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Hand-painted floor tiles and a cast zinc bartop welcome guests.

The ABC’s of AF+B

by Rachael Abrams | Photos by Mei-Chun Jau | Modern Luxury Dallas magazine | April 1, 2014

Steel and wood set the tone for what American Food and Beverage proves to be, a classic eatery. Nestled in the vibrant West Seventh Street District in Fort Worth, we could easily mistake AF+B for a chic Brooklyn hot spot. But as we move past the hip crowd by the wooden bar, we find ourselves back in Texas in the main dining room where Southern hospitality and all-American flair drape the space.

Consilient Hospitality’s CBD Provisions in Dallas, which debuted in October, is the recently opened AF+B’s sibling restaurant, and the younger certainly lives up to its elder. Though there are slight variations in the menus and the modern-industrial decor, the eateries are like fraternal twins complementing each other. The common threads—the impeccable speedy service and superb food—are what make loyal customers.

Well acquainted with chef Jeff Harris’ alluring menu, the waitstaff—decked in white button-downs, jeans and lace-up kicks—are experts. From the complex ingredients and cooking methods to the best cocktails and wine pairings for each dish, their knowledge is imposing. We can only hope that our expectations will be met, given the neat attention to modern cuisine Harris carried out during his former position at Bolsa.

Just before dinner, we sip on one of the popular items on the cocktail menu, which was carefully crafted by New York’s beverage experts Chad Solomon and Christy Pope. The Sweet Water is addicting and reminiscent of a hard Arnold Palmer with a splash of soda. Attempting to prolong our cocktail, dinner begins with mixed greens layered with beautiful slices of watermelon radishes, petal-like carrots and aromatic herbs all coated in a light and dreamy vinaigrette. The palate starts to cleanse for what’s next, thanks to the crisp and fresh flavor.

Lightly fried and drenched in AF+B’s signature hot sauce, the glistening red crispy quail is an elegant version of Buffalo wings—tender to the bone and bursting with spice from the chile pepper variations. Each piece daintily sits on a crisp white plate, accentuating the quail’s petite shape and Harris’ ability to turn classic bar food into a coveted treat. We could stop there, thinking the small plates on the menu—including decadent chorizo scotch eggs and lamb tartare with a smoked egg puree—might be more seductive than the mains.

But, although the locally sourced aged steak is grilled to perfection, it’s the tangy and bright chimichurri that impresses the most. Hold the housemade ketchup; we want chimichurri on everything, even the hand-cut fries.

The blackened Gulf red snapper topped with a citrusy gremolata is mouthwatering and rests on pillow-like beans and sauteed kale. Sweet Manila clams frame the fish as an unnecessary bonus that nearly steals the spotlight. The varying flavors from the snapper and clams are rounded out by notes of honey and pear in the recommended Adelsheim Pinot Gris from Oregon—a top pick on sommelier Ryan Tedder’s list of American wines.

Yearning for more poblano chiles in the corn bread, we are tempted by the scoop of sweet and velvety sorghum butter soaking into the cakey classic that could make even a Frenchman melt.

Pastry Chef Laurel Wimberg’s menu is stacked with sassy choices, such as sweet potato coconut fritters and a grapefruit tart. You might pass on the coffee toffee apple pudding, a decadent and robust choice that’s more like a deconstructed pecan pie garnished with a few apples.

Tadd Myers’ abstract photography from his American Craftsman Project graces the wall, and that close-up shot of a freshly sewn baseball mitt is a nod to the American dream. Fitting, as there’s nothing quite like tasting the dream of a talented craftsman like Harris.

Taking Food Home?
The waitstaff packs up to-go boxes and labels the dish with the expiration date.

Sugar Rush
Forget sugar packets; you’ll get a side of homemade simple syrup to sweeten your iced tea.

On the Side
You won’t find Heinz here. All condiments are entirely housemade.

Unique Touch
Some of the dishes are served on a piece of the restaurant’s menu, like the french fries and dessert.

AF+B
2869 Crockett St.
Fort Worth
817.916.5300

Sun.-Thu., 11am-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-11pm