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Dining review: Sera Dining & Wine Fort Worth

Sera Dining & Wine

2418 Forest Park Blvd.

Fort Worth

817-927-7372

www.facebook.com/SeraFW

Hours: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday


Posted 12:00am on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013

In this beloved nook off Forest Park Boulevard in Fort Worth, Sapristi! once reigned supreme for its mussels, killer steak frites and one of the best clubby-but-far-from-pretentious bars in the city.

It’s a relief to say Sera Dining & Wine is not only carrying on the joie de vivre legacy of that restaurant, but also improving upon it night after night — an impressive feat considering Sera (emphasis on the second syllable: seh-RAH, as in Que Sera, Sera) has only been open since the end of September.

Both co-owner John Marsh and chef/partner Brandon Hudson have years of experience accentuating bistro fare. Marsh is the former manager of Sapristi! (and also a Café Modern alum) and Hudson trained in Spain under Michelin-rated chefs. Most recently, he helmed the kitchen at Tim Byres’ Smoke in Dallas, but before that he was at Sapristi!, too. It’s a variation on the old saying — why fix something if it’s not broken?

But make no mistake, Sera is a completely different restaurant, with a menu stressing Spanish tapas, seafood and pork, as well as a growing wine list dedicated to France and Spain’s best vineyards.

Over a lovely complimentary bowl of tiny green olives, we mulled that small list — Sera only recently received its liquor license so it’s still a work in progress — and settled on what proved to be a bold choice for two cabernet/merlot cellar dwellers — a 2007 Torre de Oña temparanillo ($15 for a glass).

Similarly, the nicely edited menu skews provocatively flavorful. The beauty in the diverse tapas (small plates) here is that there’s something for more “daring” diners (crispy pig ear frites, $7, or blood sausage croquettes, $6) but there’s also the more accessible patatas bravas ($6) and Spanish omelet ($6). We were most intrigued by the littleneck clams ($13) as well as the Meyer lemon marmalade ($7).

The clams came nestled in a cider-based broth, mingling with diced pieces of chorizo, a few baby artichoke halves and a smattering of roasted peppers. The briny clams mixed with the spicy chorizo was a good match, for sure, but the slightly acidic broth was downright addictive — after the clams were long gone, I used the spoon and made sure none of it went to waste.

The Meyer lemon jam plate was four pieces of rustic bread, topped with a smear of goat cheese, the tangy jam and a lusciously thin slice of Serrano ham. Salty, tangy and rich, the dish seemed like a really good half-sandwich. I would have liked to see the bread sliced a bit thinner and maybe toasted, only because its doughy-ness kept the dish from achieving total greatness.

A minor blip, because the next two dishes had us swooning. The mixed green salad ($7) was a deceptively simple mash-up of field greens, blue cheese, baby roasted peppers and pine nuts, lightly dressed in a vinaigrette. It was a humble presentation, but its combination of winning flavors superseded all else.

But the squid-ink fideo pasta ($22) was gorgeously wrought: small snippets of black-as-night toasted fideo were offset by a mound of snowy calamari, four beautiful scallops and a side of snap peas and roasted bell peppers. If you can see past the temporary staining of your lips and teeth, this is a dish that you will be dreaming of, days later. The pasta was just a bit salty and buttery, buoyed by the creamy, rich squid ink; the seafood pure perfection and the veggies added surprising crunch and clarity to the entree. Seated by the window, I swear I had to blink to make sure it was Tommy’s Hamburgers across the street and not a Venetian palazzo.

We were also crazed about dessert, a persimmon tart served with whipped goat cheese ($6), which our understated server wisely advised us to order. The savory, nearly melted cheese was an ideal topper to the delicate (and under-appreciated) fruit. French-press coffee, a house specialty, was served tableside in a duly sophisticated manner.

Can you say c’est magnifique about Sera? Because our experience was certainly that. But maybe more appropriately: No matter how many dishes you order or ways you configure your shared plates, whatever will be, will be. You’ll be happy.

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