Eats Beat

This new high-rise cafe in Fort Worth has a great view. And surprise: It’s not expensive

The new Branch & Bird is an unassuming weekday cafe and rooftop bar 12 stories up in the new Frost Tower downtown.

But don’t be fooled.

Behind Branch & Bird’s simple all-day menus — counter service at breakfast, table service at lunch and weeknight happy hour — there’s a stunning amount of care and precision for such a basic restaurant.

In three trips last week, Branch & Bird sparkled both as a skyline lunch spot and as an after-work bistro.

The 12th-floor patio was surprisingly breezy and cool on a hot day. (It helps to be 12 floors above all the concrete.)

The rooftop view down Fifth and Taylor streets is the prime attraction, but the menu and presentation make it more than just a fun elevator ride.

So far, the menu is a limited selection of $10-$14 paninis, flatbreads, sandwiches and salads, plus some light appetizers at happy hour.

A Buffalo chicken flatbread and a meatball panini both impressed with the attention and quality. The flatbread was nicely browned and topped with chicken, shredded celery and carrot, just enough for lunch.

A meatball panini can be a mess, but the Paula Lambert mozzarella and housemade marinara were carefully spread over Angus beef meatballs.

Both came with a fresh house salad with a light, summery lime vinaigrette. The same vinaigrette is served on the Southwest salad, a clever mix of greens, roasted corn, avocado, black beans and pico de gallo.

The house spinach salad has strawberries, pecans and diced cranberries in a balsamic vinaigrette. There are Greek and Cobb salads, along with club, chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, plus a Cuban panini and a chimichurri steak flatbread.

For now, the dinner menu includes the same $10-$14 salads, flatbreads and paninis, plus a dip trio and a hummus trio. There’s a short but well-chosen wine list and mixed drinks.

Branch & Bird is pitched as “cocktails and cuisine with a view.”

The contemporary decor is sleek and handsome, but it’s not a fancy restaurant. It’s an easy-going, casual place to meet or take friends for a weekday lunch or downtown happy hour overlooking the skyline.

There are plans for weekend service and brunch later.

For now, Branch & Bird is open weekdays only, 6:30 a.m. (for breakfast tacos and muffins) to 9 p.m., at 640 Taylor St. (take the elevators up from the bank lobby); 682-785-8888, branchbirdfw.com.

A second helping of Hashi

The popular Hashi Japanese Kitchen from Watauga has opened a new counter service sushi and hibachi restaurant in west Fort Worth.

There’s no flashy sushi bar here like at nearby Tokyo Cafe or Little Lilly Sushi or hibachi showmanship like at Japanese Palace.

It’s a fast-casual style but with elaborate sushi such as the cowboy roll (spicy tuna and avocado with crab and spicy mayo).

The hibachi and teriyaki menus offer steak-and-chicken combo bowls for $11.95 or lobster tail for $15.95.

Asian restaurants are now the highest-rated in Ridglea, led by Pho & Grill, a second location for the popular Overton Ridge Boulevard restaurant.

Hashi offers quick service and easy delivery or takeout; 6370 Camp Bowie Blvd., 682-224-6666, or 8004 Denton Highway, Watauga, 817-849-2833; hashijapanesekitchen.com.

How about an 8-foot-long pizza?

If your family can’t get enough pizza, a Burleson pizzeria has the answer.

Moontower Pizza Bar’s newest mega-pizza is called “The Bus.” It’s 8 feet long and more than 2½ feet wide.

It’s also $299.95 and requires two days’ notice. (Extra toppings cost $25 each.)

The Moontower already offered the “full moon,” a 30-inch pizza ($44.95).

Moontower is a regular favorite in downtown Burleson. It’s open daily except Monday at 137 S. Wilson St., 817-888-8841, moon-tower.com

Bud Kennedy, 817-390-7538@EatsBeat

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.
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