My husband and I were supposed to go to dinner with two of our lovely neighbors this past Friday. They called at the last minute to say they weren’t able to make it, but they insisted that we go on without them so the reservation wouldn’t go to waste.
Saint-Emelion has established itself as something of a Ft. Worth institution in the 29 years since it opened its doors, and I’ve been dying to try it for quite some time. We were disappointed that our neighbors couldn’t join us, but we thoroughly enjoyed our unexpected date night and one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
Parking is tight but we managed to find a spot on the small side street where the restaurant is located. Sitting in the middle of a lovely neighborhood, Saint-Emelion occupies a quaint, A-frame building that feels more like your favorite aunt’s house than a restaurant. I even approved of the one commercial touch on their small patio: bright yellow Veuve Clicquot umbrellas. I immediately felt at home beneath the golden hue of my favorite Champagne.
We walked through the door and into the miniscule “waiting area,” where we were greeted by a hostess as well as the restaurant’s resident sommelier, who informed us that our table would be ready shortly and brought us two cocktails to sip while we waited (a Dirty Martini for my husband and a Kir Royale for myself).
Once seated in the small and cozy but somehow not claustrophobic dining room, the waitress brought me a black napkin (I was wearing a black dress and there were white napkins on the table—what phenomenal attention to detail). We asked for the wine list and she produced an iPad that housed an impressive viticultural lineup. The sommelier helped us select a 2010 bottle of Napanook, a Napa Bordeaux blend.
The waitress brought over a large chalkboard menu that featured the day’s impressive specials. To start, my husband ordered a bowl of watercress soup and I ordered the salade d’endives (a salad of Belgian endives, sliced pear, lettuce, and pine nuts). Both were delicious.
Here I need to make a disclaimer. Yes, I do profess to be a vegetarian. And I am a vegetarian for around 360 to 362 days a year. But on those other three to five days, I will indulge and eat fish. I do this because, on occasions such as our trip to Saint-Emelion, a.) I don’t want to be a stick-in-the-mud vegetarian, b.) at many restaurants, particularly in Ft. Worth, there often aren’t very many menu items that didn’t have parents aside from the sad little side salad, and c.) well, frankly, YOLO. (Also, to be quite honest, I don’t feel nearly as bad for a fish as I do for, say, a cow or a pig.) If you insist on labeling me a “pescatarian” over the handful of times I’ve eaten fish in the past four years, so be it.
So, for our entrées, my husband ordered the Dover sole in lemon butter and I ordered one of the specials, the crab meat-crusted steelhead salmon-trout.
A waiter brought the Dover sole to the table for my husband’s approval, then took it back to the kitchen to de-bone it. The flavors were incredible.
The salmon was hands-down the best fish I’ve ever had, and well worth the vegetarian guilt.
To top off our indulgent evening, we each ordered dessert. My husband got some type of chocolate cake with ice cream (the name escapes me) and I ordered the raspberry tart.
Verdict: À mon avis, Saint-Emelion is completely deserving of its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Ft. Worth and one of the best French restaurants in Texas. If you have a few hours to spare (and, yes, a few shekels to unload), I highly recommend it. À votre santé!