Ever since last fall, friends have been whispering that I needed to visit Sera, a Spanish / coastal French restaurant that opened on Forest Park Blvd., in the space formerly occupied by Sapristi. Yet for one reason or another, I kept dragging my feet. I was skeptical about yet another “small plates”-focused restaurant – too often at such places, I never know how much or how little to order. I was skeptical, too, about the location: Why bother with a neighborhood restaurant located in a strip mall, when they are so many vibrant dining districts in town, such as downtown Fort Worth and Magnolia Ave?
Time to eat my words. Having finally visited Sera, it turns out that my fears were woefully short-sighted. Under the leadership of co-owner John Marsh (who used to be the general manager of Sapristi) and chef Brandon Hudson (who was previously the sous chef at the excellent SMOKE in Dallas), Sera is serving up food that’s as adventurous as it is delicious.
Seriously, I needed to listen to my friends more often.
On our recent visit, our group of five split a half-dozen small plates to start – and then nearly got into a series of knife fights over who would get the largest share of each. We were especially gaga for the freshly shucked oysters, beautifully briny and silky, and served with a tangy-sweet cava-grapefruit vinaigrette. Another home run was the thick slices of rustic toast, topped with meyer lemon marmalade, goat cheese and Serrano ham; the melding of sour, creamy and salty flavors was dazzling.
And while the Berkshire pork belly with maple-sherry glaze sounded a little heavy for a warm summer night, the portion was just the right size, and the preparation was spot-on.
Main courses proved just as triumphant: Our friends devoured the Teres Major steak, while my husband and I opted to share an order of Fideua Negra. Plainly put, it was one of the most exciting dishes we’ve had in months. Fideo pasta is roasted and then infused with squid ink, and then served with squid, scallops, snap peas and roasted red peppers. If you’re fans of seafood as we are – and can’t get enough of the gently salty kick of squid ink pasta – this is the kind of dish you’ll be returning for again and again. (Little wonder that DFW.com named it one of the best dishes of 2013.)
Sera – pronounced as Doris Day once sang, Que Sera Sera – also offers a well-curated list of Spanish and French wines. Our group started with a nicely dry Raventos I Blanc, a sparkling wine from the Penedès region of Catalonia, and then moved on to the Domaine Notre Dame des Pallière, a red Grenache blend from France.
Finishing with the cheese plate, featuring three superb Spanish cheeses, it almost felt as if we were in a European bistro thousands of miles from Fort Worth. Except we didn’t need to get on an airplane – only drive five minutes from our house.
Sorry it took so long to visit, Sera – but, trust us, we won’t make the same mistake again.