Photo by Lee Chastain.

When I first heard the name Mash’d, I fantasized about a restaurant constructed entirely of mashed potatoes. I wanted to eat my way out of the place and watch it crumble behind me. Then when I heard the new West 7th eatery was actually a gastropub that specializes in moonshine, my imagination went crazy again. I dreamed of shirtless potbellied hillbillies in suspenders serving jugs of ’shine during breaks from playing banjo music.

I should have known the powers that be in the West 7th development wouldn’t allow either concept in their glitzy entertainment district. After all, it’s not very practical to build a structure out of mushy food, and I’m sure it’s against the health code to go sans shirt while sharing jugs of the corn. Frankly, I’m surprised the brass allowed the new joint leave the “e” out of its name.

The actual Mash’d (2498 Crocket St., 817-882-6723), a part of a bourgeoning chain and the country cousin of TruFire Kitchen & Bar in Frisco, didn’t meet my ridiculous expectations, and that’s definitely to its management’s credit. Setting aside my childish fantasies, the place was nice, if a little predictable, in every way that mattered. The décor is inviting, with high ceilings, comfy seating, and a plush street-side patio. The servers know their stuff, and the food is consistent in appearance and taste.

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Yes, the place has a gimmicky drink list, but that’s Last Call’s territory. I was there for the food. And I’m *yawn* thrilled to, um, report that, y’know, Fort Worth has yet another upscale *yawn* comfort food restaurant. [Cue sad tuba music.]

A few weeks ago, around the same time we published a rather glowing review of Mash’d (“Get Mash’d,” July 8), I picked on Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge (401 W. Magnolia Ave., 817-708-2663) for becoming the 4,093rd eatery in town to serve fancy grandma cuisine, so it’s only fair that I wag a culinary finger at Mash’d for being just as much of a conformist. I’ll also issue the same disclaimer. Mash’d is a good restaurant. If you go there, you’ll get a fine meal and have a fine overall experience.

I know, I know. There are just as many (read: way more) Tex-Mex, barbecue, and burger joints that suffer from the same uniformity. But the price point at Mash’d is, generally speaking, higher what you’d find at the Original Mexican Eats Café, Angelo’s BBQ, or Kincaid’s Hamburgers, and so my expectations rise correspondingly. By its nature, upscale comfort food is a reinterpretation of a standard. So if a chef goes that route, the end result had better be an improvement upon and/or a re-imagination of his or her obvious intentions. And for the most part, Mash’d hit the mark on my recent visit.

My guest and I split the hot dogs as an appetizer ($7.95 for two). The two dawgs, served with meat sauce, chopped onions, celery salt, and yellow mustard, were a tasty if straightforward treat. They were good, but the sauce (don’t call it “chili”) was a little overwhelming.

The sauce on the Buffalo wings ($10 for eight) had a superior kick and vinegary tang that lingered on the tongue. But just like the hot dogs, the wings suffered from lack of imagination.

The entrées were a mixed bag. The pepper “smash’d” shrimp tacos ($12.95) didn’t thrill me. The roasted pepper-and-tomato jam was fresh-tasting though overpowering and could have used more heat. The shrimp were plump but drowned in a thick pool of the sauce.

The star of my meal was the plate of fork-tender bootleg ribs ($18.95), finished on the grill with a sweet moonshine barbecue sauce. The execution was flawless. The meat dropped of the bone like a slinky negligee.

If you’re looking for some imagination, maybe the bar is the place you’ll find it. The food, service, and atmosphere were all top notch, but the whole concept just left me a little bor’d.


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