By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
On the other hand, the cuisine at Bistro Louise is described confusingly as "Mediterranean," with "bits of Asia, South America, Mexico, and, of course, the U.S." (After all, what else is there? Does this just mean the menu boycotts kiwi?) Louise Lamensdorf has been part of the Fort Worth food scene for decades. With Renie Steves, she founded French Apron School of Cooking, and she's been in charge of some of Fort Worth's most notable kitchens, so it's not surprising that her new restaurant is one of the best places to eat in Fort Worth. Or that she ignored trends and settled in a space far from Sundance Square in a new, nearly-strip shopping center. Designed as a little market, with cases of imported cheese, olives, baked goods, and a tiny wine bar, Bistro Louise's style is refined but relaxed. One wall is painted like a clouded sky, another is hung with a collection of plates, and one area is set off by a gazebo, reassuringly entwined with plastic grapevines. How unpretentious can you get?
And despite the description, the results on the plate make perfect sense. Bread--hot, crusty, and irresistible--is baked on the premises. Caesar, a southwestern version, is garnished with smoked corn and roasted peppers, melded to the lettuce with a heavy, tangy dressing. A fabulous appetizer of shrimp, solidly crusted with crushed macadamia nuts and sauced with grilled pineapple and melon bits; a bread pudding of garlic and shiitake mushrooms in a leek coulis; a quail stuffed with veal and duck, then topped with candied mushrooms, exhibit the kind of creativity this kitchen is capable of. Occasionally, a dish goes over the top--a special of saffron linguine and ricotta-stuffed tortellini was topped with duck sausage as well as a stew of wild and domestic mushrooms--with so much, in fact, that your mouth lost track of them all.
Louise's desserts were good, too, especially the cheesecake, but the best cheesecake we've had in a long time (excepting the Carnegie Deli classics Marty's flies in) were at Randall's Gourmet Cheesecake Company & European Market, a long handle for a tiny downtown cafe, not far from the glow of Sundance. Randall's offers a different selection daily, rotating cakes from their collection of sixty recipes. We tried three--chocolate, apricot, and plain--and found them exceptional without exception--tall, fluffy but creamy, not too sweet, not too dense. Randall's also makes savory cheesecakes, flavored with prosciutto or smoked scallops or salmon, all unfashionably heavy-duty concoctions that for us constituted the beginning and end of the meal on one plate. Randall's is open for lunch and dinner--for lunch, one of the thick sandwiches made on homemade herb bread, with a green salad and a glass of wine from the nice selection, is one of the more civilized experiences Fort Worth has to offer. It's the kind of old-fashioned, low-key, confident food style we see so little of in Dallas.
By the way, Randall's is next door to the Peter Bros. hat company--Fort Worth is still the kind of town where a man knows where to go to buy a hat. And how to wear one.
Angeluna, 215 E. 4th St., (817) 334-0080. Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-midnight, Saturday noon-midnight, Sunday noon-11 p.m.
USA Cafe, 425 Commerce St., Sundance Square, (817) 335-5400. Grill is open Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-midnight. Brewery is open daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Bistro Louise, 2900 South Hulen, (817) 922-9244. Open for lunch Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; for dinner Monday-Thursday 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Reata, Bank One Tower, 500 Throckmorton St., (817)336-1009. Open for lunch Monday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; for dinner 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Randall's Cheesecake Co., Houston St., (817) 336-2253. Open for lunch Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; for dinner Tuesday-Thursday 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Smoked Prime Rib $14.50
Truffle Tater Ravioli 15.00
Wood-Fired Pork Tenderloin $19.00
Calf Fries with Cracked Pepper Gravy $7.95
Hand-Rolled Beef Tamales $14.25
Japanese Macadamia Shrimp $7.50
Chicken Pesto Sandwich $6.95
Cheese Platter $7.95