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Jan 3, 2011 10:23 AM

Corkage in Austin - Special Event Dinner


I know that Corkage in the Austin area is rare because of the draconic Texas alcohol laws. However, my wife and I are going to be celebrating a special occasion dinner in a few months (maybe early March).

I've been saving up a nice Bordeaux that I would enjoy breaking out for this dinner. I'm a fair hand in the kitchen myself, I could do it justice, but we'd rather go out for a meal.

Can anyone recommend an Austin restaurant that definitely offers corkage and whose food would pair well with a '75 Bordeaux?

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  1. Uchi and Uchiko both allow corkage and have featured some good beef, duck, and rabbit dishes recently, often as part of a daily special. Wink usually has duck, venison, and beef on the menu. All three restaurants have proper stems and wine service.

    Other options include Aquarelle, Asti, Chez Nous. Though you might want to consider bringing your own stems to the latter.

    If there's a restaurant that you'd like to visit that doesn't usually allow BYO, it's worth calling and speaking to the manager. Sometimes restaurants make exceptions.

    Uchi Restaurant
    801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

    Chez Nous
    510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

      1. re: Steven Dilley

        I've heard really good things about both Wink and Olivia, but I've never eaten at either one. Maybe I need to do some test dining, heh.

        1. re: Craenor

          I second Steven's recommendations, as I've eaten at and brought bottles to both Olivia and Wink. Not sure how well their food would go with a '75 Bordeaux -- that could be a tough match as the '75's were tough and tannic at birth and are notoriously slow to evolve. And back then, many of the now great estates were not using the best wine making techniques, so the wines are definitely less "refined" than today.

          An alternative suggestion might be Mirabelle. The restaurant is very wine-friendly and while I'm not a huge fan of their cooking, the food would pair very well with an older Bordeaux. I'm sure if you call ahead and tell them what you're bringing they could pair something interesting with it.

          1. re: Andrew Zachary

            Awesome, thanks for the advice.

            This bottle is a '75 Chateau Pichon Lalande - so nothing crazy expensive, but pricey enough for us. I've done a bit of reading up on it, and I'm anxious to give it a try. We both love beef and duck, venison works as well, so I'm not too worried about pairing it.

            I just haven't had any experience with corkage in Austin, so I wasn't sure who would work with you and who treated it more like it's just a bother.

            Right now, we're leaning towards Wink, just based on recommendations. My only concern is that their tasting menus seem to be the high point for Wink, and it's rare that a tasting menu would suit a single bottle.

            1. re: Craenor

              In my experience, places around town that offer corkage are pretty gracious in their handling of it. BYO'd at Uchiko last night (great service), and the duck special (Jar Jar Duck) wasn't bad. (Perhaps--or perhaps not--a take on the Duck-in-a-Can dish from Au PIed de Cochon in Montreal, where they can a chunk of foie, duck, and cabbage, cook the thing in the can, and then open it table side, poured over toast.)

              Another option would be to splurge on a nice chunk of dry-aged beef, though you'd probably have to mail order it and cook it yourself.

              I wouldn't necessarily go the tasting menu route at Wink. If I'm not mistaken, all the items are available a la carte. Maybe a glass of white with a starter or two and then straight to the Bdx-friendly items?

              1. re: Craenor

                since you like beef, duck and venison, what about calling hudson's on the bend to see if it's possible to bring your own bottle?

        2. I am in Bordeaux at this moment while as i respond to this. You might call Justine's Brasserie and ask about the corkage policy there. I think the food and ambiance would be perfect. Less stuffy than wink and they serve a mean steak frite, onion soup, carpaccio...etc Things you would definitely find in the region. I have a couple bottles that i'm thinking of doing the same with. good luck.

          1. To let everyone know... Perry's Steakhouse does NOT allow corkage of any sort. I was pretty bummed as I had a special bottle planned for a meal but apparently there is no flexibility whatsoever in this area.

            2 Replies
            1. re: austxguy

              Not much flexibility in this. If a restaurant serves hard liquor, they cannot allow corkage. The Texas ABC is very strict about this rule; why, I do not know. But our is not to reason why, ours is but to do or diet.

              1. re: Andrew Zachary

                Thanks Andrew. I didn't know about the specifics of the TABC law but am definitely not surprised... thanks!