Monday, May 05, 2014

When in Ft Worth WATERS (Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine) is worth the visit (5-4-14)

On my last night in Ft. Worth I had so many choices, but last year had missed the newly opened WATERS, Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine, where local chef John Bonnell had opened his new seafood restaurant just west of downtown ( right before my last visit a year ago. I had loved his main restaurant, Bonnell's, where meat reigns and on a 95+ degree day, seafood seemed to beckon.
The West 7th Street District has blossomed over the last several years and even though it can get crowded there is complimentary valet parking to ease the pain.
I eased through the huge doors of the tall-ceilinged restaurant to a large reception area. To the right was along bar and lounge area much like a hotel lobby. To the right was the dining room with crisp white linens, black leather chairs, gray carpet to cut the noise and a huge bar and raw bar as well, with seating at both. Above the raw bar was a large black mirror so those seated nearby can look and see what's going on behind the counter.  Nearby sands a tall central square column which is filled with oyster shells to the ceiling and along the front wall of floor to ceiling windows are gray suede booths and banquets. Above the tables is a mobile sculpture that stretches across the room with steel cut "fish" which seem to be in a huge school swimming across the room. There are also fish lines with lures and weights to keep the work from moving too much. Overall this gives a light airy feel and while the dining room is classy, it never feels too formal. On Sunday it was dead with no more than 6 or 7 tables occupied in the large room.
My server Scott recommended the Cooper Mountain Vineyard 2012 Cooper Hill Pinot Gris from Oregon's Willamette Valley (over the Rainstorm Pinot Gris, also from Oregon, which he declared to be "watered down"). It was a superb wine with huge white peach overtones and according to Scott lemon blossom aroma. I ordered 2 each of 3 Massachusetts oysters (Wianno from Barnstable Harbor, Onset from Buzzard's Bay and Summerside from Cape Cod). The Wianno were buttery and less exciting than the others and I adored the Summerside which were creamy and plump!
These came with not only cocktail sauce and mignonette, but a serrano spicy vinegar mignonette that I mixed with some cocktail sauce afterwards and spread on the French bread which is served in a baguette bag with butter speckled with Black Hawaiian sea salt
I listened to Scott and ordered a small CAESAR Salad which comes with a superb Smoked Oyster Caesar dressing and topped with one tasty smoked oyster. Sadly, this was the only good thing about this salad as the croutons were soggy and the romaine was utterly limp. I think this plate had been in the fridge at least a day and while Kevin apologized, I was still charged for this attempt at a salad.
Next came Scott's better choice, SPICY YELLOWFIN TACOS which are three crunchy tacos propped up vertically on the plate by gooey rice underneath and topped with Mango Pico de Gallo, Jicama Slaw, Wasabi Creme Fraiche and a wonderfully peppery Micro Cilantro. They were a bit messy, but boy were they bursting with flavor, Texas style...and the three tacos were indeed very filling.
I waited a while before my main course and Scott was very conscious of not serving too fast and asking when I was ready. I wished there was a tasting menu, but the main course offered the next best thing:
The "I Can' Decide" SEAFOOD TRIO which is comprised of 2 ounces each of the three fish main courses that seem to be always on the menu:
Mesquite Grilled Arctic CHAR was superb over piles of green and yellow zucchini ribbons, Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and a Caper Beurre Blanc that was delish.
Tortilla Crusted Idaho Rainbow TROUT came with a "Southwest Style" Tomato Sauce, Avocado, Slaw, Pickled and Cooked Baby Carrots, Celery, White & Purple Fingerling Potatoes, Cipollini Onions and an occasional jalapeno slice.
Creole Seared Black DRUM FISH was a yummy Red Fish almost like blackened fish here with Andouille Sausage & Stewed Tomato Sauce with Okra and Haricots Verts.
All three were superb, but I think the sauce and seasoning on the Drum Fish made it the best of the three.
I really was full and did not want dessert, but three folks at the next table came over to ask what I had to eat and they ended up sitting down and we talked for ages. One woman and her college freshman son were clearly your not standard Texas democrats. He had been accepted at many schools including Georgetown, which was his first choice, but they could not afford the sky high tuition so he is at TCU (Texas Christian), and he is applying again this year for financial aid.
Anyway, Scott convinced me to order the CHOCOLATE GANACHE TART with Booze-Infuse BERRIES; it was the berries that attracted me as I am not a chocoholic.
The tart was superb, but I only ate 1/3 wishing I could bring the rest back home for Samuel who would have adored the intense dark chocolate, but  alas he is away for 3 days on a school camping trip. The Grand Marnier/Rum berries were a big hit for sure.
My almost annual trip to Ft. Worth is over, but I hope to get back next year for more fab food.