Our Dining Dispatch series has brought you inside looks at some of the talent and tastes of the top restaurants around the state (BIN555-San Antonio, Underbelly-Houston, Provisions-Houston), and so it only makes sense that we round out the regional series with a stop in Fort Worth.
Not one, but TWO of the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival chefs call Fort Worth home: Tim Love(Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Love Shack Burgers) and Blaine Staniford (Grace). The two recently hosted a five-course feast at Love’s LD, and Dallas food blogger Liz Standley ofOhHeyDallas was on the scene to report back about every last juicy morsel.
Fluke Taridito, Fennel, Hearts of Palm, Toasted Garlic, Miso, Citrus
Cauliflower Custard with butter Poached Oyster and American Sturgeon Caviar
Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Loin and Rabbit Foie Gras Pastilla with Baby Carrots and Chicory
Seared Vacio of Beef, Salsify, Roasted Hen of the Woods, Candied Grapes
Selection of Petite Desserts
Over the years I have realized that I will do just about anything for a great meal and my recent adventure proved to be no different. Generally, driving 50 miles in rush hour to downtown Fort Worth wouldn’t sound very appealing to anybody. That being said, when you have a five course dinner created by two of North Texas’ most creative and respected chefs waiting for you, the drive suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
The recent Fort-Worth area preview dinner for the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival was held at Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove Western Bistro on the iconic Main Street in Fort Worth. Located in the heart of the Stockyards, Lonesome Dove is known for serving up some of the best meat, particularly, game dishes in the area.
Stepping through the unsuspecting front door, you are transported to the Wild West — complete with distressed mirrors, saloon style doors, and taxidermy’s finest. If only a portion of the detail that went into the décor went into the meal, I knew this was going to be a night to remember. As I stood in awe of this beautiful establishment that could not be more “Texas,” I was greeted with a heavy pour of Chardonnay and a well-thought hors d’oeuvre.
A roasted beet, topped with a succulent piece of smoked salmon, drizzled with crème fraîche and decorated with a Texas flag, of course. It would be near impossible to explain just how delicious this bite was. The beet was tender; the salmon perfectly smoked with just a hint of salt and the crème fraîche tied the powerful flavors together.
From food bloggers to family, Lonesome Dove regulars to those just craving something different, the private dining room was filled with patrons ready to get their hands – or rather, face – on Tim Love and Blaine Staniford’s dishes.
As Chef Love explained, his partnership with Austin Food & Wine Festival was based on a desire to “bring something to Texas that would be the next big event in food and wine.” Chef Love continued to joke that the festival also allowed him to execute his dream demo, the infamous grilling demo that included 250 grills last year set up side by side, making it the biggest in the world.
Going through the menu course by course, I was about to drool all over the table when Chef Love decided to put the icing on the cake. Wine pairings for the dinner would come from his personal wine cellar. Let’s be honest, who does that? I am in love with Chef Love.
The first course of the evening, described on the menu asFluke Taridito, Fennel, Hearts of Palm, Toasted Garlic, Miso and Citrus was accompanied by a Stags Leap Chardonnay. It was a sheer matter of minutes before plates were licked clean all around me. The Fluke resembled a gorgeous cut of sashimi and the citrus added a delicious bite that added depth, yet the garlic made it feel comfortable. Chef Love explained that this dish was on the permanent menu of his newest restaurant, Queenie’s, which will be opening in Denton next week. Tasting it, I immediately understood why the plan was to make this dish a staple.
The second course, Cauliflower Custard with Butter Poached Oyster and American Sturgeoun Caviar was created by Chef Staniford, of Grace in Fort Worth. Presented in a miniature glass jar, this dish was a thing of beauty. Four colors of cauliflower and micro celery added pops of color and the butter poached oyster, three to be exact, made for a delicious surprise waiting at the bottom of the airy custard. An interesting combination, no doubt, the cauliflower custard provided a taste that I had never experienced before. The second course paired wonderfully with the Arnot-Roberts Rosé that was presented to us.
Taking on the third course as well, Chef Staniford presented a Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Loin,Rabbit-Foie Gras Pastilla, Frenched Rack of Ribs accompanied with Baby Carrots,Pickled Mustard Seed and Chicory. Chef Staniford is known to be the ultimate in “head-to-tail” creations and this was no different. It was explained that every single part of the rabbit was used to create this dish for us, with legs and foie gras in the pastilla topped with a frise of heart and gizzard all the way to the sauce, which was made with rabbit reduction. The room was practically silent during this course, a sign of a true culinary dream coming true. A Ken Wright Pinot Noir accompanied this rabbit dish and added a heavy aftertaste, which left me wanting more.
Chef Love stepped in to create our fourth course, described as Seared Vacio of Beef,Roasted Hen of the Woods, Crispy Swiss Chard and Candied Grapes. Yes folks, candied grapes. Although served a bit rare for my personal taste, this dish was the highlight of the night. An incredible sear on the meat provided for a savory and sweet combination, making it a perfect complement to the candied grapes. The crispy Swiss chard added a nice texture to the more tender pieces of beef and the roasted hen of the woods couldn’t have been better. This would be a dish that I would gladly drive those 50 miles for… every day. This dish was paired with a single vineyard Jarvis, which brought out the depth of the beef.
Our fifth, and unfortunately, final course was a selection of petite desserts created by Tim Love’s pastry chef, Sally Schwartz. This divine trio included Chocolate Cream Pie with Marshmallow Meringue, Olive Oil Cake with Avocado Ice Cream and Blood Orange Caviar (drool) and, as described by Chef Love, a “fancy fruit salad” wrapped in a corn husk with banana flour.
My waistline thanked Chef Schwartz for the miniature desserts but my brain was upset. All three of these were so incredibly delicious, it only seems right that I ate them until I dropped. The fruit salad, topped with toasted coconut made for a nice balance of the heavy food we had had in the previous courses. The chocolate cream pie with marshmallow meringue was as good as it sounds but the dark horse was the olive oil cake with avocado ice cream. The cake was unbelievably moist, the avocado ice cream unbelievably smooth and the blood orange caviar added just the right amount of sourness as to not overwhelm.
As the meal wrapped, all three of the incredible chefs that had taken us on this culinary adventure presented themselves. A round of applause, and a few whistles, sang their praises and Chef Love stated that there was only one way to end the night. What may that be?Shots of Tuaca, of course! Rounds of shots were brought to everyone, including Chef Love’s mother, Queenie, who gasped “I LOVE TUACA” as the waiter placed the Lonesome Dove branded shot glass in her hand. Since it is so hard to sum up the meal we had just experienced in words, I supposed there was only one thing left to say: Cheers!