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Plank’s Atlantic salmon was one of the most visually appealing entrees the author had ever seen. Photo by Laurie James.
Plank Seafood Provisions, 5289 Marathon Av, The Shops at Clearfork, FW. 817-989-2373. Noon-9pm Sun, 11am-9:30pm Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat.

With locations in Austin and Omaha, Nebraska, Plank Seafood Provisions is owned by the same corporation behind Blue Sushi, still one of the most beautiful spots in town. Flagship Restaurant Group’s attention to detail ought to be respected in revamping the tepid Twigs Bistro and Martini bar in The Shops at Clearfork from generica to a nautical theme. From the painted star charts on the ceiling to the skeleton of a skiff hanging near the bar and a ton of ship/boat ephemera, if you sit long enough here, you might forget you’re nowhere near the ocean on our Blackland prairie.

Happy hour (3-6pm weeknights) calls, and you should go when you can indulge on a budget. And indulge, we did. Select cocktails and bubbles are $9, and the house marg was delightfully fresh, tarter than it was sweet. The Strawberry Surfer combined the buoyant taste of an energy drink with mellow coconut that tempered the alcohol, almost dangerously. Consuming two of these might lead to shenanigans, so my dining companion and I stopped at one.

Also on happy hour: several appetizers. The beignet-style hush puppies seemed like a throwaway side, but the half-dozen flavorful treats were killer. Picture the sweet crunch of a funnel cake with a little hint of corn and dusted with powdered sugar. The sweetness of the jalapeno jam dipping sauce was broken by a mild heat that didn’t linger.

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The blackened redfish taco, described on the menu as spicy, wasn’t overly hot, but the mounds of tarty, tangy slaw and avocado slivers diminished any possibility of overly heavy blackened seasonings. Props to Plank for the wonderful saucer-size corn tortilla, slightly thicker than average to keep the insides together and cooked perfectly with leopard spots where the tortilla hit the heat of the pan.

Plank’s blackened redfish taco is a steal ($6) during happy hour.
Photo by Laurie James.

The escabeche smoked mussels were the one small disappointment in the appetizer fest. While they were all plump and had opened fully, the dish was served cold. A disclaimer would have managed expectations, but the vinegary spice and crunch of the pickled veg on top of the smoky shellfish was nice.

Plank offers several beef choices, though Flagship works extra-hard to source responsibly fished and unendangered seafood, so ordering a cheeseburger seemed like a waste. The Atlantic salmon arrived with accents of the turmeric aioli skillfully painted and daubed on the plate and the fish sitting on a bed of black spiced rice. Visually, it was one of the most stunning plates I’d ever seen. The fish tasted fine –– not overdone — but it lacked any kind of zip or even salt. It’s also possible I’ve been spoiled on salmon from Washington, but fortunately the piquant creaminess of the turmeric sauce livened up every bite. The black rice looked like gorgeous caviar and tasted better than your average serving of semi-sticky.

We gambled on more redfish, this time in fried form. Served on a brioche bun and adorned with pickle, lettuce, tomato, and a zippy Cajun-style tartar, the fish did not explode with flavor, although the sauce added a nice dimension. Unfortunately, the whole thing looked like your average fast-food fish sammy. The skinny fries accompanying the dish were phenomenal –– fresh, perfectly seasoned, and plentiful.

If you have room for dessert, and we just barely did, the creamy butterscotch budino –– Italian-style pudding, more solid than a flan and dense like crème brûlée –– would fill that last little hole in your stomach. Butterscotch is an odd flavor, but the pudding was enhanced by a layer of salted caramel and a healthy dollop of crème fraiche on top. The subtly tart taste of the crème kept the floral, sticky butterscotch from becoming too heavy.

In the relative scheme of Fort Worth areas that can’t sustain restaurants, Clearfork seems to be doing better than many. The turnover there seems slower than that of Artisan Circle (or whatever it is we’re calling Crockett Row these days) or that haunted corner in Montgomery Plaza where at least five restaurants have tried and died over the last decade. It’s not a coincidence that most of Clearfork’s restaurants are local, regional, or national chains with the backing to survive most economic storms. The service at Plank was top-notch, and there was plenty of staff both times we visited. The appetizers and dessert are winners here, most of the presentation was lovely, and the dining was well-paced and unhurried. Like its sibling Blue, Plank Seafood Provisions is a cool oasis on the prairie.

 

Plank Seafood Provisions
Atlantic salmon $27
Fried redfish sandwich $20
Blackened redfish taco (happy hour) $6
Escabeche smoked mussels (happy hour) $8
Beignet-style hush puppies (happy hour) $8
House margarita or Strawberry Surfer
(happy hour) $9
Butterscotch budino $11
Plank’s fried redfish sandwich looks and tastes like any other filet-o’-fish sammy.
Photo by Laurie James.
Great balls of happiness — Plank’s beignet-style hush puppies were sweet and savory.
Photo by Laurie James.
Plank Seafood Provisions takes the nautical motif very seriously.
Photo by Laurie James.
Plank believes in sustainable seafood, and the provenance on these oysters is impeccable.
Photo by Laurie James.

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