Tesar on Fire
“I don’t know when cooking a steak became so complicated,” writes popular Dallas chef, restaurateur and two-time “Top Chef” contestant John Tesar in his first cookbook, “Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home” (Flatiron Books, $29.99). “When I was growing up … we didn’t need to have charcoal or wood chunks or lighter fluid or a hibachi or a Big Green Egg to cook a steak, much less a sous vide machine and a water circulator. All you needed was a big steel pan, some oil, salt, and a piece of good meat.” Named for Tesar’s revolutionary Dallas restaurant that draws big crowds with deep pockets for premium dry-aged cuts like beef cheeks, oxtail and Akaushi beef, the hefty tome reveals Tesar’s secrets for preparing the perfect steak, such as gauging the size and seasoning, and heating the pan properly. Tesar also includes recipes for some of his signature sides, such as avocado fries. “My wish is that you will create the perfect steakhouse meal at home.”
R Taco, Times Two
There is no shortage of taco joints in Fort Worth, and now R Taco can be added to the ever-growing list. The Dallas-based chain, formerly Rusty Taco, has made its way west with two new locations: one opening by early June in Ridglea Hills and the other now open on Bluebonnet Circle. Catering to both early morning and late dinner crowds, the fast-casual eatery is known for its straightforward, border-style street tacos that founder Rusty Fenton deemed irresistible during his frequent trips to Mexico before he opened the first location in 2010. Think traditional picadillo with ground beef and potatoes, roasted pork, beef and chicken fajita and brisket tacos, along with fish, Baja shrimp and Americanized versions like fried chicken with jalapeño ranch and barbecue brisket. There are a number of breakfast tacos, too, and all can be served on corn or flour tortillas. Both Fort Worth locations are experimenting with cilantro lime rice bowls, says franchisee owner Conner Cupit, as well as a late-night ordering window for Bluebonnet Circle that will soon. Thirst-quenching margaritas, like the wild berry “frogtail” margarita, watermelon-jalapeno and mango, are proudly made with “cheap tequila.” 3516 Bluebonnet Circle, Fort Worth, 817-615-9780 and 3206 Winthrop Avenue, Fort Worth, www.rtacos.com.
Mansfield Gets Smokey
After a rocky — and literally smoky — start, Smokey Mae’s Pit BBQ plans to reopen this month after temporarily suspending operations to address barbecue pit concerns. During its grand opening in early May, guests flocked to the flashy new Mansfield joint for smoked Texas barbecue but wound up with smoke in their faces. Owner Mark Eddins acknowledges barbecue is sacred in Texas and promised via an online letter to customers to make necessary adjustments to the pits. The spacious restaurant, with its attractive exterior and lodgelike interior that offers long, communal seating, will continue to serve brisket, ribs, smoked sausage and sides like mac and cheese, onion rings, corn on the cob and potato salad. The frosty schooners of cold beer will be back, too, just in time for summer. 8120 Rendon Bloodworth Road, Mansfield, 817-592-0202, smokeymaesbbq.com.
Crafting a Second Location
After experiencing success on Camp Bowie Boulevard, Craftwork Coffee Co. has opened a second location in prime real estate on West Magnolia Avenue between Melt Ice Creams and Heim Barbecue. Part coffee shop, part workspace, the sleek venue serves a straightforward menu of coffee beverages like espresso, lattes and cappuccino while offering meeting space and even dedicated desks and community tables for rent at a monthly rate. The concept is the creation of Riley Kiltz, who traveled the world working remotely in coffee shops as an investment consultant. Both locations open at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Magnolia spot caters to a busier evening crowd by operating until 9 nightly. 1121 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-717-7228, www.craftworkcoffeeco.com.
Java ’round the Clock
Coffee-infused cocktails are on the rise as caffeine fiends look for efficient ways to satisfy their fix, even while imbibing. Enter Ampersand, a new concept coming to the Cultural District that will function as a craft coffeehouse by day and caffeine-fueled bar by night. Anticipated to open late this month or by early July, the 3,200 square-foot space — constructed with large garage doors and windows to allow for plenty of natural light — will serve coffee beverages made with beans roasted in-house, along with spiked coffee drinks and coffee-infused spirits. Featured cocktails include the Cold Fashioned, a play on the classic cocktail to be made with cold brew coffee and slow-melting coffee liqueur ice cubes, and an espresso martini made with coffee-infused vodka. To start, Ampersand will open at 7 a.m. daily and stay open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. 3009 Bledsoe Ave., Fort Worth, www.ampersandfw.com.
New to Roanoke
Touted as “the unique dining capital of Texas,” Roanoke’s restaurant scene gets another new concept when Craft & Vine Taproom and Eatery opens by mid-July. At the helm is executive chef Bill Trevino, who for years led the kitchen at the posh Café Pacific in Dallas. The upscale eatery will serve a wide-ranging menu featuring duck spring rolls, Texas Gulf crab beignets and seared ahi tataki tuna with yuzu shrimp ceviche relish. Most dishes are intended to be shared and serve two to four, with the exception of the sliders — like New England Maine lobster and Kalua pulled pork — which will come one to an order. Even more, the charcuterie board list includes a half-dozen options for luscious cheeses and cured meats, as well as delicacies of the sea like baby octopus, lump crab and anchovy escabeche. Look for more than 40 beers and wine in the taproom, along with a full bar. 310 S. Oak St., Roanoke, 817-464-8181, craftandvine.restaurant.
Local craft beer lovers looking for a new brew to sip this summer, take note: Dallas-based Community Beer Company has launched Silly Gose, a tart German-style wheat beer brewed with coriander and refreshing sea salt. While traditional German Gose is characterized by its brackish flavor profile, Community Beer balances with fruity notes thanks to the addition of tangerine peel and apricot puree. Brewmaster Jamie Fulton (whom Fort Worth folks might remember from The Covey Restaurant & Brewery in Tanglewood, which closed in 2010) says the crisp craft beer is perfect for drinking in the Texas summer heat. Look for it in six-packs of 12-ounce cans in craft beer shops across DFW, as well as on tap in local restaurants and bars. www.communitybeer.com.
Celestina Blok (@celestinafw) is a Fort Worth-based freelance food news writer.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 ripe avocado
- Vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus additional for sprinkling
- Tempura Batter (recipe follows)
- Pour the buttermilk into a bowl. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Peel the avocado and cut each half into 4 pieces. If they break, don’t sweat it. Soak the avocado pieces in the buttermilk for 30 minutes.
- Fill a deep fryer or deep, heavy-bottomed pot halfway with oil. Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, mix the rice flour with the kosher salt. Lift the avocado pieces from the buttermilk, letting the excess drain, and coat the pieces in the rice flour. Place the avocado pieces into the tempura batter and bring the bowl to the deep fryer or pot. Carefully place the pieces, one at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until the fries are a deep golden brown, turning them once or twice so they cook evenly. Remove the pieces to a pan lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
Makes 8 cups dry mix
- 4 cups cake flour
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- • 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 3/4 cups sparkling water
- Sift or whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
- To make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups dry mix with the sparkling water. The batter should have the consistency of a crepe batter or vegetable oil.
— “Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home” by John Tesar (Flatiron Books, $29.99)