Fort Worth’s reinvented museum restaurant brings modern touches – Inside Jetta Mora’s modern cafe transformation

When Wolfgang Puck Catering took over the operations of the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, it turned the North Texas restaurant world upside down by PaperCity first reported in March. Now we have it for the first time at the museum’s recently reopened restaurant of the same name, Cafe Modern.

It is now under the direction of Chef Jett Mora and open for lunch, brunch and bar service after a one-year COVID shutdown. Mora is a seasoned Wolfgang Puck Catering veteran and Roxanne Mclarry returns to Cafe Modern as General Manager.

A new modern cafe?

The restaurant’s famous setting, overlooking a spectacular reflective pool and modern landscape, would be intimidating to any newcomer. Tadao Ando’s spectacular architecture is as much a masterpiece as any of the works of art on display inside the museum. But after a recent weekend brunch at the reinvented restaurant, I can tell you that Jett Mora feels right at home.

The new executive chef of Cafe Modern is Jett Mora.

Cafe Modern has made a name for itself with seasonal menus rooted in ingredients from Texas. So how does Mora marry his own Filipino heritage and his education and career in the Los Angeles restaurant world melting pot with Texas?

Mora tells PaperCity Fort Worth that learning about the land and building a network of suppliers, producers and manufacturers lend themselves to the production of local flavors. He has forged all of these relationships over the past few months since being appointed by Wolfgang Puck Catering to lead this prestigious position.

“I came here for the chance to work with our regional manager, Andrew Swanson,” says Mora. “We have worked hard on R&D.

Migas is served in layers with a folded omelet. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).

Here are the new birria beef migas. I couldn’t resist tasting the Mora take. Ever since the chef grew up in LA, I knew this would be the real deal. Served on a toasted corn tortilla rather than having the typical crisps mixed in and already soggy by the time they’re served, Mora’s birria beef migas retain a slightly crispy texture.

Rather than the standard egg scramble, Mora features a delicately folded omelet. The guajillo chili braised beef crumbles in its rich tomato salsa. The dish is garnished with cilantro, onion, avocado cream and queso fresco with pinto beans.

But this chef is just getting started.

Mora’s unique take on Eggs Benedict adds some truly southern notes. The base is fresh ciabatta bread, with its texture and collars absorbing soy caramel-glazed Berkshire pork belly protein. The whole thing is topped with a mixture of wilted collard greens and spinach, which gives an unexpected touch of bitterness. Then two pretty Timberview Farmstead Vacuum Eggs and a rich Hollandaise sauce with just a little lemon finish it off.

Mora’s unique take on Eggs Benedict speaks with a Southern accent and Berkshire pork belly. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).

Want more? Mora’s Five Ingredient Cookies are served as part of a Southern Fried Chicken Cookie Sandwich or as a side. These square-cut doughy cookies, with an almost cornbread-like texture, will defy the one-bite rule.

modern - pasty cookies
Five-ingredient pasty angel cookies. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).

“I’m surprised at how health conscious people are here,” says Mora. “I want to make a Keto plate and add more plant-based blue zone friendly menus to the mix.”

Mora was not aware of the Blue areas healthy lifestyle before coming to Fort Worth. But now he understands that many local diners are well trained to look for this designation next to menu items and he is very supportive.

Overnight oatmeal takes center stage. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).

A great veggie brunch dish at this new modern cafe is the Overnight Oat Bowl. It’s almost too pretty to dive into, edged with fresh berries and bringing all the appeal of a magnificent charcuterie board. You have to sit down for a minute to figure it all out. You’ll find a spoonful of spring berry jam, coconut chia pudding, and Turkish yogurt drizzled with Kelly Farms honey. A little coconut milk and crunchy cherry and nut granola complete the dish to divide.

“When I have dinner with my chef friends, we order 20 or more items and share them,” says Mora. “This is the mood I want to create.”

Modern coffee is getting there quickly. And now, dinner service will be back in the coming weeks. With a chef who cooks like at home.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement