Now that I've covered what to see in Austin and which food trucks to visit, let's turn our attention to Austin's unique restaurants. Since you may not always (or ever) be in the mood to stand in line for you food or eat from a food truck, I bring you some unique Austin restaurants where you can make a reservation and sit down indoors to enjoy a meal. Novel concept, but it does exist, and I'll give you some good one's that I tried and provided a nice balance to all of the BBQ eating.
Lenoir was our first stop after driving home from the airport. It's in a cute old house with white washed chairs and beautiful glass lighting arrangements hanging from the ceiling. There's a 3 course tasting menu for $40 with choices from different sections of the menu: Field, Sea, Land and an extra opportunity to Dream with dessert if desired.
Our selections from the Field were a strawberry freekeh tabbouleh with smoked leek chevre and hemp oil - yeah, words I've never put in the same sentence before, but hope to again soon. Amazing. My popcorn carbonara had sweet onion noodles with smoked mushrooms and while unique, still had me reaching for more of the divine strawberry freekeh.
Crawfish cake with kale and padron peppers was a winner, as was the striped bass ceviche with avocado and crispy shallot, served in a nearly neon red hibiscus ponzu.
The unique combinations continued through the Land portion of our meal with the octopus boudin stuffed quail and lamb crepe with chicken liver mousse. Yeah, that's lamb in that crepe. Those are some new and cool ideas.
The creativity didn't stop at dessert with a tart that turned out to be made of a funky cheese, similar to Taleggio. Wow. Smoked chocolate and buttermilk cake was a bit more recognizable, but equally delicious.
Lenoir, 1807 S. 1st St., Austin
Uchiko was the yin to all of the meat's yang we had consumed while eating through Austin. Paul Qui from East Side King and Top Chef, used to chef here, but Tyson Cole is back steering the ship of this Japanese farmhouse restaurant, along with the original restaurant, Uchi.
There are special selections fresh from Tokyo's Tsujiki market, so naturally we had to try and were not disappointed with the soft, melt in your mouth, hiramasa, amberjack. Raw diver scallop also echoed the softness and was further punctuated with avocado and a slightly spicy pepper sauce. Spanish white anchovies were beautifully rolled up and presented alongside bottarga (salted, cured fish roe) and a spiced gremolata.
There's a lovely salad of atlantic salmon and dinosaur kale, but you might prefer as I did the hama chili with Japanese yellowtail, ponzu, thai chili and orange. Simple, but quality ingredients.
You can't leave without trying the brussels sprouts. Yes, everyone has done the sprout, but these are ridiculous. They should be on the dessert menu with the level of rich sweetness found here. You can see Paul Qui's nod to them at East Side King.
Uchiko, 4200 N Lamar Blvd., Austin
Dai Due is a cool concept of a butcher shop up front and restaurant in back. They focus on using only food found locally and even extend that to their wine list, which is comprised of all varietals made in Texas. The same goes for the beer.
Dai Due offers a family style Supper Club menu each night with multiple courses based on a theme. We chose Friday's seafood from the Gulf menu to give our systems a chance to digest all of the BBQ we had eaten.
Super Club started with a seafood soup of shrimp, squid, corn and potatoes. It was perfect for the rainy weather Austin had been having. The seafood was grilled for our main course to include a best of the gulf with softshell crab, shrimp, seafood boudin and vermillion snapper. A spicy green herb sauce was draped over most of the seafood and veggies, bringing all of the seafood up another level, as I was learning everyone in Austin likes to do. They are not afraid of the spice.
Avocado and grapefruit sorbet mellowed the final flavors, and the strawberry ice cream sandwich was a winner as well.
Dai Due, 2406 Manor Rd., Austin
You may not come here for the best gastronomical experience in Austin, but you do come here for a good time over Sunday brunch.
In what may be one of the best deals in town. Stubb's offers a $24.95 gospel brunch ($20.95 if you don't need to see the band). It's an all you can eat buffet of eggs, fried catfish, grits, biscuits and gravy, spinach enchiladas, buttermilk pancakes and brisket cut fresh at a carving station. Cocktails are not included, but I suggest giving up the $8 to make you own Bloody Mary. They provide the vodka and fixins, and you do the rest.
And then there's the live music for about an hour of toe tapping, sing-a-long songs. It's a good deal and great way to start your Sunday or end your weekend.
Stubb's, 801 Red River St., Austin