What a difference 10 years can make. For a region so far from many natural bodies of water, DFW is suddenly swimming in chef-inspired, fish-focused eateries.
From Waters Coastal Cuisine in Fort Worth to 20 Feet Seafood Joint, Driftwood, Dallas Fish Market, Ocean Prime, Amberjax, and Dive in Dallas -- not to mention upscale chains like Eddie V’s (in Fort Worth and Dallas) and The Oceanaire (in Dallas) -- it’s possible to dine well on seafood fare in North Texas. Now, there’s another place to add to the list: Pier 247 in Dallas.
Just opened at the end of January by Cecilia Lopez (who runs Bar 303 in the next block west), Pier 247 -- serving lunch and dinner -- is aiming for the middle of the market. It’s not so fast-casual as Dive but not as upscale as a place like Ocean Prime, and unlike most of the other seafood places, the emphasis here is on fried-fish favorites. Set in a smartly converted gas station in Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District, it’s a cool, casual space with a bar and a patio that should be popular once the weather warms up.
But it’s the menu where the action is. Chefs John Fleming and Ty Frazier have come up with their takes on classics such as fish and chips and fried calamari that don’t stray too far from the tried-and-true but are well-done. The calamari ($8.95), which comes with two cheddar cheese and jalapeño hush puppies and Creole ranch dressing, was light and flavorful without being rubbery and greasy as it often is at other places. The same goes for the fish and chips ($12.95), four fingers of cod where the taste and texture of the fish was not overwhelmed by the beer batter. They come with hand-cut fries (good, not great) and two more hush puppies.
If you don’t want something fried and/or heart-stopping, there are options -- though I’m guessing the bulk of their business is going to be serving the likes of the Po’Boys (with either shrimp, oyster or catfish, $9.95), fried oysters and catfish nachos ($10.95), chicken-fried oyster BLT ($10.95), shrimp and bacon mac-and-cheese ($12.95), and the fried-shrimp sandwich ($12.95). There are soups (seafood gumbo with dirty rice, $10.95), salads (seafood cobb salad, $14.95), and grilled or pan-seared alternatives. If the red snapper topped with crawfish and asparagus and served with either smashed potatoes or dirty rice ($17.95) is any indication, then a diner doesn’t need to go anywhere near a fryer at Pier 247 to be impressed.
There are small quibbles. Our server didn’t seem overly familiar with the menu -- though, to be fair, the place is brand new -- and any grammarians will be immediately horrified to find they have “fish taco’s” and “seafood enchilada’s.”
OK, don’t go for their proofreading skills. Come for the fish and you should be fine.
UPDATE: Pier 247 will start opening for lunch on Thursday.