Fixe Southern House
5282 Marathon Av, FW. 682-707-3965. 4-10 pm Sun-Thu, 4-11pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted. $$
A cynic might suggest that Fixe Southern House produces an exceptionally gentrified, expensive version of food you might find at other less upscale locations in town – Buttons, Drew’s Place, and a host of other, smaller Eastside joints. But, in the case of Fixe, the food is still authentic when you consider the menu is equally informed by both long-held family recipes and the owners’ collective experience in fine dining.
Fixe is built on Chef James Roberts’ Cajun family recipes. Roberts and co-owner Keith House both worked in Eddie V’s corporate kitchen, both here and in Arizona, so Fixe is more upscale than down-home. Much of the stellar corporate-style service you’d see at Eddie V’s (white tablecloths, attentive wait staff) has been translated here, albeit in a softer, more laidback way.
A lot of ink has been spilled both here and in Austin (home of the original Fixe) describing the kitchen’s appetizer portion of biscuits. The fluffy, buttery, steaming layers of impossibly light dough, with golden brown crusty tops, lived up to the hype. For an up-charge – which wasn’t explicitly disclosed up front – you can add housemade preserves (chunky sweet blueberry flavor on the day my two guests and I visited), Austin honey, or a paste of assertive Cajun spices called n’duja, similar to the seasoning of an Andouille sausage. The biscuits were better sweet than savory, but you can’t go wrong either way.
The flawlessly smoked trout dip, white fish bathed in a buttermilk dressing and punched-up by a hint of horseradish, was light but still packed with flavor. Little pearls of roe topped the chunky dip and added a pleasant texture and salty accent to it. The dish was accompanied by jagged, flat Carolina gold rice crackers dyed black with squid ink, which stood up to the thick appetizer and were useful for scooping up the leftover blueberry preserves.
Deviled eggs are a Southern classic, and Fixe’s version were gorgeous. Three egg whites cradled swirls of mustard-heavy yolk mousse studded with roe and topped with shaved ham, whose flavor was drowned out by the other ingredients. The plate also included pickled cabbage, a tart little palate cleanser after all the tangy eggs.
No tour of Southern classics would be complete without the Anson Mills Antebellum grits with shrimp. The side was large enough to share: Four large grilled Cajun-spiced shrimp were a plump, piquant complement to the heirloom grits, which had a hefty chunk and crunch thanks to the addition of freeze-dried corn
The entrée of lobster and crawfish potpie struck a perfect balance between comforting and elevated. The generous helping of shellfish lolling in a luscious, creamy base was topped by a divinely rich and crumbling classic single pastry crust.
The only miss of the night was the dry-aged ribeye with a side of broccoli. The beef, cooked as ordered, came out black on the outside from the grill. The charred taste became oppressive, as the heavily marbled cut tasted scorched and bitter. The accompanying delicious cornbread-laden Gruyere cheese dipping sauce neutralized some of the bite of the burned meat. The char treatment on the broccoli also made the veggie bitter, and a pungent blue cheese sauce clashed with the charred tastes on the plate.
The kitchen more than redeemed itself with dessert. The blackberry cobbler was made with essentially the same dough as the biscuits –– but sweeter. Everything sublime about the appetizer was elevated by tender, tart, citrus-kissed berries. A scoop of white chocolate ice cream crowned the dough and melted into the filling, creating a heavenly mélange of creamy, tart, sweet, and buttery flavors.
Many of the treats we enjoyed are available in the bar area and at happy hour prices – a little research will save a few bucks. If you go that route, make sure and try the Fixe 75 (the bar’s version of a French 75), with Dutch Damrak gin, lemon, simple syrup, and bubbly rose instead of champagne. After a few rounds, you won’t care about gentrification or the fact that Fixe is an out-of-town chain. You’ll just get to enjoy the chef’s takes on his mama’s Southern cooking.
Fixe Southern House
Biscuits w/butter $13
Deviled eggs $9
Smoked trout dip $9
Lobster and crawfish potpie $30
Dry-aged ribeye $48
Anson Mills Antebellum grits w/shrimp $16
Blackberry cobbler $9
Fixe 75 $11