Chow, Baby: Wednesday May 23, 2002
Next Stop: Italian Ice

Chow, Baby had that nightmare again, the one about having to work in Dallas. (Better than the one about having to live there.) But hauling one’s bottom to Dallas will be a little more pleasurable — the Fort Worth Public Market is opening just a block south of the Trinity Railway Express’s Ninth Street Station. The market is not just opening, it’s grand-opening on Saturday, 9:30am-2pm. Regular hours will be Tues-Sat 10am-7pm and Sun 12-6 pm.

The Public Market is huge. It’s in the historic Santa Fe warehouse, which takes up two blocks along Jones Street. (Directional aid for Fort Worth Weekly staffers: Open the back door of Malone’s Pub, and there you are.) The warehouse’s brick walls, 14-foot ceilings, and wood-block floors will shelter merchants like Seafoodville, Lone Star Wines, and Feastivities. By “like,” Chow, Baby means “as yummy as,” not “as expensive as.” Supermarket-supplier Santa Fe Produce, for one, sells fresh whole fruit and fruit cups at very friendly prices. How? The same way Rolex salesmen on the sidewalks of New York can: low overhead. And speaking of New York, the crisp and tangy mango, strawberry, lemon, and tangerine Italian ices at Frost Bites would please any goombah.

Chow, Baby is particularly excited about the Coffee Haus’s fresh Krispy Kremes — the perfect breakfast to grab on the way to the 10:17. That’s kind of early for Chow, Baby, but it wants to make a good impression on its new bosses in Big D. No, that was only a dream.

Tippy Toes

“I can’t leave a tip,” squirmed Chow, Baby’s dining companion at Providence last week. “It just feels wrong.” Chow, Baby knew exactly what he meant. Not that there was a problem with the service — on the contrary, our waitress was solicitous and mannerly. Nor was there anything wrong with Providence’s small menu of sandwiches and salads, or with that day’s “plate special” — Mexican-style chicken served with Mexican-style rice, salad, tea, and blackberry cobbler, a bargain at $7. The chicken was a little dry, but the cobbler was extra juicy, so it all evened out. Chow, Baby would have preferred less mayo and more chicken in its chicken-salad sandwich ($6), but the croissant surrounding it was hot from the oven, the fruit decorating it was perfectly ripe, and the taco soup accompanying it was hearty-homemade. Nope, nothing wrong here.

It was the milieu that was at issue. Lunching at Providence, in a small, minimally converted historic residence at 1407 8th Ave, is like lunching at Grandma’s house. The airy rooms are painted a fresh white. Lace curtains frame the windows. Decorative plates hang on the walls. Wood floors are polished to a high gloss. The oak dining tables, four in each of three rooms, are studded with doilies. In these hushed, genteel surroundings — the house is also used for weddings and receptions — it’s impossible not to be on your best behavior. And it’s very difficult to tip your grandmother.

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