Restaurant Review – Clay Pigeon, Fort Worth, Texas

 

Rating: 4/5

Overall: The food is fantastic and boasts of excellent fundamentals. Pick good ingredients, combine flavors that go well together, and plate to highlight the star of the dish. I just wish the interior was a little more inviting.

Entrance and Decor

The location of Clay Pigeon is a little odd, as is the exterior. It sits on a corner, and really doesn’t look like much when you drive by it or go to enter the front door. For the most part, the inside is pretty plain. There are the standard black and brown chair and table sets, stone floors, and brick walls. There’s also a wine cellar adjacent to the main dining. All of this in itself isn’t bad, but the problem is that it doesn’t really suit the place. The cuisine doesn’t match the decor, nor does the level/quality of service. More importantly, they use giant mirrors as decoration, like above the bar. Those mirrors are pretty gaudy with their giant golden frames and don’t go well with the rest of it.

While I think the restaurant is attempting to go for a brutalist look that matches the “back to basics” feel of the cuisine, I think it falls short of the mark. Instead, what the result just feels unfinished, mismatched, and disjointed. So the place becomes a little uninviting when you first step in. Nothing that will ruin your dinner at all, but definitely something that can be improved.

Appetizer

Let’s get on with the food. For the appetizer, I ordered the bone marrow. Now if you haven’t ever tasted bone marrow, you need to. When done right, it’s fantastic, and this place does it right.

Everything in this dish was perfect. The marrow was roasted perfectly, the seasoning was excellent, and even the little salad on the side added a refreshing accent. You can also see that the plating is done quite thoughtfully to put the bone right in your face. Bone marrow is difficult to do properly. It can often come out bland and lacking color. But, this was spectacular.

Main Course

I ordered the braised lamb shank. Now, a braised lamb shank, or really anything braised, should fall apart at the touch of your fork. It should melt upon entering your mouth and release all that sealed in umami right onto your tongue. Eating a well braised “meat on the bone” dish should be an almost sexual experience. You should be able to feel the flavors dripping down your throat before you even swallow it.

Ok…maybe that’s a bit much, but you get the point. This lamb shank did all of that to perfection.

I didn’t need the knife to separate the lamb; it was already molting off the bone, being shed like the skin of a snake. You can see the sauce pooling at the bottom, and what you can’t see is that sauce flavor imbued into the meat in equal measure. Every bite was perfect.

The only criticism I have of this dish is the olives. I don’t think they’re necessary, and the flavor doesn’t quite harmonize with everything else. They seem like an afterthought that should be rethought.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t order desert, in my efforts to remain as keto friendly as possible, so let’s skip to the final thoughts. Here’s the deal: the place isn’t too well known from what I gather, nor is it particularly inviting when you first walk in. I think their clientele probably range to an older crowd. But the food is fantastic. If they made the establishment slightly more vibrant and cohesive, I think this is an easy five stars.

Great Food, Confusing Place – Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay

BSK

Time for another review. This time, Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay is on tap.

Rating: 3.5/5

Overall: While most things were good, I suppose my expectations were higher of a Gordon Ramsay vehicle. The food was good, but lacked perfection in some critical aspects, and the decor straddled an awkward line between intimate and open. Overall, definitely better than most, but also definitely short of the upper tier establishments.

Entrance and Appetizers

The entrance is markedly open. You can immediately see into the entire restaurant. There is a cute dessert stand immediately to the right of the entryway as well as a bar and bakery type area to the left. This part of the restaurant is actually perfect. It gives you a fun vibe that makes you want to be part of what’s happening inside. The yellow lighting is also bright and dim at the same time, which is an interesting effect at first, but does get a little odd, as I’ll explain later in the review. We were escorted to our table and greeted by a friendly server who brought us water and bread to start.

This is where the place began to feel a little strange. Once seated, the restaurant seemed like it was inviting diners to be in an intimate space. The lights were dimmer, the settings of rich wood exuded comfort, the music was low, and the top down black server uniforms were fairly atypical of a casual establishment. These things stood in stark contrast to the open floor and the immediately visible inside bar and kitchen areas. The dessert and bread areas also made this a child friendly place. While I love children, this was another thing which contrasted with the more adult aspects of the restaurant. Although, at a place like Atlantis, it certainly makes sense. However, as a pair of young adult professionals, the place seemed slightly out of balance to us, like it was trying to succeed as a casual and fine dining establishment without fully committing to important aspects of either. Pick a side Gordon.

The bread was excellent, clearly freshly baked, and the butter which accompanied it also had an intense saltiness which perfectly complimented the bread. I think the butter also may have been homemade? It certainly seemed so.

The menus were brought to us on thick wooden clipboards. This wasn’t just decorative as the menu was all separate pages actually held in place by the clip of the clipboard. This made it a bit difficult to flip between the pages, and I also had to slide them down a bit to comfortably read the pages after the first one. The clipboard seemed a little unnecessary considering how unwieldy it was. In any case, we proceeded with our order. After seeing Ramsay yell about raw scallops on television for years, I had to order them. My companion ordered the tagliolini for her appetizer.

The scallops were a little over cooked, so slightly rubbery, but not too bad. Fifteen to twenty seconds less would have been perfect. They also weren’t full size diver scallops, which is what I had expected, though it didn’t say that on the menu. The garnish and accompanying puree was excellent, providing a nice accent to the scallops. The tagliolini was spectacular. It had perfectly cooked pieces of lobster, beautiful heat, and a surprising acidity. The flavor was powerful, and the addition of crunchy textures like the spring onions provided a nice contrast to the soft and rich pasta and lobster. The portion size was also substantial for an appetizer, which I always like to see from a restaurant.

Entree

Naturally, we ordered the legendary Gordon Ramsay beef wellington. The wellington came with a truffle mash and roasted carrots, as well as a marrow bone sauce. The wellington was great overall, and the truffle mash was exquisite. The carrots were cooked and seasoned beautifully, and the sauce was just a little tart, and just rich enough to not be overpowering, a nice accent to the already flavorful wellington. There were a couple issues which kept this from being perfect, however. The innermost layer of the pastry was just a bit raw. It didn’t ruin the dish, but it wasn’t perfect. The ducsel in between was slightly too salty as well. Finally, we were told while ordering that the steak is prepared medium, but it came out medium rare. I don’t actually have a problem with medium rare, I like it just fine, but it wasn’t what we were expecting. It seemed another 3 – 5 minutes in the convection over, assuming that’s what was used, would have cooked the pastry through and brought the meat to the expected medium temperature. Despite these issues though, the dish was still an overall success.

Already full from some large portions, we decided to skip dessert, but if I ever return, I’ll be sure to order some.

All in all, it was a good experience, but not quite the perfection I expected from the Gordon Ramsay I have been watching on TV for years.