Wishbone & Flynt, 334 Bryan Av. 817-945-2433. 10am-3pm Sun, 7am-10pm Mon-Thu, 7am-11pm Fri, 10am–11pm Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Wishbone & Flynt is tucked so cozily away on Bryan Avenue, if you miss the tiny parking lot entrance, you’ll have a fun time navigating the block around the now-crowded South Main area of the Near Southside. Parking there is about as tight as my Jordache jeans in 1989. The restaurant and accompanying speakeasy, The Amber Room, are beautiful and intimate –– almost too intimate. On a random Thursday at 5 p.m., my party of two was stunned to learn all the tables were reserved. Of course, a large gal-party of 20 took up the pretty banquettes running on the side of the restaurant, which left about half a dozen (empty at the time) tables.
We settled in at the bar, which was not a bad place to be, especially if you enjoy chatting up strangers and staring at their food. There was a little appetizer envy when our neighbors’ charred baby octopus arrived, splendidly plated with new potatoes, pearl onions, and a charred lemon. When our order of PB&J wings showed up, it was we who drew jealous stares from our neighboring diners. Although the presentation wasn’t as glorious as the octopus, the crisp, un-breaded wings arrived covered in a spicy Thai sauce, which walked the heat tightrope perfectly. Chopped peanuts and a superbly sweet-tart blackberry coulis added a little crunch and balance to the appetizer. The poblano soup was also superb. The vibrant green base tasted silky, and the subtle pepper flavor blended nicely with the swirl of lime crema. A handful of crunchy roasted pepitas added a nice bit of texture.
The entrees are reasonably priced, and most are served with some form of starch. The half-chicken was a nearly boneless masterpiece (only the wing retained the bones), seasoned to perfection and easy to eat politely from the confines of a bar-top seat. The chicken’s crispy skin was kissed with the right amount of herbs de provence, and the accompanying mushroom risotto was an earthy, smooth delight. Crispy mushrooms and a small helping of bitter, blistered Swiss chard lent some oomph to the creamy rice.
The plate-envy entree (according to our slightly tipsy bar neighbors) was the deconstructed Gulf Coast bouillabaisse. Frankly, I agreed with them, and I wasn’t even two whiskies in – the $7 happy hour price tag on liquor meant that my food writer’s budget afforded me one crisp vodka soda. I was expecting a bowl of soup. What arrived was the most beautifully plated arrangement of white fish and grilled shrimp in a thick, delicately seasoned tomato broth, accompanied by a generous mound of Gulf stone crab. The presentation showcased the sweet crab, which diners can mix at will with the blessedly acid-free tomato broth (almost a coulis). The only quibble: There was one crusty piece of French bread to dip and scoop the goodies. My usually uncomplaining dining companion noted this and mentioned it to our bartender/server, who never brought us more.
In the end, the bread didn’t matter, because the dessert offering included a peanut butter cheesecake with more of the splendid blackberry coulis. The confection was individually molded and served crust-side up, with a puddle of the sweet, jam-like syrup decorating the plate. The dessert was almost aggressively savory, with a hefty amount of sea salt. I loved the interplay of the savory against the sweet, while my dining companion, who salts his bacon, wished for a little less of the condiment.
Wishbone & Flynt’s servers and staff seem to have overcome any opening-week hiccups. Service was prompt and pleasant, and Chef Stefon Rishel was notably present and extremely affable. If you remember Rishel from the now-defunct Max’s Wine Dive, you may look back fondly at his magic with tapas and brunches. That magic hasn’t gone away. If anything, it’s been refined beautifully here.
And as for those “reservations” –– when we left, almost 90 minutes in, there were still two empty four-top tables. I understand that the host had to make a choice whether to tell us we could sit only for an hour or direct us to the bar. But really –– it’s Fort Worth. We can eat fast, even if we talk slow.
Wishbone & Flynt
PB&J wings (happy hour price) $11
Poblano soup $8
Gulf Coast bouillabaisse $24
Happy hour well beverage $7