Standing front and center in a primo spot at The Shops at Clearfork, the new B&B Butchers & Restaurant aims to single-handedly resurrect the two concepts after which it is named: the classic steakhouse and an old-fashioned butcher shop.
The idea is as ambitious as its sprawling space, nearly 7,500 square feet strong, but it worked in Houston, where owner Benjamin Berg opened the first B&B two years ago. That Berg chose Fort Worth over Austin or Dallas to open the second location says something about our city: We’re totally cool with embracing ambition these days.
Those already familiar with the hallmarks of a classic steakhouse will be on familiar turf. Diners uneducated in the ways of “steak au poivre” and “carpet bagger” and “Diane-style” steak will be shown the ropes by a seemingly bottomless supply of servers.
The vibe: Two stories high, the restaurant is all class. White tablecloths and high windows give the main dining room a sense of grandeur and elegance. Think Del Frisco’s and Silver Fox and other upper-echelon steakhouses. But B&B’s is also approachable. We wore jeans and T-shirts and sat next to people who dressed worse than we did; they had on shorts.
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There’s a pretty patio and a second-floor mezzanine for spillover and special events. The separate bar area is nice, too, and outfitted with an attractive centerpiece: a marble-topped bar.
The food: Overseen by executive chef Christian Marentes, a Fort Worth-based chef who spent time at Bob’s Steak & Chophouse and Sam and Harry’s in D.C., the menu is dominated by meat dishes but does offer several non-beef options, including a half-dozen fish dishes and a handful of salads.
Meat is the restaurant’s pride and joy, though. There are 22 cuts culled from four types: USDA Prime, Japanese Wagyu, Texas Wagyu and B&B’s Ark of the Covenant steak, the super-rare A5 Kobe Beef, touted as the best beef in the world.
During my first visit, with my wife at dinner, I mulled over the meat selection, which ranged from a $46 filet mignon to the A5, which starts at $225 for 4 ounces.
We chose what we felt was a good middle ground: the New York strip ($54). At 14 ounces, it was enough for two but was mostly devoured by one — she who was quicker with the fork than I. The steak was exactly what we wanted it to be: tender, rich, cooked a perfect medium rare, from the outer rim to the center, with a well-marbled interior capped by an authoritative sear.
For a second entree, we bypassed fish, salads and pastas for the restaurant’s lone chicken dish, which our server promised would be a memorable experience. She wasn’t exaggerating. The chicken shank ($21) featured the meat and skin of a half-chicken skillfully wrapped around a large drumstick. With each bite, the meat came unraveled, like a spool of thread.
The chicken was wildly moist, thanks to it resting in a pool of its own juices, and had a buttery/smoky flavor that I’m still thinking about days later.
Sides, which cost extra, were less memorable. Given our budget, we could only afford to try two — a rather straightforward and tame creamed spinach ($12) and a mac and cheese ($13) that could have used some extra oomph. Pay the $3 upcharge to have it spruced up with bacon.
We didn’t because, at that point, we’d already had our fill of bacon, having devoured an appetizer devoted to it. Yes you can order bacon for an appetizer and I would highly suggest you do so.
The sampler ($18) was made up of three types of bacon, all still sizzling when it hit our table: lamb bacon, thick-cut pork bacon and regular-cut bacon decorated with blue-cheese crumbles and truffle honey. I feared they’d be too similar but found that each had a dramatically different taste and texture. All were excellent, but our favorite was the lamb, whose fattiness created a vivid, rich flavor.
Prices and food are a little less weighty during lunch, when the menu focuses on lighter fare, including sandwiches and burgers. The butcher shop next door is also a restaurant, small and quaint, like a New York bistro, with checkerboard tablecloths and a menu of sandwiches and sides. Even if it’s just a drop-by, a visit is a must, if only to see cuts of beef lined up in a dry-aging room and burly dudes carving them up.
The service: This is a place where your water glass will never be empty and crumbs on your tablecloth will be dutifully combed away. Entrees are wheeled out on carts and certain dishes are prepared tableside. Classy — and classic — all the way.