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Dec 27, 2011 12:02 PM

Braise...oh my...

Braise -
Sigh. Seriously, I wanted to come on this board and say great things about my evening out at Braise, yet I honestly can’t. I waited and thought over the weekend on whether I wanted to do this or not.

We walked into this tiny restaurant Groupon in hand and were told there was a “special menu” for the Groupon. Okay, prix fixe menu. No worries and was pretty much expected. But then we sat and sat…and sat; no water, no contact, no nothing. There were only three other tables and there were six waiters that we counted for sure and two other people behind the bar (managers?). We watched as food came out and “wandered” around the dining room, only to go back without finding its diner.

After about ten minutes, we were finally approached with a wine list. We asked for water and our waiter left. Eventually, we were served water and served “focaccia” bread with oil and vinegar. The strange thing is we were specifically told by the server it was “rosemary focaccia” but it was just white yeast bread. It was perfectly fine bread, but it was clearly NOT focaccia. Just odd.

Wine: Third time’s a charm. I’m sorry I can’t remember the choices we made now (we went on Friday, and I’m just now writing), but we made our first choice, a mid-range red, and the waiter went off and came back to tell us they were out of that wine and suggested another red that was the more expensive. We didn’t select that one, but picked another nice middle of the road red. Again, off he went and AGAIN came back said they were out of that wine too. Okay, these are on your menu: You should have them in stock. So, on the third try we got one of the more expensive reds which, surprise, was in stock.

On to the food. Not a lot of options – one soup, one salad and two pork dishes, a chicken, but no fish.

For appetizers, husband got the andouille sausage with grits and I got the sashimi. Oh my… His grits were thin to the point of watery and my sashimi was presented a la “Kitchen Nightmares” hacked (large ribbons, short-fat cubes) on a scallop shell on a paper doily on a large plate.

Next came the potato leek soup, served with the doily/large plate accoutrement. While the flavor was fine, the texture was non-uniformly grainy; there were tough pieces of undercooked potato and leek and little hard seeds we couldn’t identify.

For the main course, I chose the pork chop and asked for it medium rare. Our waiter then informed us that all the pork was pre-cooked to well. Pre-cooked? As in not right now? Yes. Yikes… but the only other choice was the chicken (which my husband already picked) and another pork dish. My pork chop was indeed pre-cooked to well. I only had a few bites and gave up. My husband’s chicken was disappointing too, dry and bland. He called the waiter over and asked when the chicken was made and was told that it was made daily but not fresh for each dinner order (a.k.a. it was pre-cooked as well.)
Bread pudding was just very dense, semi-sweet bread and was so cold that the ice cream that was served on top (Amy’s Ice Cream) wouldn’t melt. Also, the chocolate was bitter.
Okay, I really hate giving bad reviews.

Really, I do. But at some point this stopped being comical and started being sad; no?

Fred the manager/chef came by. He just approached us, said “There’s just no excuse and I’d like you to try us again,” and gave us a $50 certificate. Our bill without the Groupon would have been about $130. I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t think we’ll be using it.

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  1. How gross. What a wierd experience. BTW, I understand the guy that owns Braise (isn't he the guy that had the restaurant on Congress burn down?)no longer owns Simplicitiy. Not even sure Simplicity is open. Thanks, ASH, we need more of this kind of thing. There is too much good stuff in Austin without tolerating the crap.

    1 Reply
    1. re: singlemalt

      That's what I thought, that it was the same folks as Jezebel and that place was spectacular, I just hated going downtown.

    2. i don't recall the groupon being a set menu.
      usually it's super specific in the deal.
      otherwise, you're supposed to be able to order whatever you want.

      1. maybe I'm too cynical but I think if you didn't use the groupon the other wines would have been available and you would have gotten cooked to order food.

        i've only been to braise once several months ago and it was decent. nothing spectacular, but pretty good for the price point.

        11 Replies
        1. re: chrisdds98

          But isn't the point of a coupon/groupon to lure folks into trying your place and impressing them enough to want to come back? I know several of my "finds" have been found this way.

          1. re: amysuehere

            I never present a groupon or a coupon until they pick up the dinner plates. There's no reason to tell them ahead of time. Saves from being put into the"groupon people" category. I suppose that you would have gotten into an argument at the end of the meal (regarding the special menu), but if you stick to your guns......

            When I waited tale eons ago at City Grill, you could spot the coupon people a mile away. Two waters, two meals (one free), and a poor tip...all the time knowing that they'd never come back w/o the coupon. However, we served them as if they were regular patrons. The refined coupon person just sees it as an opportunity to "order up." Meaning better wine, or an appetizer that you'd normally not order.

            The special menu for Groupon people shows bad ethics.

            Amysue, you can mail me that $50 gift cert if you don't want it....;-)

            1. re: rudeboy

              If you still have my email address, it's yours.

              1. re: rudeboy

                "City Grill" Boy, that one takes me back. We used to eat there all the time. It seems they had constant coupons. Maybe you even waited on us one time. For the record, I always tip on the full check, and I tip better if my wife isn't with me. For the record.

                1. re: singlemalt

                  Could be - I loved working there. We made lots of $ - $16 to $18 per hour, which was great in 1991. I stopped working there when I got my degree in Jan 92.

                  1. re: singlemalt

                    I ate there several times. The only thing I remember is an appetizer of backed chevre with a tart tomato sauce and olives. That may sound gross but it tasted wonderful.

                    The building is currently occupied by something called the Palm Door. Anyone know what that is.

                    1. re: klanch

                      pretty sure its a catering hall/ event space.

                2. re: amysuehere

                  you're right, amysue. that is theoretically what deals hope to accomplish.
                  and while i have seen some deals for a specific prix fixe type menu, it is always clearly outlined in the deal.
                  if it wasn't, then they violated the T&C and should probably be reported.
                  that kind of behavior really irks me-- don't offer a deal if you can't fulfill it.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    google "groupon nightmare". most grouponers are 1 time customers that restaurants pay a premium for. pretty counterintuitive if you ask me. almost time to short groupon stock?

                    1. re: chrisdds98

                      i guess i'm the opposite.
                      usually, i buy deals for places i already love and frequent, or want to try (and almost always continue going back, unless they were a complete failure).

                      1. re: dinaofdoom

                        I'm a mix. If there's been I place that's been on the radar, but still haven't made it, I'll get one. If it's a favorite, I'll buy as well.

                        On the that it was prix fixe, that was the least of the concerns and the least thing I wanted to highlight. I only mentioned it to add the lack of choice.

                        I'm not sure I was treated any differently than the other diners because of the coupon, because then why would he then come and give me another $50?

                        Donno what to make of the whole experience. I guess that's why I waited to make the review.

                3. I had the same experience at Braise a few weeks ago. I bought the groupon for me and my family to have my graduation dinner at. I really wish I could get my 100 bucks back. The waitstaff was very awkward and just really rubbed me the wrong way. One guy who picked up our plates and refilled drinks was so rude and pretty much yelled at me to tell me that the bathrooms were down the outside hall. The food was a miss. My dad got the brussel sprouts and portobella dinner plate and there was only a tiny sliver of mushroom and a couple of sprouts. I had the pork shoulder that tasted exactly like my moms pork roast she used to make in the crock pot that I really can't stand. My mom had trout and spehgetti that was okay, really acidic and upset her stomach. My boyfriend had the pork chop and it was cooked well done, but he likes it that way. All of the apps were forgettable. It took them 30 minutes to bring out our desserts and we had already ordered some coffee so my dad asked if they could refill due to the slow dessert, I assumed that it would be a free coffee but nahhh still charged us another $10. I just wanted to take my parents out to experience "fine dining" but it ended up being a bust.

                  1. When I went, ages ago, Braise didn't yet have its liquor license, which was actually great as it allowed us to discover East End Wines. The meal was uneven, but what I still recall is the cheese plate, its borderline inedible accoutrements, and the inability of anyone to tell us what any of the cheeses were or anything about them. I want to give Braise another chance (my meal wasn't bad, just not especially good), but there are so many quality restaurants (Fabi & Rosi, Olivia, Second, et al.) at a similar price point, that I still haven't made it back.