Chef-owner James Robert, the man behind new Fort Worth restaurant Fixe Southern House, has been wearing out Interstate 35 as he expands his Austin restaurant to Cowtown.
Robert calls Fixe, now open at Fort Worth's Shops at Clearfork, "modern or progressive" Southern cuisine. "We are taking recognizable dishes and putting a modern twist on them," he says.
It doesn't get more Southern than biscuits and grits, so let's start there.
The biscuits at Fixe are served with local honey, butter and house-made preserves. They aren't lying around, sunbathing under heat lamps, either. Each fluffy batch is cooked to order.
The grits, sourced from Anson Mills in South Carolina, are served four ways. "The taste is like corn fresh off the cob," Robert says. You can get them straight up or on one of three plates: with garlicky kale, an egg and salsa verde; with Texas quail; or complemented with Texas shrimp, shrimp butter and bottarga (salty Italian fish roe).
The menu has a distinct Cajun accent. "The way my mom cooked, growing up in Louisiana, has been my biggest inspiration," Robert says.
Here's a surprise: On the dessert menu, you'll find red beans and rice. "Trust us," the menu says. The dish is a cross between a hush puppy and a beignet, with candied red-bean purée folded in. It comes with house-churned toasted rice ice cream on the side.
Another interesting dish is the "blackened" red snapper topped off with a clever black-garlic meringue. Squid ink is folded into the meringue, which is then dried and pulverized and layered on top of the grilled snapper.
"It's so black, some people are afraid we accidentally burnt their fish," the chef says.
Fixe Southern House takes its Southern hospitality theme all the way to the decor. "We want to welcome you into our space," Robert says, "the same way my mother used to entertain: with fresh flowers on the table and a comfortable atmosphere."
Soon, Fixe will offer Sunday brunch, likely around Easter. For now, the restaurant opens daily at 4 p.m. 5282 Marathon Ave., Fort Worth. fixesouthernhouse.com.