Chow, Baby: Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Another Pleasant Sundance Sunday

Chow, Baby had one of those cliché Fort Worth Sundays — brunch at Ferré (215 E. 4th St.), catch the matinee at Bass Hall across the street, then stroll around Sundance Square spending inherited money in cute shoppes. Well, it’s a cliché if you’re part of a certain demographic, which Chow, Baby and the beloved aren’t, so it was all fresh and new to us. We brought a classier couple along to show us when to clap.
The matinee was Monty Python’s Spamalot, which has since moved on, so Chow, Baby won’t go into a lot of too-bad-you-can’t-have-any detail about how much fun it was. (There was a lot of clapping.) The real star of the afternoon, though, was our Ferré waiter, Fabian, who had a great talent for suggesting ways we could spend slightly more money and be much happier, without ever making us feel upsold. No, that’s a sincere compliment. Like, when we ordered bruschetta ($8) for the table, Fabian announced, “I’m going to bring you the dinner portion for a dollar more, because it’s two and a half times the size.” And he was so right, because even with the larger portion the four of us were battling like knights over the last crumb of toasted country bread with fresh grape tomatoes and frisky ricotta salata. It turned out that one of the reasons Fabian is so knowledgeable about food is that four days a week he cooks at Café Modern, right alongside (warning: gratuitous Chef Ian shout-out forthcoming) Chef Ian. Lucky dog.
This was Chow, Baby’s first visit to Ferré in the daytime, and somewhat surprisingly, the sleek bistro décor — light teak, shiny metal, mirrors — stands up well to sunlight. No tarnish anywhere, and certainly not on the brunch menu, which follows the Ferré tradition of glamming up a dish without making it overly fussy: rosemary-glazed pork tenderloin with Granny Smith apple chutney and garlic-mascarpone mashed potatoes ($22); a beautiful chunk of sea bass dressed in limoncello-butter sauce and paired with perfectly cooked crimini-spinach risotto ($21). The egg dishes (Benedict, $15, and frittata, $13) were also scrummy, which Chow, Baby is told is the au courant word to connote both “scrumptious” and “yummy.” Chow, Baby is a little dubious (it was hearing “scraggly + crummy,” which didn’t apply), but if the word suggests hip and delicious, it describes Ferré perfectly.

Phoery of the Week
Pioneer Village, the strip mall at Pioneer Parkway and South Collins Street in Arlington, is a good place to set a course for adventure. The anchor is Import Food Market, one-stop shopping for mango lassi, hookah tobacco, olives, baklava, halal lamb, and three aisles of spices. On the west side of Import Foods is a great little Middle Eastern restaurant, Al Hamra, and on the east is Song Huong, one of the few local purveyors of Hue (central Vietnamese, and a little weird) cuisine.
But for those days when Chow, Baby seeks soothing rather than stimulating, there’s serene Pho Palace on the south side (2126 S. Collins St.), with its varying-shades-of-seafoam décor. The food is mellow, too; your standard South Vietnamese shrimp rolls (two for $2.45), beef noodle pho (“small” $4.75), and soursop smoothie ($2.75). Nothing electrifying, but that’s Chow, Baby’s Vietnamese comfort meal, and there’s no more comforting place to have it than Pho Palace.

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