Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, February 16, 2005
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Kelly Lancaster brings veteran experience to his latest creation, Kelly’s Sports Restaurant. (Photo by Scott Latham)
Kelly’s Sports Restaurant
Jackalope
$9.49
Chicken-fried steak
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Big League Chow

Simple food packed with million-dollar flavor makes Kelly’s Sports Restaurant a hit.

By PETER GORMAN

Kelly’s Sports Restaurant 8455 Boat Club Rd, Ste 100, FW. 817-236-1991. Sun-Thu 11am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11am-2am. All major credit cards accepted.

For good American grub in a relaxed sports bar atmosphere, Kelly’s Sports Restaurant is hard to beat. The staff is quick and courteous, the kitchen crew capable, and the space intimate yet comfy, packed in by eight tv’s; bunches of booths, cocktail tables, and four-tops; and a couple of coin-operated billiards tables.
What’s especially nice about Kelly’s is that owner and Fort Worth restaurant/nightclub veteran Kelly Lancaster pays as much attention to his food as to the space. On a recent visit, all four of the entrées ordered, plus the sides, weren’t mind-blowing but were done well. The Texas-Size Burger, a flame-grilled half-pounder, came out medium as requested, on a warm bun with a thick slice of real, sharp cheddar, rather than mealy American cheese. A large helping of thin-cut fries, served with skin on, were cooked just right — crisp on the outside, tender inside.
The Jackalope — a flame-grilled double chicken breast topped with bacon, sautéed mushrooms, glazed onions, and Monterrey Jack, and served on a toasty bun — was tender, juicy, and packed with flavors, from sweet to oily to smoked. The accompanying side salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, Bermuda onions, and cucumbers, topped with good but store-bought ranch dressing, made for a nice, cold, crisp complement. (It’s a good thing that Kelly’s offers a half-portion of the sandwich — it’s huge.)
While the sandwiches were tasty and slightly above-average, the best reason to hit Kelly’s may be the chicken-fried steak. The beef, seasoned just enough to bring out a peppery bite, was thicker than most but tender and not overwhelmed by the breading. Served with a hearty country gravy that had plenty of zip without being overpowering, the dish was poor-boy food fit for a king. The sides — garlic mashed potatoes with skins and fresh green beans parboiled, then sautéed — were outstanding and quite unlike anything you’d expect to find in a “lowly” sports bar.
The only quibble was with the quesadilla. It was loaded with plenty of hefty chicken pieces smothered in cheese, and the accompanying guacamole and chunky salsa were excellent, but someone in the kitchen forgot to spice the bird or add the onions, leaving the dish ordinary where it might have been excellent.
But that’s a minor quibble. The food overall served its purpose — quick, relatively cheap, and tasty. It’s not haute cuisine or anything complex, but it’s prepared with an eye to what will make the diner happy. A huge menu — offering 10 starters, a half-dozen salad entrées, more than a dozen oversized snacks, and eight entrées, from the Jackalope to a 14-oz. rib-eye to pork chops — is built to keep regular patrons, and maybe a few local food critics, coming back for more.


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