Just past the entrance, you walk into a grand lounge anchored by a sprawling bar and sitting area. The sitting area exudes the vibe to stay awhile and relax with warm wood-tones and oversized leather chairs and couches. The walls are adorned with western art from Texan native Stylle Read and various displays of Western history and memorabilia from the 1950’s Hollywood movie “Giant”, starring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor. Reata, the restaurant, was named for the majestic ranch of the same name in the movie.
Reata’s kitchen is run by executive chef James Gaines. His passion and commitment to creating classic Texas comfort food with a twist is notable making his meals – unforgettable. The Reata incorporates daily features into their menu, but some of their highly popular, and what I would recommend, regular menu items are the Calf Fries with cream gravy for the adventurous and Calamari with Cowboy cocktail sauce to start your meal.
The Calf Fries are battered and deep-fried to give a savory flavor with a crispy exterior texture, then piled into a deep-fried onion “bowl”. The cream gravy is reminiscent of the gravy served with biscuits, without the overbearing pepper flavor. The presentation is entertaining. The savory flavor is fabulous with an array of seasoning creating depth for your palate.
Not to be outdone, the Calamari definitely held its own on the table. When many people think of calamari, they think of the small rubbery rings that have been overcooked (hence the rubbery consistency) with little to no flavor. Reata’s calamari is thickly sliced strips of calamari steak, cooked to perfection. Calamari in all its excellence, is soft and tender, easily cut with a fork and practically falling apart in your mouth. Chef Gaines has accomplished this flawlessly.
When I see duck on a menu I typically cringe thinking of the dry, tasteless or “gamey” flavor of that is common. Duck can be difficult to cook and in my opinion, separates an average cook from a chef of greatness. The duck breast at Reata was incredibly flavorful and so moist the juices dripped from it when cut. My mouth is watering just thinking about the meal. I may not need to say it, but I will, this is one of the few duck dishes I would recommend in DFW.
If you are familiar with downtown Fort Worth then you know about the free valet service available. If you are not, just keep your eyes open for the red umbrella stands located on scattered corners throughout the Sundance area. There happens to be one located on the corner near Reata. So you don’t have to drive around the block looking for an empty meter.
Now a word about dining during Covid. To be honest, I was rather hesitant to leave my house. I was armed with my mask, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, Lysol spray and would have had a face shield if I had one. But once I arrived at Reata and noticed they took the CDC guidelines seriously and implemented necessary precautions. I felt more relaxed. Every staff member we interacted with wore a mask and gloves. The tables were distanced at least 6-feet apart and they, in addition to the chairs, were wiped with a disinfectant spray. Reata also has individual rooms available for small to large groups. For outdoor dining, Reata has a rooftop dining area with a Grotto bar that offers a beautiful view of downtown Fort Worth. There is also The Dome which is located on the roof and offers the same spectacular view but is enclosed by a million (could be an exaggeration) panes of glass. The ambiance is romantic and makes you feel as if you are gazing at the stars in an English countryside conservatory. It’s a good place for a special night.
Reservations are encouraged and recommended. Check out their website at reata.net or call 817-336-1009 to make yours. If you are not quite ready to venture out or you don’t live in downtown Fort Worth they are also offering “pop-up” family meals during the pandemic in a variety of locations. Visit their website to see if there is a spot near you this week and what they are offering on their pop-up menu.