Leslie Brenner reviewed Barter: She's largely unimpressed by the Private Social replacement, awarding it just one star and declaring the menu "oddly compact, fairly perplexing and occasionally satisfying." Brenner calls the soft-shell crab tacos "not bad" but expected the turkey gravy poutine to be "elevated or reimagined" in some way and is disappointed to find it "no more appealing than the greasy renditions" found in its Canadian homeland. She finds the charcuterie board "well-made" but "sparsely portioned," the meats generally "overcooked," and the fish and chips "sad." The menu's best choice, she says, are the "small, meaty barbecue wild boar ribs" served with "splendid cucumber pickles." She has some kinder words for the cocktails, but says they're "are not as consistently wonderful as [barman Rocco] Milano's have been elsewhere," and proclaims the wine list "utterly bizarre." [DMN]
Anna Caplan tried Velvet Taco in Ft. Worth: The "globe-trotting menu" at this recently opened second location "caters to virtually anyone with a palate," as evidenced by long lines and a patio that's packed "even in 30-degree weather." She has high praise for the fish 'n chips taco, with battered cod that's "crispy on the outside and ... perfectly moist on the inside," plus malted potato straws, cabbage slaw and curry mayo. Caplan's other standouts include the calamari and fried paneer tacos; for sides, she proclaims the tater tots "covered in melted goat cheese and cheddar, bacon, basil cream and ... a sunny-side-up egg" a must-order. The whole rotisserie chicken meal is proclaimed "pretty fab," especially on Monday nights when it's "really a steal" at just $10. [DFW.com]
Scott Reitz checked out Max's Wine Dive The West Village house o' fried chicken and Champagne remains a hot spot even a year after opening, so "if you've neglected a reservation, expect to wait for a table." He proclaims said fried chicken "neither juicy nor dry, but the flavor is right," and it, along with the similarly prepared chicken-fried steak, are satisfying choices, but skip the "overcooked burger on a stiff bun" that'll run you a hefty $21. Reitz says the best choices here are mostly the simple, fried items; more complicated dishes like the truffle-assaulted egg sandwich and sweetbread eggrolls tend to disappoint. Overall, he thinks "there are far better places to enjoy upscale comfort food" but that clearly isn't stopping the crowds from flocking to Max's. [Observer]
ELSEWHERE: Fort Worth Weekly proclaimed AF+B "almost heaven"; City of Ate raved about Spam sliders at The Local Oak; Teresa Gubbins tried Fort Worth's Pizza Snob. On the barbecue trail, TMBBQ found awesome onion rings at Virdinski's Rub Shack in Amarillo; The Barbecue Fiend tried Cripple Creek Bar-B-Q in Athens; and Steve Watkins went to Bartley's BBQ in Grapevine.
[Photo: Garrett Hall/EDFW]