I thought I wasn’t a biscuit person. That was me, pre-Fixe.
Because I have seen the light — that is, the light and airy, pillowy hillocks of pliant yeast otherwise known as this new Shops at Clearfork restaurant’s standout item.
To say these crusty, butter-bathed beauties melt in your mouth — that would almost be an understatement.
All I know is that I watched our order of biscuits as they were taken out of the oven. (Fixe has one of the most “open” open kitchens I’ve ever seen.) I saw a line cook nonchalantly brush them with melted butter. I monitored as they were transferred to a plate and then briefly rested on a table before our waiter picked them up and deposited the trio ($9) on our table.
It all took less than a minute, which in restaurant life is like a second.
And, in mere seconds it seemed, all three were gone from our table. For a small surcharge ($3), tiny ramekins of apple butter, Texas honey and n’duja accompanied — all of which caused some initial anxiety.
How to prepare the best bite? I spread some whipped Steen butter, which had syrup coursing through, on top of a steaming biscuit, then contemplated my next move. Would I go with the n’duja — a spicy, spreadable salumi — or a dab of the apple butter, sweet and like a creamier applesauce?
There is no right way to eat these biscuits. But to leave any behind — that would be so wrong.
The vibe: On the first Saturday night of service at this Austin import, the dining room was pulsating — and it wasn’t just the ambient music. People brimmed from the entryway bar. An indoor pergola-esque wooden structure houses most of the tables, and its iron-strung lights in a criss-cross pattern evoke a backyard motif. Long tables of men wearing button-downs with jaunty vests seemed to suggest that Stock Show traffic had found its way to the then-4-day-old restaurant. Women daintily — and then not so much — tore into biscuits, and couples could be found deliberating their choice of entree with increasing difficulty.
The food: OK, that last part was me and my husband, Jeff, whose brows were furrowed in the deepest of concentration. Would it be the lobster and crawfish potpie ($28) or the Duroc pork shoulder ($25)?
In the end, to stave off a fight and to keep our marriage alive, we split both. And there were no arguments while we enjoyed them. The potpie, full of bits of Maine lobster and crawfish in a silky bechamel, had the requisite flaky crust, and an earthy theme.
Similarly, the pork shoulder, cooked to meaty medium, derived its juiciness from a jalapeño-kale emulsion. And the crispy, lemony kale garnish had Jeff swooning.
The menu skews animal. Buttermilk fried chicken with spicy honey ($21), a duck breast with a preserved cabbage ragout ($26) and a 32-ounce dry-aged tomahawk rib-eye with grilled oyster mushrooms ($85) are tempting if for nothing more than their intriguing flavor pairings. Executive chef James Robert clearly draws on his Louisiana upbringing for inspiration, but also aims to put his own “progressive” twist on the fare.
Look no further than the smoked oyster fried rice ($9), an extremely seductive side dish. Crispy Carolina Gold rice gives the bowl immediate texture, while kimchi yields acid and lardo a glaze of richness. This is irresistible stuff, even if it hardly made any sense against the carby-ness of the potpie.
Dessert is not an afterthought at Fixe, even if your skinny pants are. The brioche doughnut ($9) was outrageously huge, with fluffy innards and a bruléed crust. A sunflower-seed streusel, a moat of vanilla bean custard and a quenelle of honey ice cream accompanied. It may have been enough for four people, but I was suddenly glad our two dinner guests weren’t able to join us.
The verdict: Impressive and assured, Fixe is just the place to satisfy a Southern food jones.
Fixe Southern House
Shops at Clearfork
5282 Marathon Ave., Fort Worth
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy-hour menu available 4-7 p.m. daily. Sunday brunch hours to be announced.