Cowtown Twist

Saporé is easy to love

"As far as richness, it's not out of the park," says our server. Yet he insists this rib eye is one of the best items on the menu. We give it a shot. Our server also stresses the excellence of the grilled salmon. It's topped with ginger mustard cream. Despite the sparking raciness implied, the sauce is tame. The rich fish isn't bowled over and run roughshod by it. The narrow fillet is charred with thick grill-bar furrows across its surface, extracting and concentrating the fish flavors as it adds a strain of bitterness, which the sauce quickly blunts. The fish is moist. The meat cleanly peels off into rich flakes. The balance is striking.

Buffalo rib eye is striking as well. The meat is loose, instead of dense. It's well-riddled with gristle and globules of fat--corn-fed buffalo? Though the meat is grainier than a typical cut of choice steak grilled up and dispensed in the typical steakhouse, it doesn't taste much different from beef. The gaminess, what there may have been in it, has been leeched from the proceedings, possibly by the chimichurri sauce bumped with mushrooms.

Despite its pose as a kind of Mediterranean brasserie in snakeskin boots, Saporé has a wine list packed in the usual California-centric manner that barely winks at the Old World. (A German Riesling naps in a section called the lighter side of white.) And there doesn't seem to be much wine training for the servers. In response to a query on pinot noir, our server dispensed answers flooded with pinot grigio--an all too frequent piece of restaurant tedium. Can't cowboy continentalism do better than this?

Twisted: Grilled shrimp with pineapple over pan-seared sea bass with rum butter sauce--now that's eclectic.
Tom Jenkins
<>Twisted: Grilled shrimp with pineapple over pan-seared sea bass with rum butter sauce--now that's eclectic.

Details

Smoked salmon $11

Paris enchilada $10

Cream of asparagus soup $5

Crawfish burrito $10

Buffalo rib eye $32

Grilled salmon $19

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Still, Saporé is a restaurant that is easy to like. The culinary tangents may be a little odd, but they're enjoyable, and the renditions don't collapse into a shambles. The old urban atmosphere is so unlike anything you're likely to find in North Texas that it's easy enough to love just on the basis of its novel romanticism. Plus, there's a certain unfledged honesty about the place. About 15 minutes after our failed Pachelbel's Canon request, the strolling violinist came to our table to confess, you know, he's not a music major or anything. He's studying microbiology. 907 Houston St., Fort Worth, 817-336-2253. Open for lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; Open for dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, abbreviated dinner menu served until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. $$$

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