The Tower Restaurant and Speakeasy, which is at the corner of Fourth and Taylor Streets in The Tower condo building, quietly opened this month with the odds against it.
The Taylor side of the Tower is the quieter side, with less foot traffic than the Throckmorton side, where fast-casual chains Potbelly and Qdoba, as well as table-service restaurant Cantina Laredo, do a pretty steady business. A short walk from the Tower on Throckmorton are Taverna, P.F. Chang's, Oliver's Fine Foods and Daddy Jack's, all of which benefit from being on the side of the Tower that's closer to Sundance Square.
The Tower Restaurant takes over a space that has been vacant since The Vault Restaurant and Underground Lounge closed in 2010 after just over two years in business. A once-bustling location of Fat Daddy's just across Taylor Street closed a year later. So there's an idea of what the Tower Restaurant is up against.
According to The Fort Worth Business Press, The Tower is connected to Grill 1709, a popular Keller spot. "Canadian Leo Cameron took over the Keller restaurant a year ago," the Business Press reported in May, "and fine-tuned the menu to feature more pub-like fare, including fish and chips and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Now Camerons son is moving to Fort Worth from Canada to run the new downtown restaurant."
The Tower Restaurant doesn't have a website yet, but the restaurant's menu bears similarities to the Grill 1709 menu (here's the second page of the Grill 1709 menu). There was also a paper menu with $7.99 lunch specials, which included my choice on a Friday lunchtime visit, a southern-fried-chicken salad.
Not bad. The white-meat chicken was moist and tender on the inside, crispy but maybe a tad bland on the outside, and the greens, avocado and pecan bits made it a good lunchtime option, especially with a serving size that was generous without being ridiculous. Curious about the barbecue fries listed as a side, I ordered them; they never came, but I wasn't charged for them, even though they were noted (as sweet potato fries) on the check.
So the food is worth a return visit. But there are other bugs to be worked out.
I know there's a stigma against dining out solo, but there shouldn't be, especially at lunchtime in an urban setting. I have plenty of lunchtime partners, but sometimes if I'm in a hurry or trying to catch up on a book, solo is the way to go. What I don't understand is why, when a restaurant isn't crowded and there's a large number of available four-tops, any host/hostess would shepherd a diner to a wobbly two-top elevated bar table, especially one that feels remote. It's like being told to sit in a corner. It's easy to understand giving singles and couples two-tops when things are bustling, but they weren't; it may be just luck of the draw with trying to give servers some balance, but it feels like exile.
The table was underneath a TV with a noon newscast on. The sound wasn't blaring, but it was on, and that's a distraction. Unless you're trying to be a sports bar, there's no reason to have TVs, much less TVs with the sound on, in the main dining room; too many of us eat like that at home anyway. I've stopped going to some restaurants where I like the food because of their habit of blaring cable newscasts; there's not a lot relaxing about trying to taste your food while some pundit is trying to ram opinions down your throat. I looked around. Nobody was watching the TV. Yes, I could have asked to have it turned down, but does it have to be there at all? Especially when it takes away ambience from an otherwise elegant room?
I have faith that all this will be worked out; restaurants almost always suffer hiccups in their early days. But when you're on the slower side of downtown, you need to get rid of those hiccups quickly so you can make your place a destination that people will seek out rather than one they'll have to stumble upon. There's not a lot about the Tower on the Internet yet, but this Yelp review shows that the place does have potential.