Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, December 26, 2002
Silver Fox Steakhouse
Shrimp remoulade $9.95
Crab Cake St. Francis $11.95
III Forks salad $6.50
U.S. prime bone-in ribeye $29.95
U.S. prime New York strip $34.95
Mushrooms with wine $6.95
Nelly Napoleon $5.50
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
Red Meat, Gold Star

Vegetarians: Read no further. Carnivores: Get a fork.

By NANCY SCHAADT

Silver Fox Steakhouse

1651 S University Dr, FW. 817-332-9060. Mon-Thu bar opens at 4 pm, dining-room hours 5 pm-10 pm. Fri-Sat bar opens at 4 pm, dining room 5 pm-11 pm. All major credit cards.

There is no better food for chasing the post-holiday blues than a 20-ounce, hand-cut, bone-in ribeye steak served bloody rare. The pure luxury of rare meat is psychically soothing. For faithful carnivores, a new temple of meat has opened near TCU. It’s called the Silver Fox Steakhouse, and, if a recent visit is any indication, it’ll be around for a long, long time. The service was impeccable, the food was better than outstanding, the seats were comfortable, and the noise level bearable. Rarer than my steak are my complaints. But I must comment on the prices. They are high.

Pedigree matters. Good breeding creates good horses, better-than-average children, and award-winning dogs as well as good restaurants. Silver Fox is part of the CRO restaurant group run by the legendary Gene Street. Street partnered with Dale Wamstad (of Del Frisco’s and III Forks fame) to create Silver Fox. CRO also owns the Cool River restaurants in Austin, Denver, and Las Colinas and a Silver Fox location in Grapevine. So Cowtown’s Silver Fox comes from a company known to back winners.

The culinary lineage is no less impressive than the managerial pedigree. For 18 years, Wamstad has worked with Asif Raza, Silver Fox’s master broiler and executive chef. Raza is a legend in the steakhouse kitchen for turning out perfect steaks.

The two types of steaks that my guest and I ordered, a strip and a ribeye, typically represent different levels of fat marbling, beef textures, and, ultimately, the taste of the meat. The strip was finely marbled with a lightly nutty flavor, like hazelnuts, and exhibited a tender demeanor that only comes from very fine muscle fiber. The ribeye had thicker ribbons of fat, the muscle fiber of the meat was heavier, and the flavor had a rowdy, chewy finish. Characteristically, ribeye is beefier than strip steak, which, in turn, tastes beefier than tenderloin.

Silver Fox uses prime grade, Midwestern corn-fed beef that’s been wet-aged for 29 to 31 days, a process which intensifies the flavor and makes the steak more tender. Each steak is cut to order because all meat begins to lose flavor and tenderness the minute it’s cut.

My companion’s strip steak was cooked Pittsburgh rare (also called “black and blue” because the steak is charred on the outside but cold on the inside). It had a seared crust and, though cold in the middle, had no uncooked fat. The flavor was absolutely perfect, and the texture was as fine as chocolate mousse.

My cool-rare ribeye was bloody and beautiful. There is an instant before one cuts into a steak when the senses are assaulted by the smell and the soft sizzle of hot beef. For me, the reaction is almost primordial. My eyes open wide, my salivary glands cramp with anticipation, and my hand nearly shakes as I clench the knife. If anyone tried to take away my steak, I’m sure my inner pacifist would cower as my inner wild woman would wield my steak knife like a sword. In other words, my ribeye was a really good piece of meat.

Although side dishes are available, you won’t need them. Entrées come with mashed potatoes (although the menu refers to them as Duchess potatoes), sugar snap peas sautéed with bacon, and creamed corn cut from the cob just prior to cooking. We ordered a side of mushrooms in wine (a strong sherry) but hardly touched them.

Nor will you need appetizers, although the two we tried were both delicious. Shrimp remoulade came slightly warm and fresh from the steamer with a side of mixed greens and a mustardy mayonnaise-based dressing.

And we had also ordered the crab cake — with reservation. Having once lived near the Chesapeake Bay, we had grown accustomed to crab cakes that are prickly with shell bits and lump Blue crab meat. Since moving to Texas, we’ve been disappointed with every crab cake we’ve ordered. This one, made with west-coast crab, had the least filler and the most crab of any we’ve tried. Definitely not disappointing. The single, hamburger-bun-sized cake was lightly fried and tasted of nearly sweet crab. Although I equate good crab cakes with bits of shell, the absence of the annoying bits was refreshing and took nothing away from the experience.

We finished with the Nelly Napoleon. Layers of flaky phyllo held a filling of a light, airy, pudding-like cream, studded with fresh blueberries and raspberries. (My companion uttered his usual refrain, “Oh no, I can’t possibly eat another bite,” and then proceeded to demolish half the dessert.)

The Silver Fox overall has a been-in-Fort Worth-forever feel. From real cowpersons in hats and spurs to men in finely cut tuxedos, anyone with a fat wallet and a love of meat will have a blast.


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