Friday, February 08, 2008


Pleased with Piola!

Today, FWKelly and I had an impressive lunch at Piola Italian Restaurant and Garden. From the moment, we entered the restaurant, everything was wonderful... from the cozy, inviting atmosphere to the delicious food to the lovely presentation of the food. There was nothing to be disappointed about which must be why I have been in a good mood ever since!

We started with the bruschetta (5.95) which was buttered toasts served around warm goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, red bell peppers and grilled radicchio. It was a great way to start our meal. I was very tempted to try the shrimp stuffed baby portobello mushrooms but did not since FWKelly is not a fan of mushrooms. I'll save those for my next visit which I suspect will be soon.

For entrees, FWKelly thoroughly enjoyed the eggplant parmigiana (9.95) and I thoroughly enjoyed the stuffed chicken ($10.95). We both devoured everything on the plate! FWKelly commented that she does not usually eat too much but in this case, her food was so good, she could not stop eating it until it was all gone. Sounds like a pretty high compliment to me! My chicken breast was stuffed with a mild spinach/ricotta blend and served on the best polenta I have ever had. There was just a little bit of buttery artichoke sauce drizzled on the plate and the chicken was surrounded by 3-5 huge artichoke hearts that were great. Next time, I will likely try the lasagna which I was told was very good and FWJoey will try the chicken parmasean!

I was so impressed by our first two courses that I just had to try a dessert so I twisted FWKelly's arm and we shared the crème brulee. It was yummy and the top was perfectly crispy. The strawberry that topped the crème brulee and the chocolate sauce that was artfully splattered on the plate made the presentation memorable.

Not only was our food fabulous, our server was also impressive. She was friendly, knowledgeable and offered suggestions when asked. She told us that the dinner menu was substantially similar to the lunch menu with slightly higher prices.

Piola is located at 3700 Mattison Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76107 which is in the cultural district near the intersection of Camp Bowie and Montgomery Street. If you decide to go (which you should in my opinion), reservations are recommended.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Brix Pizzeria

Brix Pizzeria just opened and is located on Hulen next door to Snookies (in the space briefly occupied by Spice). FWAmie and I checked it out during lunch. I was impressed by the service, the management and the food. We started with the Caprese ($6.50) which consisted of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and aged balsamic. The balsamic was especially good and really made the dish stand out. The portion was more appropriate for one person rather than for sharing. Next time, I'll order the Caprese all for myself.

For our entrees, we each tried one of the pizzas. I had the Pollo E Cipollo ($13) which was grilled chicken, caramelized onions, mozzarella and mushrooms. The toppings were very generous! The pizza was impressive, but it did not have any tomato sauce which made it a touch bland for my taste. FWAmie had the Parmigiana ($12) which was tomato, mozzarella, eggplant, parmigiano and basil. I liked this pizza a little better and I think it was mainly because I enjoyed the tomato sauce! Next time I go, I'll likely try something new, but I'll be sure to ask if it has tomato sauce!

The desserts sounded wonderful, but we had no room. FWJenny, however, tried Brix over the weekend and reported that the Hot Fudge Croissant ($5.75) was a winner! Yummo! In addition to pizzas, the menu offers a variety of paninis priced at $8.75 and served with choice of fries or mixed green salad).

Although, I did not try any of the wine, I reviewed the wine list and thought it was promising. Each wine category seemed to offer at least one selection by the glass. The prices started at $6, but most were $7-9.

I enjoyed the atmosphere and think Brix will have more lasting power than its predecessor.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Ronin: Where the customer is NOT always right

Ronin, located in Montgomery Plaza, is one of the newest sushi restaurants in Fort Worth. FWKelly and I recently had lunch at the new establishment and I am sorry to report that it was not a positive experience. The decor and atmosphere were very hip and cool, but the service and the management were sub par to say the least. One of the most obvious criticisms of the menu was the steep prices. Both the sushi and especially the entrees seemed more expensive than places such as Edohana, Sushi Axiom, and even Piranha. There were few, if any, entrees that were moderately priced. There is a lunch menu that provides a hand-full of lower priced entrees, but the lunch menu does not include any sushi or sashimi specials. There is no bento box or anything similar. If you want sushi, you must order from the dinner menu.

I ordered the Spicy Baked White Fish roll which was described as being baked white fish atop a roll containing asparagus, avocado and one other ingredient. When I received my food, it was nothing like what was described on the menu. Rather than being topped with baked white fish, it was topped with a thick, salmon colored, mayonnaise based sauce that allegedly contained white fish within the mixture. I explained to the server that the roll was not what I expected because it was not baked white fish and she said "Yes, it is. There is baked white fish right there in the sauce" as she proceeded to point at the dish. I asked her what all the sauce was and she explained that was the "spicy cream" portion of the roll. Two diners sitting next to us overheard my exchange with the server. They had also ordered the baked white fish roll and wanted to change their order once they saw it was drenched in mayo (they thought they had made a healthy selection). They also felt the menu did not accurately describe the roll.

During this episode, unfortunately, the owner did not come over to address the situation. All of us, including the diners next to us, were disappointed with the manner in which the situation was handled. To make things worse, the owner eventually came over to our tables to find out who sent back the baked white fish roll. He, like the server, argued with all of us. Another diner suggested he change the description on the menu, but he was not interested in that suggestion. He believed the menu description was accurate and explained he was not making "stereotypical" sushi. He wanted to be exciting and surprise his guests. Who wants to be surprised by what they order at a sushi restaurant?? Not me.

On the plus side, the gyoza (pork dumplings) were very good and the Fort Worth roll (which was what I replaced my first roll with) was quite tasty as well. The Fort Worth roll contained shrimp and cucumber topped with eel. It was unique and I would definitely order it again. On the other hand, FWKelly ordered a spicy tuna roll and a california roll and she seemed remarkably unimpressed. She will not be returning.

Overall impression: My food, with the exception of the baked white fish roll, was really good, but it was tainted with a bad attitude. Hopefully, those at Ronin will learn that customer satisfaction and respect are critical components to gaining repeat visitors.


Vidalias: Will it last?

It is hard to predict whether Vidalias is making a lasting impression on its patrons. On two recent lunch visits, the crowd has been relatively small. The menu claims to be Southern inspired and includes entrees such as pecan crusted chicken and chicken fried rib eyes. The lunch menu also includes a good selection of sandwiches including a delicious sliced prime rib sandwich ($10) and turkey sliders ($8). I enjoyed the sliced prime rib sandwich so much the first time that I ordered it again on my second visit. Each sandwich comes with your choice of sweet potato fries, waffle fries or small salad. I have tried both types of fries and thought both were perfectly crisp and excellent. Definitely far above average!

Everyone I have dined with at Vidalias enjoyed their meal. Food that has been ordered and enjoyed by friends include the pecan crusted chicken, the chicken sandwich with blue cheese (although there seemed to be a little too much blue cheese), the onion soup, and the pulled pork sandwich.

For me personally, this is not the type of food I crave for dinner and since the dinner prices are substantially more expensive, I do not foresee a dinner experience in my immediate future. If you go for dinner, please come back to my blog and leave a comment letting us know how it was!

Vidalias is located in the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in the space formerly occupied by the Chisolm Club and more recently occupied by the very brief Sam & Harry's.


Did Fred's go upscale?

Based on the amount of our most recent dinner bill, the answer to this question is "YES!" FWJoey and I recently dined with another FW couple for dinner at Fred's and our check total for the four of us was a whopping $140 (not including tip). At Fred's! Since when did Fred's start charging $11 for a glass of wine. Or better yet, when did Fred's start serving wine?? If you recall, Fred's historically only served beer. If you wanted to consume wine, you could bring your own bottle. Those days are long gone now that Fred's is serving wine - expensive wine.

When we arrived at Fred's on a recent Friday night, the dining room was crowded and there were no tables immediately available. We had a seat at the bar and I asked to look over a wine menu. The bartender gave me a look like... you want a wine menu? You are at Fred's - you think we have a wine menu? I assume they do not have a wine menu because rather than giving me one, the bartender proceeded to present me with various bottles of wine but did not mention the price per glass of the wines. Already feeling silly for asking for a wine menu, I ordered a glass of the Fat Bastard cabernet because I was familiar with that label and knew it ran about $9.99 per bottle at the liqour store. I expected the cost to be around $5 per glass, so I was surprised when we got our bill and it was $8 per glass. After we consumed the Fat Bastard wine, we were served another red wine that cost $11 per glass. Wow! I don't even pay that at most upscale dining establishments. The men consumed beers at about $4 per schooner.

Onto the food, the men, for reasons unknown to me, decided to order the calf fries as an appetizer while we waited at the bar for a table. Those suckers cost $16. Sound overpriced? Uh...yeah. Then came dinner. Joey and I both had a Fredburger and fries ($8.50) for dinner. The meal was good and greasy - just like a Fredburger should be! FWBrittyn, at the server's suggestion, opted to try the Steak Fingers dinner special. Little did she know, she had just ordered a $22 entree at Fred's! SURPRISE!

I suppose the lesson I learned at Fred's was never to assume anything. Don't assume the wine prices will be inexpensive (or even reasonable for that matter) and don't assume the Chef Specials will be priced in a range similar to the rest of the menu (the Ribeye special was $31). So long as you stick to beer and burgers, you should have a great dinner experience, but if you decide to tread off course, be sure to find out the price of what you are ordering. Proceed with caution!

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