What kind of idiot brings her husband to Neiman Marcus?
That would be me. More to the point, who the heck brings her kids along to lunch at NM Cafe? Also me.
Our unlikely foursome descended upon the relatively new restaurant, which opened when the department store did in February at The Shops at Clearfork in southwest Fort Worth, last weekend for an early midday meal.
As we walked through the shiny white and chrome store, at once refined yet flashy with pops of color thanks to some great abstract art, it was not lost on me that various desirable leather goods were on sale. But, again: my husband.
Dutifully, I resigned myself to the escalator, which carried us to the second-floor location of the restaurant, a small lime wedge of an appendage, as if attached to the adjacent, alluring display of Rag & Bone merchandise.
I willed myself to focus, but distractions continued inside the attractive space, where a white-and-green motif reigned and the rituals of eating here began to unfurl.
As the morning’s first diners, we caught the kitchen unprepared: The coveted consommé, the gratis rich cup-o-broth, was not quite ready.
But the restaurant’s legendary popovers, served with quaffable strawberry butter, immediately negated any disappointment. Huge domes of nebulous pastry, they were at once rich and airy — as in, they disappeared into thin air after about five minutes.
The kids settled in with their choices — chicken fingers and fries, $10, from the kids’ menu — while I took to a cup of tortilla soup ($7.50), another iconic menu item many remember from the Zodiac Room at the previous Neiman Marcus location in Ridgmar Mall.
The soup was studded with large chunks of chicken and tufts of cheese, with skinny tortilla strips ebbing and bobbing on the surface, making it tough to politely bring the spoon to one’s mouth without a dribble, or at worst, a go-home stain. But it was a perfect temperature and had a terrific chowderlike amalgam of textures, so it was hard to resist eating quickly.
We moved on to the entrees: the salmon tacos ($19) and the “Green Gratitude Bowl” with chicken ($22).
With large planks of flawlessly grilled salmon, the two tacos, served upright in one of those W-shaped serving platters, were overflowing with fish, slaw and pieces of avocado. I didn’t get much of the chipotle mayo mentioned on the menu, but a side of pico added punch.
The Gratitude Bowl was really a salad, with mixed greens and sprouts tossed with avocado, cucumber, a supergrain called freekeh, slivered almonds and goat cheese. Underneath was a mound of spiralized zucchini, crunchy and ideal for the green goddess dressing that accompanied. Healthy and trendy, it hit all the right notes, even if the chicken I chose to add was incredibly dry.
The cafe burger ($18), a hefty hunk of beef topped with bacon and melted Muenster and wedged between toasted, buttery buns, was an enthusiastic take, enhanced by a cone of thin-cut fries which, unfortunately, needed more salt.
But the consommé, making a late-in-the-meal appearance, had it in spades. It was delightful in spite of its delay.
The prices skew high, which shouldn’t be a surprise, with salads and entrees topping out at $26.50. But the service is commensurate — assured, agreeable and far from stuffy. When I asked if we could box up the remnants of our popovers (the title to my forthcoming autobiography?), I was rewarded with a to-go container of four, fresh from the oven. The container also included a bounty of strawberry butter, which most likely will be repurposed for multiple breakfasts tbd.
The takeaway, besides our leftovers?
NM Cafe is pleasant, likable, classy and tasty. Which I also like to say about my own crew.