As my high-dollar hot rod (read: Hyundai Sonata) falls to pieces — due in large part to my neglect — I’m finding myself calling AAA all too often these days. Fortunately, thus far my strandings have led to little foodie adventures (On Foot For Food, Dec. 14) rather than to long, scary walks down dark roads or zooming interstates. Which set me to thinking: If you have to have a breakdown or a flat, where are the best places in the 817 for that to happen? Maybe I’ll call these places “The Flatties,” or I could just call it the “Flat Tire Awards,” and get Fat Tire beer (fat chance) to sponsor. I’m thinking about a spin-off TV show — but, hmm, would they have to blur out my whole body and change my voice? Creepy, but fun.

[pullquote_right]The duck was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauce was sweet without being cloying.[/pullquote_right] Based on my recent Mid-Cities food explorations, (no backpack or hiking boots required, just discreetly hidden notebook, pen, and smart phone for address purposes), Grapevine Highway would be a good place to shoot the pilot episode. There’s some good grub on the part of that road between Precinct Line Road and Colleyville. It’s a long stretch, so try to break down on a cool, dry day.

The discovery with the biggest wow factor on this inaugural Flat Tire Tour had to be Next Wood Fired Bistro & Wine Bar (5003 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville). File this place under: best use of an abandoned Taco Bell. Ever. The restaurant not only manages to overcome its burrito-haunted past, it uses the space well. It’s downright fancy, in fact. The contemporary dining room is bright and dashing. On a recent lunch, the tiny room was packed with an affluent-looking crowd of Colleyvillians. (Colletians? Colloons? Colleyvites?)

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The menu melds Asian fusion and classic French technique in an almost colonial way. The appetizer of steamed buns stuffed with pork belly ($5.50), covered in a sweet plum glaze, with pickled cucumber and scallions, was a perfect blend of the two culinary worlds. The cloud-like buns achieved a melody of hot, sweet, and tart notes. The pork belly, the fatty stomach of the angelic swine — the same cut often used for bacon — was rich and decadent. What do you follow that with? Another fatty meat: duck. Next Wood Fired’s oven-roasted duck leg with that same scallion plum glaze ($11.50) rivals any presentation of that bird I’ve ever had, in terms of technical complexity and pure dynamic flavors. It was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauce was sweet without being cloying.

Had I broken down in front of Bacon’s Bistro and Café (737 Grapevine Hwy., Hurst), I might have thought I’d died and gone to hog heaven. The name called up images of The Bacon Wagon, (the popular bacon-centric food truck) with bits and strips of bacon woven into every facet of the menu. Sadly, no. While the bistro does serve a little bit of piggy with most, if not all, of its breakfast items (available all day and night), I was a little disappointed with the offerings. That name is a lot to live up to.

The décor of the restaurant, in a strip mall, was bright and simple, with loudly polka-dotted tablecloths offset by soft, grassy green-washed walls — as if the Mad Hatter had been watching Martha Stewart.

Though the all-day breakfast was tempting, the pork fritter sandwich ($8.29) called to me. The pork loin, breaded in cracker crumbs and deep-fried, was a little chewy, and the toasted white bread didn’t add much to the dish. It wasn’t awful, but it was uninspired. It was easily outdone by the rosemary chicken ($7.99) — fresh and fragrant, and the herb gave the chicken a piney flavor. The accompanying homemade mashed potatoes were buttery and comforting.

I could happily break down on Grapevine Highway again — lots of other options to explore. Since it’s very possible that my car and I will be stranded on a curb near you sometime soon, I’d love to hear your suggestions for other Flat Tire Tour destinations. E-mail me or leave a comment on the Weekly’s website.

Or if you happen to see a beat-up Hyundai on the side of the road with its emergency lights blinking, write your suggestions (only the polite ones) on a sheet of paper and throw it in the window — preferably wrapped around a bacon burger.

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