Dining review: Brewed in Fort Worth

Brewed

801 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth

817-945-1545; www.brewedfw.com

Hours: 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.


Posted 1:24pm on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012


Read about Brewed's unique interior design, and see more interior photos by clicking here.

Precious few Fort Worth restaurants manage to discover that Holy Grail of homey sophistication, where the atmosphere is familiar yet endearingly eccentric, and where the food is honest and unpretentious.

That exclusive list needs to make way for a new member: Brewed.

Somewhat burdened by excessive buzz surrounding the restaurant's opening in early October, Brewed has righted itself from a wobbly start -- marked by a flood of patrons, too many lines and not enough staff -- to quickly establish itself as one of the most atmospherically artful and culinarily straight-shooting venues to open in Tarrant County in recent memory.

Brewed is the very definition of a social hyphenate: a gastropub-craft brew-coffee emporium-lounge. All those monikers are required to cater to a wildly diverse clientele composed of crunchy granola types in fashionable flannel, young families, elderly couples, students with backpacks and Macs, and young professionals sporting heels.

At Brewed, these mini-communities will congregate at a traditional table, sink into one of the numerous sofas, or flock outside to one of the many communal tables, warmed by a nearby fire pit. Brewed's whimsical interior design segues effortlessly from dining area to coffee and wine counter, to lounge and reading room.

For the craft-beer aficionado, Brewed offers no less than 55 beers ranging from lagers, bocks and ales to barley wines and hoppy strong ales. The other "brew" in Brewed amounts to 27 designer coffees, teas and hot cocoas.

Brewed's kitchen menu features a tight list of 24 items that thankfully avoids any preachy boasting from head chef John Kramer of how seriously he takes local sourcing.

The menu is dotted with sophisticated pub fare, with each one tweaked enough to make your taste buds take notice. Its deviled eggs starter ($5) seems conventional enough until one takes in the heat coming from its sweet sesame-serrano chile spicing, and the accents of jalapeño or cilantro.

Another starter, porter fondue ($15), is served in a cute cast-iron pot. The molten combo of smoked gouda and sharp cheddar cheeses, mixed with a light porter stout, cream, Worcestershire and Tabasco, is just primed for dunking with slices of crisp baguette, or slivers of andouille sausage.

The chef took advantage of the last of the season's plums to create a Texas quail and grilled plum salad ($12) in which the bird is first sous-vided in a pouch filled with butter and thyme before being smartly finished on the grill. The results were satisfying, though the quail's Asian-spiced chicken mousse stuffing was barely discernible.

The roast chicken ($12) was a free-range bird cut into little crisped skin-succulent segments, all offset by bits of nicely charred Brussels sprouts, and disks of heirloom cauliflower.

Brewed takes a detour to a Parisian bistro with a classic bowl of mussels ($11). Adrift in a pool of white wine, Dijon mustard, creamy broth and earthy turmeric, the mussels are little nubbins of briny goodness, but they are upstaged by that brothy sauce that demands to be sopped up by the French bread. Word to the wise: The 11 mussels served won't begin to sate a big appetite.

The 8-ounce flat-iron steak ($18) was so buttery tender that no steak knife was needed. A compound butter, made from a heavy reduction of stout, Worcestershire, sugar and salt, elevates the steak's taste way beyond its humble roots. And the accompanying thatch of sweet potato fries, with their baptism in duck fat and roasted garlic salt, is heavenly good.

Grandma Jeddy's pound cake ($6.50) was homespun but had flair, as the cake's potentially cloying sweetness was smartly offset by little bits of sour cherry. Meanwhile, I couldn't stop popping into my mouth the doughnut dippers ($6) -- fried dough balls dusted in cinnamon sugar and made even better by dipping in tart blueberry compote.

A piping hot cocoa stirrer ($3.50) was a fitting finish to the eclectic meal, its dark chocolate cluster slowly melting into a waiting mini-cauldron of hot milk.

This final food metamorphosis worked well with Brewed's ever-shifting scene of students and retirees, hipsters and squares, young professionals and established pros. Together, they were creating their own theater on one of Fort Worth's newest dining stages.

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