Eats Beat: With new restaurants like Bird, Pigeon and AF+B, Fort Worth is festival-ready

01/09/2014 12:00 AM

01/08/2014 3:01 PM

Four chef-driven restaurants have opened in the past month, with another due by February.

Can there be any better time for the first Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival?

After an appetizer series of dinners last year, the city’s first celebration of food and wine unfolds March 27-30 around the umbrellas in Sundance Square Plaza.

Some of the events are pricey, like the $125 “grand tasting.” But they include plenty of food and wines, and less-expensive events in the $50-$75 range are comparable to the cost of dining out.

The festival covers everything from foie gras to barbecue, spread across local venues from downtown to Billy Bob’s Texas and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Chef Jeff Harris of the new AF+B cooked in the festival dinner series last year as Bolsa’s chef, and organizers hope he’ll join the festival lineup, said founder Russell Kirkpatrick of Reata.

“That restaurant is a great addition, and [owner] Consilient Restaurants knows the market from their success at Fireside Pies,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think some of the west-side restaurants didn’t know the market as well.”

Kirkpatrick has been around long enough to remember when “cowboy cuisine” was Fort Worth’s primary calling card.

“We’ve always bragged about Lonesome Dove, Bonnell’s and Reata,” he said.

“Look, cowboy cuisine put a roof over my head. But Bird Cafe and a lot of the new places are just spectacular.”

Tickets are now on sale for the festival’s seven signature events at fortworthfoodand winefestival.com.

There’s no phone yet, but for more information, try asking at Reata: 817-336-1009.

• Bird, Clay Pigeon, AF+B and casual but still chef-driven Velvet Taco have opened within the past month, along with a Del Frisco’s Grille.

The Fort Worth location of Jay Jerrier’s Cane Rosso Neapolitan pizzeria is due to open by February on West Magnolia Avenue, although it may offer only pizzas and salads at first.

The Arizona-based Kona Grill chain also will open at Crockett Street and University Drive.

Taco Diner will open in Sundance Square by festival time in March.

• AF+B’s mystery begins unfolding this weekend.

The new Consilient concept is supposed to open Friday after a series of test dinners and decor changes the last few days.

An early draft of the menu showed lunch choices for $12-$24, ranging from a grass-fed burger to a smoked trout salad, venison sausage or duck potpie. Sides include green chile cornbread.

The preview dinner menu features many of the same items for $15-$29, plus items such as a chile-rubbed pork chop with pumpkin-seed salsa verde.

Desserts on a preliminary menu include a chocolate-black walnut pie or sweet potato-coconut fritters.

AF+B is at 2869 Crockett St. on the corner at Currie Street, 817-916-5300; afandbfortworth.com.

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