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Sunday Brunch: The Traveling Bistro at Nomad

in an attempt to find somewhere to eat brunch today that wouldn't require fighting with ACL crowds, i told hubby to look around on yelp to find something we hadn't thought of. he surpassed my expectations by happening across an entry for The Traveling Bistro caterers (http://www.travelingbistroaustin.com/) who set up a small but well-prepared brunch table (two, actually) at the Nomad bar off of Cameron Rd. i'd never heard of Traveling Bistro or the Nomad bar today, so it was somewhat of a gamble. I will forewarn you that they use plastic cutlery, wax-coated paper plates, and serve the whipped cream cheese straight from the tub. but that doesn't really mean anything when you consider the food.

we started with a couple bloody mary's from the bar, which were excellent. they also have $3 mimosas or $10 bottomless mimosas. the coffee was dark and delicious. once we started our bar tab and got a ticket to present to the caterers, we dug into the food. they had: pear and blue cheese frittata, spinach feta frittata, tiny little grilled goat cheese sandwiches. some other kind of grilled meat and cheese sandwich. bagels, the whipped cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon (yum!). waffles to order with real whipped cream, fresh raspberry compote, and a couple different maple syrups. there was a goat cheese and pecan spinach salad - unfortunately, i missed the bottle of dressing, but i still enjoyed the salad. then around the corner on the second table were smoked pork chops with some kind of fruity sauce. creamy hash browns. and best of all: biscuits with sausage gravy. i can assure you that i am a fair-weather sausage fan and not huge on gravy either. but this was WONDERFUL. big chunks of breakfast-y sausage, creamy gravy, homemade biscuits. very good over all. and for dessert, a nice cakey peach cobbler which i put more of the raspberry compote and whipped cream on. all this for $13pp plus the drinks.

i am a fan of the brunch at moonshine. this was maybe a third as big, but the fact that there was no wait for brunch on a Sunday at 11:15 (they start at 11), it was so incredibly worth it. and the food was very delicious. we called Nomads before hand to get an idea of what to expect, and the bartender said that Beau Been (Traveling Bistro's exec chef) changes it up every week. sometimes they'll do a Spanish theme or Korean. i would love to go back and try new offerings. i admit i was a little skeptical about eating brunch in a bar, but there was a nice patio and lots of windows in the front. there were playing some old fifties sounding music which was pleasant.

here are the couple of yelp reviews for it: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-traveling...

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    1. re: amykragan

      some bar on Corona St off Cameron Rd. i'd never heard of it till yesterday. http://www.nomadbar.com/

      1. re: NirvRush

        Ooh, thank you thank you for this! While I too must bemoan "tub" cream cheese, some of the other items sound doable, and Nomad is right around the corner from my new house. I have been skeptical about trying brunch at the bar as well, but I'll give it a go based on your review. Was the waffle syrup real maple?

        1. re: femmenikita

          there were two bottles: one was butter pecan syrup, the other was maple cream syrup or something. i've seen the brand at HEB, and it's not your generic "pancake syrup" - something more high-end. but frankly, i was more attracted to the raspberry compote than the syrup. i totally encourage you to give it a try! the caterers were really nice and i'd like them to succeed.

          1. re: femmenikita

            Nikita
            Welcome back to the board.I thought you'd taken the path of Twill and given up.Nomad is a coffeeshop by day and bar at night.It really reminds me of Club de Ville circa a few years ago.They have a kitchen so I'm not sure why they outsource their brunch...I'm always on the lookout for bottomless mimosas so I'll be getting tilted on their patio soon.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              i got the impression that it was a symbiotic relationship: giving the caterers an arena to show off their goods and promote themselves while driving up Sunday morning bar sales with the mimosas and bloodies. Nomad's menu does look interesting, but this way they have minimal staff on what would probably normally be a slower time.

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                Thank you, scrumptiouschef, and no, I haven't gone the way of the dodo; just been lurking on the board mostly, since I've had less time on my hands of late. Sorry to hear about Twill; hopefully he'll return to the fold. But back to Nomad: went there for brunch today, results for me were mixed. I'll start with the star of the show: salmon, cooked medium with just a tiny bit of cool, gooey rare in the middle. Needed salt, but otherwise perfectly tasty, served on a bed of mixed baby greens with bleu/gorgonzola-ish crumbles. Also fairly tasty was the attractive, cooked to order Belgian style waffle. They put cinnamon in the batter, and it was nice and crisp around the edges, though I wouldnt have faulted the caterer if she had cooked it a wee bit longer; i like my waffles crisp on all sides with a moist middle. I think the server felt a bit pressured by my standing there waiting hungrily while she prepared my order. Waffle iron stamps a charming rosette pattern on the food; a nice touch. I added some of the raspberry compote (mmm) and butter. There were two types of syrup: Log Cabin and some brand of genuine grade A maple. Also available was a "benedict:" a Thomas Brand english muffin (they use HFCS, boo) topped with some home-cured bacon, a tomato slice, and an over-medium egg, along with a watery Hollandaise. My SO, a diehard pork man, thoroughly enjoyed the bacon, which was surprising since he usually only likes crispy bacon. This homemade stuff was thick, moist. Hashbrowns were mushy; also available were some "poutine hash browns" (interesting) and biscuits and gravy. The gravy had solidified (we arrived for brunch around 1pm) so neither of us braved it. The caterers were a husband and wife team, super nice people, the wife said the husband does all the cooking and she helps out. All in all, I am sorry I missed my usual Sunday at Counter Cafe, but, for a place thats walking distance from home and that has sweet deals on Bloody Marys, I'm not sorry I tried it. The caterers told me they've only been in business since April, so I'm sure they're still finding their sea legs~ N.

                1. re: femmenikita

                  femmenikita,

                  What's the trick at Counter Cafe to getting eggs in the Migas?

                  I went there once for Migas and there was probably less than 1/2 an egg on the plate.

                  Went to Maudies Milagro on 360 recently and their Migas probably had 5 eggs in them (and just the right amount of cheese - enough to flavor but not enough to make them greasy.)

                  Back to Counter Cafe, I asked if I could have eggs in my Migas, because there were none, and the menu said there were supposed to be (2 or 3; can't remember) eggs. So they brought me a side plate of 2 scrambled eggs, then charged me extra for the 2 scrambled eggs when the bill arrived.

                  Haven't been back to Counter Cafe.

                  1. re: sweet100s

                    Sweet: My first thought upon reading the above was "Why on earth would anyone go to Counter Cafe and order the migas?" Then, in a split second I remembered I, too, have ordered migas there on two occasions. The first time was the first day they started serving them, and, while totally "gringo-fied," the migas were tasty: triangles of just-fried homemade FLOUR tortillas tossed in at the tail end of a tomato/cheese/onion/cubed-home-fried-potato scramble. The second time I ordered them there, they were a mess: utterly small portion of mostly eggs and onions drowning in a pool of butter with 3, maybe 4 chips. Then I realized I probably shouldn't have expected mind-blowing migas at what is essentially a yuppie diner. Counter Cafe, like any other restaurant, has strengths and weaknesses. Go there for the amazing (award-winning) grilled pimiento cheese sandwich-- with a side of their homemade aoli: it's like the big O on a plate. Go there for the incredible steak and eggs with nitrite-free bacon and homemade biscuits, and save the migas for your favorite Mexican dive. As for CC charging you extra for a side of eggs: the ladies who run CC remind me of Lucretia, whom many of you might remember as the sharp-tongued yet hilarious matriarch of the old Little Deli in Crestview. If the people at CC detected anything that might could be interpreted as discourteous (not that you were, but if it could have been interpreted this way) when you returned the migas, I wouldnt put it past 'em to charge the extra $ out of snarkiness. They're sassy broads. That said, they always recognize me when I go in, remember details about my food preferences, and are generally friendly, but more importantly, they have some awesome chow. Now lets hope the moderators dont totally delete my post; yes it is off topic, but there is no board specifically devoted to Counter Cafe, as far as I could tell.

                    1. re: femmenikita

                      femmenikita, Thanks for the tip!

                      I'm all for giving CC another try. I love steak and eggs, and nitrite-free bacon available out is compelling!

                      re: staff
                      There definitely was a tiff occurring between our server and the woman in charge. Both CLEARLY did not like the other. This made the breakfast more interesting in a train wreck sort of way ; - ).

                      The ways I handle a problem with a meal include:
                      - Frequently, I admit I usually say nothing. By the time a problem would be resolved I'm full anyway.

                      - When not in the US, and always (3 for 3 times) at Chez Zee (consistently worst service in Austin so far), I get up and resolve it myself.
                      Chez Zee examples: No syrup w/ pancakes. Found it myself by asking around in the kitchen. No coffee refills. On the way to getting the refill myself, I asked Server if it was OK if I refilled my coffee. Lame server cheerfully replied Yes!.

                      When in the EU for the dinner meal, the longer time between courses is simply the norm, not considered bad service, and what I usually need is more water and no more alcohol on an empty stomach at 9pm!! So my excuse to get more water is also a good stretch or a chance to talk about something besides work with interesting people. It really FREAKS OUT the kitchen staff (in a good way) when I say Hi and ask questions about their prep, etc.

                      - However, during breakfast, I am serious about needing eggs. When I definitely feel the need to have a problem resolved that I can't fix or ignore, I simply state the problem:
                      "My Migas have no eggs."
                      Most servers would immediately know what to do. I wait for them to make a suggestion after stating the problem. Not this server at CC ;-). I eventually had to ask,
                      "Would it be possible to ... get Migas that have eggs?"

                      Plate was not removed. (at the time, that didn't phase me) In the interim the manager came by and asked how things were going. I mentioned the egg-less Migas but that the server was getting me more. Manager cast a disapproving glance at Server.

                      However when a side of 2 scrambled eggs were put on table and server promptly zoomed by, I then realized the server thought I should combined the eggs in with my very-cold-Miga-mix-remains, I could only think, Wow..

                      At that point, time was up. No more corrections possible. But when bill arrived containing both Migas charge and side of scrabled eggs charge, I asked the manager to take it off, which she immediately agreed should happen. And manager cast another disapproving glance at the Server.

                      I look forward to trying CC for Steak & Eggs!