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Eats beat: Another local chef catches the seafood wave, plus a gastropub for downtown

01/29/2013 1:12 PM

01/30/2013 8:46 AM

Jon Bonnell is not the only chef opening a seafood restaurant.

Chef Felipe Armenta's second local restaurant will be a seafood and light-fare grill with an outdoor wood-burning rotisserie drawing diners to University Park Village.

Union Pacific Cafe will open around May in a former Italian restaurant tucked into a corner of the shopping center, near anchor Blue Mesa Grill but with extra parking facing Rogers Road and the Union Pacific railyard.

"I think that's such a great name for what we'll do," said Armenta, a former Hillstone and Houston 's chef who rescued a timeworn South Hulen Street burger grill and turned it into The Tavern.

"We want to bring a Pacific Coast feel and have a light, casual restaurant, like what you'd find in California."

Union Pacific won't be fancy. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, all at the same midrange prices that have made The Tavern an all-ages favorite

The menu will include a few items such as a prime rib or leg of lamb, but will focus on seafood, Armenta said.

Armenta worked in Los Angeles and Newport Beach helping the Hillstone company open its Gulfstream seafood restaurants. But he said he wants Union Pacific as more of a casual hangout like Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar in Austin.

"I want the price point to be right," he said.

He laughed at the location's fine-dining heritage. It was the former La Piazza, now relocated to the West Seventh area.

"We're not doing anything fancy," Armenta said.

"We just want more people to find this corner," he said, maybe on their way to the nearby Woodshed Smokehouse or University Drive restaurants, he said.

Until Union Pacific opens, you'll have to settle for his crabcake salad at The Tavern, 2755 S. Hulen St., 817-923-6200,

Bonnell's new upscale seafood restaurant, Waters, Bonnell's Fine Coastal Cuisine, is now hiring and is on track for a March or April opening.

It's at 2901 Crockett St.; 817-984-9110.

Word is finally out about Bird Cafe, the new Shannon Wynne restaurant in the former Flying Saucer space in downtown Fort Worth.

Prominent Dallas chef David McMillan, once known here for 62 Main in Colleyville, will oversee a small-plates menu similar to the one at Wynne's Dallas gastropub, the Meddlesome Moth.

The space opened when the Saucer moved to larger quarters in the next block. Bird is expected to open around October.

Arlington favorite Olenjack's Grille now opens at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday and serves a brunch menu instead of the old Sunday buffet.

Olenjack's is in Lincoln Square at 770 E. Road to Six Flags; 817-226-2600,

Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in Weekend. 817-390-7538

Facebook: Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat

Twitter: @budkennedy

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