We went for the first time on Saturday. Why the HECK haven't I been here before? Seriously, we went because of the fire at Jezebel and decided it was important to show our support.
We got there around six and the place only had a few other diners. It was waaaay too hot for the patio, but the interior was pleasant enough, although the TV. was distracting.
We had the most lovely-tempered waitress who helped us through the menu and gave excellent suggestions. We started with a pitcher of sangria ($18, but $5 off for happy hour) and it was a surprisingly refreshing one! It was a grapefruit sangria and was absolutely perfect for such a hot day.
We were served a bowl of French bread with warm seasoned olive oil while we waited and I really liked the warm oil - it was very flavorful.
Next was the fondue - think Houston's only much better with the cheese. Deep and complex and very addictive.
We also had a "condensed" watermelon dish served with cracked pepper and a basil sauce. It reminded me very much of a dish I'd just had at Uchico (sans the fish) and was light and refreshing and savory at the same time.
Lastly, we got the shrimp and grits....yum-yum-yum-yum. Six or so shrimp on perfectly-made grits with a perfect Louisiana sauce on top. My only complaint was we were fighting over the sauce with the remaining grits, but our waitress did offer to bring more. We declined, as we were plenty full.
All in all a really pleasant evening at a very reasonable price. We got out of there for $30! Now, you really can't beat that.
On a side note, the waitress said they won't be able to open Jezebel until at/near New Year.
I agree that Simplicity is a great place. I went there for the first time last evening. They have a very good list of wines by the glass, all from 5-7 dollars. No really big name vintages, but a nicely balanced selection and all very drinkable.
Only bad stuff I noticed was the light. If you go there before sundown, sit way back in the back or be prepared to sweat. The late evening sun comes *straight* in the glass front so the front half of the place becomes a serious greenhouse.
It was surprisingly quiet for a place with no carpet and not a speck of sound-deadening material. They must have a fantastic white noise system.
I tried the bacon-wrapped hearts of palm and the pork satay.
5 palm hearts each wrapped in a full piece of smoked bacon, and a little bowl of garlic aioli. They were fantastic. But they were so piping hot I almost blistered my mouth on the first. If you order these, force yourself to give them a few minutes to cool.
The satay was two skewers with half a dozen grilled pork chunks each. It was not quite as good as the palm but it was still good food. Not comparable to the pinchitos at Fino, but good quality meat, flavorful and cooked right, done all the way through with just a touch of grill char. The peanut sauce that came with them was a little milder than what I've had at other places, but not mild enough to be a problem. If they can do something to kick up this dish just a little, just adding a bit of salt or pepper or maybe some lime, it would be excellent.
Both the small dishes were $5 each. The total bill for two orders of tapas and two glasses of wine was $17 and change. I think that was a GREAT deal. It's probably the most bang for your buck in town, for food as good as what I had. I've been lots of places in Austin where the fare was not as good and the bill would have been twice that or more.
I am definitely going to start hanging out there more.