The Best of Twenty at the Tower

Last week, Fort Worth’s first pop-up concept came to a close. Twenty at the Tower gave diners the opportunity to enjoy fare from some of the best chefs in Fort Worth, Dallas, and even San Antonio. I have often been asked what the “best” dinner was. There is no way to adequately answer that question, because all of them were so memorable. I put together some of my favorites though, and for my dream Twenty at the Tower meal, this is what I came up with.

Yukon Gold Potato Royale
Blaine Staniford – GRACE

It’s fitting that the first thing to come out of the kitchen was one, if not the most, memorable dish of all the dinners. This was the most unique “soup bowl” that I have ever seen.

Blue Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Black Truffle Essence
John Tesar – Spoon Bar + Kitchen

John Tesar’s delicate hand with seafood was apparent throughout his dinner and although his pasta nearly stole the show, this dish was the winner. The sweet blue crab with the added dimension of the squash blossom had diners swooning.

Summer Vegetables, Ver Jus, Caprino Royale Chèvre, Sel Gris
Matt McCallister – FT33

The most frequent comment from diners about this course was simply “Wow!” The 24 individual ingredients plated precisely the same way 47 times. Matt’s vegetarian dinner was a smashing success in Cowtown due in large part to the beauty of dishes like this one.

A Tasting of Eggplant with Figs, Yukon Gold Confit, Caramelized Onion, Brisket Bark and Roasted Chicken Bordelaise
Jason Dady – Two Bros. BBQ, Bin 555, Tre Trattoria, DUK Truck

This was my personal favorite of all the dinners. Jason joined us from San Antonio for his BBQ inspired dinners. Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn was there with his new cookbook, which features BBQ from Jason’s restaurant on the cover. The taste combination of the Brisket Bark and fig was simply incredible.

Tea Brined Crispy Bandera Quail
Cox Farm New Potato and Broad Bean Salad, Vital Farm Egg & Applewood Smoked Bacon

Molly McCook – Ellerbe

We had several chefs use quail in their dinners, which for me, is a great thing.  All of the chefs did a great job with it, but Molly’s stood out from the rest. Al Micallef, owner of Reata, declared that it was the best quail that he had ever eaten and I would have to agree.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta + Dewberry Preserves
Graham Dodds – Central 214

Fresh local ingredients are something that Graham has been using for years. First at Bolsa, now at Central 214. This light, flavorful dessert was the perfect way to end his meal that featured soft shell crabs and windy hill goat.

To be quite honest, there isn’t enough time or space for me to describe all of the wonderful dishes of the talented chefs that participated. I feel truly blessed to have played a part in these dinners and I am forever grateful to all of the people who helped make this vision become a reality. If you attended Twenty at the Tower, let me know what your favorite dish was. Check out what associate editor Sonya Cisneros Curry had to say about Twenty at the Tower here.

Russell Kirkpatrick is AGM at Reata Restaurant and Founder of the Fort Worth Food+Wine Festival