Thursday, June 22, 2017

U.S. Adventures: Austin, Texas

For spring break this year, the family and I headed back to Austin to see our good friends who moved there a couple years ago. If you’re a regular reader, you will know our last trip last May didn’t go too well—hubby broke his arm and I didn’t get to go to my number one choice of restaurant because we headed home early. 

That restaurant was Uchiko, and it was fabulous. One of the best meals I have had in awhile for sure. I love the small plates concept because you can try even more things. And we certainly did. They do sushi, but a ton of other Japanese options as well. Probably one of my favorite dishes of the evening was the take nabe ($18). It was like a soft porridge with dashi and lots of different mushrooms and a runny egg. I loved the intensity of the flavor of this one. Loved the hama chili as well, which was sashimi of yellowtail with orange, thai chili and ponzu ($18.50). Hubby thought it was a bit bland, but if you ate it with the pieces of orange, it was fabulous. Delicate, but really good. The table all loved the fried caramelized Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, lemon and chili. I don’t think I have ever tasted Brussels sprouts that tasted so rich. And they remained crispy despite everything going on. And wagyu on a hot rock with ponzu ($17)? You can’t really go wrong. You barely sear it and then eat it. The special nigiri was great as well. One of the sushi rolls was tasty, while one was weird and my least favorite thing. The “shag” tempura roll ($14) with salmon, avocado, sundried tomato and sumiso was great. The ham and egg roll ($10) with pork belly and egg custard was not so good. It fell flat. The tempura grouper that was a special was fine, although just didn’t stick out. The desserts on the other hand were as tasty as they were beautiful ($8-$9 each). We really didn’t need three of them, but we ordered them anyway. Just look at them. They were great. I want to go back tomorrow.

The next meal we had was at Home Slice. Why oh why can’t we have pizza like this is Indy (outside of Brozinni, which is awesome, but so far away from me)? It was a great place to take the kids, even though we ended up eating lunch at like 3:00 p.m. because that’s how long it takes to get in EVERYWHERE in Austin. This city is clearly over-peopled. Anyhow, my daughter wanted an antipasti platter ($14.75) and the kids pretty well devoured it. Like I said, it was like 3:00, so it was a good call, because it came out fast. A nice mix of Italian meats, cheeses and my favorite, olives and artichoke hearts. Oh yeah, and those garlic knots. The platter came with a couple and then we got a bunch more (4 for $4.50). They are soft and garlicky and delicious. They come with marinara, which although I prefer Bromine’s garlic butter, was very tasty. The pizza though? The pizza was awesome. The best part was the mushroom and red onion (which was my choice). Just the right amount of each ingredient, and that crust was awesome. It might even be better than Brozinni. The kids ordered a clam pizza ($21.50), and while it was good (you gotta squeeze the lemon on top), it was very, very clammy—those are all chopped clams. I think about half as many would have made it better. It had a white olive oil type sauce instead and lots of garlic and herbs.

For lunch we ate at Top Notch. I mean look at that sign and tell me it doesn’t make you want to eat there? It was cool, a drive-in from way back. The inside was all wood paneled. Their sign advertised fried chicken, so who am I to say no? It was fine chicken, but honestly the burgers the kids ordered were better. The onion rings were quite tasty too and the milkshakes were handmade and delicious. And check out the canned wine. Fancy.

Our last meal was also really good. Still waiting on an Italian place like this in Indy. The restaurant is called Red Ash. It was one of those really hip, popular and LOUD restaurants, but the food more than made up for any noise discomfort. The bread service ($2 pp) alone is delicious. And you have to pay for it, but after that they will bring you free refills. This was garlic and cheese bread and the bread itself was delicious too. We also got an app of roasted clams ($16) and they were the smallest I have ever seen in the US. They were delicious. My family was fighting over them—they were cooked in white wine, herbs, garlic and topped with breadcrumbs. We also ordered beef carpaccio ($14), which was prepared wonderfully as far as the meat was concerned, but it was covered with a lot of horseradish, which isn’t really my thing. You couldn’t really taste the meat anymore. We also had a wonderful fresh halibut crudo ($16) that was seasoned perfectly and it was as beautiful as it was tasty. It ad avocado and lemon, radish and celery. So bright and fresh.  This place definitely excelled the most at apps though I think. Our entrées were good, but the risotto with bone marrow ($36) hubby and I split with hubby was so over the top rich, it was hard to finish. My daughter’s gnocchi ($15 for the small portion) with gorgonzola cream, speck, and fresh cream and was my favorite of the entrées. It was light and creamy and had some nice fresh herbs in it as well. The desserts we all shared (there were 9 of us) were very tasty as well. Dulce du leche ice cream, tiramisu and filled doughnuts with chocolate and blackberry jam (all $9). 

All in all, this trip went much better than the last one that’s for sure. We kayaked and the kids all rock climbed and we ate really, really well (there was some BBQ in there too, don’t worry but I wrote about the place we went (Rudy’s) last time, so I am not covering it again). Austin is a great city, but seriously, it is a bit overpopulated. The traffic was insane and the waits for restaurants were as well. But the food (and the company of course) made it worth it. And hey, if you  have recommendations for other places I am sure we will get back there one of these days.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Austin, but when we've visited we've stayed downtown and mostly gone places in walking distance- definitely don't love the traffic. Everyone seemed happy and friendly. Great food choices. My fave place was Frank (I think that's what it was called) because they had a chocolate chip bacon cookie served with coffee ice cream- pretty much all the best things all together.