Whew, Chow, Baby has finally cleared one of its Places to Eat sublists: the Dallas-wannabe West 7th development, where half a dozen restaurants have opened in the last half-dozen months within a two-block span. Every time you turn around, another awesome cool décor! The faith in Fort Worth’s economy is reassuring, but sadly, so far these places fall into two rather weak categories.
“Not so annoying” are West 7th Movie Tavern, with its surprisingly decent bistro fare, and elegant Bailey’s Prime Plus, especially when the boss pays for it. “Very annoying” are the hyper-clever Tillman’s Roadhouse and — oh, don’t even get Chow, Baby started on Terra Mediterranean Grill.
Averaging them all together, the result so far: annoying. So you can see why Chow, Baby doesn’t rush to be first in line when a new West 7th restaurant opens. The Dallas import Patrizio Pizza Pasta and Vino (2932 Crockett St.), for example, opened several months ago, but Chow, Baby only recently moseyed in — and from the start was surprisingly not annoyed. What it was was curious and bemused. Patrizio’s décor of teal, mirrors, and paintings of statues is both plush and efficient, like a day spa or a cosmetic surgeon’s waiting room, a likeness reinforced by the clientele of taut, slim women of a certain age picking at one or another of the dozen fancy salads. Chow, Baby’s own three lunches — goodie-filled hearts of palm salad ($7.83); thick crab cakes ($9.87); and fettuccini Pappagano ($8.68) with bacon, tomato, fresh basil, and a spark of chili flakes — were all very tasty, and all the more enjoyable because the prices did not match the room. A nice lunch under $10 in a swanky place like this? Chow, Baby plans to not fit in more often.
If Patrizio reduced West 7th’s annoyance quotient a bit, Brownstone (840 Currie St.) sent it into a nosedive. That is, once we got past the brief wait in the “library”: What were the interior decorators thinking? “Oh, let’s put a concrete floor and brick walls, no sound baffling whatsoever, in a restaurant whose target audience is screechers. That shouldn’t be a problem.” Curtains in the dining area helped, but the real mood-changer was Kate, the soothingest server in 7th-land: matter-of-fact, on the ball, and possibly Sandra Bullock’s kid sister. Even better, Chow, Baby doesn’t have to write a song about its newest server-crush, just (lightly) adapt “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Boy, did Kate bring us some great food. Every plate was masterful, a misleadingly simple preparation of the best ingredients available (most of them local or regional, some organic), from the housemade cheese pillows and smoked-fish pate to savory flatiron steak ($21 on the regular menu) and absolutely the most velvety salmon Chow, Baby has had all summer. (We were choosing from the Restaurant Week menu, but Kate the Great says these dishes might show up on later menus too. Fingers crossed.) As Chow, Baby and the beloved strolled around West 7th (at least it doesn’t take long), walking off our not-too-sweet-thank-you bread pudding, three topics dominated: (1) Boy, that was one incredible meal. Remember that salmon? (2) With such an outlier, how should we re-calculate West 7th’s average annoyance level? (3) Thank heavens we’re caught up and — wait, what’s that? On Delaney’s Irish Pub — does that say “Finally Open”? Great. Behind again already. How annoying.
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