Sunday, May 14, 2006


Duce: Trendy hot spot to watch!

Updated Post: 6/3/06

After having a great first impression at Duce (see previous review below), FWJoey and I had high hopes and were eager to revisit it for dinner. Well, we went for dinner much as I hate to say it...we were very disappointed with our experience.

Perhaps, we are partly to blame because instead of ordering a Main entree, we decided to try a number of the "tapas" on the menu. We tried the following tapas: (1) yellowfin tuna, $4 (2) giant shrimp with crawfish salad, $5 (3) goat cheese wrapped in grape leaf, $2 per slice of cheese(4) lobster ceviche $6 (5) halibut sausage, $5 (6) house cured wild salmon, $3.50 (7) rabbit manchego ravioli, $3 (8) grilled lamb chop, $4 (9) wild boar empanada (10) duck prosciutto, 3.

We were disappointed in the following tapas: (1) yellowfin tuna (2) giant shrimp with crawfish salad(3) goat cheese wrapped in grape leaf(4) lobster ceviche(5) halibut sausage(6) house cured wild salmon(7) rabbit manchego ravioli(8) grilled lamb chop(9) wild boar empanada(10) duck prosciutto.

Believe me, we wanted to be impressed by all the inventive flavors and combinations, but we just were not pleased. None of the tapas were memorable and some of them was just plain bland and dislikeable. FW's Joey's favorite was the grilled lamb chop and my favorite was the rabbit manchego ravioli. The portions are very small - usually one bite (I have had "tapas" at many other restaurants, including restaurants in Washington, DC and none of their portions are this tiny). Many of the tapas we tried, our server suggested that we order more than one of them because otherwise only one of us would get to try it because it only offered one bite. The menu should actually warn that patrons that they are paying $5 per bite. We racked up a bill of $100 (this included two inexpensive glasses of wine and two shiner bocks for FWJoey), yet we left feeling like we had not even eaten dinner.

We were highly disappointed for two main reasons: (1) we did not enjoy our food and (2) we felt like we got ripped off because the prices were so high yet the portions so small. Those that know us know that FWJoey and I do not mind spending money on a nice meal so long as it is tasty. Duce...was not tasty.

We do not anticipate returning for a meal; although we still think it is a nice place for a cocktail and socializing.


After dinner at Sapore, FWJoey and I stopped by Tim Love's new restaurant "Duce" located in the Village at Camp Bowie on the 6333 block (same center where Baker Street Pub is located). The vibe at this hotspot was trendy and chic - definitely something Fort Worth needs. Duce opened on Friday, May 12 and on Saturday, May 13, the crowd was impressive.

Since we were only having an after dinner drink, we walked through the restaurant's main dining room to the uber chic patio area which was unlike any other patio in Fort Worth. Lots of tables, lots of seating and a full bar. It reminded me of a more current and upscale version of Cafe Aspen's patio.

I predict this to be a quick favorite for young professionals and expect the crowds to roll in. FWJoey enjoyed a beer ($4.50) and I enjoyed a split of Jacob's Creek champagne ($6). We did not try the food, but we caught glimpses of it and it looked good. People looked like they were thoroughly enjoying their meals.

According to the website,, the menu consists of tapas and requires that patrons purchase three of them at a minimum. When I read that, I was turned off, but I was informed last night that there is not a three purchase minimum. That was an idea they decided to "86" which was probably a good decision. The menu sounds over inventive and adventurous, but do not let it scare you. I suspect there is something for everyone!

We are looking forward to dining at Duce and hope to see you there!


Sapore: Delicious food hammered by appalling service

FWJoey and I went to Sapore to celebrate our three year anniversary. The restaurant that was formerly Randall's Cheesecake is located on 8th and Houstonand valet parking is offered. The restaurant's atmosphere is quite nice and romantic. White table cloths with fresh flowers and candle light on the tables. There was even some live piano music that was a pleasant touch because it was not overly loud. We were sat and we were looking forward to a wonderful evening. Unfortunately, our hopes were killed due to the unbelievable service of the waitstaff.

We were not greeted by any server for at least 5 minutes. That is far too long to sit without someone even telling you hello or bringing you water. When a server finally arrived, he was very friendly. We ordered a bottle of the 2003 Ravenswood Red Zinfindel ($29), which turned out to be one of the best parts of our dinner. The bartender quickly placed the bottle on the bar to be picked up the server; however, the bottle sat there for at least 15 minutes before it was delivered to our table. It was so frustrating because we were just staring at the bottle wishing we could go grab it ourselves! It was an unacceptable length of time to wait. At the very least, the bartender himself should have delivered the wine to us. Finally, another server (not the same one who took our wine order) brought the wine to our table. At that time we ordered an appetizer.

We went with the prosciutto wrapped scallops ($10) because we were intrigued by the strawberry cream chipotle sauce. The scallops arrived two to an order. They tasted delicious. I especially enjoyed the sauces. I wished our waiter had delivered bread to our table so I could soak up some of the yummy sauces!

Once we received the wine and ordered our appetizer, the servers completely ignored us. We were ready for quite some time to place our order for our entrees so we could get rid of the large menus, but nobody was willing to ask us what we wanted. I grew incredibly frustrated by the wait. It was now 8:10 pm - we had arrived at 7:30 pm, yet we still had not ordered our main meal. I was forced to motion one of the servers over to our table. At this point, we were not even sure which server was waiting on us since one had taken our drink order and the other had taken our appetizer order. Not knowing which server is yours is unacceptable. Additionally, neither of them told us his name. One of the servers responded to my hand motioning and came over to the table. I asked him if he was our server and his response was, "I am now. I wasn't but now I am." Obviously, there was some confusion among the servers. Confusion or no confusion, it should have been worked out in under 45 minutes, which is was not.

We asked him to tell us about the specials and he did a miserable job of it. He did not seem to know what the specials of the evening were saying things like "I think the soup is ...." He looked around the restaurant as he attempted to tell us the specials. It was uncomfortable and unprofessional. The server was nice enough, but he had horrible server skills. There were many awkward moments.

After struggling to decipher our choices, we finally ordered. FWJoey ordered the center cut tenderloin with wild mushrooms and blue cheese with a side of yukon mashed potatoes ($28). When it arrived, FWJoey was worried because the tenderloin had been butterflied. This is typically a sign that the steak is cooked medium well instead of the way FWJoey ordered it which was medium rare. He was pleasantly surprised, however, when he cut into his steak and it was perfectly cooked to his desired temperature. It was unusual to butterfly a medium rare steak, but it turned out to be delicious. The blue cheese that topped his steak was impressive. It was not just melted atop the steak like at many places; rather, it was crumbled on top making it taste extra fresh. Also, the yukon mashed potatoes were above average and wonderful. FWJoey said his entree had the potential to be a "favorite" for him, but because the servers were so appalling, it hinders his ability to characterize his dinner.

For my entree, I ordered the appetizer portion of the "Paris Enchilada" ($10). This delectable dish consists of a french crepe stuffed full of escargot, mushrooms, leeks and goat cheese (I ordered mine without the leeks because I do not especially enjoy leeks). I loved this dish, but it is certainly not for everyone. The flavors are strong and distinct so if you do not like any of the included ingredients, this isn't a good choice for you. They offer a dinner portion of the Paris Enchilada ($20), but there is no need to order it because the appetizer portion is very generous. I was only able to finish half of the appetizer size.

Other demonstrations of poor service included the fact that FWJoey's appetizer plate sat on the table throughout his entire meal. This should have been removed when his entree arrived. Our server never refilled our wine glasses - we poured our own. The empty wine bottle sat on our table for at least 30 minutes. Our server never removed it, nor did he ask if we would like another drink.

The service at Sapore was a different kind of bad. The servers were not snobby or cold, in fact they were friendly, but they have been poorly trained and seem incredibly inexpericend. Service like that is unacceptable when you are dropping $50 per person on dinner.

Overall, our food was delicious. Props to the chef for his culinary delights. Desipte the quality of the food, however, our experience was so tainted by the service that we are not planning to return. It is a real shame because Sapore has loads of potential, but with this kind of service, patrons will not leave happy nor will they desire to return.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Piranha Killer Sushi: Worth a visit!

I have been to Piranha at least three times for lunch and have enjoyed myself every time. I have not tried one menu item that I didn't like. At the same time, however, I have not found that one menu item that I go crazy over (you with the temptation roll at Edohana on Hulen or the garlic stuffed tenderloin at Lonesome Dove or the shrimp and scallop enchilada at Bonnell's or the paris crepe at Sapore, need I say more?). I am still searching for the one thing that I will crave so much that I cannot resist having to go to Piranha at that very moment!

Just because I haven't found that item yet, does not mean it does not exist; therefore, I will continue to revist Piranha! Not only has the food been good, I really enjoy the atmosphere. It is lively and hip without being pretentious.

For starters, I am a big fan of the cucumber and tomato salad. This is not for everyone though because there is a wasabi based sauce that has a kick drizzled over the entire salad. I like to pair this salad with a "roll" and make a meal. My favorite starter so far has probably been the chicken spring rolls. Also good are the crab cakes with pineapple and mango salsa. The only "signature roll" I have tried is the Sexxy Roll which has coconut shrimp, crawfish, avocado, ginger cream, cilantro, topped with mango. It was very good.

During my last visit, I had the sesame seared tuna (found on the appetizer menu) as my meal. It was a good sized portion that I found very satisfying. The tuna was very fresh and I liked the chili aoli but I did not love the sauce. I think I would have preferred the tuna with a soy based sauce but it was yummy nevertheless!

Two of my friends recently shared the pad thai and said it was the best they had had - better than Pei Wei (which I love). Many of the entrees sound delicious, but there are just so many that I need more time to try them all. Guess I'll be going back again soon!

Piranha has an impressive martini list that I have not yet ordered from since I have only been at lunch. I am looking forward to trying them!

I recommend making reservations for lunch or dinner because this place is downtown's newest hotspot.


Bella Italia

Last week, I received an email from my colleague, PAJosh. Here is what it said...

"Went to Bella Italia last night.

One of the best meals I ever had. It was a special occasion and some friends of mine did it up right.

Very high end wine, bone-in buffalo ribeye (possibly the best cut of meat I've ever tasted)."

Bella Italia is located on Camp Bowie and Merrick.


Mellow Mushroom: FINALLY a good pizza joint has arrived!

FWJoey and I, checked out the newest pizza joint in town with our friends, FWJennifer and FWKenneth. Boy, oh boy, were we glad we did. Mellow Mushroom is a vibrant new pizza place located on Bluebonnet Circle. It is so good that our friends FWRobert and FWJenny claim they ate here four times in one week!

FWJoey, FWJennifer, and FWKenneth each ordered a "lil tossed" salad, which turned out to be not little at all. It was definitely enough for two to share. FWJennifer was a big fan of the Esperanza dressing which is Mellow Mushroom's version of a zesty, creamy Italian. We all shared the cheese bread which was a great appetizer and a very generous portion. At only $2.75, this is an economical starter that goes along way.

Each of us ordered our own small (10 inch) pizza so that we could share them and try lots of different flavors. FWJoey was very adventurous and went for the Magical Mystery Tour and he added Italian sausage (at the server's suggestion). FWJoey LOVED his pizza. It was not your traditional pizza to say the least. It did not even have tomato sauce! Instead, it had a pesto base and was topped with mozzerella, feta cheese, spinach, mushrooms, jalapenos and sausage. It was a hearty tasting pizza and it was a hit with everyone in our group! We would order this one again without question. Even better, however, was FWJennifer's choice which was the Kosmic Karma. This one had more of a traditional feel because it had tomato sauce, but this one also had the pesto sauce, sun-dried tomatoes (which rocked!!), spinach, feta cheese and tomatoes. FWJennifer and I both thought this one was the best of the four. FWJoey enjoyed Kosmic Karma, but did not think it was better than his Magical Mystery Tour. I opted for the Gourmet White. It was good, but bland in comparison to the other explosive flavored choices. It contained an olive oil base (no tomato sauce) and lots of garlic. No kisses for me after lunch! FWKenneth went for the Chicken Cordon Bleu. He enjoyed it, but FWJennifer and FWJoey were not big fans. Everyone liked it, but we didn't LOVE it.

We all left Mellow Mushroom wondering when we could come back! It was that good. They have great beers on tap such as Blue Moon, Purple Haze, Rogue, Woodchuck Cider. For dessert, they offer Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

The design of the restaurant is frustrating because the hostess stand is located in an inconvenient and confusing area. This is not a big enough deal to keep us from going back but on busy nights, it will cause chaos. Mellow Mushroom is drawing a huge crowd and they are still learning how to deal with it. The hostesses seem stressed out and inexperienced, but the servers make up for it with their chilled and likeable personalities.

FWJoey and I have already been back for our second visit. We went on a Friday night around 8:30 and there was still a 20 minute wait. the place was packed, including the bar and the outdoor seating area. Glad to see the joint is doing so well. We have a feeling the crowds will keep coming back...just like we did!

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