For longtime residents of Fort Worth, the arrival of 90- and 100-degree-plus temperatures in June usually means one thing: It’s time to hunker down for a couple of months in the air-conditioning.
But this also presents a challenge, one especially felt by visitors here in the summer months: How do you take advantage of all that Fort Worth has to offer without also having to step into and out of your car and face that dreaded blast of hot, unforgiving air?
Lucky for us, Fort Worth has what I like to term “one-stop-shopping” solutions: Places where you can enjoy both high culture and great food under one roof. I’m talking about the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Kimbell Art Museum, located just across the street from one another in Fort Worth’s Cultural District – and both of which feature two of the tastiest “cafes” in town.
Cafe Modern is the more formal affair, set in a glass-walled corner of the museum that overlooks architect Tadao Ando’s sublime reflecting pool. Executive chef Dena Peterson changes her menu seasonally, which means that – no matter how many times you’ve visited in the past – you’re likely to encounter a few new surprises. During our visit last week, we were especially taken with the Lemon Sole Vin Blanc, a delicate piece of sole topped with a vegetable “linguini” and a delicate lemon-dill beurre blanc sauce. This is the perfect dish for a hot summer day: light, yet still filling.
The Modern also offers brunch on Sunday and dinner on Friday nights; and, indeed, there’s something about the elegant, serene setting that makes you want to relax, turn off you cell phone and linger for a few hours. Fortunately, the Modern also has extensive wine and cocktails lists to help you pass the time.
Meanwhile, at the Kimbell, there’s the more relaxed, but just as delicious Buffet Restaurant – where chef Shelby Schafer offers a regularly changing daily buffet that features soups, sandwiches, salads, and quiches. You never know what you’re going to get, but if you’re lucky, the lemon cream cheese bars are on offer for dessert on the day you visit.
What makes both cafes so special is that they are merely the appetizer course for an afternoon stroll through the galleries, taking in works by Rothko and Warhol (at the Modern), or Caravaggio or Michelangelo (at the Kimbell).
My personal summertime strategy: Arrive at the museum in the late morning, walk the galleries for an hour, take a long, leisurely break for lunch, soak in a little more art in the afternoon, and finish up back in the cafe for coffee. (Or, at the Modern, where there’s a full bar, an early happy hour.)
You’ll end up seeing and tasting the best Fort Worth has to offer without ever having had to break a sweat.