces that sounded boring but were house-made and thus unique: a little overly sweet ketchup, a mouthwateringly pungent mustard, and a fabulous lemony mayo, almost like a good Hollandaise sauce.
When ordering the fried chicken here, be aware that you’re getting about three-quarters of a bird, including butterflied breast, two legs, and two thighs. The chicken was cooked flawlessly, the well-seasoned meat moist and the skin super-crunchy. The plate included a shortbread-like pepper-spiked cream biscuit along with ramekins of luscious apple butter and jalapeño vinegar.
Since the chicken didn’t come with a starch (other than the biscuit), we ordered the roasted rutabaga. With a deliciously bitter mustard-seed topping that popped in the mouth almost like caviar, this unusual-veggie creation proved to be a bad idea but only because there was already so much food on the table.
For dessert, the sweet potato coconut fritters called to us and did not disappoint. As with sopapillas, the dough was soft and not at all fibrous or grainy. A sweet-tart huckleberry compote and decadent marshmallow sauce that was really more like a good homemade caramel rounded out the dish.
The service was professional, proficient, and well paced. I could have used less cheerleading from our server, though. “That’s a great choice!” was his response to almost everything we ordered. Enthusiasm like that should be reserved for things other than dinner selections. However, our beverages were refilled before our glasses were empty and our plates whisked away almost as soon as we put down our forks. Every staffer we interacted with had a great command of the menu, which is something of a lost art in this town.
There are several new and fabulous restaurants in the Fort, and many take the same farm-to-table approach as AF+B. But you’ve got to tip your hat to a corporate restaurant that places a premium on the total dining experience.
2869 Crockett St, FW. 817-916-5300. 11am-10pm Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Chorizo Scotch eggs …………………… $12
Fried chicken ……………………………….. $21
Grass-fed-beef burger w/fries ……… $15
Pork chop w/cowboy baked beans … $24