A report from Brooklyn: 3 days in Austin
Random notes from 3 days spent in Austin last month (just after the SSW Festival ended):
Franklin's is worth the wait! We got there at 10am on a weekday, meeting 2 food board (not CH) friends who live in Austin who we hadn't seen in awhile (& who hadn't ever met each other) so there was much to talk about and the line wait went quickly. By 11am, it was halfway down the parking lot (long). Once in, we ordered brisket, ribs and pulled pork (you order by the pound), with sides of potato salad and cole slaw. The sides are forgettable, the pulled pork was good enough but the brisket/ribs were unforgettable and the best I've ever had (& I've had me some ribs and brisket over the years, including those from the Lockhart area). Wow. I'd be on line once a week if I lived anywhere near there.
A very good meal was had at Parkside (on 6th St)... we sat at the bar and all was very nice. They seem to be the place to go for oysters but that wasn't what we had. All was good. Recommended if there for a week or so, but probably not one of the top 3-5 choices in the area.
We went to Foreign and Domestic for another very nice dinner, albeit not perfect. We sat at the kitchen counter (the chef was out of town, but it was left in obviously capable hands). Some of the dishes were inspired and not to be missed (heart tartare app!) and others suffered from the "one too many main ingredient" syndrome that I believe many upcoming inventive chefs suffer from. It also became apparent that the chef loves to use egg as a part of most dishes, something we actually like but which can detract from the overall if used so often. In addition, the gnocchi were waaay too big (each could have been cut in 4 pieces), leaving them too doughy and overwhelming the chicken in the dish. But, even given the weaknesses, this is a place that's worth trying and I think it'll get better with time.
A visit to Easy Tiger on 6th St. for coffee and to visit a Chowhound friend from NYC now working there as a baker was nice. The baked goods look uniformly excellent.
Hanging out, sitting outdoors, for mid afternoon beers and chips at Guerros on S. Congress was great. The beers are $2, the chips are free and they are all friendly. We also tried lunch there another day... nice enough but not a stand out by any stretch. Serviceable Tex-Mex, which makes it fine for us New Yawkers who can't get any here.
A non-food note: the Eastside of Austin has come alive and we stayed at a new hotel called the Heywood on Chevez. Stylish, reasonable, only 7 rooms, free parking and with very friendly owners/staff & personal service. Worth a look when compared with the large downtown places and to stay off the main drags. Considering that one of our friends is opening a pizza/wine place down the block "soon" (we walked thru the space being renovated) and that a good Williamsburg, Bklyn cocktail bar (Weather Up) is also opening a block away "soon", this location may well be even hotter in the not too distant future.
And, to make our trip complete, the owner of Heywood went out of her way to get our feedback when we returned from pigging out at Franklin. She said that she was especially interested because, a couple of weeks earlier, a guy had stayed at The Heywood and raved about the food at Franklin, while stating that he knows good food, having created a food board back when. She got a kick out of us confirming that we both agreed with the assessment and Leff's "credentials". She denied that he was wearing a dog mask during his stay there. So, what else did you eat while there Jim?
Steve R. - We're glad you had a good trip. Thanks for your detailed write-up on the places that you visited. I hit up Franklin's a number of times while he was in the trailer, but I've never been to the brick and mortar location. So your description is helpful.
Not sure what's going on with the other two replies to this. I never realized that Franklin was a yankee that went to CIA, but I think that his brisket is amazing.