Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, June 15, 2005
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Howdy, pardner: Say hello to Gunsmoke’s Texas T-bone with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and crispy onion strings. (Photo by Vishal Malhotra)
Gunsmoke Grill and Saloon
3105 Cockrell Av, FW. 817-920-0833. 5pm-10pm Tue-Thu; 5pm-11pm Fri-Sat. Closed Sun. All major credit cards accepted.

Gunsmoke Grill
Escargot $10
Filet mignon $34
Double-cut pork chop $20
Vanilla crème brulée $8
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
New Sheriff in Town

The Old West comes back bigger and juicier in the kitschy confines of Gunsmoke Grill and Saloon.

By CHRISTOPHER WYNN

Tucked behind one of Fort Worth’s most beloved taquerias in the TCU area, Gunsmoke Grill and Saloon does its best to conjure the Old West. The entrance doors are huge and made of wood, the inside is dark, and the hardwood chairs are hard. Just like in days of yore, a body is expected to work for his food here — two minutes of sitting at a table is the Gunsmoke Grill equivalent to four hours of trimming brush.

The décor is Western-themed almost to the point of kitsch, down to the rustic wagon-wheel chandelier (and, in the men’s room, a boot spur to hold the toilet paper roll).

Gunsmoke best captures the romance of yesteryear with the food. Like fine cuisine back in the day, the new restaurant’s fare is — like the Nashvegas hat act — “big” and “rich.”

The escargot starter, dripping in garlic-wine butter, was exquisitely squishy, even after mounting each spoonful on a mini-slice of crispy Texas toast. Another appetizer, the spinach salad, was equally impressive — fresh, leafy greens balanced by sliced apples, bits of egg, mild red onions, pecans, feta cheese, and strips of prosciutto, with a splash of apple vinaigrette dressing. The blend of sweet and sour was musical.

(There was a moment before the main courses arrived when the wild, wild west feel was a little too vivid. While rushing over to offer my guests and me fresh ground pepper, our server lost control of his grinder — it zipped past the head of one of the guests and smashed up against the wall behind us, ricocheting to the floor with a crack. We passed on the seasoning.)

Yes, there have been rumblings about the quality of Gunsmoke’s raison d’être — steak — but ignore them. Nicely seasoned and seared outside with a juicy pink inside, the filet mignon was almost as tender as warm butter, complemented nicely by truffle-infused mashed potatoes and asparagus spears. The mix of different textures alone — from perfectly chewy to perfectly crunchy to perfectly mushy — was enough to make a mouth happy. Add crispy onion strings for an extra $4 — they’re great for soaking up the steak juice.

At nearly three inches thick, the double-cut pork chop was a handful. The sugary flavor was nice, but overall, the meat was a bit too dry. Pork chops are supposed to be soaked in a brine or salt-water solution during preparation — maybe Gunsmoke skipped this step. However, the prickly pear puree atop the chop was wonderfully mild and tangy, and the jalapeño-and-cheese grits on the side were deliciously decadent.

Endings at Gunsmoke are pretty sweet. The pecan pie, covered in a bourbon sauce and accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream, was sinfully tasty, and the vanilla crème brulée went from “good” to “great” by the mix of fresh berries on top.

Gunsmoke also has a full bar and provides more than 100 labels of wine — is there anything more Texan than toasting with a $130 shot of Hennessy Richard beneath a wagon-wheel chandelier? Hell no.


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