There are a lot of ways to describe 24 Plates Tapas Bar & Restaurant: chef-driven, independent, outstanding, trendy. The new eatery has blossomed in the corner space on West Magnolia Avenue that once housed W.F. Lawrence Fine Flowers and Maria’s Mexican Restaurant.
However, my two recent visits suggest that “uneven” would also be correct.
Brunch was excellent: The server clearly had a grasp of the menu and made helpful suggestions. My table of three started with the apple biscuits. Perfectly flaky and ping-pong ball-sized, the order of six was topped by a shmeer of mouthwatering apple butter and a half-dollar-sized slice of tasty bacon. The only thing that kept us from ordering another round was the arrival of the chicken and waffles.
The batter on the dainty nuggets had a light, almost funnel-cake quality, and though the mini-waffles were a little chewy, the whole plate was scrumptious.
The breakfast nachos were a pile of scrambled eggs, chorizo, and homemade tortilla chips, mingling beautifully with a topping of melted cheddar. The accompanying sausage gravy –– thicker than queso and good enough to eat by itself with a spoon –– was amazing. The only flaws were the brownish slices of avocado on top. Avocados don’t oxidize on the way to the table. Someone in the kitchen should have taken a little more pride in the presentation.
As great as brunch was, dinner was hit-or-miss. Our server hadn’t mastered the menu, and she disappeared for long stretches of time. The food varied from absolutely fabulous to frustratingly misconceived. In the former category were the bacon-wrapped dates. The two one-bite morsels of sweet, chewy fruit with salty bacon were stuffed with the tiniest bit of feta cheese, and every bite was magnificent. Again, the only reason we didn’t order more was because of the 23 other options on the menu.
The cured meat-and-cheese board was a delightful mix of soft prosciutto, spicy chorizo, and a cheese selection that included a pungent blue and a surprisingly delicate port cheddar. The dinner-sized plate of three fist-sized corn street tacos with short ribs, crunchy slaw, and pickled pink onions was delicious and perfectly executed. The caprese salad was a refreshing blend of fresh basil, pucker-inducing balsamic vinegar, and fresh mozzarella atop three meaty slices of heirloom tomato.
Then there were the letdowns. Though it looked impressive on fire at the table, the queso flamaedo was apparently made with a flour-based roux, which created a weird, almost grainy texture. The roasted kale sprouts ended up being a puddle of sautéed bitter greens, and the Parker County peach cobbler, served in a martini glass, came with a whiskey sauce that tasted as if the whiskey was poured on at the last minute, not cooked in.
Executive Chef Beau Johnson gets props for the size and creativity of the menu, even if some of the dishes didn’t quite deliver on my visits. Owner Joel Kleven circulates, chats, and seems genuinely interested in your dining experience. Seriously, Kleven’s almost as good at this as Jon Bonnell, and he takes a substantial and justifiable amount of pride in the renovation and redesign of the space, which now includes a beautiful back patio.
24 Plates Tapas Bar & Restaurant
407 W Magnolia Av, FW. 682-730-5749. 10am-3pm Sun, 11am-11pm Mon-Thu, 11am-12am Fri, 10am-12am Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Apple biscuits ……………… $7
Breakfast nachos ………… $10
Chicken and waffles ……. $9
Bacon-wrapped dates …. $5