Tricky Fish, 5917 Convair Dr, FW, 817-731-5882. 9am-10pm Sun, 11am-9pm Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri, 9am-10pm Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
French explorer René-Robert Cavelier sailed into Texas’ Matagorda Bay in 1684 after missing his intended destination, the mouth of the Mississippi River. He led three failed expeditions to find the river’s entrance. Lost somewhere near Navasota, La Salle’s mutinous crew killed him in an ambush before he could ever make the connection between Texas and Louisiana.
The idea for newly opened Tricky Fish was born in Matagorda Bay, a fishing hotspot for trout, redfish, oysters, shrimp, and blue crab. Owned by Addison-based Razzoo’s, the first iteration of the Cajun-inspired eatery opened in Richardson last fall, followed by the much-delayed Fort Worth edition in Waterside this summer.
I arrived at the shiny new restaurant during a quiet weekend lunch, circling around the make-your-own mimosa bar stocked with strawberries and fruit juices. During weekdays, Tricky Fish offers counter service for people who want to quickly grab and go. Sit-down dining is always available, along with high tables and booths around an enormous bar. Decor is standard-issue restaurant 2018 vibe, with lots of natural wood and exposed brick and a few artsy elements.
The food, however, is anything but basic. The Kitchen Sink gumbo, brimming with shrimp, chicken, and slices of andouille sausage, completely lived up to its name. A mound of fluffy rice sat in the middle, not mixed in, so you could appreciate the full impact of the stew’s slow-cooked, dark brown flavor. The appetizer of flash-fried blue cheese and bacon potato chips was a face-slap of savory flavors –– the salty Cajun seasoning made me yearn for an ice-cold beer.
A steak knife arrived with the fried green tomatoes. The bayou fruit seemed either too green or too thickly cut, and a thin drizzle of remoulade failed to sufficiently save their flavor. But the blackened shrimp that pranced down the tops of the tomatoes took the prize for the tastiest morsels of the meal — spicy, tender, and bold.
The items on my guest’s big man platter of flash-fried shrimp, catfish, and oysters were coated in just the right amount of cornmeal breading. Each bite of seafood felt springy and crisp.
I ordered a side of mac ’n’ cheese as an afterthought and ended up hogging it. The bowl steamed with creamy corkscrew pasta, Tillamook cheddar, and an intense richness. My guest said it was “the best ever,” as I slapped her hand away. I returned to Tricky Fish two days later just to eat another serving.
Guests can choose redfish, tilapia, or salmon on Tricky Fish’s signature dish, a blackened filet topped with crawfish étouffée over a bed of dirty rice. I went with the redfish in honor of La Salle’s Matagorda Bay visit. Long-cut, seasoned fried okra nestled alongside the fish, accompanied by a sweet bread roll gleaming with butter. The kitchen executed everything with finesse, from the perfectly cooked fish to the meaty rice — no filler food here.
Every supporting cast member received the same meticulous care: the coleslaw, tartar sauce, French fries, and even the roll. All were crafted with the attention of an entree, never just slopped on a plate.
I knew there was absolutely no way on Earth I could eat any dessert, but then the French toast sundae arrived –– deep-fried cubes of bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and a whiplash-inducing peach-bourbon sauce. Time stood still. I completely lost track of my surroundings, adrift in a sweet nirvana until somehow half of the sundae had vanished. Perhaps this is why French toast is known as “lost bread” (pain perdu) in France. Only then did I notice the second dessert of bananas foster monkey bread, a gooey, delicious pastry laced with cinnamon and rum.
Tricky Fish succeeds where Cavelier failed, forging a buzz-worthy bridge between Texas comfort, Cajun zest, and Gulf Coast seafood.
Kitchen Sink gumbo $8.50
Fried green tomatoes $9
Bleu cheese chips $8.50
Tricky Fish with redfish $19
Mac ’n’ cheese $4.50
French toast sundae $6.75