Jeff Harris is likely feeling pretty good after the opening of AF+B over the weekend. The chef left Bolsa last year to join Consilient Hospitality, the restaurant group behind CBD Provisions, Fireside Pies, Victor Tangos and others, and debuted his new menu at hit new home, sending out elevated tavern food to a dining room packed with customers who where slurping oysters from Massachusetts and smacking their lips with sorghum hot sauce. The sticky glaze clung to deboned grilled quail that ate with more sweetness than heat and proved the perfect foil to a solid local beer list, which prominently features Dallas and Fort Worth breweries.
First announced in November 2012, AF+B has been a long time coming, but the wait seemed worth it Saturday night. A sizable bar of cast zinc curves through the front bar room filled with high tops, and two dining rooms in the back feature large tables and booths. (Tables that seat two are oddly missing from the dining room. If you come with less then four expect a table that feels empty.) All of this is illuminated by uniform lighting cans that hang from above throughout the space. It's an attractive dining room.
But you'd rather hear about the food, and there's more to life than grilled quail, even when it's very good. A burger with heft is served on a light and airy bun, with cheddar cheese and onions cooked in sherry. The french fries served in a cup on the side are no slouch, either.
Or how about a large quenelle of lamb tartar served with a sharp mustard, smoked egg purée and grilled bread. Perhaps sommelier Ryan Tedder, who you may know from Oak, and who was also awarded best sommelier by The Texas Sommelier Association during his stint at FT33, could find you a glass of red that would stand up to such bold flavors.
If you haven't heard of Allen Benton, you ought to seek out his bacon. Whether for your home refrigerator where it will exude enough smoke to permeate the other ingredients in it, or in this mac and cheese made with rigatoni, where it is reduced to the softest (almost imperceivable) whisper. There are worse ways to spend a day's worth of calories.
And because your personal trainer has already written you off completely, you might check in with Laurel Wimberg for something sweet. Wimberg worked as the pastry chef at Craft when Harris worked there as well. Now she's responsible for this dessert featuring bright grapefruit and a tart lemon bar.
AF&B, 2869 Crockett St., Fort Worth, 817-916-5300, afandbfortworth.com