Eats Beat: A James Beard-honored chef takes Fort Worth to Bite City

03/13/2014 12:00 AM

03/12/2014 6:41 PM

Chef Eddy surprised us all.

Known for his inventive Thai cooking in Dallas, “Eddy” Thretipthuangsin instead goes all-American for his new Bite City Grill, opening this month in Montgomery Plaza.

Bite’s entrees range from wood-grilled chicken or grilled salmon to Long Island duck in a blackberry-raisin demi-glace, or redfish and mussels with chorizo.

“We’re ‘modern American with global influences,’ ” said Thretipthuangsin, a James Beard-featured chef who led restaurants at a Florida resort and in the Hamptons before coming to Pakpao in Dallas.

“My style, no matter what the cuisine, is to have bold flavor. And there’s Asian influence, of course.”

Moving into the Montgomery Plaza space alongside busy Sushi Axiom, Thretipthuangsin’s Bite hopes to capture similar energy with larger windows and a more open dining room replacing the dark, wood-paneled former steakhouse space.

The menu compares to other new chef-driven restaurants in Fort Worth, such as AF+B, Bird Cafe and Clay Pigeon Food & Drink. Small plates ($7-$14) range from baba ghannouj to charred octopus with Peppadews or clams in lemongrass-coconut broth.

Diners can nosh on a small plate, one of four salads and a short rib-onion flatbread ($13) or get the now-ubiquitous $15 bar burger with truffle fries.

Thretipthuangsin knows he’s coming to Fort Worth at a busy time when big-name chefs like Bird’s David McMillan and AF+B’s Jeff Harris have set up shop here.

“I took a look around and it looks like Fort Worth is the perfect spot for a new restaurant,” he said.

He praised chef Blaine Staniford’s work at Grace: “I love the food there. And AF+B is doing a great job. People here expect good food and good service.”

Bite will open only for dinner at first, tentatively next weekend, then add lunches later.

It’s on the Carroll Street side of Montgomery Plaza at 2600 W. Seventh St.; 817-877-3888, bitecitygrill.com.

• It seems weird to write about a new El Chico Cafe.

But after 45 years, a complete inside-and-out remodeling has turned the Northeast Loop 820 location into basically a new El Chico.

Gone are the walls, the steps and the Spanish-style mercado interior. Now, the front door opens into a bright, open dining room trimmed in earth tones, with a full-length bar.

Outside, the building is now painted bright white with signage emphasizing the “Chico” and the name that dates back to 1926 and the Cuellar family’s Kaufman cafe.

The Tex-Mex menu hasn’t changed much, and the prices remain reasonable. The skillet apple pie with cinnamon ice cream would be a hit in any restaurant.

El Chico is open for lunch and dinner daily at 7621 Baker Blvd., 817-589-0737; elchico.com.

An even older Pantego location and a newer Arlington store are in line for future remodeling.

•  Pollo Tropical, a Caribbean chicken concept from Taco Cabana, is coming to North Texas.

An Addison location will open March 28, followed later by Fort Worth and North Richland Hills stores. Pollo Tropical features citrus-grilled chicken, plantains and mojo pork.

The Addison store is at 5290 Belt Line Road; pollotropical.com.

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