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New Restaurant Jezebel in Austin?

  • k

I just moved back to Austin after a year unhappily far away...and walked by a restaurant on Congress that appears to be new: Restaurant Jezebel. Has anyone tried it? Thoughts?

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  1. I'm curious about this too. Austin Chronicle recently mentioned it in passing as "hot" and "new."

    1. I ate there last week with a big group. I thought it was really seriously good. I particularly liked the steak tartare appetizer, hearts of palm salad, and ostrich entree. I also tried the crab cakes, which were good and fairly light and the spring rolls, which I don't remember well, but remember I liked them. (Their menu is online.) The service was excellent. The chef visited our table several times.

      I would love to hear what others think. It is currently BYOB, so plan ahead. I have been craving it and will try to go again in the next few days. It was that good.

      1. Marcia and I wandered by Jezebel last night and decided to give it a try. It is a nice space at 914 Congress next to the Little City coffeehouse. When we arrived a little after 7 p.m., there was only one other table occupied (six more filled up while we were there), and the menu had enough interesting items on it that we gave up trying to decide and negotiated a four-course omikase tasting menu for $80 each.

        The restaurant does not have liquor license yet. Little City next door will sell bottles of wine that the Jezebel will uncork, but their selection is pretty limited.

        The bread basket had great La Brea bakery bread, and there was a appetizer of warm (!) olives in a sweet sauce that was quite good.

        First up was a huge seared scallop with horseradish mashed potatoes, eggplant "caviar," and micro greens The scallop was perfectly done, and it came with several sauces, the best of which was a really amazing lemon grass beurre blanc.

        Next was a rather inventive lobster "ravioli" where the "pasta" was thinly sliced papaya. It was topped with more lobster, caviar, and thinly sliced arugula slaw. The sauce was a mild Thai green sauce.

        The main course was a "surf and turf" plate with salmon, beef fillet, mushrooms, green beans, and more of the horseradish mashed potatoes. The meats and mushrooms were perfectly done. There was also a curious side (this was a huge plate of food) of tempura-fried dates stuffed with foie gras. It was pretty neat, though the dates overwhelmed the foie gras.

        The final course was a lobster bisque with foie gras and sea urchin. The presentation was particularly cool: It came in a hollowed-out sea urchin shell. The bisque and the foie gras were great, but I the sea urchin in a sweet, creamy soup didn't work for me.

        They also served a nice little creme brulee for dessert.

        Service was attentive. The restaurant has a large staff for its size (four in the front of the house, at least three in the back), so it looks like they will be able to handle things as business picks up.

        The decor looks like a work in progress. The tables are nicely set with fancy glassware and flatware, and they have a trendy array of unusually shaped plates. The otherwise bare walls were adorned with large oil paintings of abstract-ish nudes that appear to be all from the same artist. There are also a couple of large flat-panel monitor, one of which was switching between views of the kitchen work areas. The open kitchen in the back with an impressive mise en place laid out. Unfortunately, the ventilation system is not quite up to all the searing going on, so the whole atmosphere a savory funk to it that gets to be a bit much after a while.

        All in all, a great meal. Too much rich food by far, and too many of the sauces and glazes were too sweet and not picante enough for my taste, but Jezebel is definitely a place to watch. I think it will be one of the top restaurants in Austin once it hits its stride. If nothing else, the cuisine is unusual enough that it will be a read stand-out; it is the kind of place where you have to use a lot of scare-quotes to describe the food.

        They ended up charging us $85 -- they sure like those $5 charges -- but the meal was sufficiently good that I did not dispute it.

        There is a web site for the restaurant at http://www.restaurantjezebel.com/menu....

        1. I've been debating a dinner here and was glad to come across these reports. Sounds like an ambitious restaurant for Austin (which I think is a fine thing), and the BYO factor makes it pretty tempting. I can't say the menu reads very well, despite the Chronicle writeup, but it's been awhile since I rolled the dice. If I make it, I'll report back.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Steven Dilley

            Anyone been to Restaurant Jezebel lately? Any must-order items?

            1. re: sweet100s

              sweet100s, I ate there very recently. I liked the lightly sauteed olives and the bread basket was not bad. We had 2 appetizers off the specials menu, one which was a baked feta cheese with roasted tomatoes thingy and the other was a warm salad with andouille and baby octopus. I enjoyed the baked feta quite a bit, and the warm salad was essentially a bunch of sliced andouille and rings of what I thought were squid (not octopus) swimming in a brown sauce with some arugula leaves off to the side. Pretty good, if a little too saucy for my expectations. My companion had the crabcakes which were not to her (or my) liking. She had been craving crabcakes and probably didn't stop to consider that this was a more creative version -- one that was overly salty, and lacking crab punch. Again, very saucy. Too much going on with this one (saffron curry something-or-other). I actually didn't get too adventurous, and stuck with the filet which was nicely crusted with porcinis and was sitting atop a huge potato pancake (strong horseradish) with green beans and some hollandaisey sauce (too much again). Everything looked absolutely beautiful. I was a little surprised by the lack of much flavour from the beef to be honest. It looked flawless, but was largely flavourless.

              It's not bad. I think it's a little overpriced -- although the portions are very large (too large IMO) -- I think they should drop the portion size and prices for this to be a better value (although that assumes it tastes good to you). Excellent wine selection though, and a nice room. Lukewarm experience for me, but nothing that's making me angry.

              1. re: Nab

                Nab thanks very much for the update and detail!

          2. Absolutely amazing - if you are a serious foodie in Austin you must eat at Jezebel! Impeccable service, knowledgeable, helpful, and unobtrusive waitstaff, interesting, delicious, perfectly-prepared food, and romantic atmosphere. BTW, they are being protested by a group of nutcases on Tuesdays and Fridays for serving foie gras (the only one of the 15 restaurants in town that serve foie gras that is being protested). We were there on a Friday and were seated in the window, so the protesters were right in front of us. Naturally, we had to order the foie gras (which was delicious). The chef came out after the meal to thank us personally, and comped our champagne to boot!

            2 Replies
            1. re: finocchio

              I also had Foie Gras while sitting at the front window during one of the protests, and the Chef thanked me similarly.
              It is one of the more remarkable dining venues in town for all of the reasons you mention.
              A little secret is that the Driskill Bar serves a half priced Foie Gras plate during happy hour. Their web site says they don't, but everytime I go there, they do.

              1. re: finocchio

                I made it to Restaurant Jezebel in '07. Liked the food; loved the experience. (the music, the art, the service)

                re: Finocchio >> Impeccable service, knowledgeable, helpful, and unobtrusive waitstaff,

                Seconded. The hostess and multiple servers met my definition of great service. They hit that difficult combination of "helpful but unobtrusive", while giving the guest the sense they are really paying attention to what you might want.

              2. What's the atmosphere like at the restaurant? Quiet/loud/cramped/spacious/etc.?

                Also, someone mentioned that it's one of 15 restaurants in Austin serving foie gras - is there a list of the others?

                7 Replies
                1. re: addlepated

                  I think it's a pretty nice atmosphere actually. IIRC the art was nice (mostly nekked pictures, right?), pretty low lighting, a wide-open kitchen in full view, but perhaps a tad cramped for some folks. I thought it was a good date spot. Service was pretty good, but for the very nice wine selection, I thought my server was way off on his recs (which I decided to forego).

                  It's not a bad place, I just thought things were a little over-sauced, and portions a bit too large. I acknowledge that it's a little too creative for my tastes, but I think most folks like that.

                  1. re: addlepated

                    Off the top of my head:
                    Finn & Porter
                    Vin Bistro

                    1. re: Paul Silver

                      Great list!

                      Oh, throw Uchi on there too.

                      1. re: Paul Silver

                        Something I read said that the Driskill stopped serving foie gras under pressure from the Liver Liberation Front (or whatever it's called). Are they still foie-ing?

                        1. re: addlepated

                          Yes and not only are they serving foie gras again but they have it at half price during happy hour Tuesday - Thursday.

                          1. re: Paul Silver


                            BTW, the protestors have started to target Jeffrey's along with Jezebel, so the protest night might vary. We're heading to Jezebel tonight and I'll try to report back with my assessment.

                        2. re: Paul Silver

                          Tomo Sushi on Parmer has an amazing foie gras nigiri sushi. Highly Recommended.

                      2. I went there a few weeks ago just because I'd heard about the foie gras protesters, so I wasn't expecting much, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Great food and great service. The foie gras was delicious :)

                        Definitely a great place - I'd put it up there with Zoot and Wink, they just don't seem to get as much publicity for some reason.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greymage

                          My experience is Jezebel has Wink beat in food, atmosphere, and service.

                          Atmosphere - hands-down, Jezebel. The music, the art, the (somewhat) open kitchen.
                          Food - Both very good. But at Jezebel, I experienced tastes I never have before. It was not obvious to me how they could have created the end result... via what ingredients (I had a 'shrimp tower')
                          Service - hands-down, Jezebel. A special type of gracious, not stuffy or pompous, service.

                          And the bathroom is to be experienced. I won't give the odd characteristic away, but it will definitely make you scratch your head. My only explanation could be... sound deadening. ;-).

                        2. Visited this place for the first time and was blown away. More later, but it was one of the best upscale meals I've had in Austin.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tom in austin

                            I have been reading what Tom in Austin has to say for a long time and I completely respect him. I'll wait with much anticipation for his review and will really look forward to an evening at Jezebel.

                            1. re: tom in austin

                              Okay. I'm sold. This is the next special occasion meal.

                              1. re: tom in austin

                                Any suggestions for dishes to order at Jezebel? I'm going tomorrow night.

                                1. re: egood

                                  The other night I got the halibut with olives and dates and even though normally I'm not a fish person, I thought it was excellent.

                                  I agree with Tom in Austin about the caliber of meal we had there. Right now Jezebel is at #1 in my Austin restaurant quality list.

                              2. On my wife's birthday, we brainstormed a short list of places to visit. We had already celebrated over the weekend, but I wanted to take her somewhere special on the actual weekday real-thing birthday. Vespaio, Enoteca, and Uchi are all common spots for us, and while nice, we really wanted something amazing. We're pregnant, so we nixed Uchi due to raw fish temptations and Wink due to wine temptations. But the remaining options within an easy driving radius (i.e. no Backstage Steakhouse) frustrated us. Then I remembered the good things we had heard about Jezebel. I called and verified that we didn't need a reservation and that there was no wait, and we were off!

                                Jezebel is comfortably nestled near the Greek place on Congress, and only a few blocks south of the Capitol building. This is sort of a dead zone for restaurants. Foot traffic takes few people north of the Paramount (nearest restaurants being Hickory Street and Thai Passion, I suppose), and while the Greek joint has survived (outlasting Ted's [ousted by the gothamesque crystal-topped tower] and the Athenian Grill [I've heard they closed?]) -- better than that, it was hopping as we walked past -- Jezebel was maybe half-full. The hostess seemed indifferent to us and actually came off a little rude at first. My wife and I exchanged looks, steeling ourselves for what might be a major disappointment.

                                We were wrong, but we didn't find that out immediately. We were sat in the rear of a place that is not unlike a tall tunnel, although the art adorning the walls was better than average. I noticed the open kitchen in the back (which we sat near, but I had my back to), and was pleased to see that the head chef and owner Parind Vora was there. Three or four other cooks surrounded him. With maybe twenty, thirty tops, patrons in attendance, I pondered how they could support such a cook/patron ratio.

                                Our initial waiter was a large, muscular gentleman who was extremely polite, accommodating, and informed about the menu. We ordered a couple starters -- crab cakes and a portobello-mozzarella-tomato-shallot salad. The crab cakes were really very good. I find that even the best crab cakes cannot overturn their basic identity as a fried food. These were among the best I've ever had, but I felt that Reggie could have done something just as good given the ingredients. I'm being harsh, as they were actually quite delicate and accompanied by a marvelous sauce (a sweet red pepper cream) that shot them out of a cannon right into taste orbit. The salad was actually the worst thing we had all night. Merely a B, or maybe a B+. I don't think I'd order it again without having the luxury of exploring the rest of their menu, and again the salad had strong accompanying sauces. My spider-sense was tingling.

                                A word about sauces: they are dangerous territory. A chef who specializes in sauces treads on treacherous ground. You risk obscuring the pure flavors of the ingredients -- the natural amazingness of these fierce essences are already explosively combinatorial. A master chef tosses these things together to achieve logarithmic results, where the sum is startlingly more than the whole of its parts. I usually find tricked-out sauces impede my enjoyment of these primary flavors and their delicious mixings. The best example of a place that in Austin with sauces that actually interfere with my enjoyment of the meal itself would be Cafe Josie. Already my wife and I had detected in these first to dishes this property. I asked her, "What place does this food remind you of, so far?" and she thought for less than ten seconds before saying, "Josie, more than anything." While Josie is far from terrible, this was not praise. The omen of the aloof hostess might be justified. We whispered conspiratorially about the lack of bread and butter before or after our appetizers and wondered what we should order for our mains.

                                It is possible that a looming and mighty spirit, hidden within the lean cavern of Jezebel, heard us and salved our concerns. Immediately we were brought a relatively fresh basket of bread, olive oil (decent but not the best I've had) w/ balsamic vinegar, and a thin olive trough of warm olives in a semisweet sauce that had (really! I swear!) hints of dates behind it. The breads were mixed: plain sourdough, raisin bread, and olive bread; interesting. My wife and I raised our eyebrows at eachother. Alright, no butter, but olive oil; bread and warm(!) olives in a sweet sauce. The breads pocked with sweet and savory flavors that enhanced their pairing with the oil and balsamic. Color us impressed.

                                We both ordered specials. I requested the "surf and turf" special which was elk (rare) and diver scallops (also pretty rare). I admit that I did this as a sort of challenge to Jezebel. I've had elk maybe five times in my life, and each time been disappointed. This time, overcooked. That time, stringy. This time, too gamey. You get the idea. Friends had sent me to restaurants to try their favorite variants, and I had yet to ever come away glad that I had chosen elk over beef, veal, or pork. The scallops were simply a toss-in, a safety: I like scallops, and I figured they would rescue the dish if the elk was miserable. My wife ordered a strange special as well: fully shelled lobster in red thai curry, sitting in a coconut. To pass the time, we enviously eyed the (absolutely amazing-looking) wine menu and discussed what we'd have once we could drink again. An attentive waiter (a young woman, very polite and informed, just like the young man) noticed this and asked us what we would like to drink, if anything.

                                You have to understand the magic of the spirit of Jezebel, because at this moment it interceded on our behalf. Knowing they did not sell spirits and thusly would probably be unable to fulfill my request, I explained to the waitress our situation: my wife is pregnant, and we're not drinking. Do you have any special, fun drink that would pair well with our mains? She thought for a second and said, "You know, probably not, but the chef might have some juice. I'll check." Away she went, and my wife and I sighed together. We would probably get some orange juice or something, or maybe nothing, we thought. How wrong we were, and how cruelly we underestimated Chef Parind's dedication to flavor-pairing.

                                Our waitress had, unbeknownst to us, went and asked the chef about special cocktails. He asked what we were having, and she told him. He thought for several minutes, brainstorming what would pair with both my wife's dish and my own, and came up with something that rolled out five minutes before our mains: martini glasses full of deliciously fresh mango juice, garnished with a lime slice, and each with a small ball of pomegranate ice cream slowly bubbling and dissolving at the bottom. It was absolutely delicious, and according to the waiter, completely improvised. Our original waiter came out and asked if I'd like a scallop or two cooked medium-or-hotter for my wife to share. We both agreed that would be great, and the mains were soon served.

                                The elk was tender, delicious, and completely delightful. It was sauced with an amazing truffle raspberry coulis -- starring raspberries, blackberries, black and white truffles, and olive oil -- that was absolutely out-of-this-world. The elk was also boldly peppered, mainly with red pepper and just a little black. I have never, ever before (well, maybe only a couple times) felt that sauces this complicated added (instead of subtracting) from the primal ingredients of the dish. This transcended even the original red wine-mushroom reduction (no longer available) of the Mars beef tenderloin (which is a much more natural pairing requiring far less courage). Jezebel's tables have no salt or pepper on them, and the elk's peppering was nothing less than daring, and served as a complimentary counterpoint to the coulis' sweetness. To win over a sauce minimalist like myself is a feat that Parind repeated in both of our mains: my wife's fully-shelled lobster was steeped in profound curry and coconut overtones, mixed with soy sauce, red wine, vinegar, dried chile, ginger, lime & lemon juice, shrimp juice, and fresh coconut water. (I know these ingredients because I asked, by the way, not because I'm some amazing fflavorsleuth.) It was creamy and spicy and not slightly overpowering, complex and aromatic but somehow not thwarting the lobster's natural flavor! The chef had gone to exacting steps to keep the lobster perfectly maintained after shelling, as it tasted as fresh as any lobster I have had, yet I didn't find the sauce blasphemous given the deliciousness of the lobster. The citris of the sauce enhanced the dish's "nose", and I could pick up savory wafts of it even over the pepper and coulis. Both of our dishes had really good mashed potatoes that had garlicky tones, but really this was only background noise. Likewise, the scallops we both had were tasty and maybe even the best I've had in Austin (though not the best I've ever had), but were floored by the elk, lobster, and accompanying sauces. True to his brainstorm, Parind's delicious custom cocktails paired well with both of our dishes. Bravo. And both of our dishes offered relatively large portions by comparison with what you'd get at most fine-dining establishments.

                                We split a dessert (a rich chocolate mousse, with more raspberry and truffle flavors in it's accompanying sauce) which was pretty darn good (A-? B+?), but truth be told I don't remember much about it as we were still reeling from the mains. Three cheers to chef Parind Vora and his staff. In my time in Austin, I haven't seen a more courteous or professional waitstaff, tasted better combinations of flavors, or dined in a classier joint than Jezebel.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: tom in austin

                                  jezebel used to do lunch, blue cheese and soft shell crab po boy! and it used to be byob so budgets could be met for dinner. now times have changed, no lunch, full wine menu, but still it is in my opinion one of the top three tastiest, styliest, and unpretentious restaurants in austin, along with uchi and vespaio.

                                  1. re: tom in austin

                                    Tom, that was such a great review! Thank you so much for sharing. I can't wait to go back.

                                    1. re: foodiegal71

                                      Ate there last week and loved it. Went with my mom who is a major foodie and she was very impressed. We had heard that the portions were large so decided to share a few things. Started with the baked feta appetizer special. It was topped with diced red peppers and crab meat and was really amazing. Then shared the caesar which was described as a "grilled" romaine salad. My mom and I both loved grilled romaine so we ordered that, but turned out the "grilled" was in quotations marks because the salad was drizzled with a dressing that made it appear that it had grill marks on it. Wouldn't order this again. Not much flavor to the dressing. Lastly we split the lamb shank for our entree. The kitchen offered to split it onto separate plates for only $5, and the portions were more than enough. The lamb melted in your mouth and the seasoning and sauce was delicious. As far as wines go we decided to go by the glass because we wanted to start with a white and then get a red with dinner. They were out of the red we ordered so the waitress asked the chef for recommendations and came back with two for us to taste. I must say service was a little slow at first. We had to wave down someone to take our order, but after that it ran smoothly. Our tab was about $130 for two people, which seemed a little high considering we shared everything, but it was well worth the money. I'll come back here for a special occasion anytime.

                                  2. Does anyone have a report on the new Prix Fixe Menu at Jezebel?
                                    The Website says:
                                    Our pre fixe menus are composed only when you order them by the chef personally; who uses the freshest, most seasonal items in a creative and personal way.
                                    All prix fixe menus must be ordered by the table
                                    3 Courses 75. per person
                                    4 Courses 85. per person
                                    7 Course Gourmand tasting menu 125. per person
                                    4 course vegetarian menu 75. per person

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Paul Silver

                                      Man that sounds good. First person to report about this wins the fabled Hound Prize.

                                      1. re: tom in austin

                                        We had the 3 course last Tuesday and it was great.
                                        Started with a diver scallop & shrimp appetizer
                                        then tuna sashimi with wasabi granita
                                        followed by their "surf & turf" of sea bass and duck
                                        presentation and service were fantastic!
                                        sauces were perfectly matched and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience

                                    2. Apparently, some have visited Jezebel with satisfaction, and I do appreciate their detailed and descriptive reviews as accurate accounts of that experience.

                                      After my visit, however, I did a little digging around the wine list, as that's a primary selector for me and something I tend to be critical of.

                                      The Jezebel website sez "reasonably priced wine list" and "none of the bottles on our wine list are marked up the normal fine dining mark up of 400%".
                                      I, personally, don't regard a 4X markup in Austin as normal. Nevertheless.... here are a few actual selections from the wine list, and their corresponding RETAIL prices ala: winesearcher.com :

                                      Château Carbonnieux Blanc, Graves, Bordeaux, France, 2004 $121
                                      -retail : $24 (uhm... 5X markup?)
                                      Evans & Tate, Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia, 2004 $35
                                      -retail : $12 (not even the lowest price.... 3X)
                                      Verget, Bourgogne blanc, Côte d’Or, France, 2006 $43. btg $11
                                      -retail : $12.65 (..... 3.4X and easy to find)
                                      Cape Mentelle, Syrah, Margaret River, Australia, 2006 $76
                                      -retail : $17 (yup.... s-e-v-e-n-t-e-e-n..... 4.47X and bend over)
                                      Williams Selyem, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California, USA, 2004 $181.
                                      -retail : $49.99 ( not even the more desireable RRV pinot.... at 3.6X....)
                                      Hijos de Juan Gil, Mourvèdre, Jumilla, Spain, 2005 $39
                                      -retail : $12.94 (that's 3X for a -very- middle_of_the_road monastrelle)

                                      I truly dislike being lied to.

                                      To be fair... there are a FEW bottles on the list closer to 2.5X but there is clear and significant risk that an unsuspecting diner will be entirely taken advantage of by the misleading description of this as a "reasonably priced" wine list. Additionally, some of these list offerings are just average/poor representations of their grape/terroir archetype.

                                      One of the critical skills I expect to experience when fine dining is the careful selection of a wine list that offers trustworthy, reliable, and fair value to all diners, not just the well informed. This should ideally encompass wines of the highest objective quality in their type and style, covering a wide spectrum of price so that price conscious and extravagant diners alike will enjoy their experience. Does it sound difficult ? It is, but that's what I pay for and it does not require a huge wine list to be successful. Just skill, and simple honesty.

                                      If you do wish to visit Jez, I suggest picking your wine from the list before your visit, in consultation with a reliable search engine, so you don't end up with a bottle of buyer's remorse.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Joey Foodman

                                        hey joey,
                                        when pricing wine in restaurants, keep in mind that texas is more expensive than other states, thanks to our legislature. restaurants in texas can ONLY buy from a wine purveyor. the so called three-tiered system. why is this? follow the $$$ trail from these wholesalers to the pink dome in austin. comparing wine prices in austin to an internet site like winesearcher.com is not fair nor an accurate representation of what jezebel (or other austin restaurants) pays for their wine. what can be done? write your state rep that you want these antiquated laws changed. not only are you paying more money but your selection is limited.

                                        1. re: weeds

                                          Thanks, I am aware of the three-tiered system, and it applies in other states as well. The retailers (who's prices I quoted) are generally required to purchase from wholesalers, just like a restaurant, although they may enjoy preferred/volume pricing. Keep in mind that a restaurant is not bound to any particular distributor unless they want to source that distributor's wine. Their cost basis is likely a few dollars higher than a retailer's would be, considering the TX service license, and cost of storage in a restaurant being higher than a retail shop. So it is, roughly, a fair comparison of value. Naturally, some reasonable markup is appropriate for accessing, selecting, storing, serving, and hiring good staff, but other restaurants in Austin have demonstrated how this can be done in the range of a 2X markup. In fact, some of those restaurants periodically offer their list at just over retail pricing. Would they be voluntarily taking a loss on that wine? I don't think so - their cost and selection criteria allow them to do it.
                                          However, any time you like, I would be willing to provide you with a good $20 wine in exchange for a crisp, US $100 bill. Heck, I'll even pay your corking fee! :-)

                                          1. re: Joey Foodman

                                            hey joey,
                                            what fine restaurants are marking up at 2X or just over retail pricing? i'd like to go and support them(or take advantage of them). when it was open, i especially liked cibo's wednesday half-off bottle pricing. i drank some really cool and interesting italian reds there. i liked their wine list better than the food. a shame really. last time i went, fino had a happy hour half-priced sparkling bottle special.

                                            1. re: weeds

                                              Just a few off the top of my head - Vin, Starlite, Wink are generally closer to 2X, though a few things are more than that. Vin/Starlite did have a 2'fer nite also. ChezNous did have a good (small) list when I was there last, but that was a while back. Fino seems to have reasonable prices on some good things (had a real nice white & red there Sat), but I haven't tried to figure out their markup. Likewise, Asti has some good Ital grape juice, and screaming deals on food, but I haven't averaged out their wine pricing yet.

                                          2. re: weeds

                                            Don't blame the wholesalers. While there is an extra step, wholesalers mark up the price about 10-20%. Restaurants on the other hand mark it up anywhere from 250-500%. While the three-tier system may not be justified by free market principles, it certainly is not responsible for the high price of restaurant wine. In addition, it is not just Texas. The vast majority of states require a three-tier system.

                                        2. I tried Jezebel today. I'm not much of a "food writer" so I'll just get straight to the point.

                                          First, a quick note on my "qualifications." There are few "traditional" dishes/meats that I tend to order over and over and over again, and I feel as though I've tasted enough variations/preparations of these dishes to be a reasonable critic.

                                          Fettucine alfredo/fettucine al burro probably tops the list, and a close second would be rack of lamb/lamb shank preparations.

                                          In fact I just came back from a month-long vacation in New Zealand and Australia, and as you might imagine I've had my fill of lamb chops/lamb shanks there.

                                          The lamb shank at jezebel does not match up in finesse of preparation (overall), particularly when it comes to the sauce. The sauce is far far too overpowering, and really I'll just leave it at that.

                                          The meat was indeed tender, but still not the most tender lamb shank I have experienced, especially compared to New Zealand lamb.

                                          On a scale of poor, fair, good, excellent, superb, I'd rate this lamb shank preparation at good-excellent (closer to good). It's not a bad preparation and by Austin standards, it's certainly better than some preparations out there (Andiamo's shoddy preparation comes to mind), but if someone decides to try Jezebel out, I would not recommend the lamb if your standards are high.

                                          Another of our party ordered the crab cakes for an entree, and I must say the crab cakes were truly delicious. The sauce was wonderful and not overpowering, and overall I'd say Jezebel provides a top 2 Austin preparation of crab cakes.

                                          Yet another of our party ordered the Chilean sea bass and lobster. The sea bass was good but not the best he has tried in Austin. I did not get his comments on the lobster.

                                          We did not get dessert, but for a good reason - the portion sizes for our entrees were enormous.

                                          I finished my entire lamb shank but was stuffed to the brim at the end. For the price, even though the quality of the lamb shank was not up to my standards, the quantity made up for it.

                                          I will dine at Jezebel again, and I'm going to order the crab cakes next time (in addition to trying other dishes on the menu).

                                          I recommend this place to anyone who hasn't tried it yet, but I do not recommend the lamb shank if you do not enjoy "helpless" meats (albeit Jezebel's lamb was reasonably tender) with overpowering sauces. What do I mean by "helpless?" The lamb by itself at Jezebel was not sufficiently infused with an appropriate sauce, in my opinion. It could not stand alone, yet the pool of sauce at the bottom of the dish was far too overpowering for the meat, as I said before.

                                          If there was some magical way to "dilute" the richness of that sauce flavour and infuse it within the lamb, I'd have rated the total preparation as excellent-superior, bordering more on excellent (because as I said, although the meat was tender particularly by Austin standards, I've had many preparations in New Zealand/Australia that are more tender).

                                          Service - the service was really amazing. The service staff are among the most courteous I have ever seen.

                                          Even though I wasn't totally "wowed" by the lamb shank preparation, I'll tell you this: Jezebel is still a jewel in the rough - a restaurant that doesn't really garner much attention or hype from the casual eating populace, especially from places like the Austin chronicle readers restaurant poll.


                                          I'm looking at the list of so called "top" restaurants for 2008, and seeing no mention of Jezebel while Austin Java (of all restaurants) pops up at 11th "best"/favorite restaurant...that to me is a big joke.

                                          I may have been pretty critical of Jezebel's lamb preparation, but don't get me wrong, it's an underrated restaurant with great promise, and it does a number of dishes extremely well.

                                          To me it clearly deserves a spot on that list. Let's replace Austin Java with Jezebel for rank 11 and call it a night.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: dcx1287

                                            Hey, we might have been there at the same time last night! I had the tandoori-spiced diver scallops in a kalamata olive beurre blanc and they were amazing. The foie gras was, as always, spectacular. I was also quite impressed with the press pot coffee - even the decaf was up to my abnormally-high coffee standards. Hubby was less impressed in his pork chop with pistachios; since it was such a thick cut of meat, the outside was overdone to get the center to medium. He said the foie gras made up for it, though.

                                            1. re: addlepated

                                              awesome. we arrived around 7:15 PM or so, greeted by some very loud music outside in preparation for some 10 K race.

                                              Shutting down Congress avenue actually caused us to be a little late on our reservation. It's difficult to find parking around that area sometimes.