When it comes to Fort Worth restaurants, I don’t like to single out a favorite – comparing places like Taqueria Melis to Shinjuki Station to Lonesome Dove is an apples-to-oranges-to-bananas proposition, and it’s impossible to say one is any "better" than the next. But if there’s one restaurant I find myself returning to most frequently of late it’s Fireside Pies, in the West Seventh district, which serves up artisanal, thin-crust pizzas, house-made pastas, and delicious salads, all for an approachable price; it’s the rare restaurant that works equally well for a special occasion or just a casual night out.
So when I learned that the team behind Fireside – Consilient Hospitality, led by Tristan Simon, which also owns such Dallas hotspots as Hibiscus and CBD Provisions – would be opening a new restaurant in Fort Worth, I was naturally excited. AF+B, which stands for American Food + Beverage, opened its doors in mid-January, just down the block from Fireside Pies, and directly across from Waters, adding to an area that’s already an embarrassment of riches when it comes to dining options.
Billing itself as “a lively neighborhood tavern cast in a fresh and elevated voice,” AF+B is very much in the Fireside Pies mold: Familiar foods given a sophisticated spin, at prices that don’t break the bank. (Appetizers range from $8 to $13; main courses, $15 to $30). Obviously sensing a hit concept on its hands, Consilient is already planning to open another AF+B in Atlanta later this year.
On our recent lunch visit, we started with the Scotch eggs, which are done in the classic British style: two soft-boiled eggs, wrapped in sausage, coated in batter and then deep fried. But AF+B also puts a distinctly modern twist on the dish: The sausage in actually chorizo in this version, lending the dish a salty-hot kick, and the eggs are topped with a spicy-sweet mixture of cilantro and oil-cured chile peppers.
We also tried the potato and parsnip soup, a velvety rendition of another classic, here served with strips of lemon zest and topped with chile oil. Perhaps our favorite dish of the day was the duck pot pie, which combines beautifully braised duck meat with bitter greens and root vegetables, all of it served beneath a pastry that strikes a fine balance between buttery and crispy. The dessert menu, meanwhile, features such offerings as a Texas Grapefruit Tart and Chocolate and Black Walnut pie.
Elegantly designed, with light wood floors and brick walls, AF+B also provides plenty of breathing room between the tables and booths; on a crowded night, you won’t feel as if a complete stranger has joined your party, the way you sometimes do at other popular area restaurants. Our server, too, was efficient and friendly, anticipating our needs even before we thought of them ourselves.
Our only real concern about this excellent new Fort Worth restaurant: Poor Fireside Pies might end up developing an older-sibling complex when it sees how much attention AF+B is going to get.