Entering a new restaurant can be a lot like entering a new relationship: Very rarely is it love at first sight.
Usually you have to get to appreciate a new establishment over repeated visits; get to know its strengths and come to terms with its weaknesses. Eventually time passes and you realize that – even if every visit to the restaurant hasn’t been perfect – you couldn’t imagine your life without it.
But every once in a while there comes along a restaurant like Little Red Wasp, a new, upscale casual eatery on the north edge of downtown Fort Worth – and suddenly your culinary hormones shift into overdrive.
After just one visit, I am ready to declare my undying devotion to the place.
Located across from the Hilton on Main Street, Little Red Wasp – which opened in early September -- is the latest effort from Adam Jones, who also owns nearby Grace. Grace is extraordinary – though the steep prices will give your wallet a bruising. Most of the dishes on the menu at Little Red Wasp, however, are in the $11 to $25 range, making it ideal for a business lunch, a casual dinner, or a post-Ball Hall snack.
On our recent visit, we started with potato chips ($6), accompanied by a ranch dress, both house made. The chips were crispy and surprisingly light, the dipping sauce creamy and tangy.
For our main courses, we tried the Crispy Chicken sandwich ($12) and the Cobb salad ($18). The sandwich featured a buttermilk-battered chicken breast, deep fried and then topped with cabbage slaw and a fresh jalapeno relish. The heat from the peppers, vinegar from the slaw, and crunchy-crispiness of the chicken combined for one of the best dishes I’ve tried all year.
The Cobb salad was a more familiar affair: a bed of mixed greens topped with chicken, crispy bacon, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, avocado and blue cheese. But every ingredient was fresh and bright, and the portion was enormous – we finished half, and brought the rest home for dinner. We washed it all down with a pair of Revolver Blood & Honey beers, one of the locally sourced beers that’s available here on draught.
Given that it takes most restaurants many months to work out the kinks, it’s impressive that after just six weeks Little Red Wasp is firing on all cylinders. The décor is brightly colored and airy (we sat in one of the rainbow-striped booth along the side wall) – a welcome contrast to a corner of downtown better known for darkly-lit and moodily atmospheric steakhouses like Del Frisco’s, The Capital Grille and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Our server was a model of charm and professionalism, anticipating our needs before we even did.
Seems like this is going to be the start of a very long and rewarding relationship – not just for me, but for anyone who appreciates excellent downtown Fort Worth dining.