Foreign & Domestic on North Loop
Quick report from dining tonight. The vibe is totally comfortable, friendly staff, close tables and open kitchen. At least 8 stools at the counter literally inches away from the cooking action. They also have several outdoor tables on the side of the building. Restaurant was full when we arrived around 7:45 and exceedingly friendly hostess (also bussing tables, filling water, running some food) mentioned about 10 minutes. About 2 minutes later we were seated inside. Very interesting and edited drink menu, beer & wine (Scrimshaw Pilsner for me tonight). Wine list skips the underwhelming '07 Oregon PInot vintage and instead offering far superior '08 - they are paying attention to details . Grilled baby octopus and venison spare ribs were sold out...bummer. Bibb salad was tasty and interesting with soft boiled egg, avocado, rye croutons and a green goddess dressing. Entree's tasted were the corn ravioli and the scallops. Both visually very creative and lots going on within each plate. But, not too fussy or trying to be cute either. Comfortable polished but rustic presentation is how i'd describe it. Shared one dessert "the vanilla" and 3 different elements with two sauces and all working together very well. Good portion sizes all around. Seemed like very fair pricing as well. Nothing over Twenty bucks tonight and most first courses single digits. 5 chefs working the kitchen (and honestly, there may have been 6). Timing and pace were slow but totally forgiven and understandable when one ventures in on the second night opening. Comping the second brew was a nice touch and appreciated. They will need another 5 ton HVAC unit on the roof though as the temp was borderline uncomfortable and we're only in May. (Open kitchen and continual opening of the front door to run food back and forth to the outside tables). Bottom line impression was very good. Eager to go back and swing through totally different menu items. Bottom line impression: They're excited, great attitudes, fun space, clearly chef driven menu, we'll be back in a month or so for sure.
We must have just missed you, boshtx. We arrived around 8:30 and there was a 45 minute wait... just enough time to walk down to the Parlor and have a Live Oak on the back porch.
I agree with all statements regarding the vibe of the place. We were offered a choice of seating and we chose to sit at the "bar" that surrounds the open kitchen. I recommend this if given the chance... the chefs are easy-going and excited to talk about what they're serving.
Our samplings (we went straight for the protein!):
Bone marrow croquettes
The croquettes and broth were good starters... a nice way to introduce their detail in preparation and attention to fresh ingredients.
The NY strip was cooked perfectly, so thumbs up there. The plate featured seasoned and grilled 'bellas that absolutely stole the show. Seriously tasty.
The Ripper is a house made sausage (lean meat, coarsely chopped... think almost pulled pork), wrapped in bacon. Can't go wrong with that. The tarragon mustard and tart relish on brioche made great accompaniments.
For dessert the unanimous choice of the chef near us and the waiter was the Pig Licker, so of course we had to try it. It is... yes, get this... a thick cut slab of (very) smoky bacon dipped in chocolate praline-style, with a little glass of bacon root beer and pork rinds. What a great homage to the giant pig painted on the side of the building!
I'm looking forward to a return trip! Like the previous poster mentioned, the price point is a bonus. We had all that food, a glass of wine and two Session beers for about $60.
I must have been leaving right as boshtx and jwynne were arriving or being seated :) Their remarks are right on the money. The atmosphere is simple, clean, and engaging - there is no barrier between you and the chefs in action, but interestingly it isn't a clanging noisy place like some open kitchens (for example Carrabas). It's great to see their chefs at work. We arrived at maybe 6:50 pm Friday evening and there was no wait. Boshtx is right; some areas of the restaurant are extremely warm (particularly near the kitchen and in front of the windows).
I wonder if they're still seeking a liquor license. Their beers are incredibly reasonably priced for a nice restaurant - a Full Sail for $3, a tasty German Weiss for $4, etc.
We shared a salad that's not on their online menu - it featured artichoke, grilled peaches, and a champagne vinagrette. It was light and sweet without being syrupy, and definitely big enough for two people to share at a reasonable $6.
My wife had the scallops - three substantial and delicious scallops all told. However, each scallop was topped with a slice of blood sausage, which we don't recall being listed on the menu. They might want to let people know that this is the nature of the dish, as some people have an aversion to blood sausage and might find that it decreases their enjoyment of the scallops.
I had "the ripper," a knockwurst style sausage wrapped in bacon served on a buttery brioche with relish and home chips. The sausage had good flavor but a fairly mealy, chewy interior texture. And for some reason, to me at least, the bacon didn't add that much flavor. I don't mean to be overcritical though, as overall it was a tasty dish.
I believe their menu is going to rotate regularly. Looking at the menu posted online, there have already been a few changes. I'm excited to see what they do, and happy to see F+D open in my neighborhood.
We also ate there on Friday evening. It seemed pretty warm, but we were seated close to the front window. They will definitely need to upgrade the A/C before August or they won't need to use their ovens at all.
As for the food:
We started with an order of the black olive/gruyere popovers. I didn't taste much gruyere, but these were just awesome. If the whole restaurant thing doesn't work, I have a feeling they could turn this into a bakery and do great. I noticed multiple tables ordering them so either the word got out or it soon will.
Next up were two of the salads. A Bibb lettuce salad with avocado, rye croutons, soft-boiled egg and a tomato seed dressing. This was a very fresh twist on a salad that we all loved. Unfortunately, it also had sardines on it which would have been nice to know about given that we are vegetarians. We had specifically asked when ordering about which items didn't have meat so we just took them off. The other salad had greens, peach, rhubarb, and a champagne vinaigrette. It had a nice flavor, particularly the dressing, but the other salad was much more memorable.
For entrees, we had the corn ravioli served over a corn broth with ricotta and herbs. The corn flavor of both the broth and ravioli was very nice and not overpoweringly sweet. The other entree is not on the online menu, but was a squash/zucchini/eggplant mixture with crostini covered with I believe a ricotta mixture and some sort of infused herb oil. My description doesn't do it justice, but if you like squash and zucchini, this was a very tasty dish. When combined with the crostini, it was great. Our only issue with both entrees is that we felt they were definitely undersalted. It surprised all of us since we rarely feel the need to add salt while at a restaurant. One of our tablemates ordered the garlic broth as an appetizer and while I didn't taste it, she also felt it needed some salt to counteract the sweetness of the broth.
We skipped dessert, but will definitely be back to try them. Based on the perfectly baked popovers, we are looking forward to them.
I know it is a brand new restaurant, but they do have some service issues to work out. There seemed to be a longer than expected wait to place orders, but the food arrived quickly and clearly just prepared.
Overall, it was a very good meal and seemed to be a great value. Given the changes to the menu that have already taken place, we are looking forward to trying the new dishes they come up with.
Was here last night for dinner. They've got a sign posted on the door that they'll be closed tonight for installation of a second A/C unit. We were quite comfortable sitting against the wall opposite the kitchen, but the waitstaff looked warm!
We tried the bone marrow croquettes, popovers, artichoke/grilled peach salad, corn ravioli, and "The Ripper"; all were tasty and as-described by previous posters. For dessert we split the peach tarte tatin which was delicious and came with a small cup of basil "snowcone," which was so fresh and yummy we think it should be a standard snowcone flavor. We will definitely be back.
Checked it out on Wednesday eve. Promising. Good ambiance, service, prices, sourcing of ingredients. Had 2 apps, salad and a couple glasses of wine. In general I felt that some of the dishes were a little out of balance. It's hard to put your finger on it. I think it makes you realize that it's no accident when someone *does* combine quality ingredients together in a skilled fashion in the sense that you miss that alchemy when it's not there.
Popy Cock- Pork rinds tasted stale. They were room temp and had no flavor, like they came out of a bag (maybe they did?). Popcorn was covered with toffee, and although I liked the sweetness immediately I realized it was dental work waiting to happen. This $5 appetizer could quickly morph into a $500 dish when you start chewing on a lifted crown. The 'fried peanuts' seemed like filler. We ate a small portion and let them take the rest back at the end of the meal. I would not order this again.
Ham appetizer- A *big* pile of quality ham accompanied with a dab of mustard and tasty fried bread sticks formed in a small lattice. Thumbs up on the nice Bentons ham, but I felt like I didnt *get* the dish (and should I have to get it?)... Was I supposed to combine these breadsticks with the ham somehow? Dip them in the mustard and stack them on the ham? ...In the end I dipped the ham in the mustard (until it ran out at least) and ate the breadsticks separately. I wanted these elements to come together in a way they did not. I would possibly order this again.
Almost Summer salad- Fresh ingredients well dressed. Everything worked. Woohoo! I would order this again.
The wine list was short and priced very fairly. Two reds, two whites and a rose. Thank goodness they have a european wine to counterbalance a california offering with both the red and white ("Down Paso Robles, Down! Bad wine!")... I wonder if they'll still be using stemless glasses by the end of summer?
I'm a neighbor and very much want this place to be a big hit. I think with an adjustment here or there it can be the holy grail- high quality accessible by bike.
Went the other night. Had the "ripper" (sausage wrapped in bacon), the bibb lettuce salad w/ soft boiled egg, and the popovers. Wowie, the popovers are really awesome. Liked the sausage dish as well, and the salad was also good. Oh, also had the 'beautiful ass' which is the ham/toast sticks and mustard. Nice, I combined the 3 things (wrapped ham around toast and dipped in mustard) and thought it worked great. Lots of dishes here that sound fabulous so I'll definitely be back!
The bibb lettuce salad was really well done on my visit. The ham was good, though I prefer Ssam Bar's presentation and their red eye mayo. And their bread, which I think is Sullivan. The bone marrow croquettes were a bit jarring... the croquettes themselves underseasoned but (obviously) rich in the mouth. While the accompaniments were a bit too aggressive--almost overpowering--and lacked the acidity that might help bring things into focus. The yolk with the garlic broth was great, but overall I thought it was the least interesting dish we tried. A bite of the ripper was good, and the corn ravioli had good flavor, though I would have preferred a more delicate wrapper. The popovers were good and reminded me slightly of the black olive madeleines that are served at Manresa. They were pouring a nice Gamay from the Loire for $4 a glass. Anyway, I'm rooting for this place. I like the idea, the menu, and the folks behind it seem nice. I wouldn't mind seeing a more interesting wine list and/or a BYO option, though perhaps that will fill out with time.
The peach tart tatin was a good way to wrap up.
We had an amazing meal here last weekend--one of the best meals we've had in Austin. We ordered the popovers (good), the salad with grilled peaches (also good), the Bibb lettuce salad (AMAZING!) the steak (very, very, very good) and the chicken (incredible), which my husband said was one of the best chicken dishes he's ever eaten in his life. The service was great, I loved the decor--hip, comfortable, but not overdone--overall, we loved it and can't wait to go back!
We checked it out last week, and honestly, we weren't that impressed. Had the toffee popcorn with pork rinds (The Man was not impressed with the pork rinds, the whole reason we got that, he felt he'd had better from a bag and that the didn't fit the dish). Popovers were good, we thought they were the best thing we had. The bibb leaf lettuce salad was fair to middlin'. I had one extradinary bite, but the rest seemed to not incorporate the ingredients well enough to get outstanding bites more than once. The crispy chicken thighs were a little on the dry side, and the sauce with them was really out of place. They threw a couple of pork rinds on there, but they lost their crispness and didn't work when tossed with the warm chicken. In the end, we opted to not have dessert because, while everything sounded good for the most part, everything had one element that just kind of didn't tickle our fancy.
Overall, we felt like everything sounded good in theory, but was just slightly off. We're going to try it again in a few months when they've been at it a while longer and see if it improves. I really want to like it!
Sorry, folks but I think I am with foodiegal71. Went there with my family. Food was interesting in concept but for some reason none of us left with a "zing!" attitude. I got the trout, which tasted a lot like salmon, and much of it was just plain raw. Now although raw, it still had a nice flavor but for many folks I think this will be a big deterrent. None of us expressed any interest in returning. Interesting side point. I ordered a can of the Sofia ( I believe that is it) sparkling wine for six dollars because I saw the person next to me drinking it. When I got it I noticed that their drink had "stuff" in it. When I inquired I was told that they got the cocktail version with the extra stuff, also price 6 dollars. I think that's kind of odd.
I absolutely loved it. Got there at 9 or so on a Saturday night - seated at the bar/chef's table, watching the chefs - split the "almost summer salad" which had the freshest greens I have had in avery long time, a little artichoke, a few slices of heavenly grilled peach, a dash of rhubarb puree and a delicious champagne vinaigrette - the best salad i have had in Austin and the best $6 salad I have had in my life! DP got the corn ravioli, and raved. I had a small taste and thought it fresh and flavorful and I got the pomo hot dog thing - what is not to love about an excellent sausage wrapped in bacon with a superb tarragon mustard and some other tangy relish. We split the peach tartin for desert, the crust was a bit stodgy for me but otherwise excellent and two weeks later, I still find myself thinking of that basil sno-cone. All that deliciousness and a glass of wine each, and we were out of there for under $50 - that's for both of us, not per head! Our waitress was delightful and knowledgeable (Yes folks at Wink, that combo is possible!) and the chefs were chatty and cheerful. I felt like I had hit the motherlode - serious, artisanal food at chain restaurant prices! Smaller menu than Parkside - which I also love, but cheaper and better (now I am feeling disloyal). I am starting to envy the people who live around there. House Pizzeria, Franklin's BBQ and now F&D. It ain't fair.
I made it over last night, after giving them the requisite amount of time to work out the kinks. I would echo most of the comments here, good service, an obviously interesting menu, and sitting at the open kitchen is fun. A grilled melon salad worked more in theory than not execution, fried green tomatoes were deliciously tart, and the beef tongue was very tender and delicious. My friend's grilled flank steak however, was crack...you wanted to lick the plate.
The fun part for me was the bacon chocolate root beer float, which makes Chubby Hubby ice cream taste like low-fat frozen yogurt. That's a complimemt.
To echo what NWLarry said -
I went to F&D when it opened, and we found a few odd combos on the menu that overall didn't work so well. We went back on Friday, and found that the only menu item from 2 months over is the popovers (a delicious cheesy bread).
We tried a few menu entrees, and each was unique and spectacular. I had what was essentially a mac n' cheese with oxtail and a poached egg; it was delicious, rich, decadent, and everything you could ever pray for it to be. My wife had a wagyu beef plate that was excellent; my friend had the crispy chicken with red bell peppers. All was delicious; as was a fried blueberry pie with pistachio ice cream.
Sitting on the countertop watching the chefs in action was great entertainment. They also have fixed the a/c problem that they had at opening.
This restaurant has hit its stride.