Wink v. Parkside
My husband and I are coming down to Austin from Dallas for one night. We want something unique to Austin and great food. We were trying to decide between Wink and Parkside.
Which one do you prefer and why?
I have done alot of research on this board and have looked at other restaurants but these two interested us the most. Having said that, I'm definitely open to other suggestions!
Thanks in advance for your help! Can't wait to visit Austin again!
I haven't eaten at Wink in quite some time and am a HUGE Parkside fan, so I out myself as a very biased party. That said, they both have things to recommend them. The Wink dining room is much more intimate and romantic than the one at Parkside. I've heard their wine bar is great. I've had mixed experiences with the food, but generally found it to be quite good. My husband, on the other hand, ordered a jr. bacon cheeseburger from Burger King after we ate there, because he was still hungry after a $120+ meal. (He honestly isn't a huge eater.) I haven't had that problem there and always get enough to eat. Wink and Parkside are fairly even price-wise, to my recollection. Still, I haven't been there in more than a year, so I am not a good judge of Wink.
As a semi-regular of Parkside (generally twice a month), I'm a little more qualified to speak. It's one of my four favorite restaurants in town, which is why we're always drawn back there. The dining room is much noisier and less intimate than Wink, and it isn't in the greatest part of town, but they have valet (which I highly recommend).
With rare exceptions, every dish is a homerun. I think they serve the freshest, best raw oysters in town (some of the best I've had anywhere.) We like to eat tapas style there, and share with the table. The raw bar is first-rate. Definitely order the veal cheeks/pork jowels with poleta - meat so tender you can cut it with a fork. The foie gras preparation is always outstanding and inventive. Sometimes I eat the mac and cheese for dessert, but more often, we order a dessert each, even though we're stuffed. The desserts are just too good to pass up.
Service is competent and occasionally inspired. The chef, Shawn Cirkiel, in addition to being an ace in the kitchen, seems to be a genuinely lovely person who takes time to visit with the patrons.
So if you're looking for high quality food, I would recommend Parkside hands down (not to say Wink isn't high quality, just that Parkside is more about the food than the ambiance, in my opinion). If you want a romantic dinner in an intimate setting, you may want to consider Wink (depending on what other hounds say about their recent experiences).
PS - I took some of my friends from Dallas to Parkside, and the absolutely loved it. Enjoy Austin!
The other three favorites are Uchi, Musashino, and El Arbol (we are raw-food heavy on the favorites). Aquarelle is our go-to for "fancy" dining, but we only make it there once a year or so. It's lovely, but we generally prefer a less formal atmosphere. Enjoy and let us know how it goes! We actually ate at Parkside last night. This post got me hungry for oysters! PS - Don't order the gnocci. It was one of those rare missteps I was referring to. Not awful, but not something I'd order again.
And don't forget at Pside one can eat on the roof. Never done that but always wanted to. BTW, for Austin restuarant week, we ate a Pside and some aspects of it were mind blowing delicious. Since you asked, my favorite place of all, for the "fine dining" is Trio.