After 40 years serving homey breakfasts and lunches, Swiss Pastry Shop is giving itself a mini culinary makeover.
While it will never scuttle its one-of-a-kind Black Forest cake, this quaint bakery-restaurant has upped its foodie profile with the addition of grass-fed burgers, gourmet sandwiches and salads, and, on Friday and Saturday nights, some of the best pizza in Dallas-Fort Worth.
To help execute this transformation, owners Hans and Kristi Muller partnered with Jay Jerrier, owner of Cane Rosso, Dallas' premier Neapolitan-style pizzeria. Duplicating the Thursday-night arrangement he has with Times Ten Cellars, Jerrier dispatches his mobile oven to Swiss Pastry Shop on those two nights. Since the restaurant part of Swiss Pastry Shop closes at 3 p.m., it's an ideal location for a Cane Rosso pop-up.
There's room in the parking lot for the mobile oven, and the Cane Rosso staff takes over service at the 100-seat air-conditioned dining room inside.
The Cane Rosso team does pizzas with a small selection of appetizers and salads. The arrangement gives Fort Worth diners another crack at Cane Rosso pizza without having to drive to Dallas on a weekend night.
You can BYOB (and if you're fussy about wineglasses, you may want to BYOG, too); and if you crave a sweet, you can buy something from the Swiss Pastry Shop's bakery during pizza hours -- so you can get a slice of that famous cake with its layers of whipped cream and meringue.
As reinforcement, Swiss Pastry Shop has beefed up its regular lunch menu with a slate of burgers made from grass-fed beef and wild game. Weighing in at a half-pound each, they range from a basic grass-fed beef burger ($7.95) to one with mushrooms and Swiss cheese ($9.95) to the decadent Dirty Redneck ($11.95), topped with brisket, bacon, grilled onions and cheddar cheese.
There are also two made with Texas game ($9.95) -- antelope and wild boar.
The "Wild Boar-ger" was a half-pound patty with an assertively perky flavor -- mildly gamey with a hint of smoke. Good stuff. We liked that it was on the dry side, but it might not please those who like their burgers with grease running down their arms.
It came on a tall kaiser bun speckled with sesame seeds and toasted on the grill, with crisp romaine, a thick slice of tomato and house-made pickles on the side. A spear down the middle of the sandwich was made from an environmentally friendly stick of bamboo.
Burgers come with potato salad or sauerkraut, or half portions of both. The kraut -- the same one served on the signature Rueben sandwich -- was superb: Served hot, the fermented cabbage shreds were tender and tangy, and came speckled with poppy seeds for visual interest. Potato salad, tinted yellow, had a creamy texture and strong vinegary taste. The potato chunks were soft but not mealy; strips of white onion added body.
There are limits to how "gourmet" Swiss Pastry Shop can go. Our old-school server made it to our table only after finishing a conversation with a co-worker, and left abruptly when she decided we were done ordering (we were not).
As for the menu: Mesclun-mix salad ($7.95) was a generous portion of mixed baby greens with dried cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese tossed in vinaigrette. But in the end, it felt one-dimensional; maybe add some beets, peas or beans? The mushroom panini ($6.95) was basically the mushroom burger without the patty -- a grilled cheese sandwich with thickly sliced button mushrooms that had been sauteed.
Both were nice efforts, but it is hard to compete with house specialties such as the wurst plates and the economical soup of the day ($2.05 for a cup, $2.95 for a bowl).
Swiss Pastry Shop also does a brisk breakfast business with pancakes, omelets and pastries, such as the sticky toffee buns. Yeasty, sweet and loaded with pecans, those pretty much win over everyone, foodie or not.