by Jim McClure
I’ve enjoyed watching the culinary culture around Ft. Worth over the past several years. As the city itself has grown it’s seen the number and variety of restaurants expand to include local niche places such as Spiral Diner as well as more nationally recognized higher end names.
One new local venture is Brownstone, spearheaded by Top Chef finalist, Rosewood Mansion alum, and former Shinsei executive chef Casey Thompson. I’d heard some buzz about Brownstone, and seeing Casey Thompson among Food and Wine’s finalists for this region’s People’s Best New Chef poll prompted me to try it for myself.
Located in the trendy 7th Street area, Brownstone has a very open, modern, loft-like feel with a large bar and ample room for accommodating large groups as well as more intimate private dinner parties. A scan of the wine list shows a decided slant to the domestic, with many of the standard wines you’d expect to see at this level restaurant. Silver Oak, Duckhorn, Jordan and the like are available as safe go-to wines. The dinner menu is southern cuisine based, offering numerous comfort food options, some with a more gourmet twist: Kobe Cheek Pot Roast, Smoked Beet and Chickpea Hummus, Grandmother’s Biscuit Pan, and Crispy Chicken Livers among others offer an interesting selection.
As a starter, the Twice Fried Brussels Sprouts on the menu piqued my curiosity. Lately I’ve seen everything from fried green beans to fried artichokes crop up on menus, some working out better than others. I’d put Brownstone’s take on Brussels sprouts firmly in that “others” category. They weren’t bad, but frying added nothing to the flavor of the dish, and the creamy Parmesan dipping sauce was very creamy but there wasn’t much in the way of a cheese flavor.
Following the fried intro, I decided to go for the Baby Wedge Stack salad. On first impression, too much attention is paid to style, which is present in abundance with the attractively stacked and skewered sections of lettuce. Unstacking the sections is awkward and risky, but once done the salad is very enjoyable, with whole strips of smoked bacon and a good bleu cheese dressing.
For my entree I opted for the 12 ounce All Natural Ribeye, served over fingerling potatoes and broccoli rabe. The vegetables were outstanding with what seemed liked a red wine reduction sauce. The steak was another matter. Immediately obvious was the oddly butterfly shape of the cut with a large section of fat in the middle connecting two sections. While the meat itself was okay if not overly flavorful, I estimate at least a third of the portion to have been large sections of fat. If there’s one unforgivable sin in Fort Worth dining, it’s serving a bad steak, and this was a bad steak, particularly for the $32 price tag.
The Fried Pineapple Pies dessert was the real treat of the evening, with a wonderfully flaky crust wrapped around a delicious filling. With two small fried pies and a generous scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, it’s conveniently made to share.
If I’m with others who want to give it a try, I might be willing to give Brownstone another chance, but if it’s my call I’ll pass. There’s too many good restaurants to choose from and new ones to try.