By: Malcolm Mayhew
Though unmistakably a restaurant, Branch & Bird takes a cue from the building’s fellow tenant and, essentially, keeps banker’s hours — only open during the work week and closed on the weekend.
I sampled the Fitzgerald ($6) on a recent visit during happy hour. The blend of Gordon’s gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and a dash of Angostura bitters, decorated with a bamboo skewered Amarena cherry, was lovely.
With its wraparound patio space filled with cozy club seating and glass railing, cocktail service should be a primary focus. But, even though the bar earned kudos for best cocktail creation at the 2018 Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival’s Desserts After Dark event, don’t expect any late-night revelry here. While a lot of downtown establishments go into the wee hours, Branch & Bird says g‘night at 9 p.m.
The interior space is modern, sleek and minimal, but feels cold with glass walls, frosted glass tabletops, steel and terrazzo flooring. With all the hard surfaces, the acoustics are surprisingly good, although it really should dim the lights for evening service.
There is a grab-and-go selection of salads, wraps, muffins and cookies available for building tenants to munch on throughout the day.
A full coffee bar is up bright and early each morning, which recently added Pearl Snap Kolaches to the mix, and at lunchtime it’s a convenient stop — serving salads, sandwiches, pressed paninis and flatbreads.
The dinner menu, however, is riddled with shareable snacks and reads more like the fare offered at happy-hour meet-up spots. Meat and cheese boards join flatbread pizzas, slider hamburgers and skewered meats. Despite the generic nature of the menu, I enjoyed the Cheese Trio of dips ($14), but it also might have benefited from losing two of the selections and sticking solely to the delicious buffalo blue cheese dip offered.
In the slider category, the CHR Beef Sliders ($14 for 3) were a bore with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and garlic aioli on brioche buns. Better were the Cuban Sliders ($12 for 3), whose same brioche buns were filled more generously with sliced ham, pulled pork, tangy Swiss cheese and an unexpected chili sauce.
The skewers sounded interesting, but I was not a fan of the Flank Steak Chimichurri Skewers ($15 for 3). The flank was chewy and the sauce bland. The better choice, by far, would be the Grilled Shrimp Skewers ($13 for 3) although it might be a bit awkward to share, with one skewer stacked with grilled pineapple, red onion and peppers, and two others with grilled shrimp. The plate was attractive, and I found the spicy orange sauce a nice addition.
With a menu that is expected to change seasonally, I liked the Bailey’s White Chocolate Crème Brulée ($14). The plate refused to pull any culinary punches — brushed with fresh caramel, studded with strawberries, piped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa. And, the brulée itself was a nice specimen, with a creamy texture and a distinct splash of Bailey’s alcohol to taste.
Branch & Bird
Location: 640 Taylor St.
For Info: 817.785.8888; branchbirdfw.com
What we liked: The view is the main reason to visit Branch & Bird. It’s ideal for coffee, shared plates and cocktails.
What we didn’t: The Flank Steak Chimichurri Skewers and the CHR Beef Sliders were very average and not worth their price tag.
Recommendations: Cocktails and desserts are a good bet here, unless you plan to bring along a table of friends to sample and share from the small-plates menu.
By: Malcolm Mayhew