Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Qi: Divine Dim Sum

Five lunching ladies got together for dim sum brunch at Qi this past weekend.  Pretty much impeccable, from the decor to the place settings to the food, and especially the company as our group has bonded over food for many years now. And everything tastes better amidst friendship and laughter, though Qi's food and presentation does not need much assistance. 

From the entrance on 6th Street, the wine walls form two private dining areas.

Main dining area, with kitchen to the back and bar to the right.
 Could see a number of women preparing foods at the counter.
Our table, in the smaller of the two more private areas was called the birdcage table on our bill. Throughout the restaurant, there were beautiful embroidered Chinese robes on the walls. I would love a time to just study the decor in there! 
Beautiful plates, nice heavy crystal water glasses, and even the chopsticks had a nice weight and feel to them. 
In order of how we received the food. First up, sticky rice with Chinese sausage.

Snow pea shoots
Zha Jiang noodles, kind of a Chinese bolognese. I believe they said the meat was a combo of beef and lamb,
and you mix everything together before serving. Loved this!
The utterly divine crab fish maw soup dumplings. You could taste the sweetness of the crab meat. We should have ordered more of these! The accompanying sauces were soy, chili, and a light vinegar (plum?) with julienned ginger that was lovely with the soup dumplings.
Scallion pancake curry dip. This is the one dish that wasn't as great as everything else. The curry sauce was very flavorful,
 but the pancake was thick and almost tough, without any of the real flakiness I expect from scallion pancakes.
They changed our plates out partway though. 
Steamed barbecue pork buns; nice flavor in the pork.
Chicken with cashew dumplings. This isn't a dumpling combo I have had before, and I really liked them.
Shrimp har kaw.
The adorable little creatures are lobster dumplings with a hint of truffle in them, making them extra decadent!
Even the restrooms spared no design expense. From my travels to Japan, I have learned there is an Asian fascination with toilets. These had the motion activated lids, warm seats and automatic flush. (If you haven't used them before, you don't always know what to expect or even how to operate them at times!) Gorgeous carved wooden sink, very much a masculine-feeling space.
Here's our order. And it came out to $37/person with tax and tip. Not bad at all!

Qi was fantastic, and I can't wait to go back! Have you been and if so, what were your favorites?

Monday, November 29, 2021

New Favorite Austin BBQ: Moreno

Like I needed MORE food over Thanksgiving weekend, but when your Pacific Northwest friend is in town and wants barbecue, you happily oblige. And you happily discover what is now your favorite barbecue spot in Austin. Shhhh, don't tell! 

Ladies and gents, introducing Moreno Barbecue, which graduated from a trailer to a brick and mortar three weeks ago! Occupying a former restaurant (Subway?) at the southwest corner of  Stassney and Manchaca, technically 5608 Manchaca, they have both indoor and outdoor seating, friendly service and most importantly, excellent food. Don't just take my word, they got an honorable mention in the Texas Monthly Barbecue edition.

Moreno BBQ Trinity
Moreno BBQ spare rib, jalapeno cheddar sausage, brisket

Of course I opted for moist (read, fatty.... fat equals flavor) brisket and did not regret my decision for a minute. This brisket was easily cut by a plastic fork and just melted away in your mouth. I loved the texture of the finely ground Heartland Akaushi beef sausage with enough jalapeno and cheddar to know they are there, but not too much to distract from the beef. The spare rib has a sweeter glaze on them than I like, but the ribs were good and meaty and quite tender too. Loved the cole slaw with it's mild vinegar dressing. 

Moreno BBQ nachos
Brisket nachos

Now my friend got the brisket nachos and some of the smoked pork belly, which I think was life altering. Now the nachos alone are a huge portion, cheesy and hard to go wrong with. 

Moreno BBQ pork belly
Smoked pork belly

But I can't get the pork belly out of my mind. It's RICH. I only ate a couple bites and don't think I could eat more than a slice at a time, but the fat just dissolved with a mild smokiness in your mouth.
And you could also get this in a taco! Along with the nachos, they do tacos, sandwiches, and mac + cheese. 

Moreno BBQ cookies
Shortbread chocolate chip cookies  -- the perfect little bite of something sweet to finish the meal.

Moreno BBQ
Keep your eye on their social media (Instagram) too, as I have seen weekend specials and discounts mentioned on there! They smoke their meats with post oak, which is appropriate as there's a huge oak tree out front. 

Welcome, Moreno! Can't wait to come back!

Friday, October 22, 2021

First Look: 1417, Bouldin's Neighborhood Bistro

By all appearances, 1417 has successfully managed to open their new restaurant during a pandemic. The upscale (but still casual) French bistro, 1417 took over the space vacated by Thai sweetheart Sway (the Westlake location is still open) at 1417 South First Street, in the heart of the Bouldin Creek neighborhood.  When they first opened over the summer, they were only serving on their outdoor patio, and just in the past month have added indoor seating. We had an early dinner reservation, and while the inside was empty when we arrived, when we left, the patio was filled and the inside was bustling.

Service was great from the moment we walked in. Staff was friendly and welcoming, water glasses were continually attended to, and dishes came out in an appropriately timed manner. 

1417 Austin interior
Gorgeous interior!

1417 Austin cocktails
The Jane Doe + Cucumber Gimlet cocktails.
 They put some attention into details like the glassware and serving pieces.
1417 Austin duck crepes
Duck confit crepe, which had a nice range of textures from the tender meat to the crisp crepe to crunchy hazelnuts to the mostarda.

1417 Austin cheeseboard
Cheese board with firm goat's milk, blue, and soft ripened, which are a good mix of styles, accompanied by pears, berries, apricot compote, candied walnuts and sourdough crackers.

1417 Austin eggplant
Eggplant with "chorizo" from farro, roasted squash and fava beans. 

1417 Austin mussels
Mussels in chile oil broth with a nice hearty focaccia, perfect for dipping. Hard to pick, but I think this was my favorite.

1417 Austin chocolate peppermint dessert
Chocolate mint candy bar with peppermint butter cream inside, and mint sorbet. 

All in all, a great new addition to my Bouldin neighborhood! 1417 is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

1417 Austin logo

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Mattie's Brunch

Green Pastures is an old South Austin iconic event spot with its huge live oak trees, peacocks, and manicured grounds that have hosted many a special occasion over the years. The huge old farmhouse with its rambling porches is the centerpiece of the tree-filled property, and houses Mattie's, the latest reincarnation of their restaurant. Perhaps I should have taken photos of the surrounds, but I did not, so you'll have to go visit on your own. On a warm August Sunday, I gathered with friends for one's birthday celebration out on the patio, The food was delicious, our server patient and helpful, and we made it out just before a big thunderstorm rumbled through! 

Artemis Cup: hibiscus tea, ginger, lime, vodka

Southern style sour cream + onion dip with house made thick cut potato chips

Blueberry donut holes

Fried green tomatoes with crab + shrimp salad with creole remoulade.

Decadent milk punch French toast with mascarpone + strawberries. Green Pastures has always been known for its milk punch bourbon cocktail, so it's no surprise they found a way to incorporate it into brunch.

Biscuits + chorizo cream gravy with scrambled eggs

Fried chicken eggs benedict

Decadent chocolate mousse cake 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Launderette Brunch

I hadn't been to Launderette in about three years, and my friend and I were excited to catch up over Saturday brunch. It did not disappoint as it was pretty much an exquisite meal all around!

Mimosa + Bloody Mary cocktails to start
The crispiest potato latkes I have ever encountered! 
The English muffin sammie, with avocado, cheddar, egg, romesco and the true star of the show, fennel sausage, with incredible fennel flavor.

The fried chicken sammie, which I heard no complaints about. Also, it was recommended by our waiter. 

I had been eyeing this coffee custard tart since I had seen it on their Instagram page after we made our reservations. Firm crust, creamy ice cream and delicious on it's own. However....

The frozen honey nougat parfait was different and we both really loved it, somewhat surprising myself as I am always a chocolate fan. A creamy but not too cold texture with passion fruit caramel and candied honeycomb on top. Very unique + very glad we went for two desserts!

Don't skip dessert!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Nixta Taqueria

Simply put, Nixta Taqueria was one of the best all around meals I've had in awhile! A friend and I went for weekday lunch in mid August; Nixta was only doing outdoor dining, and the patio was shaded and quite comfortable. They are also known for their handmade tortillas which begins with the nixtamalization (nixta, get it?) of the corn to process and grind it into masa. Which yes, makes a bomb-ass tortilla!

Chips + dip with salsa cruda and duck fat refried beans. I would have been satisfied with just this!

I have been eyeing the duck carnitas taco on their menu for ages. This taco was stuffed full of tender, juicy confited duck and did not disappoint.

What did surprise me in a good way was the roasted cauliflower taco with romesco sauce. I could have eaten a lot of these. The perfect flavor combos.

Also tasty, the eggplant with fried egg special that day. Nice smokiness in the eggplant. 

We sat on the covered patio, right up against the curtain on the 12th Street side. They were doing a brisk take out business! 

Order at the outdoor station.
Loved these big curtains with their Mayan-inspired print.

Front entrance on E. 12th Street.

Wish I hadn't waited so long to check out Nixta. Wish they were closer to me. Wish I had more of everything we ate RIGHT NOW!