Carburetors and Cabernets
Will Churchill admits that making a trip to the car dealership can be like going to the dentist or the doctor, but he and his sister, Corrie Watson, are trying to change that. The great-grandchildren of Frank Kent and owners of Frank Kent Motor Co. will open Kent & Co. Wines this month on West Magnolia Avenue, offering a sleek wine bar, retail shop and lounge out of what’s really a vehicle service drop-off center — or is it the other way around?
“In our industry we have to constantly make things seem relevant,” Churchill says. “We’ll have drop-off service starting July 1. For customers who have a Cadillac, Honda or a Hyundai, they can drop off at 7 a.m. and we’ll have a loan car for them.”
Or customers can stay awhile and enjoy a cup of Avoca coffee with chocolate quinoa cake from Stir Crazy Baked Goods. Or, they can bring the kids and the family dog and do arts and crafts on the patio while enjoying a root beer float with ice cream from Melt or a non-alcoholic mocktail, like the grapefruit mojito or raspberry fizzy.
Or maybe customers don’t need vehicle service at all and simply want to enjoy a cheese plate from Magnolia Cheese Company and one of 48 wines by the glass that will sell for less than $10. (There’ll be 200 different bottles on the menu, along with eight local beers on tap.) Or rent one of 33 wine lockers in the facility’s climate-controlled wine cellar. Or buy a case of wine at retail price to go.
Churchill isn’t sure what type of clientele he’ll draw most, but he’s prepared to cater to as many as he can. “We looked at downtown and we looked at West 7th and no one really got our concept. Magnolia just really fit,” he says. “We are trying to partner with everyone up and down Magnolia because we want to be a good neighbor.”
Being a good neighbor in the Near Southside also means planning for the district’s biennial ArtsGoggle, which Churchill has already done in providing enough power wattage for bands to play on one of his vehicle display areas or under the covered drop-off bay in case of rain. We’re told $2.5 million was spent on the space’s finish out, which included $300,000 in custom furniture. Using his business savvy, Churchill will also take advantage of his ample space by displaying vehicles street-side near the entrance.
“We’ll have three cars on display, but no salespeople,” he says. “It’s all about the wine, but if they have questions about the cars, we have people who can help.”
Kent & Co. isn’t Churchill and Watson’s first endeavor in wine. The duo opened Cadillac Wines at their Frank Kent Cadillac dealership in 2012 and owned Papparotti’s Wine Room on Camp Bowie Boulevard several years ago.
“We both enjoy wine, but wine correlates well with the luxury buyer. Now wine is becoming so popular it’s transcending out of the luxury space,” Churchill says. “We get to mix all of our businesses together.”
At press time, Kent & Co. was anticipating a June 6 grand opening to include live music amid the festivities, as well as an appearance by Hummer, the family wine dog. 1101 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-632-6070, www.kcowines.com.
Paco & John Goes French-Mex
Paco & John, the tiny Mexican eatery located in a former convenience store, is in regular rotation amid favorite lunchtime spots near the hospital district, specifically for red snapper street tacos and salmon enchiladas. Now owner Francisco Islas, who spent 20 years cooking at French favorite Saint-Emilion, has intermingled French dinner specials among his Mexican repertoire. Entree specials have so far included sea bass with lemon butter caper sauce and beef sirloin with mushroom-peppercorn gravy. Each comes with ratatouille and pomme frites, or rice and beans, if desired. Additional courses can include escargot, French onion soup, a mixed cheese plate and cappuccino chocolate mousse pie. We can’t wait to try the duck and rabbit enchiladas, another whiteboard special. Also new for the BYOB restaurant: mussels served four ways on Thursday nights, including a Mexican version made with pico de gallo and red wine, adding to the cross-cultural concept. 1116 Eighth Ave., Fort Worth, 817-810-0032, www.pacoandjohn.com.
Mediterranean cuisine is coming to Southlake this month by way of Alabama? It’s not as farfetched as it seems. Birmingham-based Taziki’s Mediterranean Café was founded by Amy and Keith Richards, who were inspired by a vacation across the Greek islands, where they sustained themselves on baklava, feta, gyros and wine for three weeks before returning home, hungry for more. Today the fast-casual chain has more than a couple dozen locations throughout the South and in Colorado, offering Greek-inspired cuisine like rice-stuffed grape leaves, chargrilled lamb and gyros served seven ways. Southern influences such as Tabasco-tinged pimento cheese sandwiches and roasted pork loin with tomato chutney also dot the menu. Expect a late June opening for the first Texas location, which will take over the old Gingerine space. 2750 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake, http://tazikiscafe.com/.
Chef Sage Name Change
When we interviewed chef Sage Sakiri last year upon the opening of his Tribeca Americana Bistro & Lounge in Colleyville, we wondered how diners would respond to his exotic menu, most notably the foie gras medallions presented in glass jars that released cherry wood smoke upon opening. The foie gras now sits atop a Kobe beef burger thanks to Sakiri’s new concept that bears his name. Chef Sage features a more comfortable menu of steaks, wood oven pizzas, pasta dishes and salads, although the global influences reappear in dishes like South African lobster tail thermidor with black truffle and Normandy butter sauce. At lunch, diners will find everything from pastrami sandwiches and albacore tuna melts to grilled Portobello with truffle creamed spinach. Chef Sage also offers a brunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday and all-you-can-eat prime rib on Sunday night. 62 Main St., Colleyville, 817-788-3998, www.chefsage.com.
Happy Return to Chef Point Café
The “calamari Conoco” is quickly debunking its longtime label as a gas station dive. Chef Point Café, which added a sleek new bar last year, is opening an expansive new patio this month that’s pet-friendly, covered and, thankfully, equipped with fans. Even more, Josh Harmon, formerly of Keller’s short-lived Milk & Honey Co., has joined Chef Point Café owner Franson Nwaeze in the kitchen as chef de cuisine. But this isn’t the first time the two have worked together. “Franson has been like a father to me through all of my culinary career,” Harmon says. “Chef Point Café was actually my first job in the food industry, when I was much younger, as a food runner.” Five years later, Harmon’s influences can be seen on Chef Point’s wine and beer dinner menus as well as weekly specials, which recently included foie gras on toast with blackberry and black currant jam and a sea bass dish that sold out. 5901 Watauga Road, Watauga, 817-656-0080, www.chefpointcafe.org.
Villa’s Grill Scores for Brazilian
“Yes, please,” say the paper circles that diners leave face-up on their tables, beckoning the nearest “gaucho” — or guy with a skewer of meat and a huge knife — to slice off another serving. ’Tis the scene at Arlington’s new churrascaria, Villa’s Grill, a more laid-back version of pricier chain Brazilian restaurants with the same concept. Partner Peter Nguyen calls the lunch and dinner venue a “neighborhood churrascaria,” one that shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions only. Keeping with Villa’s neighborly attitude, Nguyen was happy to share the restaurant’s recipe for feijão — a flavorful Brazilian bean and beef dish popular among diners — and the house caipirinha — Brazil’s national cocktail made from cachaca, a Brazilian rum — just in time for World Cup watch parties. If you can’t make it to Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 FIFA festivities June 12-July 13, Villa’s cool caipirinha will take you there in sugar cane spirit. 6407 S. Cooper St., Arlington, 817-468-8222, http://villasgrill.net
New Tool for Wellness Warriors
Successful Fort Worth chef and bakery owner Catherine Ruehle says she’s asked every day how she was able to recover from rheumatoid arthritis without succumbing to toxic medications. Now she’s aiming to help fellow sufferers put a stop to their pain the same way she did through her new digital book, Put Out the Fire! Diet & Wellness Guide, now available for $24 at www.catherineruehle.com. The book outlines an eight-week program that will help identify and eliminate foods that trigger symptoms and offers more than 40 healthy recipes. “It’s the cornerstone of a bigger project I’m working on,” says Ruehle, who received nutritional training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and owns a holistic health consulting business called A Well-Nourished Life. “A live eight-week online program with members-only community support, weekly videos, live webinars and cooking demos. I feel this is my mission; my way to make something good out of my health crisis.” Ruehle is also preparing for the debut of her first cookbook, Let Us All Eat Cake: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Cakes, on sale in September.
Salsa Fuego is on Fire
Some might say it’s Carlos Rodriguez’s competitive spirit that has driven him to open a second restaurant. In fact, the owner of the successful Salsa Fuego Cocina Mexicana in west Fort Worth is already talking burger competitions when he opens Fuego Burger later this year. (He’s built a strong reputation for a massive green chile and cheese-covered burger with the same name, but notes that contests he’s wanted to enter require participants to be burger joints.) To make room for Fuego Burger in his flagship restaurant’s current location, Rodriguez is moving Salsa Fuego to a former Chinese buffet restaurant just steps away; it’s expected to open there later this month. In the new space, which will seat about 200, Rodriguez first will launch a tacos and tequila bar, luring folks in for happy hour and tapas and a semi-expanded menu focused on seafood. He plans to add red snapper Veracruz — a dish signified by its capers, tomatoes and green olives, mahi-mahi with roasted veggie quinoa and swordfish with green mole made from pumpkin seeds. A patio will be added later this year. 3500 Alta Mere Drive, Fort Worth, 817-560-7888.