Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, 5253 Marathon Av, FW. 682-231-8820. 11:30am-9pm Sun-Mon, 11:30am-10:15pm Tue-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Michael Pitrello didn’t need long to come up with a concise soundbite for his restaurant’s culinary approach. The executive chef of Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, which became the latest addition to the restaurant landscape at the Shops at Clearfork two months ago, said he purveys American bistro fare in which mainstream Chicago recipes cuddle up to fresh California ingredients. That certainly makes sense when gazing at a menu that offers sides of healthy kale and quinoa a line or two away from a no-nonsense double-cut pork chop or a chicken parm, with nary a foam nor frou-frou garnish in sight.
The Fort Worth branch of Doc B’s is the mini-chain’s eighth iteration of the restaurant that first opened in 2013 in a 3,000 square-foot former dentist’s office in Chicago by Craig Bernstein, whose doctor father gave the restaurant its name. Within only a few years, it would spread to eight other locales from Chicago to Florida and Texas.
The Fort Worth Doc B’s occupies almost 5,000 square feet. Patrons seem to be first drawn to its spacious patio, shaded by sunflower-yellow awnings and featuring a fire pit. This gives way to a sun-filled interior, courtesy of a near entire wall of windows, slatted-wood ceilings, copper pipe accents, and black leather chairs, along with an elliptically shaped marble-topped bar –– a magnet for shoppers and professionals alike craving a happy hour where candied bacon is served as a gratis bar snack.
Being a Marylander, I’m a stringent judge of anything boasting jumbo lump crab. When the near-four-inch-high hockey puck-sized crab “stack” landed on my table, my confidence in its stellar quality would soon be justified. The four ounces of sweet jumbo lump crab claimed center stage from its supporting cast of avocado and nubbins of mango, which were nicely dabbed with a stone-ground mustard vinaigrette. Its ponzu sauce pool, over which the crab floated like a gastronomic buoy, added a welcome note of soy and sesame-oil umami.
Doc B’s kitchen decided to put a welcome spin on the now-humdrum chicken wing by roasting the sports bar staple in a 700-degree pizza oven. In another important tweak to the predictable wings’ playbook, the morsels were tossed in a chimichurri bath of parsley, cilantro, red onions, red chile flake, lemon and limejuice, apple cider vinegar, oil, and salt. Their vinegary bite knifed through the chicken’s natural fattiness.
True to its name, the “rigatoni gigante with a ‘gigantic’ meatball” nestled a single grapefruit-sized hillock of meat that any Italian grandmother would envy amid a generous number of tubular rigatoni, poised on just the right side of al dente and lapped by a homemade marinara sauce. This Herculean hunk o’ beef managed the miracle of being fall-apart tender, as it was made entirely from a selection of Texas-sourced wagyu beef cuts (filet, sirloin, and rib-eye) melded with basil, oregano, thyme, and garlic and roasted in the same oven that produced the chicken wings.
The wedge burger provoked the only serious quibble with Doc B’s execution. The concept is clear: Assemble all the main elements of a wedge salad (including irresistible candied bacon, an appropriately runny sunny-side egg, the tang of Danish blue cheese, a bun painted with a roasted garlic sauce, lettuce, and tomato) before sitting all of those ingredients atop a nicely charred burger. Unfortunately, the sesame seed bun was not near sturdy enough to hold all these disparate ingredients. Rather, two bites in, and the bun had frayed to such a point that each of the burger’s elements slowly tumbled to the white plate below. So, note to kitchen: Devise a more durable bun, and you’ll have a winner.
One of the sweetest antidotes to an Indian summer’s day is Doc B’s housemade key lime pie. This wedge sat on a graham cracker crust, supporting a condensed milk and key lime juice filling, dusted with lime zest. A subtle textural touch was the sprinkling of crumbled Nilla wafers over the freshly whipped cream. That yin and yang of sweet and tart threading its way through Doc B’s key lime pie acted as tidy metaphor for the overall ethos of the restaurant, where contrasting tastes and textures are paired in neo-American bistro food high on taste, low on fussiness.
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen
Jumbo lump crab stack $17
Oven roasted wings $12
Rigatoni and meatball $21
Wedge burger $15
Key lime pie $6