American Food and Beverage has mixed its last Mezcal Margarita, served its last deviled Gulf crab, set its last scoop of house-made Mexican vanilla bean ice cream on its last pecan pie. Less than two years after it opened in Fort Worth's West 7th District, Raised Palate Restaurants (the group formerly known as Consilient Hospitality) has closed its Modern Texas establishment in Fort Worth's West 7th District. Not only did AF+B, as it was called when it opened, earn four stars in a review; it was also the only restaurant in Fort Worth to snag a spot on The Best in DFW: Top 10 Restaurants in March.
That means that Jeff Harris, one of the most talented chefs in North Texas, finds himself unemployed. He and Raised Palate talked about continuing their relationship for some months, say both Harris and Christine Magrann, Raised Palate's executive officer for talent and operations. But here's some good news: Harris has decided to light out on his own.
"I'm going to pursue opening my own place," says the East Texas-born chef. "I have a few ideas in play. I'm getting to that point in my career; I'm ready to do something."
The new place might be in Fort Worth, where he and his wife live with their four and a half year-old son. Or it might be in Dallas. "Maybe something smaller," he says, "where I can push the technique more" -- probably 50 to 80 seats, depending on the space and the concept. Will it be Modern Texas cuisine? "Possibly. But I have some more casual ideas as well."
Laurel Wimberg, American Food and Beverage's talented pastry chef (who had been working with Harris for years, since their time at the erstwhile Craft Dallas) left AF + B in June. Wimberg did not respond to a request for an interview.
Magrann also announced that Raised Palate plans to open two restaurants in the Dallas Design District, at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Hi Line Drive. "We are still making decisions on the details of the actual concept," she wrote in an email, "but we are very excited about this location."
As for why Raised Palate closed AF+B, "We do not feel that particular location has been a good fit for American Food and Beverage," she said. "As you know, we have made some adjustments to the concept over the past 18 months, including closing for weekday lunch service, however it is clear this has not been the right location for this brand." The second American Food and Beverage, which Raised Palate opened in January in Atlanta, remains open.