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 sibling to Hopfield's, 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!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Opie's Barbecue

It's been a minute since I have sung the praises of Opie's Barbecue out in Spicewood, about 40 minutes southwest of Austin. Why go stand in line at a well-known place in town for 4+ hours when you can take a nice drive instead? 

Opie's Barbecue
The meat "coffin" is right inside the door; the meats are smoked adjacent to the main building. In addition to your Texas standards (brisket, beef + pork ribs, sausage), they have turkey, chicken, pork chops, and sometimes specials like prime rib.
Opie's Barbecue
The massive beef rib was my friend's, and the rest is mine (pork ribs, jalapeno sausage and brisket)!
 I always get food for at least 3 meals!
Opie's Barbecue butterbeans
If you are into butterbeans, you will die for Opie's! Friday, Saturday + Sundays only.
Do not miss out on these! 
Opie's Barbecue sides
Not only are the butterbeans killer, the tater tot casserole and zesty corn are delicious too!

And they are super-nice people too! Opie's is on Hwy 71, right by the turn to Krause Springs in the Texas Hill Country.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Lucky Robot

Last week, I caught up with a friend at Lucky Robot on South Congress; for a weeknight at the end of June, the area was buzzing (Netflix was filming something next door at the Continental Club) and the restaurant was full! We were fortunate to snag a table without a reservation. 

Lucky Robot Brussels
Brussels tossed in a lemongrass soy marinade

Lucky Robot sashimi
Tako (octopus) and pork belly "sashimi" bites

Lucky Robot Summer Cebiche
Summer cebiche with white fish, baby corn, watermelon, jalapeno with a watermelon
leche de tigre broth. Gorgeous plating, delicious and super refreshing!

Lucky Robot Hira hira maki roll
Hira hira (yellowtail tuna) maki roll 
Lucky Robot QR code
A lovely glass of Gruner Veltliner. And see the wooden bud vase?
That's an elegantly designed QR code!
Lucky Robot interior
The interior of Lucky Robot is certainly what you would call Instagrammable. (Or sensory overload, lol.) As June represents Pride/LGBTQ+ rights/visibility/equality, this bench seating is loud and proud and I loved it! (The photo also belies the crowded restaurant! This was taken right after the table next to us left.)

Side note, a friend and I had gotten carry out from Lucky Robot last summer that was also delicious!

Lucky Robot Chirashi bowl
Stunning carryout chirashi bowl from last year; a version of this is now on their brunch menu.

Lucky Robot pork belly bun
Also delicious were these pork belly buns

All in all, a successful venture out into the real world! What are your current summertime faves?

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Aba: The Greatest Hits

Aba: passion fruit gin and tonic
Passion fruit gin + tonic. Yes, please! 

In the past month, I have been fortunate to go to Aba twice for lunch. The first visit was quite good, and the second trip even better! Aba is a Mediterranean spot on South Congress in the new Music Lane (read: upscale) development; the original restaurant is in Chicago and this is now their second location. Here's a rundown of our foods with a little commentary. 😀 

Aba: whipped feta
Whipped feta with pistachios and pita bread. If you only order one thing at Aba, make it this. OMG. So creamy, not overly salty, and a basket of  warm pita which is doughier + fluffier than your standard pita.

Aba: hummus + short rib
Hummus with short ribs was quite tasty.
Aba: farro salad
I believe this was the farro salad with sunchokes; gorgeous presentation but to me it didn't have all the flavors the menu promised. (I actually don't see this version on the current menu.)
Aba: chicken kebab
Grilled chicken kebabs with wonderfully juicy chicken. The zhoug sauce (like a cilantro pesto) was a bit flat and needed more acidity to really shine.
Aba: frozen Greek yogurt
Frozen Greek yogurt with strawberry sauce was a refreshing palate cleanse at the end of our meal.

On to my second visit:

Aba: Ahi tuna tabouli
This ahi tuna tabouli was outstanding, and I am not one that gravitates to raw dishes. The tuna was like velvet, the pomegranate seeds offered the perfect texture and acidity along with a light bit of yuzu, and I like the mouthfeel of pearled couscous rather than cracked barley for a tabouli.
Aba: crispy potatoes
Very crispy potatoes, which I loved, served with a scallion crema.

Aba: Brussels sprouts
Big Brussels sprouts, with almond dukkah (a sumac-based seasoning) and honey harissa for a touch of sweetness. Great flavors.

Aba: eggplant + lamb
Aba: eggplant + lamb
Slow braised leg of lamb wrapped in eggplant. I love lamb and would eat this again in a heartbeat! It was very tender, the tomato sauce full of cinnamon, which may sound strange (though very typical of Mediterranean food), but so good!

Plan your visit ahead as getting a reservation can be challenging. Both times, we went for an early weekday lunch and were able to get seated in the outdoor breezeway with no problem. The design of the place is beauitful with a huge deck with lounge areas, tables, and a full bar; the majority of the seating is outdoors, nestled between old trees and new buildings. My photos of the exterior don't do it justice and hence not posted, but take my word for it. They also have a gluten free menu, and to-go parking in the below-ground lot.  The scope of South Congress is changing, loosing its once funky vibe, but Aba is a welcome and VERY delicious addition to the scene. 

Have you been? What foods did you enjoy?