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III Forks (AUS)

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  • Rene Oct 24, 2006 01:23 AM

I saw an add in the Sunday paper that III Forks will be opening tomorrow. They opened in Dallas right after I left and for some time took the top steakhouse spot from Del Frisco (pre-Double Eagle, I think). Of course, I can find their menu online but would like to know what we should expect. I'm excited and really looking forward to this opening!!!

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  1. If its anything like the Dallas location, their service will be top notch. It is pricy but well worth it. One thing I noticed is that they do try to sell you every single side item on the menu. Family style sides are available.

    1. Do you know where in Austin they are opening at?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mike B

        I think it's the 2nd street area... not much advertising that I can find.

      2. Sunday I saw the ad in the paper and walked past after eating at Las Manitas. They are at Lavaca and Cesar Chavez right across from City Hall with the entrance off Lavaca. The windows were all covered and they were working on their entrance. I'd be a bit surprised if they are opening today (Tuesday) unless it is a very soft opening.

        1. Just thought I'd post an update.

          We ate at III Forks on Saturday night. I called ahead Saturday afternoon for a reservation and they were able to get us a table (unlike Lambert's, which is saying they need 5 days notice!). At any rate, we were happy with our experience. The waiter was efficient and friendly, the rest of the staff seemed eager to be of assistance and the atmosphere was both jovial and relaxing -- it's a bit noisy near the bar due to piano music, but it's not too bad farther into the dining room area.

          The steak was excellent. We ordered a filet and a New York strip. Both were cooked perfectly and had the flavor of prime beef. The sides, which were included in the cost of the entree were adequate-- mashed potatoes and sweet peas. I ate a few bites of them, but they might as well have left them off since the beef was centerstage. I would have rather paid extra for some fries, but I didn't see any on the menu.

          1. I ate at III Forks for a business dinner a couple of weeks ago and was not impressed with their food. The steaks themselves tasted broiled or pan-seared, not grilled. That’s a big misstep for a steakhouse to make. Plus, one of the steaks wasn't cooked to order. The bone-in ribeye was very rare, not medium; however, the porterhouse was more or less medium-rare, as requested. Given that the bone-in ribeye was "darker" on its surface than the porterhouse, it seemed as though the kitchen had decided doneness based on surface appearance (it looks medium) rather than testing for doneness. That's a rookie mistake. Aside from a generous topping of black pepper, the steaks were totally unseasoned. These broiled steaks just aren't good enough to serve plain. [III Forks uses "USDA Prime" steaks, but there's no information on the menu about aging time or process.]

            The side dishes were all bad. The mashed potatoes were gummy and not rich at all. Sautéed sugar-snap peas were served with thin strips of red bell-pepper. I guess they had a nice texture, but there was no sauce, no seasoning. Just plain snap peas. This dish seemed like an afterthought, a garnish almost, not a well-conceived side dish. The creamed corn tasted like an unholy marriage between canned corn kernels and some sort of Campbell's "cream" soup, mixed together with little more than, you guessed it, black pepper. There are better corn dishes available in the freezer section; perhaps III Forks will avail themselves of some of these options soon.

            We also tried some of their typical steakhouse appetizers. The shrimp cocktail was a good version of the classic starter. The jumbo shrimp were flavorful and perfectly cooked, and they were served with a housemade cocktail sauce. The crabcakes had spinach in the filling, but weren't liquidy. They also had no breading and were served with a coarse-ground mustard sauce, which was an odd pairing. They weren't bad—for crabcakes that are not the Chesapeake-Bay ideal of practically all sweet lump-crab meat. The ones at III Forks had a creamier, almost "ranch" kind of seasoning, rather than Old Bay. Someone also tried the lobster bisque, which I suggest that you skip. The reddish-brown color suggests more tomato than is delivered, which is perhaps a good thing. Their bisque wasn't as creamy as the best versions are, and despite the lobster-like flavor, it contained precious little actual lobster meat.

            The onion rings were of the wide-cut, thin-layered variety. In some ways they were better than usual. The batter adhered to the onion slices in a paper-thin layer and was cooked through. Often onion rings are coated with a thick glob of batter that’s raw on the inside, closest to the onion. Plus, because the onions at III Forks are thinly sliced, they were tender enough to easily bite through. No gnawing required. For me, however, this didn’t save their onion rings from an all-too-common flaw: flavorless batter. This included a total lack of salt, though you could see black pepper (their favorite spice) in the batter. Since the onion itself was a very sweet variety, the onion rings lacked any punch or presence. They were served with a forgettable mayo-like dipping sauce.

            We were also served some very large, yeasty rolls that are literally quite heavy. If half the size, these could be a good version of inoffensive, dense rolls that are good with lots of butter. As they were, however, they were very undercooked in the center, which detracted from the decent crust.

            The desserts were awful. The chocolate "ganache" 5-layer cake looked like a Sara Lee dessert and tasted like it was made from an “extra rich!" Duncan Hines mix. It was frosted between layers and on the sides and top with a weak chocolate frosting that had no connection whatsoever with a true ganache. Someone else ordered the pecan cake, with white cream frosting. The best that could be said about this dry cake was that it was so bland that it felt light. In other words, it was that kind of flavorless layer-cake with a sweet frosting that's supposed to do all the work. You could keep eating forever without getting any taste or satisfaction from it. But why would you want to? The bread pudding had the same surface-area problem that the bread did: The outside was too hard and overdone, while the middle was underdone. The sauce that came with it was a caramel sauce, perhaps like an overcooked bananas-foster sauce. It tasted to me like the caramel-sauce used to make fast-food ice-cream sundaes. The bread pudding came with a one-dimensional cinnamon ice cream that tasted like cheap powdered cinnamon and was far too sweet.

            In my opinion, III Forks adds nothing to the steakhouse scene, which is a shame, since we need a good (relatively) independent steakhouse in town. Although I like nothing else at Austin Land & Cattle, their large porterhouse is better than the one served at III Forks.

            For a much better-flavored (though not larger) steak, as well as delicious sides and desserts, I'll still have to go to my old favorite: the Backstage Steakhouse in Spicewood.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MPH

              This is tough to chew on (sorry!), since I was planning on holding a dinner there in the near future. Not so sure anymore.

              It's really unfortunate that there aren't any outstanding steakhouses here (at least from what I reckon), given that we're in the land of the boeuf. I guess there's Ruth's Chris if restaurant steaks are essential, but still. And perhaps it's just my newness to Austin, but I haven't found any wagyu steaks around town despite the fact they apparently raise a bunch of these cows in Texas. Perhaps they're largely exported.

              1. re: Nab

                Vespaio has wagyu steak on special from time to time; when I've tried it, it has been pretty good. Probably not worth the price they charge, though -- $60.

              2. re: MPH

                Your first paragraph alone contains enough unpardonable steak sins that I'll never need to give this place a try. Thanks for saving me from an expensive meal.

              3. I have had some good experiences with Austin Land and Cattle Company, although I am not sure if they use Wagyu beef. But their stakes were cooked well, the meat was tender and wasn't over seasoned. Not the best steak I have ever had in my life, but one of the better ones in Austin.

                As far as Wagyu is concerned, there is supposed to be an independent butcher called the Meat Shop here in Austin that sells dry aged prime Wagyu. The French Laundry in Napa supposedly gets there beef from there. At least thats what I have heard. I remember there being an article about it in the Austin Chronicle, although i have never been able to find the place. If you enjoy cooking as much as eating, that might be an option. I know I plan to get some steaks from there if I can find the place, and I can get my hands on some.

                Anyone else heard about the Meat Shop?

                5 Replies
                1. re: Homero

                  Here's that article about Harrell Ranch and their retail outlet, The Meat Shop:
                  http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyroba...

                  I'm actually looking for a restaurant (independent preferably) that properly cooks a wagyu steak, although I may just try to pick it up from a retailer if all else fails.

                  1. re: Homero

                    The Harrell Ranch and the Meat Shop are out of business, unfortunately. They fell victim to SH130 passing through the property.

                    1. re: Greg Spence

                      Aww. Thats terrible news. I never did get a chance to get some steaks from there. I don;t suppose you know if there are any plans for reopening at a different location. I would be happy to take his cows for him if not :P

                      1. re: Homero

                        Homero,

                        You might want to check out a place called Cooper's Meat Market. Although their headquarters is in San Antonio, they have a local operation at 1601 West 38th Street (at Jefferson). Here's a link to their website:

                        http://coopersmeatmarket.com/

                        You can find the info on Wagyu beef listed under "Exotics." The going rate is $89 for two 8-oz. strips. I usually call them before going out there (467-6700), to make sure they have what I need.

                        Though I can't personally vouch for the Wagyu, the steaks I've gotten from Cooper's—filets mignons and ribeyes—were things of beauty: top-quality, well-marbled, and just delicious.

                        Best.
                        MPH

                        1. re: MPH

                          Yes, I have gotten some steaks from Cooper's before, and they were terrific. I had two prime ribeyes cut to order for my lady and I a while back. They were excellent and the price was very reasonable. I totally forgot about Cooper's. Good Call MPH!

                  2. I've been twice to iii Forks and it's excellent!!!!
                    The first time I arranged a private room for a birthday celebration. The owner, (Curtis Osmond) hostesses, and the waiter were all excellent in keeping the dinner a secret.
                    Went 2 nights ago for my birthday, and the meal was still incredible! Kudos to everyone at the Austin location as they do a great job!!!!