Whatever Will Be, Will Be Delicious

With his new neighborhood tapas and wine restaurant, Sera Dining & Wine, former Sapristi! general manager John Marsh has injected some Spanish flavor into Forest Park.

Sera Dining & Wine features shareable small, medium and large plates that will change seasonally and include as much locally sourced fare as possible. Seen above: Brandada de Bacalao. Below: Malpeque Oysters.
At Sera Dining & Wine, the Fideua Negra offers adventurous taste buds a popular Valencian dish with toasted fideo pasta topped with scallops, snap peas, roasted bell peppers and Point Judith squid.

I wanted to open the kind of restaurant I like to go to when traveling,” Marsh says. But you can leave those passports at home, folks.
    The Coastal French-Spanish–inspired menu features shareable small, medium and large plates that will change seasonally and include as much locally sourced fare as possible. Leading the charge is Executive Chef Brandon Hudson, who trained under Michelin-rated chefs in Spain and most recently served as the sous chef at SMOKE in Dallas. That means that Hudson’s devotion to traditional ingredients and preparation is forefront on the menu. In addition to seafood, pork and a regularly changing vegetarian dish, you can count on wine—and lots of it. The specialty wine list is dedicated to France and Spain’s best vineyards, and waiters are knowledgeable enough to help you find the perfect pairing.
    Naturally, Sera forgoes typical palate-whetting table fillers like chips and bread, instead opting for a tiny bowl of arbequina olives, along with a second bowl for discarding the pits (gracefully or not). I hear they pair fantastically with a dry sherry.
    To get the most out of your visit, come with a big group—along with a big appetite—because whether small or large, all of Sera’s dishes are best served with more than one utensil. To warm up a shyer palate, start with the Tortilla Espanola. Often described as the “peanut butter and jelly sandwich of Spain,” this pillowy omelet of eggs, diced potatoes and onion is sure to be a table pleaser. Next, try the Malpeque Oysters. Served on a thick bed of salt, they are initially tart but well balanced by the unexpected but refreshing addition of pickled grapes and celery leaf. Finally, don’t miss the Brandada de Bacalao. What’s essentially whipped fish turns out to be seriously mouth-watering comfort food. This creamy, well-seasoned spread of salted cod and potatoes goes a long way atop crispy, buttery bread, which your waiter is more than happy to refill for a small charge.
    While you could hypothetically make a dinner of tapas alone, you’d be remiss to forgo the great entrees. Start with the pheasant breast, a roasted half-bird laid delicately atop a bed of chopped root vegetables, farro and savory chestnut-leek broth. And quickly becoming a signature dish is the Fideua Negra, where adventurous taste buds really come out to play. In this popular Valencian dish, toasted fideo pasta is topped with scallops, snap peas, roasted bell peppers and Point Judith squid—along with all its inky, lip-staining goodness. So if you’re bringing a date, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
    Now if you’re wondering about paella, they’ve got it—once a week. Round up your best buds for Paella Tuesdays, where $32 a pop will get you one small plate and plenty of family-style paella to share. The dish changes weekly, so sign up for the mailing list to find out what’s new.
    Intrigued yet? At this point, Marsh says his main goal is to get people used to the flavors and ingredients he loves so much, unfamiliar though they may sometimes be. And he’s thrilled to be seeing so many new faces—and seeing those new faces come back. Sera (emphasis on the second syllable: seh-RAH) means “it will be,” and if the first six months are any indication, Sera will be a hit.  | photography by Jason Kindig |
location: 2418 Forest Park Blvd.
for info call: 817.927.7372
price range: $$-$$$
hours: Tue.-Sat., 5:30p.m.-9:30p.m.
what we like: The knowledgeable waitstaff, excellent wine pairings and assortment of tapas.
what we don't: This may not be the best place for those dining alone. The menu items are best for sharing.
our recommendation: The Brandada de Bacalao is a must try.