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Blue Star Cafeteria Austin

Just opened up on 45th and Burnet. Rumored to be the owner of 34th Street Cafe, which I like. Well, I'm sure rent there must be overwhelming. Talk about overpriced for what it is...

Went during "happy hour" $3 beers (yeah, $3 for a Shiner is "special") and $4 appetizers. James took the safe road and got the $10 Blue Burger - looked like a burger, nothing special, and James said it was overcooked and he needed to ask for more blue cheese to cover half the burger.

I went for a few of the appetizers to see if I could tag a winner. I ordered the fried artichoke hearts, the ceaser salad and the crab cakes (which the waiter highly recommended and would have been $10 on regular prices).

Artichoke hearts were eight pieces (eighths, so one whole artichoke heart) and were okay, but about half the calibur of NxNW. The crabcakes were fied to the color of a UPS truck, but we ate them anyway. Worst of all was the ceasar salad. Okay, lemme analize this more than I should...were they trying for that Furr's Cafeteria taste? Were they going for the "I"m in Terrytown but I know how to slum it" vibe? I mean this salad was covered in the pseudo "fresh grated cheese" little stringy, waxy things and the dressing tasted like jarred, less than Luby's dressing. I'm sorry, it was pathetic.

On the positive side, I enjoyed the fries. They were curly fries with an interesting mix of spicy/sweet with chayanne, cinnamon, sugar, salt.

Will it succceed? Yeah, probably. Will I go back? Probably not. WAY too expensive for what it was.

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  1. Tarrytown is between West 35th and Exposition.

    That said, bummer, dude.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kent Wang

      Since 35th and Exposition cross, that gave me the oddest image of a whole neighborhood trying to squeeze itself into the no-man's-land in the middle of that intersection. I'm guessing you really meant to say that Tarrytown was between Enfield and 35th and between Mo-Pac and the Lake.

      As a description, I think everyone understood the comment amysuehere made. There are lots of places in New York north of Houston that have a "SoHo vibe" for example.

    2. I didn't mean to sound snarky.

      Is there really a Tarrytown vibe? It seems like the lesser-known, best-kept-secret version of Hyde Park.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kent Wang

        Wow. Didn't mean to stir the waters on that comment. Just meant to say that this place will be catering to that area's wealthier clientelle. I can pretty much guarantee that the employees across the street at the School for the Blind won't be affording eating there. Pity too, cuz they sure could use it.

      2. Technically, it is in the Rosedale neighborhood.

        1. If you like paying $6 for a bottled beer and $10+ for a burger for the honor of eating in a hip atmosphere, more power to you. Upscale comfort food is an oxymoron, imho.

          We'll agree to disagree.

          2 Replies
          1. re: amysuehere

            Austin restaurants seem to thrive on the "oxymoron" of upscale comfort food. Moonshine, for example, is apparently loved by many for its rendition of comfort food (in a hip atmosphere at high prices no less). "Comfort food" and "upscale" are both very subjective categories. Where they do or don't overlap could make another thread.

            Thanks for the contrasting reviews of the chow at Blue Star Cafeteria. It's good to get detailed opinions from different points of view. It helps to figure out how to use the information. Given that this thread started just after they opened, it could be that BSC has settled into a better routine over the past few weeks.

            If anyone else decides to eat there, it would be great to hear more opinions.

            1. re: Knoblauch

              My wife and I had lunch there today and loved it. Other than a hostess that hovered by our table (we were seated closest to the door) it was great. Wife had the Asian Salad which she said was every bit as good as the one at 34th Street Cafe. I had the Meatloaf Sandwich that was out of the world. We drank tea, but I did check the wine menu and they are very reasonably priced. I say check it out. I wish the owner would open a restaurant in West Lake Hills where I live.

          2. OK, finally made it to the Blue Star yesterday night (Friday). Had a extremely mediocre experience.

            Started with the grilled cheese sandwich appetizer (and a bottle of Louis Martini cabernet, which was the best thing about the meal by far). This was actually very good, but could easily be replicated at home. The right mix of crispy and greasy, and a cool blend of straightforward and stinky cheeses. It came with a side of spicy mustard and a side of what appeared to be a tasty semisweet apple chutney.

            My wife ordered the trout salad. Simply put, it was bad. We both love trout. We both love salad. We both disliked this salad. It was almost as if the trout had gone off and they were trying to compensate by drenching it in vinegary dressing. This attempt failed. I do not recommend this item. The salad was about eleven dollars.

            I ordered the meatloaf sandwich. It was decent and hearty. At about seven dollars, it offered reasonable value. The slaw was pretty good; definitely better than what you'd get at Luby's. By the end of the sandwich, however, I was a little overpowered by the greasiness of it.

            We left without trying dessert and wishing we had chosen something else for dinner. Final bill, including tax and tip, was around $65. Not exactly a steal considering the meal's quality. This place might be better for lunch.

            Lastly, the atmosphere. It was OK. It wasn't the hotness, but it didn't suck. It had an anonymously urban feel that struck me as a capable replica of a trendy urban-minimalist joint. It didn't seem pretentious, just kind of half-hearted. The place wasn't too noisy to have conversation (always a plus), but it also wasn't close to capacity.

            Disclaimer: One visit does not an expert make. Do not judge Blue Star based on this review. The only comment I'd firmly make is "Avoid the trout salad."

            2 Replies
            1. re: tom in austin

              i had the meatloaf sandwich as well during my visit. i thought it was good, but not outstanding. i'd give it another try.

              1. re: tom in austin

                We sat near the patio door, which was constantly being opened and closed by staff, it smelled like urine the entire time, and the chairs were insanely uncomfortable.

                Ordered the fried oysters and home made chips with dipping sauce to start. Sauces consisted of a homemade cajun remoulade and ketchup. The oysters, while looking beautifully golden brown, were overcooked and kind of spongy. The chips were thick cut and golden as well. I thought they were tasty. The ketchup was ketchup and the remoulade was tangy and provided a cool/creamy counter to the hot crunchiness.

                The person I was with ordered the ribeye, with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. This was a really boring plate, with literally 3 blobs of color. gray/black/brown steak, green broccoli, and offwhite/yellow/gray potatoes. The steak was underwhelming with little seasoning and lukewarm. The potatoes were not creamy but more fluffy, if you can imagine fluffy in the shape of a 3 oz. scoop. Steamed broccoli served with a wedge of lemon. Steak came out cooked properly, but it all reminded me of stock food photos from the 90's, like they were meant to teach people what square, nutritionally balanced meals might look like.

                I ordered the meatloaf with the potatoes and sauteed lemon garlic spinach, which means my plate suffered the exact same problem as my dining companion. I believed they used baby spinach which takes on a slippery, wet hair texture when cookied in oil. Someone in another thread about this place mentions that the meatloaf is kind of squishy and soft, which is absolutely right. The meat was ground so fine that the texture was granular. I think Taco Bell does an equal job or better at this grind of meat. Texture aside, the meatloaf was unbelievably salty. After the first bite, I gave it a second, just to see if I just had it wrong, but with every bite the saltiness seemed to linger and intensify. I started to feel thirst. Bad sign!

                Sending plates back is not something I think anyone wants or enjoys. There involves a lot of fear and wonder with what happens with your substitute plate. We took the chance anyway and sent that meatloaf back because someone should have known about and stopped serving it.

                We made eye contact with a manager looking guy who took it all well, noting to our waitress what happened. She offered to have the kitchen make something else and when I couldn't muster up the energy to say no and find somewhere else to go, I really didn't see anything else appealing on the menu. (plus the whole fear thing) The waitress saw my hesitation and frankly told us there are only two things on the menu she would recommend eating. 1. crispy chicken breast 2. garden vegetable bowl. The latter sounded pretty weird, so I went with chicken. I appreciated her honesty.

                The breast came out in a snap and was hot, golden crunchy, but really bland. The batter wasn't seasoned aside from large chunks of black pepper. I thought the gravy would help, but it was bland too. Gravy shouldn't taste like flour or look like wet clay. What happened to the good old fashioned black paper gravy that has a nice oily sheen to it? Potatoes and sauteed spinach made a second showing at round 2.

                Me and my company were in good spirits and we decided to get dessert. Key lime pie sounded good despite the evenings lackluster food decisions. We didn't regret it. The slice was bigger than we expected, visually appealing with the old fashion whip cream edge, a twisted slice of lime and was just a pale yellow instead of the familiar "lime". It was creamy, smooth, and not too tart. Graham cracker crust was moist and buttery.

                I don't understand why people try to do upscale southern style comfort food and fail so miserably. All you have to do is serve smaller portions that are stacked, then layered, find a different word for "gravy" and make sure to only present your food in odd numbers.

              2. I was going to go there for brunch one time, but ended up at Mother’s instead. SO I took my daughters there, tonight. They each had macaroni and cheese. I had a chicken tender-type appetizer. The chicken was overcooked (tough!) and the coating had pepper flakes and seeds so it was spicy. That detail wasn’t on the menu. So I was annoyed, but I toughed it out and ate it anyway. I don’t think I’ll go back. I had mentioned to the waitress that I hadn’t expected it to be spicy. Her solution was to bring me ketchup. Then when that didn’t work, she offered me bread. I didn’t need more food. She talked to the manager and I got a card offering a free appetizer on my next visit. So I paid $17 for macaroni made with velveeta and overcooked, over-spiced chicken strips. Man.

                This is the menu description: COCONUT & CORNFLAKE CHICKEN TENDERLOINS 7.95
                All white meat chicken tenders fried to a crisp and served with mango chutney dipping sauce

                Why do they call them tenderloins? That’s weird. It makes them sound fancier than they are.

                Blue Star Cafeteria
                4800 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756