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New Restaurants at the Domain

"Land of the Bland" was mentioned. Yes, the restaurants are all chains of some sort.

Kona Grill
Daily Grill
Dimaggio Italian Chophouse
California Pizza Kitchen
Jaspers
Starbucks

Since they call it a chop house, I thought that the steakhouse might be a good addition if they were serving dry aged, but their "steak statement" is this:

"Hand selected from the finest aged Midwestern Angus beef." Sounds like a Sullivan's deal where you get choice quality steaks at prime prices. Anyone been there?

Here's an overview of the Domain:

http://www.statesman.com/business/con...

The Steeping Room sounds interesting:

http://www.thesteepingroom.com/Join_U...

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  1. Don't forget about McCormick and Schmicks and Fleming's. Two very high end restaurants that currently have locations downtown

    1. LOL. I'll be going there with my "current" and she'll be gawking at stuff I probably will end up buying her. Unforunately, most of the restaurants don't look to exciting for a quick lunch meal.

      1. I've been to the Domain a couple times beginning with the Grand Opening. Kona Grill was the only food place I wanted to try. I believe Calif Pizza was open but it's not even remotely a place I'd go to more than once...once was enough. Good pizza exists only at Saccones (but hey that's another discussion.)

        KG has a very nice sushi bar with a back drop of an aquarium. Won't comment on the wait due to the opening...seemed atypical for being a new place. I will say that for being a chain they offered some decent dishes. The chicken satay with blue cheese cole slaw offered sweet, salty, and hot all on one large dish. Very good and would recommend. The sushi was decent and would rate them as an average sushi place but nothing that would beat out the likes of Beluga, Musashino, Maiko, etc.

        Overall, I would say this is worth trying out. It's a keeper as far as chain's go.

        1. Daily Grill's not bad. Ate there once in San Francisco. Steak was pretty decent. Thought it was similar to Houston's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: achtungpv

            Just had lunch at the steeping room. I had the tea sandwiches with the goat cheese. I agree. They were very tasty. Husband had a roast beef sandwich that he said was good. His plate was clean at the end of lunch. Always a good sign.

            I had a nice Darjeeling tea. I bought a whole pot instead of a cup. It was more than I could drink, but cost effective. Their cups are a little small.

            Definitely recommend this place for a nice but a tad expensive lunch. I hope to go back soon to try their scones and clotted cream. Yum!

          2. The Steeping Room is a little tea house that has a small menu. Cute, modern interior, nice choice of loose teas and tea accessories. I had a grilled veggie and goat cheese sandwich with dressed greens on the side. It was delicious (great bread!), but cost $9. Staff's appearance/attire doesn't match the interior or the prices.

            Kona Grill has a happy hour from 3-7 and a reverse happy hour from 9-11 with 50% off some select drinks and food items (including sushi rolls).

            Jasper's is not open yet, but they have been giving away free food (i heard ribs and mashed potatoes!) at certain times each day.

            1. Kona Grill, king of bad food and extremely light wine pours. Went to the one in Dallas and was pleased to note that they had a nice wine list. Ordered a glass and received about two ounces in an overly huge glass for $9. My grilled salmon salad featured salmon that was so off it stank before you could take a bite. My husband's pizza made Chuck E Cheese look like Italy's finest. Even the chicken nuggets for the kiddo were vile and the fries limp. I know people who eat there and love the sushi but I wouldn't touch it out of straight fear.

              Maybe it's better in Austin. (Everything else is ;>)

              1. dalaimama...I'd give the KG a try here. I've been three times now and tried different dishes. Sushi is good and consistant...and the macadamia crusted chicken is good as well. Again, the Chicken Satay appetizer is a must try. I think you just got a bad experience with the Dallas one.

                1. Kona Grill:

                  The atomosphere was corporate and plasticy, but had some nice elements -- there are beautiful fish tanks with lovely tropical fish, and a nice bar area. It could be very tranquil, but any hope of tranquility was completely destroyed by VERY loud pop music (Justin Timberlake et al.) that penetrated every corner of the restaurant.

                  The Spider Roll (8.95) consisted of 5 tiny, tiny rolls that were fine but unimpressive. There was one (tiny) shrimp tail in one piece. You get bigger, nicer rolls than this at Banzai. The Miso soup was okay (although it had a bleachy flavor from the bowl). Upon asking what was fresh tonight, our very cheerful and ditzy waiter said, "Oh, I dunno, I don't like sushi!" We ended up deciding on an albacore tuna dish that was horribly mushy and unappetizing. When we told the waiter, "This tuna is really mushy, and that's usually a bad thing when it comes to raw fish," she said, "I've had a lot of compliments on that dish tonight" and walked away. She wasn't being rude, but she was clearly missing the point. We could have called her over again and demanded something else, but we were hurrying to make a movie and decided that it wasn't worth it. We walked out saying, "We should have known" and vowed never to return.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: catarata

                    I ate at Kona for lunch yesterday. I was definitely not impressed. I ordered the Ahi Salad. It was literally a huge pile of field greens with a few slices of tuna on the side. There was a tiny garnish of a sprout and a few red peppers - seriously only about the size of a grape tomato and not one other thing on the salad. The peanut soy dressing was very good, but the tuna was only average at best. It was just a sad little meal. The patio seemed nice and the happy hour suggestions seem good, so, if the location is convenient for you, you could go for that, but expect much from the food.

                  2. Having just moved to Austin from Dallas, I can easily recommend trying Jaspers. The mini-chain was opened by the same chef who runs Abacus in Dallas. The food is back-yard gourmet...a much, much better version of Moonshine food in a nicer atmosphere. Some of the better dishes include smoked gouda and parma ham mac&cz, a great pork tenderloin with bourbon cream corn, and a refreshing cherry limeade pie. It is a chain, but it is only three restaurants and started in Dallas.

                    1. I work in the Domain (not the new mall / apartment part) so I was curious to see if there was any active discussion about the restaurants therein.

                      My instinct is to despise the place as a whole, because it's just a corporate high end mall with some apartments. Oh, and they play godawful easy listening and / or smooth jazz over loudspeakers strategically positioned throughout the shopping area. I believe this music is designed to incentivize people to buy, buy, buy. I can offer no other explanation as personally it makes me want to set something on fire.

                      But anyway, the Domain mall's presence marks the first time I have been able to comfortably walk to lunch (or for a cup of coffee) in almost five years in Austin, working up on the North side of town. (I used to cross 183 from a previous office to hit Whole Foods once in a while, but that walk sucked).

                      So I intend to try all the places that serve food. I went to California Pizza Kitchen (I had previously only associated that brand with airports and the frozen aisle in the supermarket) and was blown away by just how high their prices are. I paid $15+ for an average pasta dish (don't even remember the name) and my friend paid close to $20 for a pizza with shrimp on it. He seemed pretty pleased with the pizza, but I am a pizza snob from New York and am highly, highly skeptical. (Saccone's is the only A-level pizza in Austin as mentioned elsewhere in this thread). We also had to wait 20 minutes to sit even though there were a ton of open booths. I suppose they just haven't been able to staff up completely yet. I guess it will do in a pinch, but I'm hoping the other options in there are better.

                      The Steeping Room is interesting because it's the only locally-owned and operated place that serves food in the Domain thus far, as far as I can tell. But I'm turned off from afar by the "serving the old ladies who shop at Neiman Marcus" vibe. The sandwiches on the menu seem to be primarily light / veg friendly and, again, highly overpriced. I'll hit it one of these days. I do enjoy tea.

                      Kona Grill also baffles me. I thought it was a "Japanese" restaurant but they serve pizza? I already know it's shit, but I will give it a try. Folks at my office have gotten in the habit of heading over there for happy hour. I suppose some $3 California Rolls could come in handy, once in a blue moon, provided they at least match the high standard set by average supermarket sushi (say, HEB).

                      Nothing else is open yet. I had no idea Jaspers was giving out free shit, I guess I will have to camp them. Word on the street is that Joe DiMaggio passed away a few years ago, so I'm not putting too much stake in the power of his name.

                      Hopefully in time the Domain will grow and morph and they will find a way to get some LOCAL BUSINESS in there. It would make the entire experience of working up here a whole lot better.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: tastegood

                        So, last night we had plans to try Blue Water Grill downtown, but for some reason we went with Kona (easy to reach from both of our offices I guess). We were met with three overly made up girls that looked really silly in the light of day; I don't have a problem with 22 year olds with blank stares, fried straightening ironed hair, too- tight- tops from rampage and a mac inspired eyeliner job- as long as it is after sundown or later, and/or downtown. The bar was packed and we decided to sit at a table rather than do the happy-hour special thing in the bar area. Immediately the waitress bopped over and conveyed an air of someone who had spent time coordinating birthday events at chuck-e-cheese and applebee's, but without her items of flair. I first studied the drink menu and was underwhelmed, but gave one of the martinis a shot- eh (at least it wasn't fluorescent and served from the glasses with the zigzag stem). I was then struggling to find something appealing on the menu, which was totally different from what I had expected. I ordered the macadamia nut chicken for lack of a better choice. While waiting for our food, the loud music at the bar really started to annoy. It was kind of beach/sports bar-y, think Champs or Hooters. I also noticed that it was some strange mix of Asian and grandma with faux flowers and gold scroll mirrors. Weird.

                        Food came. Nothing much to say here. Actually, yes, I was amazing at how totally flavorless it was. Amazingly bad.

                        Overall bad experience. I don't usually tear places apart, but this is new, in a facility that was supposed to be well designed and really expensive relative to the execution. I would think someone would notice these things? Don't these places hire restaurant consultants?

                        Thank you for letting me vent. If you have noticed my previous posts, we usually stay in since we've been spoiled by living in NYC for several years, and have a heard time finding something comparible. I know it is my fault, and there are better options in central and downtown Austin but this was really sad.

                        Tonight we will be making mixed green salads with grilled beef, pom martinis, and watching the DVR...

                        1. re: tastegood

                          Hey Tastegood, I think we might work at the same place, although I'm not sure. If so, I'm excited to find another Hound at work. We should go and grab some grub sometime.

                          1. re: tastegood

                            Ate at several restaurants at the Domain...not too bad. California Pizza was a nightmare. Horrible service and high prices for low quality food. Would not reccommend to anyone. I could go into detail but that would take awhile. California Pizza just does not fit in nor belong at the Domain!

                            1. re: tastegood

                              I've been to The Domain exactly once and I was terrified. The crappy music piped through speakers on every corner was what really pushed me over the edge. "Let's get mildly groovy!"
                              Ugh.

                            2. I finally hit The Steeping Room, and as the only non-chain restaurant presently open in the Domain, I found it to be a welcome and refreshing option so close to work.

                              My friend and I split a pot of green tea -- they have three price tiers for their teas, maxing out (I think) at $5.50 which actually seems pretty reasonable for enough to share during a meal. My friend also tried the "mojteato" (it's made like a mojito, but with matcha green tea instead of booze) and it was refreshing and delicious.

                              We split the napa rolls with tofu and were very pleased. Quality peanut sauce and chili paste, separated for some reason. The rolls were 'looser' than you'll find in your average vietnamese joint but the ingredients were fresh and good.

                              For dinner my friend got the ginger tofu sandwich on ciabatta and I had the chicken salad tea sandwiches. The tea sandwiches are small and light (at least this one was) and I sort of think they may have forgotten the dressing but it was still good, and I was pleased that it was not mayo based. The sandwiches all come with a pretty nice and simple side salad of mixed greens with their house vineagrette. I think I preferred the ginger tofu sandwich to my chicken salad sandwich (my first choice, the pork tenderloin, was out that evening). The tofu comes with a fairly unusual hummus on it. I can't remember why exactly I thought it was unusual, but in combination with the tofu and the veggies, it worked nicely.

                              Overall, a winner, and reasonably affordable compared to the other soul-destroying Domain chains. (Well, given the drinks and the appetizer, I spent a decent amount anyway, but you can definitely have a $10 lunch here). Also, while the atmosphere didn't look too hot from outside, I sort of enjoyed the place once seated. It must be that I'm always peering in during the day to a restaurant filled with Neiman Marcus grannies sipping tea. Not exactly my scene if you know what I'm sayin!!

                              1. Wandered into Jasper's the other Saturday for lunch. A friend asked what it was like and the best I could come up with was "pretentious comfort food." Service was prompt and attentive; but the server's making recommendations without being asked was a little disconcerting.

                                Wife had the Kobe Beef cheeseburger ($14). Said it was good but she didn't detect any special Kobe Beef flavor. Being a naturalized Japanese she usually is sensitive to such things.

                                I had the Reuben ($14). Sandwich was good but different from a "real" Reuben. Corned Beef was sliced way too thick, and somewhat difficult to eat. The accompanying potato salad was excellent; nice chunks of flavorful potato and a dressing with a touch of mustand.

                                Glanced at the dinner menu; same comfort food and more expensive. I would rank Jasper's on my Tier 2 List (Will go there only if a good friend insists).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: thebodytx

                                  Went to Jaspers for lunch with wife and friend. Wife got BB ribs, moderately impressed, I got the CB with Koby style beef, minimally impressed, friend got Cobb salad with salmon, looked good but nothing special. What did impress me was the decor. Very attractive and all the G-massive TV screens all around with no sound on. Give me a break. The big ass fan was pretty cool though. Will go back one more time for lunch only since I would not want to pay those prices for that type of food. As someone said before, this is high end franchise mall rat stuff. Not an original bite to eat out there except possibly for the pretentious expensive tea room, which is not, BTW, a tea room anyway.Austin, wtf is happening to it. We are being inundated with shallow plastic people who will eat anything as long as it is hyped right. Why on earth, OTW, are there so many Starbucks. (Parenthetically, recently I saw a Beener parked in front of a Starbucks with a "Keep Austin Wierd" bumper sticker. Now that, my fellow hounds, is wierd!)

                                2. I went with a group recently to Jasper's for dinner, and the service was great but the food was nothing to write home about. I had the ribs, which were good...but considering the price, the drive, parking, etc, I'd stick to my own baby backs on the home grill. The wine list also is a bit high...not overpriced, but focused more on expensive bottlings. I hate that.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: speedracer

                                    Agree with most of the evaluations of Jasper's, although I must say that the maytag blue cheese homemade potato chips were wonderful, if not embarrassingly decadent. I had the prime rib with enchiladas and the prime rib was rather tough and, surprisingly, lukewarm.
                                    Quick aside that's glancingly related: does anyone else find this idea of fusing commercial space with residential space unnerving? Visiting the Domain is like stumbling in on a massive orgy of consumerism. Shouldn't these businesses subsidize the misguided shopaholics who, apparently, can't bear to be a jaunt away from a Macy's or a Puma store? This is nothing more than developers shrewdly marrying sprawl with a localized, captive market. Oh, and rejoice, an Office Max is coming to the Triangle.

                                  2. Wow. Sounds like a total bust on the new places to eat.

                                    I have been to the Steeping Room twice and really like the fact you can get a nice pot of tea for about the same price as a Venti Latte at $tarbuck$.

                                    They have huge selection of different teas, actually a little overhelming, since some of the people that work there really can't give you a clue what the differences are, what somehing tastes like etc, etc. I've had their Earl Grays ( the lady gray is not worth doing) and a pot of one of their Chia's, really very nice. If you ask for honey you get a very small amount and you feel like a heel if you ask for more.

                                    Again, I liek the concept, the fact that it is locally owned price point (for the tea). I also had the earl gray chocolate mousse. An OK portion size but at $4 a little pricy. Good taste, light consistancy, I couldn't taste any earl gray in it. so don't really know what that is all about.

                                    If I go back, I'd certainly get more tea, but the rest of the menu really dosn't do anything for me. Great alternative to $tarbuck$. The do have a happy hour with $1 off regular price of a pot of tea. I like that too.

                                    I hope they make it, but they going to have to do something more I think.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: kongfuzi

                                      I had a pot of tea there about 5 weeks ago. The waitress forgot to put it on and after waiting about 28 minutes she remembered, after I had asked about it twice and let me have it for no charge. The tea was good, one of their black teas, but I think for the money they could put a few more tea leaves in the pot. For the money, it was not bad, about 3 or more cups of tea.

                                    2. Horrible lunchtime experience at Dimaggio's: Frutti di Mari had *old* squid in it, nasty, and the steaks took like 45 minutes to come out. (They were okay but not top notch like their prices) We asked for a manager and a guy that looked 17, in a nice suit, came over and argued with us that it took too long.He was fidgeting--in internal conflict over what to offer us so I told him we didn't want anything but we weren't coming back. I guess he was happy with that because he didn't have anything more to say--just walked away and avoided us for the rest of our visit.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: BTAustin

                                        thanks. a place to likely avoid. do you find this type of thing happening more frequently? In my forays to a lot of the newly opened restaurant there, I am sad to say that versious of your experience have been all too common for me. Amazing how they come out and argue with what is, obviously, happening on the plate you've got in front of you.

                                        1. re: theabroma

                                          I'd say so theabroma, unfortunately. I'd expect Kona Ranch, Daily Grill and Dimaggio's all to fail. We had a bad experience at Kona Ranch,a chicken satay that looked fabulous and tasted truly terrible. And Daily Grill just seemed crazily overpriced--a $16.00 steak w salad and sides for $30.00. Looked like an excellent place to drink though. We went to McCormick and Schmick's for lunch today. It was very nice. Parking was a drag though, as half of the huge row of restaurant parking (the empty half, every other spot was full) was reserved for valet. The valet stand by McCormick and Schmicks was unmanned--they told us there wasn't any valet parking but maybe Kona and Daily Grill had valet I don't know. They certainly didn't need the spots way down by McCormick and Schmick. We enjoyed our lunch, very good waiter. Had the pan fried oyster appetizer, definitely delicious. Seafood mac and cheese caserole didn't come off as good but it didn't make me upset. Salads were really nice. Deserts looked awesome, I had to run to an appointment so I didn't find out how good they were. They have the 1.95 burger in the bar at happy hour and several other good sounding hh appetizers--a ceviche and a chicken satay for 3.50 or something we will go back for. Park at Nieman's and walk....

                                      2. Ive been to several of the resturuants there.CPk is ok but you cna get better pizza elsewhere.I didnt care for jaspers at all as it was overpiced and the portions small.I did like the food at North but its nosiy.I thought the Daily Grill had good food and the portions were great and tasty.I also like McCORMICK and SCHMICKS much better than the downtown location.i havent been to Dimaggios but my wife went to dinner and shes loves steak and said she had a good meal but its on the pricy side.The steeping room is excellent for teas and light sandwhiches and deserts.flemings is coming soon per a sign i saw.Overall the food experience was good and i say the biggest rip off was jaspers.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: nytexan

                                          Thanks NY Texan! We went to North today at lunch. Really liked it. A beautiful space with really tall ceilings. A little but of everybody eating there too from a couple extended families to a group of retirement aged ladies who lunch looking ladies to several tables of young hipsters. Didn't notice a noise factor but we were early and I didn't remember that from the above post. Waitperson was wonderful. She said there were two Dawns working there. Just perfect service. The food runners went out of their way to add to a very nice experience by explaining things and just being nice and helpful. All quite unobtrusively, very impressive. Had the italian sausage and carmelized onion pizza for an appetizer. It was okay, Crust was very nice. Should have had the calamari she recommended or the proscuitto/fig/goat cheese pizza. The Italian sausage sandwich was delicious. Two good split links on this focaccia bagel thing with alot of a savory aoli/mayo sauce that really went well with it. Some cabbage and onion too it all went together really good. Choice of sides I got half of a really good apple cabbage cole slaw and half of a good good corkscrew pasta in pesto. My friend's chicken parmesan was just loaded with melted mozzerella and seemed to be two whole breasts--a ton of food. My other co-worker's ahi salad looked great and he said it was. Cheaper than you'd expect for the area. Good bread, all in all a real winner. Can't wait to try Oakville next week. This Domain thing is growing on me.

                                        2. It looks like this thread has been going for a while now, so I'm a bit surprised to not see the Oakville Grocery mentioned. Much like the Steeping Room, the menu is in addition to Oakville's main business as a gourmet food and wine shop. While the menu is limited, the food is quite good, especially if you are looking for a casual dining experience. I've been to the original Oakville Grocery in Napa, and while it's difficult to re-create that experience in the middle of a shopping mall in Austin (the Napa store is surrounded by vineyards and is so small you can barely move around even when it's not overflowing with patrons), the Oakville at the Domain does capture the spirit of the original in Napa.

                                          I recommend visiting Oakville with friends and everyone ordering something different. The sandwiches, pizzas, and salads can all be made to order, so the combinations are endless. The goat cheese and spinach bianca pizza is my current favorite and makes me not even want to look at the CPK when I walk back to my car. Also, don't miss the array of sweets up front. The truffles will cure your chocolate craving in a hear beat and it seems like each time I visit there is some new and wonderful dessert to try.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: everydayfoodie

                                            We really enjoy Oakville Market as well, having been to the rustic one in Napa, I thought they did a great job getting the feel of it here at Domain.
                                            We had a couple of there balls of sorts from the deli case, very tasty and the shrimp salad to couple with our very nice wine by the glass choice, we had a great experince, we will be back.

                                          2. My fiance and I just had lunch at the Steeping Room. Overall a very pleasant experience though a bit pricey. I had the roast beef sandwich on wheat-- toasted, with carmelized onions, roasted red pepper, and basil mayo. It was warm and very flavorful. We both preferred my sandwich to his, the "TBLT" with turkey on a standard BLT. The sandwiches came with a green salad and sesame-balsamic vinaigrette. The tomato-roasted garlic soup was delicious, and we shared a pot of Irish Breakfast tea. My only complaints-- the salad was small, the teacups transmitted the heat painfully well necessitating only half-full cups, and his TBLT was rather bland. But we'll definitely go back to try the astounding tea variety. Plus I'm hoping they make a half-decent scone.

                                            Oh, and I would say it was a little pricey-- two sandwiches, a pot of tea, and we sampled the soup (free) was $23 before tip. YOWCH.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: salsera

                                              i had good meals at the chophouse,mccormicks and schmicks and the daily grill.all places are open for lunch and they arent overpriced,the daily grill serves great pot pies which are humongous and the chophouse is right up there with any top stekahouse downtown and the service was great too.M&S has great lunch prices and the portions are both tasty and plentiful.

                                            2. I keep getting sucked back into the Domain because it's closer to home than downtown and I enjoy walking about in the open air although I'll agree with tastegood that it's much more corporate than I would like it to be. Since I posted about Oakvill Grocery (so sad it's gone), I've had several more experience at the Domain that range from good to questionable:

                                              Kona grill: they are clearly having an identify crisis. I sat at the sushi bar and felt their sushi was over priced and not very good compared to what I can have elsewhere in town. Won't be going back there - their proximity to Sur La Table not withstanding.

                                              McCormick and Schmick: service was horrible, truly enjoyed the food. We arrived early for our reservation on a busy night and sat in the bar for 20 minutes while we waited. In that time the waitress couldn't even get my wine to me - she had to bring it to our table as we were being seated. Once seated, we waited 15 minutes with no server in sight. We finally had to ask another server (who was horrified) to help us out. After that, it seemed every server in the section was keeping an eye on us because the service improved significantly. The seafood was really really good - fresh and thoughtfully prepared. The seasonings and sauces truly let the seafood be the star. I've since taken a cooking class with the chef and he clearly knows his stuff.

                                              Jaspers: pricey but fun. I've been there for a couple of business lunches and everyone can find something they like - foodies and non-foodies alike. However, it's not so fantastic that I would be a regular there. I hear the French toast at brunch is great so I might have to go back and try that.

                                              Cru: I really like the ambiance here. I went alone and sat on a couch instead of at the bar or a table and was very comfortable. Their ahi tuna small plate featured one of the best tuna preparations I've ever had but I was disappointed in how small it was (even for a small plate) given the price. Their wine flights are interesting because they mix 2 more common offerings with 1 higher-end offering. When I'm on my own I drink by the glass so at Cru I can try some nice wine that I'd typically have to buy by the glass. I was disappointed in the staff's wine knowledge. I asked about the oak in a flight and my waitress had to get the tasting notes to answer my question. You'd think in a wine bar the staff would know the basics of wine.

                                              Joe DiMaggio's: the jury is still out for me on this one. We went Friday night and the service was questionable and the food just okay, but the ambiance was very fun. The bar area is very nice - with both traditional high tables and a couch area with wide tables. We were 10 minutes late being seated for our reservation and our waiter was clearly overloaded when we first arrived. The wood-fired mussels were fantastic and I enjoyed the seafood risotto. The tenderloin was just okay - I can do 100x better than that at home. It was very bland and not the quality of meat I would expect from a restaurant that calls itself a chophouse. Their bar menu is interesting as is their drink menu, so I might try it again as a bar-only experience.

                                              NoRTH: I think you either love this restaurant or not. It is a bit pricey and I've yet to have consistent service but I do enjoy the food. The grilled artichoke is so great that I was on a mission to recreate it at home (blog post here: http://everydayfoodie.wordpress.com/2...). The pizzas are tasty and I particularly like that you can have wine by the glass in two serving sizes! The crostata for dessert is just lovely.

                                              I'll agree with everyone here that I'd love to see some local restaurants open here. I wonder if the price of rent is just so prohibitive that only large chains with working capital can afford to start there?

                                              1. North - Had the lambchops here. This place is utter garbage (at least the lamb chops were). Lamb chops were over over over done. They were extremely tough. I specifically asked for medium RARE, and they gave me twice overdone. The quality of the lamb here is terrible.

                                                Joe DiMaggio's - Had the lambchops here also (can you tell I am a fan of lamb?). The lamb was certainly better than North's lamb, but on an absolute scale it was still average if not sub-average.

                                                For some reason, my chops were not all cooked the same. I had one chop at the end that was cooked over over done, while the one on the bottom was the perfect medium rare I had asked for.

                                                In any case, I would not go here again for the lamb chops. I think Wink does rack of lamb better than this place.

                                                Jasper's - One time I went here, the baby back ribs were done just perfectly. The meat was tender as always, but in addition to tender "fall off the bone" meat, certain areas of the rib were covered in this delicious barbecue sauce-filled crisp. There was a great contrast between this crisp and the tender meat on other areas of the rib.

                                                Unfortunately, I have only experienced such a perfect preparation one time in my many visits to Jasper's. Furthermore, during this one instance of perfectly grilled ribs, the barbecue sauce itself was also better in my opinion. The sauce currently is far far "tangier" for some odd reason. In my subsequent visits to Jasper's, they have never achieved that same level of rib perfection that they did on that one day. The ribs now are indeed tender but there is no crisp on the outside, the sauce is much tangier (annoyingly so), and overall I just don't get that same level of savoriness from eating their ribs now. It's not JUST the lack of crisp and "tangier" sauce, but those are the easiest things to pinpoint.

                                                Something definitely happened between that first visit and now. I don't know what, but whatever it is, it has prevented me from returning to Jasper's for quit a while.

                                                I still go to Jasper's every now and then, hoping that I just might be able to taste yet another perfect preparation of baby back ribs, but I'm always let down in this regard. They did it right once (for me), and that's it.

                                                Daily Grill - I had the crab cakes here (with a side of mashed potatoes). The crab cakes were fine but they were EXTREMELY small. I had a really big problem with the mashed potatoes. They left pieces of skin in my mashed potatoes and to me this just made the mashed potatoes inedible. I spent 10-15 minutes picking out the pieces of skin because they annoyed me so much.

                                                Maybe I'm just strange in this regard; maybe mashed potatoes + chopped up potato skin is something people generally enjoy, but to me it just absolutely ruins the savory, "homey," comfort food experience one is supposed to get from eating mashed potatoes.

                                                McCormick and Schmick - I've tried a number of their dishes here. Crab cakes are just average/plain. I've had better crab cakes at the roaring fork. I have a problem with their Alaskan king crab legs - they are really inconsistent with the portion sizes.

                                                On one occasion, all members of my family ordered the king crab legs, and some individuals were given far smaller portions than others.

                                                It may seem odd to some to be a "king crab elitist," but somehow I have not been pleased with any king crab leg (or snow crab leg) dish in Austin...ever. I am never pleased with the freshness of the crab at McCormick, Truluck's, Fleming's (yes I tried crab legs at a steakhouse), Red Lobster (horrendous), Joe's crab shack, whatever.

                                                Well, that's my review. I say it like it is. When I review food, I give no regard whatsoever to prices. I rank everything on an absolute scale. Either something tastes good to me or it doesn't. I don't care about how large the (taste)/(price) ratio is. I only look at taste.

                                                Edit: I will say one more thing about crab. There is one place in Austin where I have had the pleasure of having great, fresh crab (though not in the form of crab legs, though). That place is Uchi. I think all of their seafood is extremely fresh and tastes great.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: dcx1287

                                                  If you love king crab legs the best thing to do is buy them at the supermarket or at Costco and steam them yourself at home. Half the price and evem I can't mess them up !

                                                  1. re: judiftx1

                                                    the grocery stores will even steam them for you for free while you finish your shopping

                                                2. Ok, I have been to the Domain and like the high-end shops and restaurants, however I have only been there twice once to Kona Grill for drinks. I wasn't impressed at all it wasn't at all my taste. The type of people seem to be a little on the pushy and trashy side. I did go to have dinner at Joe DiMaggio’s and really like the layout and atmosphere, very classy. The food was good but, I have had better. I will go back to give it a second chance. I would like to try Jaspers.

                                                   
                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jayjenny

                                                    By the way, just saw that the Oakville Grocery closed its doors . . . or actually, someone else closed them and changed the lock. Looks like they were evicted for not paying rent. ????!!!?? What gives? This place was great!!!! I'm sorry to anyone who didn't get to try them. Little else in Austin compares.