Who says North Texas dining is all about steak and starch? Here in landlocked Fort Worth, a seafood renaissance appears to be upon us. Earlier this year, chef Jon Bonnell opened the high-end Waters, which puts a Texas twist on oysters, clams, tuna and all sorts of other briny delights.
And last week the long-awaited Pacific Table opened in University Park Village. This upscale casual restaurant, with most entrees priced between $15 and $25, is the latest offering from chef Felipe Armenta, who also runs The Tavern Bar and Grill on Hulen St.
The first thing that strikes you as you walk inside is the rustic chic design: wood floors, exposed-beam wood ceilings; a large rectangular table up front where revelers can gather for happy hour drinks; a full-service bar behind that; and – in the rear of the restaurant – an open kitchen and sushi bar.
We visited for lunch on just its fourth day of opening, and already the crowds were considerable – every table in the front section of the restaurant was filled, and we had to settle for one of the raised tables next by the sushi bar.
The menu has a handful of non-seafood items, including a porcini roasted half-chicken ($14), and a satay steak salad ($17). But we were here for the seafood, so we started off with a regional favorite – the fried oysters ($10). These exceedingly plump wonders were served on the shell, accompanied not by any gooey, garlicky aioli but a simply grilled half-lemon. The buttery, lightly peppery batter enhanced but didn’t overwhelm the salty-savory oyster inside.
The main courses were just as appealing: the trout almodine ($18) is a modern twist on an old-school classic. Instead of crusting the trout with pulverized almonds, the fish is filleted and grilled and then topped with fresh herbs and chunks of almond. The scallop salad ($16) offers three large, perfectly seared scallops, along with a mélange of kale, apple, raisins and avocado, all tossed in a pecan vinaigrette. There’s a lot going on with this plate, but it melds together neatly.
Since we were there at lunchtime and had to return to work after, we couldn't indulge in adult beverages – but we’re looking forward to returning in the evening to try one of the signature cocktails on offer, including the Pacific Pimm’s Cocktail ($9), which featuers Pimm’s No. 1, Cointreau, mint, cucumber and lime, and the Pacific Rickey, with pink grapefruit gin (yes, there is such a thing), lime and mint.
All told, Pacific Table is a very welcome addition to one of the best dining neighborhoods in Fort Worth: With the Southwestern cuisine institution Blue Mesa Grill located a few storefronts away, and the Silver Fox Steakhouse just across the street, you can experience the best of Fort Worth’s dining flavors without ever having to venture north of Interstate 30.