Just to prove there is more than BBQ in Austin. Let me share a few places we also ate. Of course, we stopped at Torchy's. I'm happy to report their tacos are still mighty delicious. We also stopped at Gourdough's trailer nearby for a sweet treat. Frank chose this bad boy - think cinnamon roll donut bananas foster. Positively sinful. One bite was enough for me. I think Frank got about three, before he hit his sugar limit.
Our friend suggested Banger's when we were making plans to meet up for dinner. I was excited because I also had it on my list of places to check out.
We got there early and enjoyed a few beers at the bar, before being seated outside - seating is communal picnic tables. Great beer selection, friendly knowledgeable bartenders, and our server was great too. Everything on the menu sounded fantastic. I really wish I brought an appetite, but I was still stuffed from BBQ we had hours before. I opted to share with Frank, we ordered the Louisiana Lightning with sides of Jalapeno Mac and Jalapeno Creamed Corn with Onion Gratin. They take their heat seriously in Texas. Each of these dishes were fiery and delicious. The mac was really stellar, creamy, comforting goodness and just when you think it doesn't get better you get a bite with bacon lardons. Banger's has some seriously good eating and drinking.
Chi’Lantro was another place we grabbed a bite. It started as a food truck and their success landed a brick and mortar restaurant. I'm a sucker for Asian Fusion so it was difficult to narrow down what we were going to try, we settled on Kimchi Fries and Tacos, with a couple local beers to wash it down. Above all, I was impressed by how fresh it was and the bold flavors. The fries were incredibly yummy.
We wanted to try another food truck, Luke's Inside Out piqued our interest. We had the Brisket Banh Mi, the Rabbit Kimchi sandwich and crispy Chili Cheese fries. We sat and ordered beers from the Gibson Bar next door. Minutes later, our food was delivered. We were told to use chopsticks for the fries - they did work beautifully. The brisket was a little tough, but it had great flavor. I liked the Rabbit a bit better, but I wished it came with the crisp pickled veggies to offer a crunchy element to the sandwich. Sorry for the cell photo quality.
Before, we even got to Austin, I knew I wanted to try a fine dining restaurant. Two of top restaurants specialize in sushi, but that's not what I was after. After a little research, I came across Barley Swine. As luck would have it, it was just down the street from the studio we rented on Airbnb. It was perfect. Only trouble was that reservations in advance require a credit card, if cancelled without proper notice, you'll be charged the full cost of the tasting menu. I understand why they do it, but I know better... anything can happen when traveling. I figured we'd roll the dice, and try to walk-in for a table. We went late on Saturday evening and it worked out just fine, we were seated right away.
At Barley Swine you are left in the capable hands of head chef, Bryce Gilmore. He and his team work to create the best dining experience possible. The tasting is $85; we also opted for the drink pairing $45. There were 13 courses that were paired with four wines and two beers. They take pride in working with local farmers and ranchers to create small plates using fresh seasonal ingredients. As a result, the menu is ever-changing. My photos do not do the beautiful plates justice - I didn't notice the camera settings were a bit off, my apologies.
Our first trio of plates, were paired with L'Conti Brut/Blanquette de Limoux/France.
Funyuns and caviar, such a perplexing first bite. We were in for a treat.
Pimento, this might just be the perfect hors-d'oeuvre. I could eat these all day.
Beet Trifle with grilled mushroom and blue cheese cookie. This was oddly delicious.
The next pairing was Adelbert's Philosophizer Saison/Austin. We were hooked from the first sip.
Yellowtail, carrot, pistachio miso, caramel - I thought anticipated this dish as a favorite, it was enjoyable but one of my least favorite of night.
Morel, avocado - earthy, rich and perfectly creamy.
Scott's Fish from the Gulf, braised greens. Clean flavors, nicely done.
The next two dishes were paired with 2013 Weingut Robert Weil Trocken/Rheingau,Germany.
Scrambled egg, crawfish boil. This was positively scrumptious. More, please!
Carbonara, I adore it when chefs play with food. Squid noodles and all the flavor of a carbonara.
The next wine was 2011 Gerard Bertrand "Grand Terroir" Tautavel Blend/Cotes du Roussilion, France.
Radish, pork fat, smoked cashew - a wonderful surprise of flavors.
Duck, radiccio, loquat - this was another dish, I expected to standout, but it was also a least favorite.
Our last wine of the evening was 2013 Franco Espanolas Diamante/ Rioja, Spain.
Sunchoke cereal, was the most unusual dish. It reminded me of Cocoa Pebbles, I mean that in the best way.
Chamomile, berries - This was the best dessert that I can recollect. The berries had such intense flavor it was incredible! I ate Frank's too.
The final pairing was Prearis Quadrupel/Belgium.
Mesquite bean, chocolate - This play on the churro was very yummy, but I gave mine to Frank after a taste since I wanted to savor the berries from the last dessert.
We were blown away. It was a phenomenal meal and service was top notch. My two least favorite dishes were still wonderful, but they were familiar. I absolutely love when food provokes thought... when each ingredient is allowed to shine, it's truly a brilliant feat and Barley Swine nailed it.