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Jun 2, 2011 09:26 AM

Carillon sitting at the bar

I've read the reviews and understand the food is good. I want to know more about the atmosphere. Older crowd? I read 'stuffy'. Can we eat at the bar? We prefer that over reservations. Good bartenders? Any details are appreciated.

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  1. We have been to Carrillon 3 times and have found, in contrast to everyone else to find something missing. Although, the food they served at the last Food and Wine Fesitival was delicious. i wish we could have gotten good that good at the restuarant. Now, to address your question. The bar area is fairly good sized with quite a few small tables and suitable for eating in the bar. Now, the first time we went we were told that reservations were not necessary and when we got there found that they would not seat us without them. After some haggling, the hostess allowed us to sit in the bar area although she made it sound like she was doing us a big favor. So, yes, it can be done. Peculiarly,that first time there,my son and I , thought the food was very good but since then we have been disappointed. Good luck. J.

    6 Replies
    1. re: singlemalt

      Oh man...I didn't want to hear that. I was going primarily because of the food reviews and was willing to sacrifice atmosphere for that. With the prices, I want to be confident in the quality of the good. Dang it.

      Well Barley & Swine was a 2nd choice but I hear the wait can be really long and there is no bar. We generally like to saddle up to the bar and take our time with beverages before we order food.

      Help me Singlemalt...suggestions?

      1. re: chispa_c

        Barley Swine has about ten seats at the bar, though it's not a classic bar, more like a view into the kitchen with a bartender in between.

        I've only been to the Carillon once, during restaurant week, though we supplemented, and everything was delicious. And while it may have been a bit stuffy, and the resemblance to the architecture library might be off-putting for some, it was still comfortable. Also, I didn't sample any cocktails, but the bottle of white we ordered was served at the perfect temperature.

        Barley Swine
        2024 S. Lamar, Austin, TX

        1. re: bubbleboy79

          Thanks for telling me that. Do you think the food is worth a try at Carillon? Should we go for it?

          1. re: chispa_c

            Been to Barley Swine four times. It's awesome, and I have few complaints, but among those: dessert wine list is weak (one port last visit); communal seating is fun, but kitsch; foie is cooked to a mid-rare; wine list is weak (my Alsace white at the Carillon was perfect); the constantly-changing menu, while awesome, ensures that you have a miss or two. Go, but not for a special occasion; bring your NY friends to show them how cool Austin is, or go on a Tuesday, order the entire menu, and revel in a fifteen-course feast for $170.

            The Carillon is more comfortable, less hassle, and outperforms. Which is admittedly weird for one visit, but I work in restaurants (who else goes for Alsace?), and the Carillon killed it on a scale that I haven't seen in months.

            While Barley Swine will always have my business because of what they're doing, the Carillon earns it on execution.

            Barley Swine
            2024 S. Lamar, Austin, TX

            1. re: bubbleboy79

              "I work in restaurants (who else goes for Alsace?)"

              2B1, but I don't work in restaurants :)

              I also think the food at Carillon is delicious. The place is comfortable but I get the library comparisons.

              1. re: ridgeback

                Deserved that. Both are great. Different experiences, but great.

    2. The atmosphere at the Carillon isn't as hip or funky as lots of places in town and I've found the service to be a bit spotty, but I love their food. It's delicious and, at least in my experience, consistently so.

      I've only been to Barley Swine once, but I also really liked it. Honestly, though, the plates are so small at Barley Swine (they suggest three per person) that I think you won't end up paying that much more at the Carillon.

      Barley Swine
      2024 S. Lamar, Austin, TX

      1. FINALLY went to the Carillion and ate at the bar last night. We went to Fino first but it was packed and we just weren't feeling it with the crowd.

        Since we're both from Austin and went to UT, We both agreed that the Carillion 'felt like home'. The decor was very updated UT. We spent time after dinner at gabriel's bar, across from the Carillion looking at all the cool UT history photos.

        We really enjoyed sitting and the bar and having our meal. The bartender was working her tail off and really took care of us. We had the goat cheese tater tots as an app. I just could not pass that up. While I could taste that they were truffle oil infused and they were super crispy without being greasy, there was hardly any goat cheese on them. I has the Maro (actually had to look it up that it was Sea Bass, not from Chile but from Japan) with wilted spinach and a carrot ginger sauce. Loved it! My bf had the lamb chops with the cucumber sauce and he thoroughly enjoyed his meal as well. We were offered an amuse bouche prior to the meal (compliments of the chef) and 2 small nutello bite sized desserts that were outstanding at the end of the meal (again, compliments of the chef).

        One thing I really liked and appreciated about the dinner was it's portion size. It wasn't so huge you ended up with leftovers and not so small that you were still hungry. I tried their garlic ciabatta too. That was lovely. More dense than a typical ciabata but very good with a crunchy crust.

        Atmosphere wise, we were casual, both in jeans. There were certainly plenty of men there in sports coats and women in nicer clothes, but we were comfortable. The place was not packed so the service was spot on.

        We inquired what it was like on game nights. We were told that most folks go to gabriel's for pre-game (we're usually located in the Ex Center - by one of the bars) and then to The Carillion after the game. They said that after the Carillion closes on game nights, they start serving food from gabriel's there. I like the idea of hanging out there until the crowd is gone, then grabbing a cab.

        Anyway, glad we went and I know we'll be back. I didn't realize there was an actual hotel located in that AT&T center on campus. We definitely agreed that it would be a blast to put our San Francisco up there for a game night and then all hang out there before and after a game. We'll be back, no doubt.