American Food + Beverage in Fort Worth, otherwise known as AF+B, is getting rave reviews. The restaurant is under the Consilient Hospitality umbrella which also includes Hibiscus, Victor Tangos, The Porch, and Fireside Pies.
Last night, I was invited to sample a few seasonal menu items, in addition to a couple mainstays stemming from the brain trust of executive chef Jeff Harris, the fine chef who starred in the kitchens of Craft Dallas and Bolsa. Aside from the tip, the meal was free (as are my opinions). Disclosures aside, let’s talk about the eats.
We started with a trio of appetizers that included Smoked Beet Hummus, Lamb Tartare, and Gulf Blue Deviled Crabs. Coming in respectively at $10, $13 and $7 (each), I have to emphatically endorse the tartare due to its commanding visual presence, further supported by its flawless execution. Procured from local purveyor, Sterling Lamb, the tartare was lean and succulent, indicative of an animal that wasn’t put under duress during its lifetime, or exposed to artificial hormones or antibiotics. Served on top of a smoked egg puree and mustard vinaigrette, the dish mended flavor profiles that reverberated off one another, yielding compliment after compliment from tartare aficionados.
The Smoked Beet Hummus also deserves mention by way of its surprising subtle spice. Chef Harris utilized (an unannounced) blend of cayenne and Espelette chile, a pepper indigenous to a French commune of the same name, as the beets were blended with garbanzo beans, tahini and olive oil. The resultant hummus was deep crimson in color, which I now realize could be perceived as foreshadow for what lied within.
As a mid-app, we shared the Wild Mushroom Grilled Cheese, which was served alongside a tomato and fennel soup. Employing a heavily buttered baguette from the local Black Rooster Bakery, I found the bread to be too thick and crispy to enjoy the sandwich in isolation, which forced the soup to be utilized. Once dipped, I lost the pleasure that was the mix of hen of the woods, baby shiitake and cremini mushrooms. At the price point of $15, I would suggest opting for a medium-rare burger with Veldhuizen cheddar and sherry onions.
I wanted to experience the diversity of entrees coming out of the kitchen, so I went with two completely different, albeit enticing choices. First, I paired a 2012 Adelsheim Pinot Gris with the Blackened Gulf Snapper ($25), followed by a 2011 Cooper Mountain Pinot Noir with the Wood-Grilled Sterling Lamb Saddle ($26). The former donned white beans, kale and clams in a warm, buttery, smoky jus. The snapper was light and flaky, with the best bite stemming from the addition of a single clam, kale for crunch and a deep soaking prior to enjoying.
The latter was the most visually enticing plate of the evening. Served rare with farro and goat’s milk yogurt, the lamb displayed a velvety texture which, when enjoyed with the soft Willamette Pinot, made for a one of the most enjoyable bites I’ve experienced in DFW. Next time, I’ll be sure to pair with a side of the hen of the woods mushrooms and braised greens, to encourage a more “earthy” experience.
Consilient Hospitality remains a company dedicated to details. AF+B is no exception. The bar is bright and lively, but my preference is to sit in the more rustic back dining room in order to savor the experience brought by way local purveyors and quality vintners, while utilizing fresh ingredients that are judiciously prepared.