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3 Star Michelin Chef Has Austin Chef Question

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A good friend who just earned his 3rd Michelin star out in California is in town for the weekend and wants to know which Austin chef is at the top of the game right now.

Personally I think it's either Aaron Franklin or Bryce Gilmore but I'm curious as to the opinion of the board.

How's the chow over at Deegan McClung's joint right now?

Who's been to Olivia lately?

How about Foreign and Domestic?

Other opinions are sought.

Who's at the top of the game?

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  1. Tyson Cole & Chef Paul at Uchi

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    Uchi Restaurant
    801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

    1. Uchi guys as amykragen mentions are always worth considering. We had a great black truffle congee special at Uchiko this week (I'm a sucker for good truffle dishes).

      We have not been to Jeffrey's in a while. I've enjoyed Deegan's menu when we have been but some dishes have not been as standout as others.

      We had a great meal at Carillon a few weeks ago. Definitely an underrated restaurant. But not sure if it is really that unique, but every course was flawless for us.

      Franklin's certainly makes a lot of sense for anyone not used to good barbecue. Is their sausage still disappointing? I love the brisket, enjoy the ribs but not the sausage.

      Frank's has some great sausage specials for this week (have not been this week, merely eying them). http://hotdogscoldbeer.com/specials/ . Still remembering that fried catfish sausage I had last year. Yum.

      Zack at Mulberry hits it out of the park more times than not. Not sure how much he is cooking these days getting ready for Haddington's opening next month. Still love that burger (and he has a truffled rissoto

      )

      Report back on where you go.

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      Uchi Restaurant
      801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

      1. After Uchi?
        Larry McGuire. I think both Lambert's and Perla's are home runs.

        I tend to think F&D is still a work in progress.

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        Uchi Restaurant
        801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

        3 Replies
        1. re: NWLarry

          I admit I haven't had the chance (read: momentum) to hit up either Odd Duck or Franklin's, but I did try F&D during Restaurant Week, and I found it to be a pretty interesting and fully-formed concept; neighborhood bistro for not too much dough. The menu is small, but he keeps switching it up, and the quality of the food is excellent. I didn't personally care for one of the desserts we had, but I think that was just a matter of taste.
          I agree that Lambert's and Perla's are both great restaurants, but I wouldn't call either of them the most interesting of what's available in town right now.

          1. re: gilintx

            The first time I went to F&D, shortly after they opened, there were a few things we tried that didn't really click. (This is inherently a subjective assessment, of course). The last time I went - over a month ago - the menu had been largely reinvented, and a number of dishes that my group shared were just sublime. Inventive, flavorful, and incredibly reasonably priced for the experience.

            I'd highly recommend it.

            1. re: gilintx

              Well, I suppose it depends on whether you believe we are in the midst of a bacon bubble or not :)
              http://www.theatlanticwire.com/featur...

              Reading over this thread, it seems like everyone, myself included, said Uchi and Runner-up.

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              Uchi Restaurant
              801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

          2. Parkside, can't spell his name.

            1. Personally I think you should take him to something thats not fine dining as I doubt a 3 Michelin Star guy can really be that impressed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lixlix

                ya know, i kinda agree with that. a trailer crawl would be cool. Def include Eastside Kings, so you got your Uchi counterpart. And Odd Duck

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                Uchi Restaurant
                801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

              2. Restaurants are so incestuous (the restaurants mentioned so far have poached multiple people from the same pool), and I've worked at my share (and been to all of them). Current favorite chef: Paul Qui at Uchiko (and ESK) or Andrew Francisco, Chef de Cuisine at Olivia (and formerly of Perla's, Lambert's, Word of Mouth, Vespaio, and the French Laundry). Both are super-talented, creative, and ambitious. Also, a serious nod to Phillip Speer of Uchi and Uchiko, who blurs the line between savory and sweet with always-interesting results. Other contenders: the team behind Wink, though, like most restaurants (and all mentioned here), the effort is collaborative, and Shawn Cirkiel at parkside, who has done more for the training of Austin kitchen corps (and hence improved all of our meals) than any other.

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                Uchi Restaurant
                801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                Vespaio
                1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

                1. I'm not sure if he's on top of his game, but Jeff Blank's game is sure on TOP (couldn't resist) out at Hudson's on the Bend. I've trumpeted and will continue to do so that the cascabel espresso rubbed smoked grilled elk backstrap is among the top few nicest meats ever to hit my papillae. No serious list of great chefs in the area can leave Jeff out. When I took a famous scientist and foodie there from Univ. of Colorado, he remarked that it was tied with some place in Spain for the best meal (aforementioned elk) he had ever had, anywhere. Sure, the neat lagavulin (so good) on the company dime may have influenced his response.

                  1. While this thread is still going, let me put a plug in for Shane Stark at Paggi House.

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                    Paggi House
                    200 Lee Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78704

                    1. What do I know about what pleases a 3 Michelin Star chef?

                      Most of the delights that I'd expose this person to would not be haute cuisine. For example: Welcome to C-Mart, go to the back and order carnitas tacos all the way. We call it Mi Ranchito. You'll remember it as "that weird gas station in the boonies that was crazy delicious."

                      That being said, if I had one shot and one shot only to impress some rockstar chef with what Austin had to offer in the 3 star field, I'd throw Uchi up. Tyson's tribe remains triumphant over Austin, and I'm flummoxed that you never give him or his gang a shout-out, Scrumptious. (Forgive me, chef Cirkiel; I love your restaurant, but this guy has probably dined at the French Laundry. Know that I'd put you in front of the rest, including Jeffrey's, Perla's, Olivia, Foreign & Domestic, Odd Duck, Justine's, et al.)

                      If you come to Austin looking for non-BBQ, non-Tex Mex, "3 Star" cuisine, the Uchi consortium remains Austin's best attempt to penetrate the global chow illuminati's mindshare.

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                      Uchi Restaurant
                      801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: tom in austin

                        if scrumptiouschef worked in a fine dining restaurant, that would be the height of hypocrisy considering how much he hates on "high priced" taco joints

                        1. re: chrisdds98

                          I don't agree. There are many fine dining joints in town that don't chisel the customers -- the food is expensive, but once you consider the operating costs, the food is usually barely (or sometimes not even) a break even proposition. Places like that are usually hoping to make it up with the margins on wine and (to a lesser extent) other alcoholic beverages and dessert.

                          1. re: chrisdds98

                            On The Economics of Fine Dining vs Taco Joints

                            Caveat Lector:

                            Menu prices are determined by two principal factors.

                            1] How much did the restaurant pay for the cost of ingredients that comprise the dish.

                            2] What are the other factors relevant to pricing the finished product [labor, rent, utilities etc] so that a reasonable profit may be garnered by the restaurant to maintain viability

                            Now let's determine value [definition: a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged ]

                            If value is what you seek, as I do, there is intrinsically more value in dining at say Four Seasons than there is at a taco stand pricing their tacos north of $3.

                            Percentage wise, if Four Seasons priced their brunch [$48] at the same margin as a $3 taco you'd be looking at paying north of $200 for one person eating all the prime rib and drinking all the champagne they saw fit to consume.

                            Profit margins in fine dining are famously [ outside the wine list where lots of local restaurants like to put their hand deep in your pocket ] thin. You may pay $20 from your meat purveyor for a tomahawk cut prime steak that you then sell for $40. Do you think one of the clip joint taquerias in town has a $1.50 invested in a $3 taco.

                            Not by a long shot.

                            At the same time, true value can be found at dozens of Mexican restaurants in town. The most famous example being Tamale House where .85 cents will get you a plump taco that would cost you almost 4 times as much at "taquerias" with less than savory business models.

                            I've costed out hundreds of menus. I don't "hate on" taco joints that see fit to overcharge their customers. I don't dine at them because there are too many of their competitors that keep their prices low and their flavor profiles high.

                            Now let's all go get some delicious tacos and report back.

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                            Tamale House
                            5003 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

                            1. re: scrumptiouschef

                              thanks, thats a very informative post. quick question though: how is zandunga's $10 huevos rancheros any worse then a $9.50 fried egg sandwich. thats almost FIVE DOLLARS AN EGG!

                              1. re: chrisdds98

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7456...

                                Put feet to the fire above

                        2. I guess the question is what is your friend looking to get out of the experience? Is he looking for ideas or does he just want a good local joint where he can experience something that is uniquely Austin? BTW, I ate at an event catered by your friend's restaurant a few weeks ago in Napa. Both food and wine parings were very, very good. I'd love to go back and eat at the restaurant.

                          1. I have some fairly serious chefs in my family (in the non-amateurish sense) who have dined everywhere and are non-plussed by everything in Austin save barbecue. Honestly, they love nothing (including Uchi) more than going to Lockhart, savoring a Big Red, and eating some 'cue. This is what we do best.

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                            Uchi Restaurant
                            801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                            1. whoever makes the Barbacoa at Tacos El Rico (she probably has 30-40 years of experience) has to be considered--hey, Uchi's great, and there's many other places that rock, but Tacos El Rico is another animal, this is *home-cooking*, seriously good home-cooking in fact...

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                              Uchi Restaurant
                              801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704