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Southlake Style

A Bird in the Hand

Aug 04, 2015 08:49AM ● By Dia

On the west side of Ft. Worth, just outside of downtown, lies Chef Marcus Paslay’s upscale restaurant, Clay Pigeon Food and Drink. As its name suggests, Clay Pigeon evokes a trendy, modern vibe mixed with a sense of the casual, the rustic, the great outdoors. According to Paslay, excellent food you can eat in your blue jeans makes for the best meal.

  This atmosphere translates to the mission of the restaurant: To provide quality cuisine in a comfortable and personal setting. Paslay and his team make almost everything in-house and from scratch, from producing their own bread and ice cream to butchering their own meats. What they can’t produce themselves, they source locally. It’s a product-driven establishment, meaning its menu constantly changes to reflect the most local, organic, and seasonal ingredients.

This type of restaurant feel makes sense with Paslay’s personal story. He grew up in Arlington with a passion for hunting and harvesting (hence the restaurant’s name) that later translated into a deep appreciation for food. After graduating from culinary school in 2006, Paslay and his wife, Emily, travelled around the country, which further sharpened his culinary techniques. Paslay has prepared fresh seafood in Alaska and butchered fresh meat on the Big Island in Hawaii. Most recently, he was executive chef for Neighborhood Services in Dallas. It is clear Paslay does not shy away from food-related experimentation.

“It’s always been a dream to own and operate a restaurant, so it was the end goal for a long time,” Paslay says. “When my wife and I moved to Texas, we looked hard at making it a reality.”

It became a reality in December 2013 when the restaurant opened for business. Since then, only 

 one item has consistently stayed on the menu: the mussels. Made with leek, fennel, house-made bacon, white wine, garlic and pancetta, this is the chef’s go-to small plate and a customer favorite.

The menu is fairly short, but it covers all the bases. There are typically some small plates including some simple salads, as well as more elaborate dishes –foie gras torchon and fire-roasted bone marrow have been offered in the past.

When it comes to large plates, you really get a feel for the restaurant’s focus on fresh ingredients. Out of six entrees (three change daily), there’s a new house-made pasta, fresh catch, and prime cut every day. Additionally, Paslay cooks many meats over a wood fire using oak or mesquite to give them a smoky flavor customers love.

This summer, the menu boasts lots of fresh watermelon and other seasonal favorites. The compressed watermelon salad with heirloom tomatoes, ham, and white balsamic vinaigrette is not to be missed. Clay Pigeon also plans to bring back duck and scallops to pair with corn, which is at its peak this season.

Moving on to drinks, you’re sure to find above and beyond what you expected – no matter your drink of choice. The wine menu is extensive, and the cocktail menu is well developed and unique. Recently, sous chef Peter Kreidler began a new program at the restaurant, creating out-of-the-box craft cocktails. This process includes making house bitters, tinctures, syrups and shrubs, which change seasonally. A staple cocktail at the Clay Pigeon is called the Patio Pounder. It’s a combination of TX Whiskey, muddled pineapple, lemon verbena and mint, lemon juice and house-made orange bitters.

Paslay and his team pride themselves on giving customers a personal experience. According to Paslay, it’s what makes the Clay Pigeon unique. “It’s a little different than your mainstream place,” he says. “It’s not a chain restaurant. It’s my restaurant. I’m here all the time. I’m here to take c are of customers.” 

Whether you’re an age-old foodie looking for a delectable meal or a newbie to the fine-dining scene looking for a nice, rustic atmosphere to chat with friends, you won’t need to look far. So shimmy into your favorite pair of jeans, open your mind to an ever-adapting menu, and head over to the Clay Pigeon for a truly once in a lifetime meal.


2731 White Settlement Rd.

Ft. Worth, TX 75206