Chow, Baby: Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Nothing’s Certain but Taxes and Chicken-Frieds

There’s a sign on the door of 7th Street Café, 2736 W. 7th St., that reads “Warning: This property has been seized for nonpayment of taxes owed the State of Texas.” How unfair. Chow, Baby doesn’t pay its taxes either, but (until now) the whole world doesn’t know it. Until that’s straightened out — “Will Reopen Soon,” promises another sign — Chow, Baby’s list of chicken-fried winners is uncomfortably shortened.
Meanwhile, Chow, Baby’s houseguest has moved out — way out, about as far as one can get and still be in town. No offense taken; Chow, Baby can always use another Southwestside legperson. Indeed, a chicken-fried prospect was spotted on our first day of neighborhood cruising: What better name for a homecooking joint than Dixie Café (4902 Hwy. 377 S)? And it’s right next to a gas station! This was promising, indeed.
For once, Chow, Baby’s optimism was not cruelly crushed. Dixie Café is your classic roadside diner with friendly waitresses, Wednesday-night all-you-can-eat catfish ($7.95), and huge lunch plates ($5.95) of beef tips over rice, chicken & dumplings, meatloaf, and the like. The “chicken-fried steak” ($5.95) was crunchy outside and tender inside, and under a different name Chow, Baby would call it great — it was a pork cutlet, not beef. So that was a little odd, but still worth the trip.
Navigating the 183/377 Circle of Death a few days later, Chow, Baby realized that, like most Fort Worthians, it hadn’t been to Edelweiss German Restaurant, 3801 Southwest Blvd., in years and years. You know, that spooky-kooky barnlike place with huge platters of dense food, people jumping up to do the Chicken Dance to the house polka band, and a really great waitress named Feather. Feather banters (but not too much) with her customers, can detail every single menu item upon request, and even knows what’s on the legendary combo plate (enough scrumptious bratwurst, knockwurst, smoked pork ribs, schnitzel, sauerkraut, red cabbage, and German fried potatoes for two people, $17.95). Throughout the meal she makes sure her people are happy. Unfortunately, Feather wasn’t our waitress that night; she was serving the next table. Our guy was unable to recollect, much less describe, specific dishes; dumped our appetizers and main courses all at once; and rhetorically muttered “Everything OK?” as he reushed by on his way to who-knows-where. Throughout the meal, he made sure we felt completely ignored. Well, maybe he had a lot on his mind. We thoughtfully left a small tip so at least he won’t have to worry about taxes.
Lanny at the Lantern
Lanny P. Lancarte II has his breakout planned: He’s leaving his father’s Northside kitchen for a restaurant location of his very own on the West Side — the West 7th St. space formerly occupied by Mike Shaw’s restaurant, The Green Lantern.
“It’s all coming together,” Lancarte said. “We’ll only do a five-course [meal] at the restaurant, but with a chef’s table we’ll do maybe a 10- or 12-course dinner.” With prices for the five-course pegged at $50-$60, it’s good that there’ll be an à la carte menu for those whose appetites — or pocketbooks — aren’t ready for the full-meal deal. Lanny’s Alta Cocina will open only for dinner at first.
Since August 2002, the 30-year-old chef has been serving reservation-only, five- and seven-course meals in the back of his family’s legendary Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant. The menu, he said, makes “heavy use of authentic Mexican ingredients with a twist of French, Italian, and Spanish,” with entrées such as guacamole and lobster Napoleon, duck breast with warm peach and sage salsa, and antelope carpacchio laced with a lime chile vinaigrette.
The contract was inked Tuesday, and Lancarte’s confident of a mid-May opening — and walk-in business will be welcome.

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