Blackened redfish atop Mexican chorizo succotash will make an appearance on The Fitzgerald's new menu. Photo by Nancy Farrar.
Pork Carnitas Benedict served on Fixture's brunch menu. Photo by Nancy Farrar.
The patio at Fixture will inspire the covered patio at the new The Fitzgerald when it opens along Camp Bowie this fall.
Merritt promises a biscuit brunch at The Fitzgerald as well.
Chef Ben Merritt closed the doors on his Rosedale Renaissance restaurant, which was located just across from Texas Wesleyan University in the Polytechnic Heights neighborhood of Fort Worth, in June. It’s tough to keep the doors open when you can’t find employees to run the place, so Merrit’s ambitious Ben’s Triple B (biscuits, burgers and brews) spot folded.
But along with his new business partner Chris Lynch, Merritt is now taking over the former Blu Crab restaurant space at 6115 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Suite 104, to open The Fitzgerald. The chef’s first restaurant — Fixture ― Kitchen & Social Lounge — is still going on Magnolia, where his chicken and waffles, killer brunches and creative cocktails pack the house.
Now, his new Fitgerald plans to be open seven days a week, with both lunch and dinner service. And, yes, brunch will make the trip across town to the Westside. That’s a double bonus for an area where weekend brunch options are scarce.
“We will bring back Ben’s Triple B biscuits, with our Biscuit Brunch,” Merritt tells PaperCity Fort Worth. If you are craving his chicken and waffles, you’ll still have to make a trip to Fixture though.
The new home of The Fitzgerald once housed the late, great Cafe Aspen before Blu Crab took over the space. The sprawling 8,000 square foot space includes 2,500 square feet of patio room alone, with definite delineation in the plans.
“We are chopping the massive bar in half, and making the front dining room more feminine with lighter colors,” Merritt says. “The back space will become Regal Room, and will remain darker with leather sofas and chairs ― a place to hang out.”
Merritt was at City Hall, gathering permits, when I spoke to him. He says he’s already been hard at work on The Fitzgerald, power washing the enclosed patio to remove paint and restore the brick to its natural red color. The back patio will be filled with lush greenery.
“I’ve been collecting chandeliers for many years,” Merritt details. “There will be a rose chandelier installed above the chef’s table in the main dining room.”
Merritt memorably won an episode of Food Network’s Chopped in 2019. He’s known for his Southern spin at Fixture with his fried chicken salad in buttermilk dressing, those Texas thick beet fries served with a side of aioli for dipping and even a shrimp BLT sandwich on the menu.
The Fitzgerald is also the name of this chef’s favorite cocktail. “A gin sour with bitters, it’s light and refreshing, like the rest of the menu,” Merritt says. His new restaurant will be decidedly more upscale ― described as a modern and casual steak and chop house with a heavy seafood component.
On the appetizer portion of The Fitzgerald’s menu, you’ll find crawfish fondue, lobster corndogs and crab beignets. The star of the show will be a selection of both char-grilled and baked oysters. One will be dressed in a kimchi compound butter, another with a bold bacon, jalapeño and Manchego cheese sauce.
Main dishes will be elaborate as well. The blackened redfish atop fresh succotash will reappear, along with prime steaks, and a Chilean sea bass with mango salsa and wilted spinach. Merritt plans to expand his wine selection at this new restaurant.
Chris Lynch is a high school friend of Merritt. Lynch most recently served as acting general manager of Fort Worth’s Del Frisco’s steakhouse, until COVID closures swept the industry. The unique restaurant space was simply too good for the two friends to pass up.
The Fitzgerald will certainly perk up this stretch of the Camp Bowie’s dining district when it arrives around Thanksgiving.